Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Questions and Wants

There are a few things that’s been running in my mind the past few days. A lot of it involves money, my time, and my future. In a world where everything seems so uncertain, I am trying to juggle my priorities in order to achieve a balance of life. So many questions asked and there’s just not enough time to think about all of them, or come up with an answer: should I just go and do part time work so I can focus on my research about travel agency business? When my boyfriend and I get married, will it work if we have separate savings accounts or a joint account? Should I go to Manila and spend one or two months on a business and leisure trip? Or, should I just not go? Should I go on my solo trip?

I guess I am just feeling that life at the moment is going too fast. So fast that I just want time to breathe, and enjoy the moment. After all, I am not getting any younger. I would like to be able to do things that I want to do, such as jogging in the morning at the park, study my finances, come up with a weekly healthy food plan, go to the parlor and spa to do my hair and have a massage, hear mass every day if I can, etc. There are just too many activities that I would love to do. But I can’t or I won’t. One day, I hope I get around doing all these and more.

The Rocks Market Rocks

Every saturdays and sundays, the Rocks comes alive from 10AM to 5PM, with all sorts of people buying and selling things, trinkets, souvenirs, and a lot of other things. There are homewares, art, indigenous crafts, food items, and some other novelty items. Whether they are useful, interesting or just pretty to look at is left to one's opinion. Here are a few things that I snapped at while visiting The Rocks Market. Be sure to visit the stalls should you find you find yourself strolling in Sydney.

The Rocks Market is located at the old part of the city of Sydney, a few steps from the water's edge by the famous icons : the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. There are Irish pubs, Aussie pubs, nice restaurants along the street markets should you need a mug of beer or a pack or yummy ribs. (If you can, visit the Pancakes on the Rocks!)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wanting to spend time with family

Okay, everyone is getting older. I spoke with my parents last week and told them that I was wanting to spend more time with them. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on too many family gatherings and celebrations by being too far away. I went on and telling dad that it was not really very enriching personally, if I don’t consider traveling to Manila every so often just to spend time with them. I told him it would have been good if one of my siblings decided to live here as well. Dad said him and mom were both willing, in case I get to work on and process their resident visas. I asked him how mom was doing, and whether my other siblings were doing anything to provide her with Menopause Symptom Relief, you know at their age this is a big thing. Dad said mom was coping pretty well. That’s a relief to hear. Although he said that every so often mom gets hot flashes and gets really moody as well. Aside from that though everything is normal. I wonder if when my time comes I would feel the same discomfort? I hope not. Oh well, time will tell. Meanwhile, I am still a bit homesick.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

For the love of Tomatoes

Okay, I love tomatoes. As you may have read my previous post on my cooking delight.

A long time ago, when I was in college I watched a travel show which featured the Spanish event: La Tomatina! The festival is celebrated on the last wednesday of August, in the town of Bunol, in Valencia, Spain. There are numerous festivities which lead to this final celebration of tomatoes, such as : food stalls, street parties, parades, dancing, fireworks, etc.

It is quite a costly celebration, that their city council spends up to about USD15000. However, attracting up to 40,000 tourists and visitors who travel 38 kms from the city of Valencia, this Tomatina festival offers so much more that it has been ongoing since the year 1945. Quite a while now! When I saw this festival on television I thought to myself I should try this and experience this in my lifetime. Well, I guess not this year, sadly.

The celebration begins mid morning, when the lucky person has reached for the ham at the top of the greased pole. Water cannons are fired up onto the street filled with people (dressed in hopefully not white tees), who armed with their eye goggles and gloves. Although tomatoes are squished before being thrown, it is always best to keep safe and cautious of the chaotic-tomato filled hour. The Tomatina ends in about an hour, with the water cannon firing away signalling the end. Time for clean up, and the people head towards the Bunol river to rinse, while the local council clean the streets. Another end to a good time, until next year again when the city comes alive with tomatoes in the air. They say it takes experiencing it to appreciate the event. Otherwise, one just feels tomato rotten about the wasted fruit.

I've gathered a few trivia on tomatoes:
  • Botanically, Tomatoes are fruits
  • The tomato seeds are source of vitamin C
  • A tomato plant can produce up to 15 tomatoes in a season
  • French people refer to tomatoes as the "apple of love", while the Germans refer to it as the "apple of paradise"
  • There are more than 4000 varieties of tomato, ranging in size, shape and colour

My Mauritian Creole Chicken

I dont think I've posted this one here! But I've been meaning to!

A few weeks ago I was craving this Mauritian Creole Chicken that I was served during my trip to Mauritius. I was not sure how they make it (like really make it), but I was able to satisfy my craving using my OWN tastebud's version. It turned out pretty well. To think I am not usually good with cooking up something out of nothing. My boyfriend loved it as well! :) Yipee! Here is a quick roundup of what I did:

Stuff needed:
Oil, (sliced), onions, sugar, chicken breast fillet, roast chicken spices, (diced) tomatoes, pepper, and any other spice that suits ones taste.

The process:
Heat oil in a pan, caramelise onion by adding bit of sugar. Fry until golden brownish. Set aside or just keep them on the sides of the pan. Add the chicken, fry until golden. Sprinkle the spices onto the chicken (both sides). Add tomatoes just enough to create texture, but not overpowering the chicken. Mix together until tomato juice gets onto the chicken bits.

Voila! Serve while hot, together with rice.
I did not take a photo of my ensemble, but it should look something like this:

Diet and the struggle to live healthy

I am constantly on a diet, just like the rest of the female species of this world. I suppose it’s the way that society is portrayed in the movies, in magazines, on television, etc. They say that there are changes happening and that the media now shows a lot more healthy women out there. I suppose in a way that’s true. We are not all born to have size 24 waistlines, and really sometimes our body frames are not built for this. I have never been really obese or anything close to that, but I was never really skinny ever as well. I am in between, and I try to keep it that way. Age is not really cooperating though, and my boyfriend just keeps reminding me that no amount of unhealthy diet can change that, and that exercise is the real solution.

Having said those, I know a few people who resort to taking diet pills. My sisters even have tried them. I have not. It is a preference I guess, and whether one believes that these pills work is another thing. The real deal then really is to strive to live a healthy lifestyle. There are moments that we just need to indulge in happy food, but there should be more times that we should watch what we eat. Body shape is just that exact words body and shape, but healthiness is not measured by one’s dress size.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A hole in the plane

Have you heard about Qantas' emergency landing today, in Manila? It's one of the scariest experience that one could experience flying on a 'holed' aircraft.

The flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne, heard a big bang midway after taking off from Hong Kong, and have experienced decompression in the cabin. Apparently the reason for this was the hole in the aircraft, exposing a bit of the baggage, with a gush of air entering the cabin. The aircraft plunged about 20,000 metres after the said bang. The cabin crew were able to control the situation and it was reported that every passenger remained calm. Based on interviews of passengers, one mentioned that she did not feel that the crew were not in control, and so this obviously helped people to remain calm and not panic. Although the situation posed a bit of concern, as it could have potentially knocked unconscious the passengers onboard. Luckily, none of the passengers or crew were injured and the plane was able to urgently and safely land into Manila International airport.

Qantas is still undergoing investigations regarding this incident. One can read more about this here.

Techie Momma?

Isn’t it great that there is a bingo targeted at lady audience? 888ladies bingo offers different promotions throughout, particularly catering to the women out there, or maybe just the women at heart? They’ve given free passes to horse racing events, premier tickets to movies, and there are more available when one plays this online game.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Famous twins (or half of)

When I was younger I always wanted to have a twin sister. I guess it’s the influence of having read too much Sweet Valley Twins/High (I grew up with Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield). It’s quite interesting to note the twin (or half of twin) celebrities out there. Among them are:

Mary Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen
Alanis Morissette (has an older twin brother, Wade – older by about 12 minutes)
Aaron Carter (has an older twin sister, Angel Charissma – older by about 2 minutes)
Jeremy London and Jason London
Joel Madden and Benji Madden
Scarlett Johansson (has a twin brother, Hunter)
Vin Diesel (has a twin brother, Paul)
Joseph Fiennes (has a twin brother, Jacob)
Ashton Kutcher (has an older twin brother, Michael)
Isabella Rossellini (has a twin sister, Ingrid)
Kiefer Sutherland (has a twin sister, Rachel)
Gisele Bundchen (has a younger twin sister, Patricia – younger by about 5 minutes)
Linda Hamilton and Leslie Hamilton
Jessica Origliasso and Lisa Origliasso (The Veronicas)
Kofi Annan (has a twin sister, Efua)
Brittany Daniel and Cynthia Daniel (Sweet Valley Twins!)
Giovanni Ribisi (has a twin sister, Marissa)
Parker Posey (has a twin brother, Christopher)

Earning points

There are different mediums to booking a holiday. Nowadays it is quite usual for people to be into earning points to claim a holiday, whether it was a full package or just bits of the holiday. Buena_viva is a vacation international points club based in Exeter, England that offers this type of service. Buena-viva offers a number of resorts available to be booked, if one had enough points. I had a look at their rewards points system and this is quite achievable in a short period.

I for one, have always been a fan of rewards programs, whether it was with an airline, or a hotel. I make sure that each time I book with these preferred suppliers I get my points. I suppose being in the travel industry can do this. I appreciate the way the programmes are run. In a way it can speak about loyalty to a brand, among other things. Having moved to Sydney, I’ve increased my rewards program membership. I am now also a member of supermarket chains’ membership program. I try to keep my memberships in a controllable number so I can earn points quickly. So far so good. I have earned a few nights hotel accommodation which I am looking at using soon!

41st Sydney International Boat Show

From 31 July to 05 August, 2008 Sydney will be alive and filled with boat enthusiasts, boat lovers, boat collectors, and the like. I may very well be part of it again. Maybe I just like the crowd and the whole exciting festive ambiance. Or, I just enjoy seeing the Marina filled with different boat sizes, shapes,etc!

The Sydney International Boat Show is held annually at Darling Harbour's Cockle Bay Marina. Tickets sell from AUD 10 per child and AUD 18 per adult. Package rates are available for families or groups. It runs from 10 AM to about 6 PM at the Marina, and a bit longer til 8 PM at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Last year there were really nice boats docked. I am sure this year would be as fun to see! Well, another excuse to take my camera with me and take a few snaps.

Minding my (own) business

It’s been a while since I’ve started to do some paid blogging on my site. It keeps me busy trying to run around and see how exciting the blog advertising industry is and how much business it is generating for everyone logged on to the internet. I believe it’s not for everyone, but surely it is something I enjoy doing. I feel that each time I write I learn more about the world out there, whether it’s something I run across or something I realize for myself on my own.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A tag from Rhea

The rules are simple.
At the end of the post, the player tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
..I was on my 3rd year in college

2. What are the 5 things on my to-do list today?
..Cook dinner
..Pay my bills online
..Watch Lipstick Jungle
..Call my mom
..Research a potential trip?!?

3. Snacks I enjoy:
..Ice Cream
..Cheese/Crackers/Wine (??)
..Milo White Choco Bar
..Any Chocolate Bar!

4. Place where I lived:

5. Things I’d do if I were a billionaire
..Donate to charity
..Travel around the world (fly, cruise, train)
..Invest in a business

Quotes from a Mauritian Hotel

During my stay in Mauritius, at The Residence, they turned down my bed at night and had left me with a food for thought (left photo)... The following day while we were touring their Spa, they had this quote displayed (right photo). Quite interesting to find bits and pieces of these ones when you least expect it.

A swirl of colours

Life is meant to be lived in a swirl of colours.
Constantly changing..
Living, always trying something
New and different.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dreamy driving

It’s already halfway through the year and I still haven’t applied for my driver’s license. I can’t drive in Sydney anymore with my Philippine license. Although I don’t really intend to get a car just yet (living in the city one does not really need this), I would really like to probably just go for a car rental to do long weekends away from the city. I already have a mental list of places I would like to visit. Topping that list would be the South Coast’s Bulli. I went to Bulli beach a few months ago and had a really nice experience. I read the paper today and saw that there are quite a few promotional rates and discounts available. I’m sure with my travel agent card I would get even better deals. Who knows I could probably rent a convertible (yeah right!). Now all I really need to work on is getting my driver’s license.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Coping with the J word

Everyone copes differently, but one way or another everyone feels this. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a first time traveler. The only difference is probably, the frequent traveler is more aware of what’s happening. Here are a few tips to overcome or prepare for an anticipated travel plan. Some may work for you, and some may not. I know I just really need at least 6 hours sleep upon landing in my destination to adjust. And, upon arriving home I need at least 24 hours sleep and rest to recover. Here’s my way of coping with jetlag.

Prior Departure
- Pre-Plan your activities wisely at your destination. Allow rest time.
- Don’t plan a big night on the eve of your flight. A good night's rest is always advisable.
- Take fruits and vitamins prior, you will need all the extra nutrients to combat getting sick in transit.
- Take a long, warm shower prior leaving your house to ease tension and lower one’s stress level.
- Avoid too much sugar, caffeine, nicotine as these just add to one’s stress.

Onboard Flight
- Constantly drink water to hydrate yourself.
- Move about the cabin. Try to do mini stretches (in the loo or along the aisle) every hour or two.
- Set your watch to your destination’s time.
- Eat right onboard. Take light meals and snacks. Disrupting your body’s eating habit onboard will make one prone to upset stomach, stress and headaches.Get some rest. Sleep with your eye mask, request for a neck pillow. Or, if possible take a day flight. It makes one feel less tired upon reaching one’s destination.

Upon Arrival
- Set some time to have your body adjust to the climate, time zone, atmosphere of the local area.
- Warm baths ease the tension built up in flight.
- Do some stretching, or take a walk. This helps your body circulation.
- Re-hydrate. Take lots of water.
- Put on aromatherapy to calm nerves and ease tension.

(Image from Qantas' aircraft interior)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Before I get married/Start a family

I had this conversation today with my boyfriend. I told him I was thinking of traveling alone overseas before we get married. He felt a bit bad about me wanting or even thinking of traveling alone, meaning, without him. I tried to send my message across that it was something I have just been wanting to do. It does take a lot of courage, planning and money involved, but the world is very much a safer place to travel alone. A female solo traveler is not as frowned upon as days before. It’s not like I won’t tell him where I will be all the time. I don’t intend to travel to rural areas. Just major cities/city. Today, when we were out with a girl friend of mine, she mentioned she also wanted to do this. I told boyfriend this is really one of those things that some ladies aspire for. I think it’s not for everyone though. But I am glad I have come across another lady blogger who feels the same way! :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Galos Caves in Chicago

The concept of salt-iodine caves have been around since the year 2000. It's only recently that I have heard about it. The healing capabalities of the caves are still being tested, although it sure is a unique way to go for treatments. Galos caves offers an authentic sea micro climate on American soil.

There are a number of claims about the benefits when one undergoes treatment from the Galos caves. Some if them are: respiratory/rheumatic/ cardiovascular diseases. Apparently air,when seeped through salt stimulates the immune system. Galos caves are suitable for children as well as mature people. Rates per 45 minute session are from USD 15 per adult. Discounts for families or groups are available.

I would definitely be interested in trying a treatment. Who knows I could benefit from this type of treatment.

Galos Caves Open 7 days a week, 900hrs-2100hrs.

6501 West Irving Park Road Chicago Il 60634 USA
Tel. 1 (773) 283 7701, 1 (773) 283 7761 or Email them : info@galoscaves.com

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who said one can have too much of

.. Sunglasses or glasses. It's like shoes for some people. Or, even bags to others. My friend has been collecting different shades, shapes, frames sunglasses. Recently she's discovered shopping online on zennioptical.com can save her a lot of money. She also says though, that it is not even always about the money. She is just raving about the different styles and designs that there are available to her. I suppose each of us have our weaknesses. Hers are sunglasses. Mine, well, is anything about travel.

Fancy eating in a toilet restaurant?

Everyone's entitled to their own preference. I would probably be more inclined to try a more "traditional" themed restaurant. But with all the new concepts and themed restaurants emerging, sooner rather than later this was bound to happen. If you are wanting to try the novelty of all novelties, then this is on your list.

The first of its kind, toilet restaurant called Marton (Chinese for the word toilet), is located in Taiwan's major city, Kaoshiung.

The restaurant decors are pretty much what one would find in a toilet (or bathroom). The guests are seated in toilet seats, the walls are in bathroom blue tiles, dishes are served in miniature toilet "bowls", urinals, tubs, etc. They serve dessert (chocolate mousse like) in a mini "dump" shape.
If you're feeling a bit 'crappy' and want a bit of amusement, AND happen to be in Taiwan, then this place may cheer you up. And then again, if you are not up for it, I am sure there are other restaurants available in the city!

I personally would probably have a quick peek into the resto if I happen to be in that town. Just to see that it is real, and that people actually have their meals inside this toilet restaurant. Interesting!

Photos taken from: http://funfever.blogspot.com/2007/11/taiwans-modern-toilet-restaurant.html

Toilet Bowl Taipei Metro, Hsinpu Station, Exit 1 (02) 8253-7767

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Yellow Water Billabong Cruise, NT

Went on the Yellow Water Billabong Cruise at Kakadu, Northern Territory. It was one great experience that I truly enjoyed. One with nature. It is photographer's paradise as well (if you have the proper equipment of course). So much wildlife to be seen. We were able to catch a peek at salties (saltwater crocodile), a number of birds, etc. It is something not to be missed when one has the opportunity to visit Kakadu National Park.

The scenery throughout the cruise is just endless wetlands such as the photo/s below.

Ducks were plenty as well... And of course they come in a group, or pairs... Rarely seen alone..

If you have a closer look at the bird below. It is kneeling. But with it's knees turned the other way around!
Can you guess what animal it is that's partly showing itself below? (A croc!)

If I could choose a place to finish my knitting project

.. It would be here in the Northern Territory at a town called Adelaide River. They have their own space for their very own knitter's club! Just to give you a bit of an idea where this town is, it is between the cities of Darwin and Katherine, in the Northern Territories. This means it is somewhere in the outback! It is a quaint little town that just has so much to offer. On our way to the Katherine Gorge's we actually stopped and had lunch at one of the picnic tables here. The pub had the usual pub food, but the nice thing about this pub is that they actually have a garden. Imagine a pub (yes, beers, chips and the like) with a really cool garden. And the knitters' table.

Darwin Travel Photo

Last year I went to Darwin to meet up with my parents. It was a very quick trip. Tiring. But really very interesting. I got to see a different part to Australia.

Darwin is the biggest city in the Northern Territory, in Australia. Darwin had none of the big cities' stress, none of the cold weather, and none of the busy-ness that yuppies busy themselves with. It was a real outback encounter for me. Initially I said I didn't like Darwin. It was so humid and hot, had a lot of insects and crawlies, and it did not have a big city! I am a self proclaimed city girl. Now, looking back at my Darwin trip, I can say the city has its charm. It takes a while to appreciate the city. It is a safe haven though for city-burnt-out kids like myself.

I would go back to Darwin one day, if not only for the captures below. I will post the photos in trickles though.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bed-shaped cake for anniversary

Best Western in Manchester is celebrating their 30th anniversary with a “bed cake.” Literally. How creative is that. I suppose it will take a huge ‘slumber party’ to finish this up! The cake weighs about 408kg, contains 300 eggs, 65kg of sugar, 33 litres of milk, 64kg of butter cream! Interesting pieces. Have you read about the Ferrari auto made from chocolate? Click here to see.

Raising bilingual kids

I am pretty proud about our eldest being able to speak my mother tongue (Filipino). As young as one year old we taught her to speak Tagalo...