Tag Archive: Family Trip

A Weekend In Lake Conjola

A Weekend In Lake Conjola

Holiday Home In Lake Conjola

Holiday Home In Lake Conjola



It’s a small town with less than 400 people in the region of Ulladulla along the South Coast of New South Wales. We could have reached it in slightly over 2 hours from Sydney but we didn’t fail to drop in on some must-see destinations along the way. We prepared for a chilly weekend of kayaking, beach bumming, picnics, birdwatching or kangaroo-watching. No fishing. Not much time nor patience, I guess.









The first stop was the charming town of Berry. But that deserves a separate blog. So allow me to skip that and instead dwell on beach and lake destinations. The marina in Jervis Bay tells a story. Boats for hire for dolphin-watching adventures. Fishing as a gentleman’s sport. Oysters clustered around rocks. No picnic tables, but grassy grounds inviting a neatly laid-out mat and a basket of goodies. Just wish for sunny spells and clear days, and do mind the birds. If you’re not into fishing nor dolphin watching, beach walking is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. The youngest member of the family (Latte, the dog) had a blast running around. For lunch, we had a picnic of oysters, roast chicken, shrimps, fries and chips bought from the neighborhood cafe. Still warm from the oven, we munched through lunch and slurped the oysters with glee.








Much hype over the finest, whitest sands in the whole world. And all that hype is supported by such a record in the Guinness Book held by this small town situated on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. I used to say “sugar-fine sand”. The sand here is NOT just that. It is as fine and as white as FLOUR. Yes, flour. Latte seemed invisible in the white sands of Hyams. We were simply too happy to find this beach sans the typical tourist crowds. What a gem! Amazing how this beach has remained under the tourist radar for so long. When we got here, there were only a few couples with rolled-up pants and even fewer swimsuit-clad girls enjoying the sand and surf. I wonder how crowded this place could be in friendlier temps. With the wind blowing and this late in autumn, the sun and sand may not be inviting enough. A romantic stroll just before sunset easily comes to mind. But be sure to wrap up!









As soon as we arrived, I strolled right down to the lip of the lake. So quiet. So tranquil. A lonely dinghy sits by the edge. The setting sun mirrored on the face of the lake. I waited. Twilight is my favorite time of day. I could hear the chirping of the birds nearby. Looking around, I envied the house by the lake edge with a sprawling yard. The owners can literally roll from the staircase towards the lake. Seriously.







The holiday home is just perfect for my family. All of 4 bedrooms and 2 baths plus a cozy living room welcoming guests to prop up their feet to watch movies on the teevee. We claimed our spots, wine glass in hand. And relaxed, while the meat was boiling to render it tender. The aroma perks up our appetite. The wind breezes through the slight opening from the kitchen window. The tender meat is ready. The noodles al dente. The chopped veggies ready to be thrown in. Purrfect……







Before long, we were feasting on hot noodle soups and roasted pork for dinner. We planned on kayaking and just beach bumming the next day. If we are lucky, maybe we’d chance upon a couple of kangaroos. We could have talked on and on, as the children never seemed to tire going up and down the double decker bed. We could have unscrewed another bottle of shiraz but it was a long day. The beds and the warm duvets are waiting to enfold us for some needed Zzzzzzzzzzzzz’s. Holiday people we were ūüėČ







The following day, we drove to the beach area. Too cold for swimming but the more placid and nearby lake made kayaking the younger members’ main event for the day. The novelty and the joy justified having to lug around all those inflatables on the car’s racks. For sure, it was one afternoon those young ones won’t forget. Who cares if they got their butts wet on this chilly afternoon? Who gives a hoot if their arms ached from all that rowing? We watched them as they rowed to the sandbar where pelicans bigger than our family dogs and other birds rested in peace. I watched as I ate chips with sand. The cold wind pulled down the temps just as it threw sand into our bags of nachos and chips. But really, who cares? Truly, LIFE IS A BEACH! (Thank you, Rookie and Vanie for this most wonderful weekend)







Oh, btw, we got lucky. See if you can spot the 2 kangaroos in these photos.

One Family Photo!

One Family Photo!



“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”


That is a line from one of the most read and most translated books “The Little Prince” written by Antoine de St. Exup√©ry. Not your ordinary children’s book, this one. It is both imaginative and philosophical, hitting mainly on the “strangeness” of human nature. Petit Prince’s very simple plot of a golden-haired Prince from some asteroid meeting a pilot whose plane crashed in the Sahara Desert sucks your attention by its very simplicity. Their conversations let you imagine the brilliance and depth of the characters such that you can almost imagine the prince’s affable laughter as the scarf around his French neck tightens with every laugh. I’ve read this book as a child, a teen, an adult in mid-life crisis and as an adult in the beginning of her autumn years.




You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Antoine de Saint-Exup√©ry, The Little Prince


Petite France — official residence of The Little Prince in Korea?



Coming to this slice of France in Korea brings with it some degree of excitement. Made more famous now among Filipinos as a location venue for a popular Korea-novella we never watched, we got off our van one cold morning, bug-eyed and nearly wasted after a midnight flight and early morning arrival in Seoul. An hour’s drive from Incheon International Airport provided the chance to recoup all lost energy. By the time we walked through its gate, we were all prepped up for Petite France to meet the Le Petit Prince.


‚ÄúAll grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.‚ÄĚ ‚Äē Antoine de Saint-Exup√©ry, The Little Prince



Many k-dramas were filmed here — Secret Garden, Running Man and Beethoven’s Virus to name a few.


Now used as youth training facility, this “French cultural village” is on the same train line going to Nami Island.


‚ÄúI shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings.” -from the Fox-‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Antoine de Saint-Exup√©ry, The Little Prince.


Our guide took us for K-Drama fans and kept harping on such and such spots used in “Beethoven’s Virus”, “Secret Garden” or “Running man” — and almost “lost” us. We were here for the Little Prince, his asteroid, the characters in the book like the fox, the King, the pilot, his “tamed” rose that he kept missing. The kids with us and “in us” made us remember. We certainly enjoyed the ride coming here. The lake which looked like it’s “steaming” from sheer coldness ……. The 17 or so French structures inspired by Provence, the arts gallery and the closetful of puppets. There was no puppet show in the amphitheater when we visited. I suppose they have it on weekends. But we’re only too happy to have visited on a weekday sans the crowds. For 8,000 Krw (adults) and 5,000 Krw (kids), this French cultural village now functioning as a youth training facility is worth the trip and the admission price.



Some 17 Provence-inspired structures including Aunt Stella’s coffee kiosk, an arts gallery and a mini museum of puppets can be found here.


Spot Pinnochio!


‚ÄúYou see, one loves the sunset when one is so sad.‚ÄĚ —— Antoine de Saint-Exup√©ry, The Little Prince


If you have kids with you, or if you happen to be K-Drama fans, an avid reader of “Little Prince”, or if you simply wish to be awed by a “French Village” nestled amidst lovely mountains and an enchanting lake, visit Petite France. Heck, if you’re out of Seoul to visit the famous Nami Island, drop by here on your way or after the island tour. It’s not very far and it’s along the same (train) way. A taxi ride won’t cost you any more than 20,000 Krw. C’est magnifique , Oui?



It’s a small place — really just a slice of France — but packed with many photo opps. Think “selfie”?


No shows on weekdays?


The Land of “Cute-Ness” indeed!

You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.‚ÄĚ —- Antoine de Saint-Exup√©ry, The Little Prince<








Here’s a quickie post. ¬†More like a vid-blog or whatever it’s called ūüôā





Cruising is not for everybody.  But I am sure it is not just for oldies like me.  I have tried a few, and the last one was with my family who went cruising for the very first time.

Patricia's Brownie Goes A-Cruising!

The Route


Being the first time, ¬†I wanted to make sure it would be a great experience for them. And for me . ¬†Just a short cruise. ¬†And all “within” a somewhat “safe” and “enclosed” (read: not in open sea) body of water. Not exactly typhoon-free, nor shakeproof, ¬†but i thought the route and itinerary is a good one for first-timers. I would have wanted an Aegean cruise for them, visiting the lovely Greek islands, but the airfare will burn a hole in our pockets, so we opted for one sailing out of nearby Singapore instead.¬†


I remember one cruise I joined years back. ¬†Sailing in open seas in the Pacific Ocean, even along the coast, ¬†can be a bit terrifying. ¬†With kids in tow, ¬†I wanted them to have good memories of this cruise. After all, they still remember, and complain , about that short choppy ferry ride from Hongkong to Macau some 3 years ago. ¬†This time around, we are traveling when the waters are ‘calmer’ and along ¬†a strait hemmed in by islands.


The Season


January is a good time to cruise around the South Sea islands, around Asia. You get big discounts during typhoon season, but who wants to risk that? ūüôā


In Egypt, ¬†cruising in summer may be a ‘safe season’ but I have to warn you about the soaring temperature. ¬†It’s burning there! ¬†I went around August — the height of summer — and had to brave the heat visiting the temples. ¬† Many stayed in the boat, and there were those who joined the offshore excursions and rushed back to the boat as the heat was simply unbearable.¬†


The Price of a Cruise

Shorter itineraries,  cheaper?  Not necessarily.  I always compute on how it sums up on a per day basis.   But then again, we may have a budget to observe. Also, there are some cheap ones but sailing somewhere in the Americas.  So that may not be for you and me.  

As I said, you get big discounts off the cruise price during the typhoon season.  But you can actually bag some really good deals during the calm, ideal seafaring season.   You just have to watch the boards, so to speak.  Last minute deals  (just to fill in the boats to its capacity) can be quite cheap.  But remember, you may not have a choice of a room here.  You get whatever is available.   

My rule is paying below US$80 a day, all in, ¬†is a steal. ¬†Fine dining, ¬†marvelous buffet spread, ¬†free shows, and of course, free “transportation” as you sail away to your destinations. ¬†In one cruise we joined, I watched all the movies on board. Even attended free culinary lessons. ¬†Laughed at all the stand-up comic shows. Loved all the show extravaganza in the theatre. ¬† Drank so much champagne during the Captain’s Night.


The Boat


Now, I am sure I will get a flak for this.  Choosing a boat can be kind of tricky.  


You may decide on a boat based on how “new” the boat is. ¬†Of course, one thinks “new” is “safe” and “old” is “shaky”, if not a bit “unsafe”. ¬†Frankly, it is easy to disregard the age of the vessel and simply go by the “reputation” of the cruise company or by their record. ¬†It speaks volumes about their maintenance system and their crew.¬†



As for the rooms, ¬†I went ga-ga when I splurged on a weeklong cruise in a cabin with a balcony. ¬†I have also tried a cabin with an oceanview pigeonhole. ¬†And a cabin with NO WINDOWS. ¬† Given all the activities on and off the boat, ¬†I dare say I can do with or without the comfort of a bigger cabin, or a room with a view. ¬†However, 2 in a cabin is best. ¬†Three may be tolerable if you are family. ¬†Small-sized that they are, ¬†it would be a task to navigate around a tiny cabin, much less share a bathroom with 3 others. ¬†I caution you to check out the location of your cabin though. ¬†We had the misfortune of one cabin right above the theatre. ¬†We could hear the entire show in our room just when we decided on an early night. ¬†If you happen to have no other option (we got our cabin as the cruise went on sale, so we couldn’t complain) but such a cabin above the theatre, ¬†just make sure you watch the last show so it’s all over by the time you head back to your cabin to call it a night.



Other than safety and comfort though,  there is so much to consider when choosing the boat.   The rooms. The food. The entertainment program.  The crew.  THE SYSTEM.  The last one is important. Methinks a bad embarkation and disembarkation system reflects on the efficiency of the cruise ship. Think emergencies.  



Of course, you get those emergency drills the first couple of hours you are on the boat. Who goes where, which boats to take in an emergency, etc. ¬† Outside of those drills, you have the embarkation and disembarkation procedures to be observed. ¬†I rode one boat where this system simply sucks. ¬† It was so chaotic that I was reminded how the emergency system works if it comes to that. ¬†A mood-killer, if there is one. ¬† Mind you, you only have so many hours offshore before you head back if you don’t want to miss your boat. Those stopovers must be utilized efficiently! ¬†As in planning your itinerary when getting off the boat, checking out the sites, and getting back on the boat with time to spare. ¬†I know of a couple who missed the boat, ¬†and brace yourself………..the boat actually LEFT without them. ¬†What a scare!


So, if the crew isn’t efficient or if the system sucks, ¬†you’re in for a lot of anxieties. ¬† I have quite a few to be able to do some comparisons. ¬†The Alaskan cruise I joined via the Princess Line was seamless! ¬† The Royal Carribean Asian cruise I did was also very efficient. ¬† So with the smaller boat I joined when I did my Nile Cruise. ¬†Now, enough said. ¬† ¬†ūüėČ