First Hopeful Post in 2021 #weeklysmile

It’s been almost a week since I got back from an extended stay in a small town surrounded by great, seemingly untouched mountains just a few hours away from the city. It was a much needed ‘retreat’, digital detox and all, and a spontaneous decision after an out-of-town trip during Christmas. Within this ‘time-out’, husband and I found a secret beach, ate good, wholesome food (I caught on late, air fryers are such game-changers!) and visited a few historical sites from our weekly exploration of this small town and surrounding areas. It was easier to safely distance physically in a small town surprisingly outside the radar of holidaying tourists. With refreshed minds and worries left behind, we also managed to start a few passion projects and even get short-listed for a startup grant by a venture capitalist. Nothing is set in stone but just having a few things to look forward to and learn in the process are welcome opportunities, especially after a wearying 2020. Entering a new year with some good news helped achieve a new year ‘high’, however fleeting, and flex some of those ‘hope’ muscles. I’ve decided to not make any big 2021 plans and just take it one day at a time. I only plan to not take any blessing or opportunity for granted, make the most of my time and take care of myself and my people, and hopefully have more than enough to help others around me.

How about you? I hope you’ve had some good news or encouragement this new year💜

These trees hid the secret beach we found a few weeks ago.
I had a view of this mountain from the balcony of our temporary home over the holidays.
A quaint cafe in the courtyard of a museum we visited one weekend.
A garden cafe in the middle of nowhere.
One of the oldest cathedrals in a UNESCO Heritage Village the country.
Inside the cathedral.

SoCS – Some Rings To/On It

I haven’t worn my ring in awhile, or any jewelry for that matter. Hubby and I are not all that into jewelry or accessories, save for his small collection of watches. Makes me think we should have gone for something else, like a watch for him or a pair of earrings or necklace for me. Because I’m not used to it, I try not to remove it (which is against my instinct) when I wash my hands in public restrooms so as not to lose it. One time though, while on a business trip in Macau, I removed my rings once to wash my hands in a hurry and forgot about them, both my wedding ring and another accessory, for about 2 hours. I was dining with friends in the same hotel when I noticed my ringless fingers. My friends and I hurriedly went to the concierge, with little hope of getting it back. In my head I was already thinking of whether to order the same ring and not tell hubby about the first one getting lost, or just to come clean about losing it. Luckily, after about 15-20 minutes of waiting while the staff checked with the rest of her team for any missing rings found in washrooms, someone found and reported them missing to security. The staff and my friends thought I was very lucky someone even returned it, and that they found it right away and just in time before I had to catch my flight out of Macau.

On the subject of rings, I remember my wacky engagement a few years back. My then fiancé and I were on our third trip and was getting ready for our next stop. I was fixing our bags when a velvety box fell out of his backpack. We both stared at it in surprise, him because it was not how he planned to show it and me supressing a laugh. A few minutes later, we couldn’t keep it in and just started laughing in short bursts for a good 30 minutes or so. I told him to not feel pressured and to still go with his plan whenever he wished and I’d just pretend the box incident didn’t happen. He finally did ask me to marry him the next morning at a deserted beach, or at least we were alone for a few hours enjoying the waters before the tourists came in hordes. It was a good way to start a day, a good day to get engaged 😊.

Where he popped the question.
The rings. The one with the ruby accent in the center is the engagement ring which he designed, knowing that I’m not really into diamonds. The other one stacked on top is the infinity wedding ring which matches his platinum band.

This post is part of SoCS.

Let’s Go On A Road Trip

Hello! It’s been awhile since we got together for coffee. Let’s change things up a bit and go on a road trip, grab coffee on the way, shall we? Let’s go.

First early Christmas decor spotted. No halloween things spotted so I guess that’s off the table for most people.

Phew! Didn’t really expect to hit some traffic this early. The skies are a bit gray but I don’t think it will rain, not soon anyway. First order of business: let’s get you and me some coffee in our system.

View of Taal Volcano
More of Taal Volcano, a unique and dangerous beauty found in the south of Manila, Philippines, arguably the smallest active complex supervolcano on the planet. Taal lake partially covers its caldera or crater.
And more. First road trip and nature walk in months!
All squared up for kindasquare

I ordered a latte for myself and a cappuccino for you. These cakes/pastries are making my mouth water. I’ll let you pick this time.

A square cake from a bistro
Burnt Ube (water yam/winged yam/purple sweet potato among its names) Cheesecake goes really well with brewed coffee.
Hubs been craving this for days: apple tart from Rowena’s.
How about some chocolate crinkles?
Sylvannas, anyone?

I haven’t told you, one of the reasons we’re here is to do a site survey. We’re building our first house over there, leaving the busy city and trading condo living for this, maybe for good. Work and business are lining up especially these past months such that we can all work remotely with the teams and hold most meetings online. We’ll probably just go back to the city once or twice a month with the processes we put in place, fingers crossed. I just know I can get more writing done here, go for a hike every week and swim in the lake or nearby beach any time we fancy. And hubs can finally have some space for a workshop for his furniture projects. Having this to look forward to definitely makes the long hours and everything else thrown our way this year more bearable.

How about you, what gets you going/how do you pick yourself up especially on days when getting up seems harder, you feel sluggish or too crazy to work? Do you get those days, too?

Let’s drop by the garden near the fruit stands and souvenir shops we wanted to check out last time. Don’t forget to wear both face masks and shield as some shops don’t let people in without both on. I’m picking a random spotify playlist on. Any rock out song you have in mind for the drive back? Ooh, these are good ones.

Thanks for playing along. You got some nice set of pipes, my friend. Bye for now. Take care and until out next road trip.

The coffee share is hosted over on Eclectic AlliHere’s the link to join in. Also linking to Kinda Square for the cakes and Taal volcano shots.

Beautiful Twist

When I was younger and naïve, at the (un)ripe age of 9, I planned the next 10-15 years of my life.  I’m glad it’s taken on all sorts of beautiful twists since then and needless to say, not according to plan.

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Dancing fountain with fire for a twist.

 

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Blooms grow freely on twisted branches.

 

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Detours and unexpected turns make for an interesting journey.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twisted

Liquid Trail

Tinipakriver
Tinipak River in Rizal

 

lakeside
Lakeside in Tagaytay at sunrise one summer

coffee
All-time fave coffee with lava sugar while enjoying a view of Mt. Fuji

 

 

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Clearest pond I’ve seen during spring in Japan

 

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A sacred well in Japan – can’t touch it!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Liquid

Into the Woods

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A place of healing and solace.  A short time bathing in it brings a world of benefits to your well-being.

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But getting lost is as real as you and me and life itself.  Tread carefully.

via Daily Prompt : Forest

 

Place In the World

 

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Marimegmeg Beach, El Nido

It used to be any quiet beach; calm but not dead.  I would lie down on this natural water bed without a care in the world.

Lately though, the mountains call to me.  I can recalibrate and feel at peace at just the sight of green mountains (or white, if winter) and be in awe.  A water beside it seals the deal for me.

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Tinipak River

view
View of Taal Volcano from Tagaytay

 

 

But as a city girl, having lived in the city all my life, I never thought I’d love being in any city until I’ve been to Japan.  And I was smitten by this city with a soul, or at least personality.  Or dare I say, identity?

The Scramble

Also submitted for the Weekly Post Challenge

A Big Slice of Culinary Heaven that is Japan

My first trip to Japan with hubby was nothing short of wonderful.  I did expect it to be very enjoyable, having read and studied about the Japanese, their language and culture, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the sensory overload, the cultural experience.  The weeklong experience deserves several posts, but I’ll try to keep them few and cohesive.

Back in university and when I started traveling around the country and across Asia was when I realized that the best ways to learn about and immerse in a culture was to learn the language system and culinary influences.  But who has time to learn a language before every trip, right?  That makes food the best and most enjoyable starting point, at least for me.  Oh, I know plenty (or some) about Japanese food and language alright, but that’s nothing compared to experiencing Japan on the ground; the sensory impressions will have you stay or at least, come back for more.  Let’s start with the food crawl (part 1).

Tempura course, Edomae set plate from historical tempura restaurant Tsunahachi in Shinjuku

tempura platter
Tempura at its finest

The tsukemen (special dipping noodles) and special ramen from Fu-unji were quite unforgettable

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Discover umami in a bowl

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Probably the cheapest Michelin star meal you can get in Tokyo, but nothing short of fantastic, from Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima

nakajima

sardines
Sardine sashimi and fried sardines.  Super fresh and tasted soOo good!

Try one of the best gyoza in Tokyo from Gyozaro/Gyoza lou in Harajuku

gyoza

In Tokyo, you will not run out of good food at reasonable prices; you do not have to search long to find good chow, you just bump into it.

Satisfy your Takoyaki cravings at The Gindaco. 

Gindaco

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Takoyaki cravings satisfied

You’ll never go wrong with rotation-sushi or sushi-go-round

sushi go round

Try the lava rock roasted coffee and lava hotdog from Lava Café in Mt. Fuji Heritage Center

lava meal

Learn the proper way to enjoy matcha

Matcha
It’s all in the preparation

Japan’s food game is strong, period.  And street food is no exception

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Hoard-worthy street food during tours

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Sushi fest at Midori Sushi

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Don’t miss that sushi experience unlike any other

If you need a break from Japanese food (but who would wanna…??), check out Shin-Okubo, Tokyo’s Korea Town for some Korean food well-loved by the Japanese.

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One of the current faves at the time of our visit — Cheese Dak Galbi

There goes part 1.  Itadakimasu! 🙂

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