Tag Archives: travel

Travel Flashback: Sydney, Australia

It’s been a year and a half since my visit to Sydney. It was a surprise business trip slash holiday, one I never expected to have when I signed on to join Canva.

Off to Sydney!
We’re off to Sydney!

I knew a little about Sydney thanks to my aunt Ruth and her daughter Miel, both of whom visited the coastal city before. I learned a lot about kangaroos, koalas, and Cadbury chocolates, but none of their stories prepared me for the awesomeness of the place. I had fallen in love with the city from the get-go.

GOPR4577
In front of our hostel, before exploring Taronga Zoo. Photo by Thea Cinco.

I suppose part of the attraction had something to do with the fact that our trip wasn’t purely a tourist thing. We had plenty of locals (our Sydney counterparts) who took us around their favorite places, often away from the usual tourist destinations. Sure, we did what tourists did, but we also did what locals did.

I loved every place we went to, but my favorite places were Katoomba, Newtown and Surry Hills. Katoomba reminded me of Baguio, only smaller, neater, and much colder. Newtown was like Cubao X on steroids. Surry Hills was near the CBD, but still laid back enough for you not to feel hurried.

IMG_1018
Sightseeing in the Blue Mountains

IMG_5072
Bondi in autumn. Empty and cold.

In fact, Sydney on the whole didn’t feel very much like a city I’m used to. The whole vibe was laid back and chill. By day until the evening, people went about their business. However, since shops closed by 5 pm, there were less people around. On our last day we walked along the streets and was surprised that it was empty by 2 am. In Metro Manila, things were just starting to get lively by then.

IMG_2015-05-06 08:53:39
Walking along the streets of Sydney at 4 AM

The best part of the whole trip of course was getting to know the Sydney team. As a newbie then, it helped me become more familiar with the people I was working with, not just the local team, but also the one across the ocean. We totalled to about fifty or so then. Now, the number has doubled.

11154648_10152725331606971_544698289498480680_o
When we could still easily fit into one frame

IMG_5233
Selfie before heading back to Manila

More than a year after, I still can’t forget Sydney. I’ve done a lot of things in the two weeks but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Here’s to another opportunity to visit.

Eating in Kota Kinabalu (Part 2)

Continued from Eating in Kota Kinabalu (Part 1): Cultures Crashing

One of the things I loved about Kota Kinabalu is that the food was very affordable. On the average, the meals we ordred cost us around RM 8 each, and that’s with drinks. We splurged a bit at Kedai Kopi Lotus and Upperstar, but it was still well within a reasonable range. The servings are also good, so we didn’t feel shortchanged. We forgo eating at fast foods, the only time we did was when i ordered a Zinger from KFC to get rid of the quesy stomach I had after drinking teh tarik one time. In my opinion, skip the fast food and go eat local.

Kedai Kopi Lotus
I was beginning to think that most food places around Kota Kinabalu are called “kedai kopi”, so long as they have coffee and tea to go with the other stuff.

This place was outside of the KK City Center. I wouldn’t have gone if our friends didn’t bring us here. It’s a restaurant, but stalls owned by other cooks are stationed outside. One offers dumplings, another sells grilled seafood and chicken wings. Order food from any of them, and once it’s delivered, you pay on the spot. It’s a popular place for the people who live nearby, and many of them drop by to buy food rather than cook.

I never got the name of the dishes we ate. We had an almond pudding, a noodle dish with some chicken and veggies, dimsum, chicken wings, and grilled fish with shrimp paste and kang kong.

2014-12-06 19.01.13 2014-12-06 19.06.10

2014-12-06 19.13.54 2014-12-06 19.16.09

We also had dinner at a similar place a day later. It had a fascinating story, because it was located in a place in KK where the houses were on stilts.

More noodles
We had a free day, so we decided to strike out on our own for lunch. We decided to try Kedai Kopi Yee Fung along Gaya Street. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded. I wanted to try the claypot chicken, but it was out of stock so I decided to try their yee fung ngau chap. Had a glass of kitchai ping go to along with it. The noodle serving was smaller than Nountoun’s, but the drink was in a tall glass and I was happy.

Lunch

Continue reading

Hello, Summer

As a kid, Holy Week is the part of my summer that I look forward to the most. While every year I spent summer in my grandparents’ home in Candelaria, Zambales, Holy Week is especially fun because it’s when my cousins (of varying degrees) would come from all over. We’d have a few days of going to the beach, eating like there’s no tomorrow and playing in the fields all day long. It’s never boring in the province.

However, Good Friday is always the pits. Our grandparents would put a stop to everything fun. No going to the beach (or at least, no swimming). No playing in the fields. We’d ask why and we were told it’s because Jesus died and we should mourn. The more outspoken cousins would say “Eh bakit pa kasi namatay?” while the meeker ones would just follow what Lolo and Lola said.

It’s doubly bad when my birthday falls on Good Friday. My cousins would get their thrills by teasing me about my “bad” birthday. Being “pikon”, I’d easily get mad. However, my parents and grandparents would try to make up for it the next day. One of my titos, who also has the same birthday would join me in my misery.

Holy Week also counts as a reunion week. We usually have two major reunions: One for the Ebalo family, and one for the De La Llana family. Countless reunions were held here at home, with our branch of the family would be the host. My sister and I are usually delegated to man the registration table. Sad to say, I don’t recognize the people I meet, but it’s a pretty good way to get to know them for a bit.

Holy Week in the city
Since my summer is spent in the province, I grew up thinking that the traditions we’d do here were only for the province. It wasn’t until I started spending time in Manila during the Holy Week did I realize that it was also present. I’d see snatches of it in Manila, in Pasig, in Quezon City.

Wednesday night I got to see how Santolan celebrates. A long procession of statues of saints stopped traffic for a good hour or so. There were about thirty four or thirty five of them, each pulled by their respective devotees. The last of which was the local chapter of the Black Nazarene. The statue is carried by the male devotees, all of who were barefoot.
[singlepic id=236 w=320 h=240 float=center] [singlepic id=237 w=320 h=240 float=center] [singlepic id=238 w=320 h=240 float=center]

I am actually quite scared of these statues.

Going home
[singlepic id=239 w=320 h=240 float=center]
As expected the bus station was crowded. Thankfully, even though we had to wait a bit before we could get our tickets, it was organized. The trip took a while though, due to the traffic along NLEX. I slept most of the trip, waking up only to eat.

This cute baby entertained us during the whole trip. He was a smiling, good-natured little boy.
[singlepic id=240 w=320 h=240 float=center]

And my self-imposed Internet exile is a bust, because I needed to be online to work.

Random stuff
Good Friday procession here at home.
[singlepic id=244 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Tomatoes that my Lolo planted.
[singlepic id=241 w=320 h=240 float=center]

My carrot and banana cakes.
[singlepic id=242 w=320 h=240 float=none] [singlepic id=243 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Tomorrow, reunion.