Seven Days of Family Fun in Bali

Bali in Indonesia is one great southeast asian island to visit while vacationing in the Philippines . It is  only a 4 hour flight from Manila to Denpasar. A week in Bali spent  with my husband’s family is definitely one for the books. Traveling with kids, elderly and extended family is not without  some challenges; but it was special and unforgettable.

My sister in law did most of the arrangements: transportation, accommodation and activities. It is amazing how transportation can be pre-arranged via Whatsapp or Viber. It was easy. We rented a van/coaster for at least 10-12 people. The drivers were recommended by friends and  family who have previously availed of their services. It was nice to not worry at all about navigation and driving. We would message ahead of time if we needed it for the day. Taxi service like Grab is also a nice option for those short trips.

I love Bali. The people, most specially. Despite the traffic and the “busy-ness” , the Balinese people seem like calm and peace loving people; as if   they are not easily affected by the chaos around them and I mean that in a good way; not apathetic, but patient and  tolerant. I also  love how religious they are, offering food and prayers every day to their gods. Their dishes are tasty and the availability of tropical fruits reminded me so much of my province in the southern part of the Philippines.

Visiting Bali  mid- June is not a bad idea. Weather was great and it was not as humid as Manila this time of year.The   occasional rain showers  served to cool us down even more.

So here’s what we did in Bali for a week.

*First two days were spent in Kuppu Kuppu Jimbaran, a Hotel, Beach Club and Spa by L’ Occitane.  

Natural elements like bamboo and rattan were used to decorate some parts of the  hotel. The pool is gorgeous. It was close to the beach and a golf cart was always available to take us to and from the Jimbaran beach, for free! The free breakfast buffet  had decent  selections. I just wish coffee was unlimited.

Sunbathed and relaxed by the pool.

Enjoyed a Balinese massage treatment at The Bamboo Spa by L ‘Occitane

Frolicked and watched  the sunset by the beach

Ate fresh seafood al fresco, for dinner

Rented a  6 bedroom villa with a pool and a butler for a week.

Ate  traditional Indonesian breakfast of egg and noodles

Visited one of Bali’s oldest and most venerated temples, the Lempuyang Temple or Gateway to Heaven. Without the clouds and the fog, Mt Agung can be seen in the background. We left Jimbaran close to 5:00 am and got there around 06:30. It  involved a 15-20 minute uphill climb by foot.we only visited one of seven temples.  There’s an option to ride a motorbike for a minimum fee. The queue to get one’s photo took 2-3 hours. I still think it was worth this memorable family photo.The reflection pool is a camera trick used by locals while taking photos of tourists for a minimal donation. Vince did the same effect in Photoshop for the raw files.

Took photos of their beautiful smiles

Donned a sarong while visiting the sacred temple and  getting photobombed by a rooster

Visited a water temple, Tirta Gangga ; fed the fishes and played temple run

Met exotic animals like the iguana and the luwak.

Tried the nest and the swings in Tegallalang

Checked out the rice fields in Tegalalang with a drone view

Shopped and haggled in Ubud market for fruits, souvenirs etc

Learned how to surf at Jimbaran Beach. Joe of Rezha Surf School was an awesome surf instructor

*Shared some smiles with the bebeks or ducks of Bali. Great dish, most especially when fried  with numerous pickled side dishes and rice on the side.

*Mingled with the locals and enjoyed the local scenery

*Showed off our  awesome shopping finds. These rattan handbags can be bought for IDR 80-250 depending on your bargaining skills.

*Spent our down time swimming in between tours and adventures

*Wore a traditional batik clothing for an impromptu photoshoot

*Watched a Legong Dance and Ramayana Show in Ubud Palace

That’s all folks!

 

 

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Philippines in 7 Days (or less)

 

It was a three week vacation, but because we had to  fit in  Hong kong and Indonesia, the time literally spent in the Philippines got  trimmed down to a week..

So here’s a list of activities that what we did in a week in Pinas.Next blog posts will be the time spent in Bali and Hongkong.

1. visited the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene known canonically as Parish of Saint John the Baptist, and also known as the Quiapo Church

We were warned not to visit it on a Friday or Quiapo Day. For lack of time, we had no choice but to visit it on a  Friday. The car trip from Parañaque to Quiapo, Manila took more than 2 hours because of heavy traffic along Roxas Blvd.  on a high noon, we braved the thick crowd, heat and humidity just to get to the church. Love the wonderful and colorful religious products sold by different vendors outside the church though. Great place to get religious articles  like rosary, and santo ninos,love the  fresh sampaguita and ylang ylang garlands which perfumed the car for at least a week , even fans, clothing and other household stuff. We lit a candle and offered prayers for some special intentions. Why Quiapo church? we thought it was quintessentially Filipino,  and we wanted the kids to see that.

2. next, we stopped at the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat

A nice follow up to our visit of the Our Lady Of Montserrat in Barcelona last April and because we said our I do’s here. This time we visited it with the kids. The ceiling is still amazing!

We bought a few of the St Benedict’s Medal to bring home to the US as pasalubongs to family. While we were waiting for our St Benedict medal  to be blessed, we chanced  upon Vince’s high school Principal , Father Narciso (and it became a  reunion of sorts) which    made  our visit more special . He showed us the special part of the monastery where Benedictine monks and priests  are buried.

3. passed by San Beda College

Vince’s high school alma mater. It used to be a high school for boys . Now it only offers college degree courses.

4. and because we were in the hood, we visited Vince’s old house in Sampaloc.

5. spent a weekend in the Southeastern part of the Philippines, Butuan City.

Butuan is where we spent time with my father and my sister’s family.  Took the chance to take a photo of my papa featuring him with his hobby. He loves raising roosters for cockfighting. In this photo he is wearing his usual outfit of  thin cotton shirt given away by local grocery stores. During our visit, he cooked some of my favorites too. Too bad I didn’t get a DSLR shot of the tuna kilawin and grilled pusit that he prepared.

6. did an early morning  drive to the countryside, flew a drone over the Macapagal Bridge..

 

7. watched a horse and its newly born foal bond 

8. swam and dined at a local resort with cousins

9. had a photo op with a newly elected senator, Senator Francisco Tolentino

who impressed us with how he humbly interacted with us and respectfully acknowledged my father.

10. spent a night of fun and relaxation at Vince’s aunt Susan’s farm in Cavite

More swimming and relaxation ( the kids had fun listening to the bull frog croaking non stop at night ) while the grown ups played   mahjong and sang songs with the karaoke machine .

Vince’s aunt  rents out this wonderful rest house in Silang Cavite thru  https://m.facebook.com/Susans-Farm-971234546598268/

11.  kids played with their cousin Faber and  they fed the chickens, caught bugs like pros and ran around like children should.

12. learned saori weaving @faberfiberstudio

13. and another round of swimming and get together with family and friends

 

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14. Celebrated Jacob’s birthday together in advance, with  Lola Beth;  we sang the happy birthday song and  they made wishes and blew  a candle.

15. Not in photo, Vince’s multiple massage sessions which cost less than $10 per 1.5 hr session; our trips to the neighborhood salon for our $1.50 haircut; fake eyelashes at $10 and mani-pedi at $5; mama Beth’s wonderful cooking, mangoes galore etc.

Despite the mosquito bites, non stop eating  and typical Manila traffic, our hearts our full. Thank you family and friends for spending time with us.

 

 

 

 

 

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Barcelona in Three Days

 

We will be back! for sure. A quick tour of this beautiful region in Spain and three days is never enough to explore this city. I lost my cellphone to a pickpocket in Barcelona, but even that is negligible compared to the wonderful experience we had there.

We took the late night flight from Marrakech, so we arrived Barcelona’s  El Prat  at around 2 in the morning. Utilizing the not so comfy airport benches, we tried to catch some zzz’s while we waited for the car rental to open at 6:00  in the morning. It was uncomfortable, but it was one of those money saving efforts we did for this trip. We rented a car via Costco for 2 days which cost us 27 euros per day, saved us a hotel cost for a night and allowed us to visit other places in the Catalunia region at our own pace.

First stop so early in the morning was the beautiful city of  Tarragona.

The Castle of Altafulla or Castell dels Montserrat is a castle palace of the Tarragonès dating from 1059 . It is not open for public viewing.

Esglesia de Sant Marti d’ Altafulia is built between 1701 to 1705

Clear skies with a few clouds,a gorgeous view of  the Mediterranean sea from the Tarragona amphitheater ruins, a plate of black seafood paella and just walking aimlessly in the the alleys of the city square was our idea of a good time.

Tarragona Amphitheater

Tarraco Arena Placa

Pont del Diable

After devouring that delicious black seafood paella, we headed back to Barcelona to prepare for our most awaited activity of the night. We really worked hard to get tickets for this game and even cancelled our booking in Cadaques just to watch Messi and the FC Barcelona play against Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou. Every night we checked the website for ticket availability. Finally got a couple of tickets  2 days before the match. This is when I lost my cellphone in the train (we took the train from our hotel so we didn’t have to worry about parking, etc) and DSLR battery died! Photos here are from the Iphone but I’m glad we decided to watch them.  Just being in the crowd of passionate soccer fans, joining them sing and cheer for Barca, hearing the curses and praises; that was a great once in a lifetime experience.

FC Barcelona vs Atletico de Madrid, Camp Nou

Second day in Barcelona was spent meeting up with Vince’s college classmate, Kaye who spoke Spanish and showed us around Barcelona. so grateful at how Kaye changed our experience of this city.When we had to cancel our Cadaques booking, she suggested we drive instead to Tarragona for the early part of the day. Had a great time here visiting bars, museum and just enjoying the city for the whole day.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St Eulalia or Barcelona Cathedral

We we were so lucky to witness these castellers  (human towers) in Barcelona while we explored the city and a free pass at the Museum of the History of Barcelona.

Must have, Chorizos!!!

and an aperitif of black vermouth at La Alcoba Azul

Las Ramblas

and the best tapas at Tapeo del Born 

We came here the next day for a second round, just because we loved it so much. Loved the Glazed beef cheek stew; aubergines with honey and lime, patatas bravas, Iberian pork ribs with honey and mustard, Fideua (black catalan cuttlefish pasta), bombeta de la barceloneta and catalan cream foam.

Palau de la Musica and Casa Mila

4 Gats

The Four Cats is a cafe in Barcelona which became popular meeting place for famous artists during the Modernist period. Artists like Picasso frequented this place in the late 1890s.

Last day in Spain was busy as we travelled  northeast of Barcelona to visit Game of Thrones filming locations in Girona, Spain.

Girona Cathedral

Mid-noon, we drove back  Barcelona and did a  a quick drive thru of other tourist spots. On our way back, we had to pass by Montserrat. (Vince’s must see, in honor of his high school Benedictine influence.) We got married also in the Philippines at the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat which was also founded by the Benedictine monks in 1895.

Montserrat Monastery

Sagrada Familia

Park Guell

We wanted to visit this insta famous creation of Guell and Gaudi, but it was already closed when got there. What we did was just drive around the neighborhood to get the local vibe. This  itinerary won’t be possible if we didn’t  rent a  car to take us around/

We started our Barcelona adventure with a view of the mediterranean, so we’ll end it in the same note.

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