Propelrr in Bangkok

It is an achievement for Propelrr to bring all its regular employees to Bangkok, Thailand. It was quite an experience because we did not limit ourselves to the usual itinerary, meaning, it was a combination of planned tour and spontaneous trip. From train to Tuk Tuk (motor taxi), to rented van and river boats, even elephant ride. We’ve tried (as much as we can) varieties of Thai food, be it street food, mall food or buffet on a cruise. And oh, shopping!

We stayed at Bangkok Christian Guest House. The rooms are spacious and clean. It is also close to train station, mall and night market.

In three days and three nights, we were able to do shopping at Chatuchak Market, Patpong Night market and Siam paragon, see Jim Thompson Museum, ride river boat to Grand Palace, experience a luxurious River Cruise, and Ayutthaya Day tour. Fun-and-activity-filled, but yes, still a lot of reasons to go back.

More importantly, we were able to forget about work and enjoy each other’s company. We hope to see more faces with us next time.

prop1                          River Cruise

prop2                          Ayuthaya

Growing old

Time is passing by so quickly don’t you think?

I am starting to get scared whenever I look at our kids, they’ve grown so fast. Especially Marcus. I am just glad he doesn’t go out too often (compared to teens his age), but he’s starting to ask permission already. He has someone who he constantly talks to on the phone. Don’t worry I’m ok (kaya pa), just as long as he spends for his celphone load and he sleeps on time.  I don’t have problem with his grades anyway. Zach and Lia, though I can still tell them what to do, are no longer babies as well. Zach even tells me, “Ok, you don’t need to shout” whenever he talks a lot and do not listen to what I say.

One night Gary asked me, out of nowhere, if I really don’t want to have another child. Maybe, he misses a baby in the house. Or like me, he’s starting to feel scared because we can no longer deny the fact that our kids are big already. Btw, my answer to Gary is still no to having another child, I cannot go through the same process anymore. Also, I wanted to have more time with him. To take care of all his needs (his love language is service) that I cannot possibly provide now because I have 3 kids to attend to. I am planning to start having vacation for the two of us starting next year, or maybe sooner, who knows?

I also plan to make more vacations as a family. It doesn’t have to be out of the country all the time, but if only we can afford it we’ll do it. We can go to Baguio, Tagaytay or even in Nuvali where we can use the club house already. I want to create situations wherein my kids don’t have the choice but to spend time with their siblings and their (old, emo and senti) parents. lol

Like 2 weeks ago, we spent our long-weekend in Baguio. Btw, we usually stay at Azalea Residences Hotel because we love how spacious their rooms are and how convenient their location is. We just ate and slept the whole time. This time we tried 2 of the best restaurants in Baguio, Cafe by the Ruins and Forest House, aside from Hill Station which has always been part of our every Baguio trip.

 

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Here you can see the kids’ bed (where Marcus is currently lying down). Gary is watching TV (he prefers to stand when he’s tired of sitting down). Zach, Lia and I are on the dining table. I am having a bottle of beer, Zach is reading the Hotel’s Bible (kulang na lang basahan ako ng verse at i-pray over hehe) and Lia is playing puzzle. On our back is the kitchen where you can find the ref, stove, microwave, sink and cabinets of utensils. On Zach’s right is the bathroom and another room for Gary and myself (though Lia still prefers to sleep with us) which has another TV and bigger closet.

 

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Picture of our babies-no-more while buying vegetables and Baguio sweets at Strawberry Farm.

I hope we can make many more memories like this.

Seoul 2013 finale

Last day in Seoul we decided to go to Hongdae. I really appreciate the effort of the  boys looking for Hello Kitty Cafe just to make the little girl happy. (Little did they know that they were doing me a favor too. hihi) Lia was about to complain, being tired of walking, when I showed her the hello kitty cafe. I saw how she smiled shyly recognizing the cafe that she used to see on the internet. It was priceless.

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We hurriedly went inside, me and Lia, while the boys stayed outside. After we’ve seen what’s inside the cafe, to our heart’s content, I ordered yoghurt and waffle. The boys don’t want anything so while waiting for us to finish our order, they went around Hongdae.

Few minutes later, they came back with good news, Hongdae is also a shopping area. Before we did our last minute shopping though, I asked them to look for a place to eat. Luckily, there is a place called Chef, literally a few steps away from Hello Kitty Cafe. Chef offers eat all you can grill and salad bar for 10k won. The little octopus was a hit!

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That was our last meal in Seoul. We headed straight to Incheon Airport after a little pasalubong shopping. That was it.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again… I will definitely go back to South Korea.

Seoul 2013 part 4

When we reached the hostel, Gary and Lia were busy with the laptop. I mean, Gary was looking after Lia while she plays Disney Junior online games. I am glad to see Gary looking and feeling better.

To cut the story short, he was ready for our next destination. We decided to, FINALLY, try Korean grilled meat. There’s this one restaurant just walking distance from where we were staying.

Our table is similar to this (picture taken from the internet)… I KNOW! I need to take my own pictures if I really want to be a travel blogger. (Effort lang kasi)

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Unfortunately, the menu doesn’t have English translation so we just pointed our order and have no idea what’s it called. Also, I was surprised when they put several side dishes on our table, around 6 side dishes per person. Punong-puno yung table namin. I was also a bit scared because I thought they misunderstood our order and gave us more than what we asked for. I haven’t tried Korean Restaurant before. But then I realized that they love side dishes as much as we Filipinos can’t eat without condiments (sawsawan).

Verdict, the meat was so tender. I tried all the side dishes which turned out to be edible (even those spicy kimchi), and some even tastes good. Definitely, it was our first satisfying meal in Seoul.

Then we headed to Dongdaemun market, a popular shopping destination and the fashion mecca daw of Korea. That’s where I bought my facial masks (The Faceshop) and some winter clothes for Lia. We also tried street food, sausages to be exact. Worth the try.

Seoul 2013 part 3

Alarm woke me up on the second day. The night before, we agreed to leave around 10am so I have to wake up at 8. When I sat on the bed to turn off the alarm, Gary told me he needs to rest the whole day. He felt worse. I was thinking what to do. It’s actually ok with me if we didn’t go anywhere. Traveling made me realize that it’s not all about tourist spots. My kids and I could just walk along the streets, eat more korean (junk) food and just observe what Koreans do. I was worried about Gary at the same time thinking about Rex and Dexter and their effort of planning for itinerary. Of course they would understand Gary’s situation but I think they also deserve to enjoy the trip.

Gary was pushing me to go with them and that he can take care of himself, he just needs more rest. After assuring me a million times that he’ll be ok, I agreed but told him we’ll be back after one tourist spot to check on him. Also I cannot bring the 3 kids with me, so I have to leave the little girl behind (good thing she slept very late the night before and was still sleeping when I left). Before we left for Seoul Tower, I made sure that Gary and Lia have food to eat in the room. I enjoyed that early morning walk to look for banana, bread and biscuit (as per request).

We left and took a train to Myeong-dong Station (all along worried about Gary’s condition). As soon as we reached the top of the stairs, my kids saw McDonalds… and I obliged because I felt bad for the kids, especially Zach, who haven’t eaten a decent meal since we arrived South Korea. We ate brunch, then waited for bus number 5 at the Bus stop. While waiting, I saw this huge Uniqlo store and was planning to take a good look at it that night (which didn’t happen).

Anyway, good thing we rode a bus than going to the station nearest Seoul Tower because it was a steep climb up.

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We bought tickets to reach the top of Seoul Tower + see Teddy Bear Museum. Nasayang yata yung Teddy Bear Museum ticket namin kasi wala naman sa aming mahilig sa bear…

 

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Wahahah!

To be continued…

Seoul 2013 part 2

Before I proceed, I forgot to mention that we exchanged our US dollars for Won at Incheon airport. They also accept Philippine Pesos. Ang sakit sa bangs ng currency nila, ang purchases namin in thousands of pesos lagi haha! Ask us how much we spent for our dinner, 70,000++… won nga lang :)

So in continuation of part 1, when I woke up the next day (which was already late btw), Gary was complaining of stomach and head ache. I touched his cheeks and confirmed that he has fever. I gave him paracetamol and antacid. He threw-up all the food he ate the night before and took a hot shower. He said he feels much better. Feeling ko di sya natunawan.

So past noon, we headed for our first tourist destination. Our itinerary for the day includes Gyeongbokgung palace, Changdeokgung palace and Myeong-dong night market. We ate our lunch at a restaurant beside Gyeongbokgung palace. I ordered baby back ribs (just to be safe), I ordered soup for my kids because it has noodles. Unfortunately the soup was cold. It even has crushed ice, parang halo-halo lang! We couldn’t find the Korean food that we wanted to eat. Gary ordered soup because he said he can’t eat solid food yet, but ended up with soup that tastes like grass and with rough consistency (if there’s such a thing). Anyway, we enjoyed the scenic views of Gyeongbokgung.  One side you see the city, the other side mountain.

 

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We left Gyeongbokgung palace around 6pm. It took us so long to see the whole place because the area is really huge plus the fact that Gary was not at his best, he needs to sit and rest every now and then.

Obviously, we need to change the itinerary. So instead of going to another palace, we opted to go straight to the night market. But Gary prefers the electronic market because he wants to buy a new laptop, we headed then to Yongsan. We reached the station but we were not sure what we were looking for, a mall with different stores or just a street with stalls. We were not able to do research because it was decided out of the blue. Here’s a photo of Yongsan station/mall that I find interesting. Sorry though for the not-so-clear photo.

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Gary couldn’t walk any further, so we decided to just go back to the hostel. We suggested that Rex and Dexter can still visit other places if they want to, but they opted to go with us.

Back at the hostel, we had few bottles of beer again, this time at our room’s terrace, with me, Rex and Dexter minus Gary. Oh! Btw, we ate Korean Ice Cream first before we had beer. I also bought lots of Korean junk food because I wanted to try them all. Walang basagan ng trip! Gary was lying on the bed the whole time until he was able to fall asleep. So three of us plus Marcus were discussing the next day’s itinerary, with side comments on how vain South Koreans are. For one, face surgery is very common to them. They even have ads posted on the train. Anyway, we agreed that we’re going to leave earlier the next day so that we can maximize the day hoping that Gary will be well…

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Comfy Travel Shoes

What kind of shoes do you wear during travel?

Traveling with kids, plus the fact that we prefer commuting abroad, gives me no other option but to wear comfortable shoes. Number one on my list is rubber shoes. I wore my pink Nike shoes when we went to Hongkong. The same set of Nike shoes walked the streets of London, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I brought it together with a pair of Anne Klein boots (not included in the picture because my mom borrowed it during her Australia trip).

Northface was the theme of our European trip. You should see our Northface traveling bags, one even costs almost P30k! But NO we didn’t buy them. Northface is one of our clients and they offered to pay Northface items in lieu of cash. WHY NOT?! So on top of the bags, Gary got himself a pair of hiking shoes while I got another rubber shoes. Looks bulky but they’re so light and comfortable. I brought them to Europe with another comfy but “not-so-durable” boots. I left the boots in our hotel in Switzerland.

For Singapore, I enjoyed my red Toms. (Enjoyed it so much that the color faded)

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In preparation for our Japan trip, I thought of buying myself a Japanese brand sneakers, Onitsuka Tiger. I’ve tried it once and it’s like walking barefoot! Chos! Di nman pero magaan talaga sya. But since South Korea came first, my Onitsuka will have to experience Seoul before (God knows when) Japan.

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Seoul 2013 part 1

I decided to divide my blog about Seoul into parts so that I won’t be overwhelmed.Ang dami ko gusto ikwento and I have to start writing now before I forget them altogether. So to start, tulad nga ng kinakanta ni Gary Valenciano… “bitin na bitin ako… ooowoohow…” That’s the best way to describe our vacation. lol

We arrived at Incheon Airport past 8 in the evening. It took us another hour to transfer to the arrival/immigration area (via train within the airport) and to get our checked-in bag. We then took the Airport express train to Seoul. The usual 90 minutes Incheon-Seoul travel by bus or private car was cut to approximately 45 minutes. We transferred to another line to reach Phil House, where we are staying. Look at their website and what you see is what you get. We got the triple room with terrace for the four of us (Gary, me, Zach and Lia). For Marcus, Rex and Dexter, 3 dorm bedspace. I tried to ask if they can give them another triple room instead sincetatlo na lang sila naiwan, unfortunately wala na available. Dorm type kasi kinuha ko for all the employees sana. Btw, Rex and Dexter are Gary’s brods who happen to be consultants. Obviously, sila lang ang na-approve ang visa.  Going back, Phil House is clean, the people are nice, there’s pantry where you can cook/eat, the place is very near restaurants, convenience stores and train station. As for the dorm, it costs 500++ pesos per night, perfect for backpackers. So kung tutulugan lang ang hanap nyo, then I’ll recommend this hostel. But for families especially with kids, I would prefer a better place to stay.

Past 12am Korea time (They are 1 hour ahead) with 10 degrees temp (malamig na sa akin yan), we looked for a place to eat. May nakita kami isang restaurant na bukas. The owner-cook-cashier-woman doesn’t speak english. Hindi nya maintindihan yung ‘not spicy’ at ‘noodles.’ In short, kumain kami ng maanghang, at ang kids di nakakain. We had few bottles of beer and we went back to the hostel past 2am.

The next day, sinuka lahat ni Gary ang kinain nya. And he had stomach flu for 2 days…

See the World

In ten years time (actually this is too long already but I don’t want to put too much pressure on my provider), my goal is to visit the top 5 destinations on my list;

1. Japan – More than seeing Disneyland and Hello Kitty Theme parks, visiting temples, eating Japanese food everyday, riding the bullet train, etc…. I want to see its beauty during the Cherry blossom season.

 

2. Celebrate New Year’s Eve In Times Square New York

3. Greece – I want to see Santorini’s dramatic views, stunning sunsets and whitewashed houses. I also want to explore Greece’s archaeological sites and ancient ruins especially Parthenon, Delphi Theater and ancient temples.

 

4. Washington D.C. – Thanks to Dan Brown’s bestseller The Lost Symbol, I got curious about Freemasonry and I want to see all the Masonic symbols and coded messages mentioned in the book, not to mention what DC can offer as a tourist destination. Actually, it was Dan Brown who introduced me to Louvre Museum as well.

5. Amsterdam – I asked a well-travelled Priest on what’s the best place in Europe he’s been so far, he said Amsterdam confidently. I searched about it and here’s a piece of what I got, “Beer cafes, brown cafes, coffeeshops, grand cafes, tasting houses… whatever you fancy, Amsterdam’s got the cafe to suit.” Just that and I’m convinced.

 

Spain and Brazil are trailing closely behind. Not to mention London and Scotland that I want to see again. This is one of those times that I really wish I am a billionaire… so freakin’ bad! :)