Nomadic Spice

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Tagaytay September 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — nomadicspice @ 3:36 pm

View of Taal Volcano from the patio of our hotel room

View of Taal Volcano from the patio of our hotel room

Tagaytay:  the home of Taal volcano, fields of pineapples and sweeter air was our destination last week. We enjoyed a room at the Taal Vista Hotel with a balcony overlooking the volcano for a night. I couldn’t wait for the cooler temperatures and cleaner air to breath but I was a little disappointed in the heat, I have to admit. It was very hot in all the Manila area, including Tagaytay, certainly not the 70 to 75 degrees F we expected.  I didn’t exactly pack the best clothes for the trip. We had a wonderful time anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We toured the Flower Farm first, one of the many that supplies the city with cut flowers. On their grounds and in their greenhouses we wondered through their ferns, gerbera daisies, mums, orchids and hibiscus to name a few. David and Daniel were in their element: there were bugs, butterflies, frogs, and lots of plants and flowers to touch and smell.

Our guide and Daniel in a greenhouse of mums

Our guide, David and Daniel in a greenhouse of mums

 

Me and orchids

Me and orchids

Lunchtime took us to Leslie’s for famed Filipino food. The atmosphere was relaxed and inviting and the view of the volcano and lake spectacular.  Instrumentalists and singers walked from table to table entertaining. I thought they were quite talented. The BBQ chicken was amazing, the chicken and pork adobo was great but the beef tapas was very dry.

Meal at Leslie's

Meal at Leslie

We ended with buko (the local word for coconut) drinks. David and Daniel were anticipating this (Matt explained it ahead of time) yet David didn’t quite enjoy it as much as he thought he would. Daniel liked it. It was very watery and not very sweet. We learned later that these are young coconuts and don’t have a lot of flesh, have lots of juice and do not taste much like coconut.

 

 

Daniel drinking buko or coconut juice

Daniel drinking buko or coconut juice

After the boys enjoyed the hotel’s playroom that afternoon we hired a pony near our hotel for the boys to ride. Dinner was at the Bag of Beans. We enjoyed fruit shakes and homemade meat pies and fruit pies, the fruit pies were very good. We purchased some of the locally grown coffee called Baraco.

Daniel on a pony

Daniel on a pony

Daniel

Daniel

Our hotel had a wonderful buffet breakfast that we leisurely enjoyed outside while we viewed the lake and volcano.  We walked the hotel’s grounds and enjoyed the view more before we headed out to find more horses for the boys to ride. We found them at Picnic Grove after we bought a few buko (coconut) pies at a Colette’s stand in town.  We rode the horses (yes, Matt, me, David and Daniel!) or rather the small ponies and then we grabbed a picnic table and tried our buko pie. It was good. Not too sweet, long slices of coconut, I like it. We walked down to the overlook to see yet another prospect of the volcano and lake then we headed out for a drive in the mountains.

David on a pony

David on a pony

Buko pie

Buko pie

We thought we would see a little country side and look for the “Fantasy World” enigma before going home.  We saw several small schools, small convents and many, many churches, more big beautiful homes than we could count (are they vacation homes, retirement, do people commute? I’m very curious why all those homes are being built out there).  We saw lots of road side stands with fruits and vegetables, house and garden plants (which I bought a couple) and fields of corn and pineapple. There were small businesses building and selling handmade wood furniture. And we climbed up a few winding roads with a few drop offs that would make your belly flip-flop. We met some buses on the roads and got behind some slow jeepneys. Finally at the top of a high hill we saw it: Fantasy World. We knew we couldn’t get in (or could we? We didn’t know what it was; only saw a picture of it online). There were women selling peanut and coconut candy outside the gates. It looked like no one had been there in a while but there were a couple of guards. He explained that none of the rides or water rides were operational but members could use it for parties and the lifetime (or was it annual?) membership was 149,000 Pisos.  It was a pleasant, scenic drive getting there and the building is quite remarkable.

Fantasy World

Fantasy World

 

I was sorry to slowly filter back into the traffic of the city, watching the more lush vegetation give way to concrete, but it’s always nice to go back to one’s own home.  Our trip away from the city only makes me more anxious to explore another little treasured destination among the Philippines islands.

My three boys on the patio of our hotel enjoying the early morning with me. This is what it is all about.

My three boys on the patio of our hotel enjoying the early morning with me. This is what it is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manila Meanderings August 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — nomadicspice @ 4:01 pm

Here are some more pictures to keep our family and friends abreast of what we are about in Manila. This is the purpose of my blogsite. Should any visitors happen by, you are welcome too!

These pictures are of our visit to Intramuros, the remains of the walled Spanish city. We took a horse drawn buggy ride. It was a very hot morning and the boys were a bit cranky. We have learned, by the way, that the mornings are the hotter part of the day here and then the day cools and the wind often picks up in the afternoon. A little different than the hot Oklahoma summers we are used to, going out in the morning and staying in as much as we can in the afternoon.  It took us awhile to work this out since its the rainy season and the weather fluctuates so much. But.. we have to work at changing our way of thinking. Well, on this day we were stupid and took the kids out in the heat and they were cranky, so we just saw the highlights. It was fun anyway.

We stopped at St. Augustin Church and peaked inside, took a few snapshots. It was magnificent! The doors were beautifully carved; I wish I could’ve had a good shot of them but they were in shadow and a wedding was going on, I didn’t want to use a distracting flash. Yes! A wedding mass was being performed with tourists talking at the back of the church. Some of them were actually audacious (shall I say Rude?) enough to cross the rope and go into the church during the wedding, preteding they didn’t see the huge sign. Nevertheless, to have one’s wedding in such a place, with that history and the beauty of the place, its was amazing. The church (or its first predecessor) was first built in 1571 and destroyed a few times, completely or partially. But, the roof was only destroyed during WWII. We rode past other notable buildings but didn’t get pictures, I was passing out pb&j sandwiches, doling out water and other food to really whiny boys. We will be back, I’m sure. We saw the cathedral, lots of the wall, jail cells- but our tour guide didn’t know which one Rizal was housed in before he was executed.

 We went into a lovely garden and then into a cannon foundry, it was a facsinating maze of stone and water, called “Baluarte de San Diego”. It was origianlly a fortification that was part of the wall but was later turned into a foundry in the 18th century. We ended our tour with a stop into the handicrafts store for a ‘quick-before-David-or-Daniel-breaks-something’ look around. I bought a wood salad spoon/fork serving set. We will save Fort Santiago at sunset and dining outdoors for when we don’t have the children with us!

 

And We’ve Pitched Our Tents August 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — nomadicspice @ 6:02 am
The Philippines.  I never dreamt I would be living in a busy city in a far off island in Southeast Asia. We have been here a month and a half and are calling our condo home and keeping as busy as I can handle, which really is not as busy as the average person because I like to enjoy  what I call the spice of life, the simple pleasures of playing with my children, reading to them, cooking, trying to feel normal in our presently abnormal lives. And we are liking it. I think we are adjusting surprisingly well to our new lives as wandering, new world nomads. We will be here at least two years, so it’s not as romantic as all that, we won’t just pull up stakes and leave whenever we get the wanderlust. We will go to the next diplomatic post and have a totally new experience, I’m sure. I say I am surprised, but I shouldn’t be, we prayed for at least a year in preparation for this move, for grace and strength to endure and enjoy as well, for us as well as the children, for godly protection and people to be in our children’s lives and ours. God listens, o does he, and he provides as he best sees fit! We hired a woman to help me ( a lengthy discussion for another day, what a blessing!) and of a nation of mostly Catholics, all of which are bit superstitious, we get a born-again believer who goes to an evangelical church, what a wonderful God we have. 

Daniel playing in our new living room in his pajamas

Daniel playing in our new living room in his pajamas

 

What have we done since we’ve been here? So much in the last month and a half it feels like so, so much longer. I have been reflecting on why we have done so much more here than when we lived in Virginia. Well, one, obviously, we are still tourists, we are seeing the sights and shopping; it’s all so new. Two, it was so expensive to do most anything there, not here; the dollar goes a little further. Three, the community has been kind to us, inviting us to join in and share rides (since we do not have our car yet, our shipment is not yet here). Three, the embassy social organizations plan events often. 

 

 

The boys have been going to playgroups; swimming with arm floaties in the big pool (what an accomplishment!);  toured Krispy Kreme and dipped donuts in chocolate and sprinkles, complete with hats and gloves; explored new parks and interactive sculptures and have a impulsive, reckless fascination with the many, many beautiful fountains around town (i.e. like to fall in or jump in and get wet) .

  

 

 

 

 

Daniel at High Street in a camera

Daniel at High Street in a camera.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

David

David on our "green noodle" as we call it at High Street, an interactive sculpture. Talk in one end and hear in the other.

 

Bouncing on our "magic carpet" sculpture. Mom joined in to. The guards watched, but I didn't care. I'll take a magic carpet ride with my kids anyday.

Bouncing on our "magic carpet" at High Street. Mom joined in. The guards watched. I didn't care. I'll take a magic carpet ride with my kids any day.

We’ve been to a children’s hand on science museum (a must repeat!), new aquarium/ocean park, toured Intramauros in a horse and buggy (and saw a wedding in the Cathedral built in 1571, amazing!), bought handicrafts made in the provinces: a gorgeous basket, a wooden spoon/fork salad set and purchased my first Filipino pearls. I’ve gone to high tea at a posh Thai hotel. I’ve seen Imelda Markos’ shoes in a museum, bought high quality artisan straw hats and a 12 place setting of bone china for less than a tenth of the US price. 

  

 

 

 

Glass bottom boat ride at Manila Ocean Park. We saw the rays, sharks, fish and human fish too in the huge aquarium below. The boys loved it too.

Glass bottom boat ride at Manila Ocean Park. We saw the rays, sharks, fish and human fish too in the huge aquarium below. The boys loved it too.

  

The boys are so surprising. David got away (no surprise) and I found him kissing this statue as big as he is at the Ocean Park.

The boys are so surprising. David got away (no surprise) and I found him kissing this statue bigger than he is at the Ocean Park.

 

 
A whirlwind of activity for a bookish, nature loving, homemaker that prefers to stay at said home with children? Carpe Diem.

 

 

 

 
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