Category: Africa



Here you are, way too giddy with excitement in the vastness of the Savannah plains. Then your camera jammed, wasted after all that zooming in for close up shots. Must be dust in the lens. What do you do? You fish out your iPhone and try your best not to lose your calm. These animal sightings have been your Safari dreams and NO ONE, and NOTHING can ruin this holiday for moΓ­. Seriously. Then, I found a solution. It was my good fortune to be traveling with a hobby photographer. And I did push my luck by unashamedly asking if I could grab some of his photos. Master Photographer Ernie Albano, you saved the day for me! Even if my camera didn’t conk out on me, I couldn’t have taken these lovely, stunning closeups of the safari animals we met and experienced. And just so you know, your dear wife takes pretty neat photos too with her tablet! 😊

Simba and his Queen both make good profiles but admittedly, the Lion King looks more impressive with his royal mane. Ernie caught him with his mane blown by the wind in the vastness of the golden savannah. And don’t you agree he snapped a good impression of the lioness with keen hunter’s eyes? Or have a look at the Mommy and Baby Ellie out on a stroll, or this cheetah with spots so clear you’d want to run your fingers on its fur. Those zoom lens are good but obviously, Ernie has mastered these shots. I’d be afraid to have him take my closeup — warts, wrinkles and all. 😱

Some animals really look lovely. Like the swans of the Savannah — the giraffes, looking so demure with soulful eyes generously endowed with thick, long lashes. So with the regal lions, exotic cheetahs, graceful gazelles and impalas, majestic elephants, tough looking rhinos, smart baboons, sexy zebras. But I couldn’t find an adjective to describe the hippos. We found more of them in Lake Naivasha and in Ngorongoro, but the stinky ones we encountered in Maasai Mara look just the same. Non-descript smelly mammals who look fearsome and aggressive? I’m trying here. Or maybe I’m just biased against them after the mauling incidents and attacks in Lake Naivasha.

Ernie took very good photos of the birds too. The yellow weavers responsible for those nests we found in many trees grace many of Ernie’s frames. My favourite. And there were others — kingfishers, herons, egrets, vultures, cranes and many more species we couldn’t name. We stopped to let him take these impressive shots every so often until we grew tired and connived to refrain from alerting him of our spottings. My bad! 🀐

Thank you, Manong Ernie, for sharing all these Safari photos with me. So crisp and clear, and such depth. Very generous of you. And ohhhh, the last 2 photos I took. Not as crisp nor clear, but just so the readers see you “in action”. Hakuna Matata!😊


I’ve had Safari dreams. The Big 5, witnessing a “kill”, perhaps a mating, or even just watching the Great Migration. Every year, some 2 million wildebeests travel from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya. This annual spectacle in these animals’ search for grass , lasts from July through October covering nearly 3,000 kilometers. To see all these wildebeests with zebras as their likely travel companions from a hot air balloon sounds mind blowing. And for good measure, a champagne breakfast in the bush after that awesome ride won’t hurt. 😊

https://youtu.be/Pc07D7si6ts

πŸ“Έ by Ernie Albano

We were a party of 12 pax. The 12-seater basket held all of us comfortably, 6 to each side, with Captain Peter right in the middle. Peter is a most amiable man who just happened to love his job taking tourists up in the air over the Maasai Mara National Park. He gently reminds us about the rules while acting as captain, spotter, narrator and even photographer. Every now and then, he’d point to the balloon shadow on the vast Savannah and the Safari cruisers following our flight on the ground as we drifted quietly over the plains. He navigated the balloon right up to the Tanzanian border and pointed out the animal tracks for the migrating animals, the rivers and even joined us briefly for the post-ride breakfast in the bush. He was gone before 9 am. He did warn us while up in the air that he’d make a quick, quiet leave in keeping with his “5 to 9 job” πŸ‘Œ

Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley is contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Wildlife viewing during the dry months when the wildebeests and zebras migrate from Serengeti to Maasai Mara starting in July is simply magical. Named after the Maasai tribe who lived in the region and using the Maasai word “Mara” which means “spotted”, this reserve is home to the Safari Big 5 as well as to many other wildlife animals. Up in the balloon, Capt. Peter spotted some zebras and wildebeests seemingly playing “follow the leader” as they either moved in a line or as a pack or herd. He likewise spotted a lion but only one of us saw it. I wasn’t quick enough. He lent us his binoculars but I just knew I couldn’t build a career as a spotter. Amazing how these animals expertly camouflage themselves on trees or in the vast wilderness of the Savannah fields. Zebras make a breathtaking sight too when spotted from the air — white animals with brown or black stripes. Yes Virginia, brown. We’re told young zebras have brown stripes which turn black as they mature. I know. I didn’t know that too before coming here. What a spectacle seeing these striped animals run along with their wildebeest buddies!

This experience is absolutely worth waking up to at 3 am. Cold and sleepless, we left our hotel like zombies by 4am for a bumpy one-hour ride towards the “take off” spot where several other balloons lay on their sides before being inflated. It was very cold. And very dark. I went back to the Safari van to keep myself warm while the sun began to peek out before rising. Then the hot air balloon was readied for flight. Take off and landing were smooth. And I do like the pilot’s calm demeanour and modulated voice as he gently prepped us for minor bumps upon landing. The excitement made us forget we’ve been without nourishment since we woke up at 3am. Bush breakfast came with flutes of champagne. We can’t complain. Even the loo with a view was literally “with a view” because there is a huge gap between the flaps so that one sees the vast fields while doing his/her business.

Hot air balloon rides don’t come cheap. But I’m glad I did this. Would have wished to see zebras or wildebeests running and crossing the Mara river while predator lions and crocs lurk, eyeing the weakest among them. But the Great Migration is all there, running or not. Truly G.R.E.A.T. This natural phenomenon is just magical. Fantastic memories stored forever in my heart and mind ❀️


It was not planned and it wasn’t exactly a detour. Lake Naivasha was right along the way and it was a no-brainer to go for it. Some do this as a day trip from Nairobi. After all, this 2nd largest freshwater lake in Kenya is only 100 kilometers northwest from Nairobi and is along the way to Nakuru. Of course we didn’t know at the time that there have been hippo attacks in this area. Hippos being extremely territorial have attacked humans, with the latest incident just 2 days after our visit.

Blue skies and blue waters, with dead trees reaching up, and many water birds resting on a branch or twig. We took the boat safari and motored up to an island where we found a community of hippos lazing around. Most of them looked like they’re sleeping but every now and then, one or 2 would stand up snorting and grunting to stray a bit from the group. It’s hard (and scary) to imagine one of them biting into one Chinese tourist’s chest a couple of days after our visit. Read the tragic news after the wonderful morning spent here where we actually felt safe. A couple of hippos we found wallowing in the waters, peeking out, but our boat carefully observed a distance.

The water birds are another thing. The lake was teeming with trees sprouting out of the lake, providing resting branches for the pelicans, ibises, storks, and many more we couldn’t name. The trees by the lake shore bore many nests, mostly from yellow weavers. The entire place looks so serene and relaxing. The one hour boat safari was enough to see the resident hippos and birds. No wonder this place was chosen as one of the movie locations for “Out of Africa”. Remember that Redford-Streep starrer? I know, you must be humming the movie title’s song now. 🎡🎢

πŸ“Έ by Ernie Albano
πŸ“Έ by Ernie Albano

Some Hippo Trivia:

Hippos are 3rd largest land mammals after elephants and rhinos.

Hippos can run at 30 kms per hour.

Hippopotamus is a Greek term for “water horse”.

Hippos need to stay near the water to remain moist. If skin turns dry, it can crack.

Stay away from a “yawning”, honking, snorting and grunting hippo — such are signs that they’re marking their territories.

Life span is up to 40 years.

Closest relatives are whales and porpoises.

One of dangerous animals in Africa because they are highly aggressive especially when you get between them and the water.

Although they largely wallow in water and come out 4-5 hours only to graze, hippos can’t swim nor float. They can however hold their breath for up to 7 minutes.

Even while sleeping, hippos can resurface from the water without waking up.

Hippos secrete an oily red substance that acts as moisturiser and sunblock, but gives the appearance that they’re bleeding.


I have been to Africa before, but never in Kenya. The Great Migration and River (Mara) Crossing is top of mind, but we were eager to see those long pink legs in Kenya. Lake Nakuru was first on the list. Never mind that the flamingos have moved to Lake Bogoria where pink flamingos found a more abundant feeding ground. Algae forming in the lake bed attracts these flamingos with thin, long, pink legs and just as thin, long necks. Still, the few who remained in the area of Lake Nakuru managed to present quite a spectacle amidst cape buffaloes frolicking by the fringe of this soda lake. An iconic image of both Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria is a swathe of these birds feeding as a flock thus carpeting and turning the lake pink or taking flight thus turning the sky pink. To say such scenery is breathtaking would be an understatement. But the numbers have dwindled and the lake in Nakuru is hardly pink.

Still, not all is lost in Lake Nakuru in the Great Rift Valley some 150 kilometers northwest of Nairobi. It is the first rhino sanctuary in Kenya, home to both white and the more elusive black rhino with hooked snouts. The threatened Black rhinos number 25 here, the biggest concentration in Kenya. It also abounds in game animals like leopards and prides of lions who’ve decided not to make an appearance during our visit. πŸ˜” But we were rewarded with sightings of zebras, giraffes, waterbucks, impalas, gazelles, elands, baboons and many species of birds we couldn’t even name. Birdwatchers will have a heyday here.

By the time we’ve reached Lake Bogoria, it was late afternoon. The “kill” we’ve been praying for happened here. Nothing as grand as a “wait, chase and kill” of hunter beasts seen in NatGeo videos but rather, an unexpected predator bird patiently waiting by the edge of the lake. The whole drama unfolded before our eyes. A Marabou stork threateningly flapping its wings, scaring them pink flamingos to take flight. Flying as a tight flock can be disastrous as these birds may accidentally break their wings as they collide into one another especially in a sudden flight. And a pink flamingo with a broken wing is this stork’s easy next meal. How tragic. The marabou stork lost its charm with our group as we witnessed this lone stork feast on this lovely bird, still moving and flapping its better wing while its predator pulled out what looked like its intestines. Ouch!

(Trivia: Pink Flamingos have pink eggs (inside) and pink milk. Would their intestines be pink too? Must be their diet of brine shrimps, Blue green algae and crustaceans.)

πŸ“Έ by Master Photographer & good friend Ernie Albano

We can only watch with mixed emotions as the “kill” provided excitement and the slow death made us cringe with disgust as the stork delighted on its meal. We tried as best as we could to soak in the whole African credo that such is the “nature of Nature” — an acceptance of the circle of life. Survival of the fittest may sound harsh, even cruel, but Nature is a universal law of life here without question. We share this same acceptance but seeing Marabou storks the next few days on this trip reminded us of the sad plight of one pink flamingo with a broken wing that lay dying in front of the entire flock, seemingly indifferent to the whole drama. Sad. But such is Nature.

https://youtu.be/Jb-bgXIbxA8


It doesn’t look much – may even be overrated – but it lays claim on history as the Safari lodge where “Elizabeth came as a Princess and left as a Queen.”That’s right. Queen Elizabeth was billeted here in 1952 when her father, King George VI died in his sleep. Her bodyguard at the time wrote on the Visitors Logbook these now-famous lines:

For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience she climbed down from the tree next day a Queen β€” God bless her.

She acceded to the throne and remains Queen of England to this day. Mom to Prince Charles. Grandma to Prince William. That’s a long time to be Queen. And she sure looks like she’d live to a hundred.

Treetops Lodge is located right within Aberdare National Park in Kenya. A waterhole and salt lick renders the lodge an almost sure pit stop in the elephant migration pathway towards Mount Kenya. This magnificent wildlife can be viewed from the deck, windows or even from the ground, day and night! During dark nights, the hotel lights up a thousand watt “artificial moon” for the animals stopping by the waterhole. But we didn’t have to wait long till a herd of cape buffaloes, elephants, and some antelopes we couldn’t name, dropped in. From nearly 5pm to 9pm, we never grew tired watching them as they passed, stopped, drank, frolicked in the mud. A buzzer in the room can be activated to alert guests that the animals have arrived. Initially, we were happy to see so many cape buffaloes and waterbucks…. until whole families of elephants came. We jumped out of our beds to view elephants seemingly marching down in a line like following their leader who made a thunderous noise exactly as he passed our window!

I’m writing this while seated by a large window watching them elephants. There’s a big one I see now. The alpha male dominates the scene. I am not sure he’s the same elephant I spotted just before sunset. I can skip dinner just watching these animals. I even spotted one peeing! I would have wanted to snap shots from the open balcony overlooking the watering hole, but it has grown too cold for comfort. Also, I feel I’ve taken way too many shots and it’s time to just sit by the window and watch. And listen. So happy for this experience! 😊

Postscript: It’s 12mn now and we have an early wake up call tomorrow. Still looking out the window from our hotel room viewing a couple of elephants and something just passed under our window that I couldn’t make out. The buzzer is quiet. But I’m still fully awake, waiting if I’d get lucky to spot a hyena or a leopard. Another look at the electric fence separating our hotel from the animals around the waterhole gives comfort. πŸ™„

Some Trivia that’s fun to know:

Cape buffaloes and elephants have exceptional memories. It is said an elephant never forgets while a Cape buffalo never forgives.

Buffaloes have killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal. They are also known to kill lions and their cubs as “preventative punishment”.

Elephant females can have babies till 50 years old.

Elephant trunks can pick up very tiny objects like single rice grains.

The African elephant has bigger ears than its Asian cousin. Both male and female African elephants grow tusks; only Asian male elephants grow tusks. It is said that African elephants have ears that bear the same shape as Africa. Asian elephant ears resemble the shape of India.

Touchdown, Nairobi


My excitement started long before I boarded that Qatar flight bound for Nairobi, Kenya. I have long wanted to experience this after that first African Safari in South Africa in 2012. At the time, I was tentative, hesitant, dripping with excitement, adrenaline pumping, nearly out of my wits. After all, it’s not everyday you see wildebeests, giraffes, elephants, zebras, kudus and cape buffaloes having a “party” out in the open Savannah, hear a roaring lion, sit still while a rhino crosses your path, or wait till the pair of cheetahs grow tired of the shade under a lone tree in a vast field. It’s wild. And then and there, I knew I’d never ever want to see any of these beautiful animals in a zoo or caged, whipped like in a circus.

Our tour escort sent a video a week before our departure. The video was captioned “spotted near the border” where we are headed for. Read: “happening now”. Just enough to whet our appetites for the long-coveted Great Migration or Maasai Mara. We pocketed those “dreams” as we struggled during our long flights via Doha, Qatar. The Doha airport looks so much better than the last time I was here in 2008. And it’s a very busy airport too.

As we tried to dismiss the same thrilling thoughts of animal sightings, we touched down this one bright afternoon in Kenya’s capital, just south of the equator. Almost anti-climactic as there isn’t much to do upon arrival. We felt wasted, post-flight, and needed to recover our energy. Not even a quick city tour of the capital’s historical landmarks perked us up. We did spot some really huge birds though up in the trees lining the roads leading to our hotel. Birdwatchers would have a heyday here. It would also have been lovely to visit the Karen Blixen House and Museum but there isn’t much time. Besides, we’re told much of the furnishings in the house were really production sets from “Out of Africa” — a movie based in Ms. Blixen’s book of the same title. I’m really quite happy with the movie and the house at the foot of Ngong Hills would have been interesting. But that visit can wait for another day. Instead, we headed straight for Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi. I wasn’t confident to venture out of the hotel after freshening up. A few of us braved walking towards the market and narrated their encounter with a couple of “aggressive” locals who kept asking them where they came from. They promptly returned to the hotel after that episode. As for me, I stayed in the room and decided to rest till dinner. I just knew I’d doze off as soon as my back touched the comfortable bed, with my head snuggled between the soft pillows. And so, it was a quick soak in the tub before the dinner inside the hotel. The adventures can wait. My apologies for a very uneventful day. These long trips really suck my energy. Tomorrow we head for Aberdares where we booked at Treetops. Should be quite a relaxing day in a very historic place. Karibu, Nairobi! Goodnight πŸ’€ πŸ’€ πŸ’€


Yes. It’s a wrap. All of 8 days and 7 nights. As someone in our group said, “Sri Lanka was a revelation”. There were some mishaps, some missed sites, some meals not making the grade, a few frustrations, but this trip was just marvelous. Sri Lanka has much to offer. I do not think they’re there yet in terms of promoting their country best but it should get a lot of attention soon. Hopefully too, tourism promotion does not adversely affect the character of the people here — smiling, helpful, charming.

We feel this trip deserves a repeat. I enjoyed the safari but won’t do it again unless my family is going with me. (Birdwatchers would!) Instead, I’d return to Nuwara Eliya in time for tea harvest, do a bit of hiking in Ella to view the Nine Arches Bridge and Adam’s Peak, climb Sigiraya Rock, visit the Royal Botanical Garden in Kandy’s Peradeniya (we missed it as we lacked time), take another scenic train ride, spend more time in Weligama and stay in the same Jetwing and Marriott Hotels we booked including those in Negombo and Kaduruketha! I’d also enjoy the same hotel breakfasts and dinners there and make sure to do better for our midday nourishment. πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

Thank you, Sri Lanka.

(Just click on the links)

Dambulla Rock Caves

A Sri Lankan Safari

Ancient and Sacred Cities

A Scenic Train Ride

Budurugawala Temple

Stilt Fishermen of Sri Lanka

The Ramparts of Galle

Last Day in Colombo

Travel buddies, young & old

Different folks, Different strokes

Foodies, shoppers, culture vultures

Tell me, do we hold a future?

Morning strolls, cocktails by dusk

Chatting each day’s highlights in a flash

Oh what a journey with these peeps

As we discover food, places & pet peeves.


A fellow blogger once asked how many countries I have visited. A friend once “humble-bragged” by advising I should start planning to cover all 7 continents to “round up my travels”.  Unfortunately, I don’t keep count. Why do they, I wonder? Nor does it matter to me what others think I missed or should have done. I go where it pleases.  And beyond the sights, my memorable experiences are always characterized by the people I interacted with. That includes the people I traveled with. I have the good fortune of traveling with many, varied circles of friends outside of family. The foodies, the sightseers, the adventurers, the history buffs, the art and culture vultures, the hikers, as well as those who just long for some R & R. Not stuck with any single group, I relish the company of each. That includes a peculiar group I’d call the “losers” — people who don’t care getting LOST, seeing the ”mishap’ as another opportunity to explore! 






In Bhutan, I found a very admirable tour and hiking guide. My friend Beth and I “adopted” Sonam whom we referred to as our godson. We are still in touch, thanks to Facebook. We were updated with Sonam’s adventures from a young man to bridesgroom to young father, moving from Bhutan to Australia. I credit Sonam for making it possible for me to hike up to Taktshang Monastery aka Tiger’s Nest. The hike is quite dramatic considering you see the site high up in the mountain from the base where pilgrims and tourists commence the hike or horseback ride for the first 1 hour. I chose the latter to conserve my energy for the hike and met Tring, the old man whose horse is likewise called Tring. Don’t ask why. Meanwhile, I left my friend Beth with our driver who grew years older (again, don’t ask me why πŸ™„) accompanying my friend up to the Halfway Station. Tashi Delek!





Still on Bhutan, I have to say I’ve been so impressed with how kind and caring their people are. Whenever I stopped for oxygen breaks, there were locals eyeing me as if asking if I need some help. They’d only stop staring and got on with whatever they were doing when I smiled to reassure them I’m still alive 😊 Also, I never found a race so detached from material wealth as these Bhutanese. Sure there were poor people around, but I never once felt that money mattered most to them. I sure hope that didn’t change over the years since I’ve been there. 






Because I run a blog site, one of my followers learned I was staying in Madrid for nearly 3 months back in 2013. He messaged to invite me to a good Cocido de MadrileΓ±o lunch plus an afternoon tour of the city’s hidden gems. The best tour I ever had! Under the tourist radar sites included trespassing on strangers’ apartments to view better preserved medieval walls of Madrid. Well not exactly trespassing — Marco actually knocked on strangers’ apartment doors to view the walls from their porches!  And these locals were most accommodating. 




Because I made many solo trips in and around Spain, I met a lot of new friends and interacted with many locals. Before getting off a bus, I’d ask the driver which is the best way to reach the Plaza Mayor. Invariably, the bus driver will advise me he’d be back on that dropoff by a certain time for my ride back. Better than riding a cab! On that New Year’s Eve I was in Madrid, I jumped up and down with the locals,shared drinks with them, and even hugged them as the clock struck 12. My niece and them locals were family 😘




In Mongolia, my friends and I had a chance to visit a ger, eat an authentic lunch, and observe how a typical Mongolian family lead a nomadic lifestyle. I parted with my locally-crafted necklace to give to the “lady of the ger” who cooked and served us some dumplings and tea right inside the ger. We didn’t sleep in a ger. I don’t think I could unless one goes to the gers put up for tourists with modern conveniences 😜 






In Hanoi, I found children playing “sipa” which literally translates to kick. It’s a native game in Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and other Asian countries. I joined those kids for a game in my wedged sandals while carrying my bag. Beat that! Then in India, I strayed from our travel group and found ourselves in the kitchen of a Sikh Temple where they were preparing to feed a long line of devotees. The volunteer cooks looked tired but friendly. And locally? I remember spotting a fellow blogger in a Masskara festival in Bacolod City. I approached Enrico and here’s our photo before the parade started! Listen to the drum roll… 




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It’s the last day of the year. In less than 24 hours, it’ll be 2013. And I have yet to firm up my travel plans this coming year. Been putting it off for sometime. For once, I’ve either run out of ideas or I have grown so confused on what I want to do the year I turn senior. So, I’d give it a rest. And for the moment, I’m looking back on how my travel calendar went this 2012. The photos show what kept me “busy”.

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The Park Near Fort San Pedro in Cebu City

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3 hours on the road, but no luck with tuki sightings in Oslob, Cebu

 

 

Just before I left for Madrid in February, I made a quick trip to Cebu. No luck with tuki sightings (whale sharks) in Oslob, so we instead toured the towns of Boljoon, Dalaguete, Carcar in Southern Cebu. In Madrid, I helped a niece set up house. Stayed nearly 3 months, and blogged every other day! Walked the streets of Madrid every single day. Visited way too many churches and museums. Lucky to be in all the right places to witness Holy Week Processions especially in Sevilla and Cordoba. Went on random day trips to Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Alcala de Henares, Valencia, El Escorial, Valle de Los Caidos, Aranjuez via car, bus and trains and planned a few weekend get-aways to Andalusia and Barcelona. In between furniture shopping, palenque trips and household chores, I was busy!

 

 

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Cloudy Day in Parque del Retiro in Madrid

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Day Trip To Cochinillo Country in Segovia. And Not Just Once.

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Good Friday in Cordoba. Some religious procession!

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Toledo, Valencia, Aranjuez, Alcala de Henares, Segovia, Avila, El Escorial, Valle de los Caidos, Barcelona, Segovia, Cordoba. Then there’s Plaza de Toros, Plaza Mayor, Almudena Church, Palacio Real, Retiro Park, Puerta del Sol, the Museos of Prado, Reina Sofia, Morolla, Thyssen, Riza’s Favorite Haunts, Senado, Plaza de Cibeles, etc just around Madrid.

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Photo Credit: Sarah. All my photos of this great monument were epic failures. Thank you, Sarah.

 

 

Spain was many things to me. I was alone often and my human interaction was limited to just a few hours a day. When I got back to Manila, I missed the daily walks and the solitude so much that I started on many solo trips to Chinatown, Intramuros, University of Santo Tomas, Batangas, Cavite, Pampanga, Bulacan, as well as trips to the National Museum, Metropolitan Museum and Ayala Museum.

 

 

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The lovely Betis Church in Guagua, Pampanga

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University of Santo Tomas. Oldest in Philippines. Oldest in Asia.

 

 

Before long, I left again. This time, to South Africa and Zambia. Cape Town and the rest of the Western Cape of South Africa did not disappoint. Well, except for the botched cable car ride to Table Mountain and whale-watching adventure. The weather did not cooperate, but luck was on us searching for the Big 5 and other beasts. Yes, the trip highlight was the African Safari. But I must say Victoria Falls in Zambia was such a delightful surprise!

 

 

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In the kingdom where lions are kings, the males are def prettier than the mane-less females. Entabeni Park.

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And if there is a Big 5 of the Safari — elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and cape buffalos, the GIRAFFE ranks high up there among the Lovely 5.

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The Wildebeests of Entabeni Park. Just before sunset of the 2nd safari day, one of these served as early dinner for them lions. 😦

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We kept still and quiet as this lone rhino walked ever so slowly, and passed the side of our safari jeep. (Look Ma, no protective bars!)

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We had the best hotel in Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town. Champagne and Oysters for breakfasts? Who’s complaining?

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Our Biggest Surprise : Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia. Double Rainbows were so uncommon!

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In Zambia, it is a must to take that 25 minute helicopter flight if only for this vista! Zimbabwe on your left. Zambia on the right. That bridge spans both countries.

 

 

The African adventures fired me up so much I needed to do more than the usual day trips once I got home. My niece and I planned on a Mount Pinatubo trekking adventure but ended up spending a long weekend in Sagada instead. Not bad, especially in terms of many “firsts”.

 

 

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Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave? At my age?

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Roadtrip from Sagada through Bontoc to La Trinindad Valley

 

 

A few more day trips and …… a cemetery tour. And that was it for me in 2012. I should be heading back to Madrid, likely in 2 separate trips as there’s the May election and a grandson’s March graduation. I also have Myanmar, Laos and Hanoi in my mind. There’s a few more, but I will likely confuse myself even more. The only trip “fixed” for now is autumn and Christmas in Madrid in 2013. Before then, who knows where my feet will take me?

 

 

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Scene from Club Balai Isabel in Talisay, Batangas. Taal lake and volcano in the background.

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Corregidor Island Tour for some history lessons. A 1 hour ferry ride back and forth from the Sun Cruise Terminal in CCP Complex.


This blog was written some months back. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how I missed publishing it. I beg your indulgence. This “back blog” completes my series on South Africa’s Western Cape.

 

 

This morning, we bundled and layered up good for a cold day at sea. No matter how cold it gets, we were ready for the whales. Humpbacks or Southern Rights, we’re eager to see them whales. The sun was out. But the water’s far from calm. Our premium whale-watching cruise was cancelled for safety reasons.

 

 

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We were hoping till the last minute. Quite frankly, I hardly paid attention to the majestic seascape offered by Plettenberg Bay as I mulled over the idea of seeing them Southern Rights in their own territory. All too often, our sleepy demeanor was disturbed whenever our coach coasts along the Adriatic and Indian Seaboard while our Tour Director points somewhere off the blue waters. A whale? Where? I couldn’t trust my eyesight and I simply obliged by snapping photos here and there. Upon review, I was dismayed to find nothing other than what looked like rocks off the ocean.

 

 

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Well, no whales today. And we leave tomorrow for our safari. Tough luck. Instead, we headed for the Birds of Eden to while away that frustrating afternoon. On other days, this could have been an interesting afternoon. The photos speak for themselves. Those are beautiful birds. But. They. Are. Birds. πŸ™‚

 

 

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As we exited the bird sanctuary, we found a Monkey park right beside it. Also baboons right outside the bird park. They all looked busy. Either they found something to eat and share among themselves or they are simply on a “stroll”. Either way, they scare me. They look very aggressive. So unlike the safari “beasts” who didn’t seem interested in humans.

 

 

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And so, the day ended with some despair over the botched whale watching adventure. Coming on the heels of another botched adventure (cable car ride to the Table Mountain, no less!), we knew we just had to find our amusement elsewhere. Like a food adventure? Very well. Thank God South African cuisine didn’t disappoint.