Sunday, May 15, 2016

One Week in Cebu

It would be really too depressing to bid farewell at the airport so I had it planned to go along on their way back to Cebu and spend a week there. 

As it happened, our flight was on Mother's day and a day before the Presidential Elections. The whole election bruhaha was about to end and was looking forward to the end of political posts in my Facebook newsfeed (i miss shallow posts!).
#Halalan2016. 
As it turns out, Rodrigo Duterte won. I failed to vote because of my failure to register. If I did though, my vote goes to Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Even if her chances are slim, i'd still give it to her because among all presidentiables, she was perfect, super-achiever and not corrupt. Though her health was an issue, i do think it will not affect her capabilities to execute such job.
Something Filipino. I love Filipino foods; so it came as a no surprise that every time I go back to Cebu for a break, I always look forward to spoiling myself with it. This amazing photo of a ceiling was taken at Kan-anan by Lantaw. I love their interior and the food was not bad at all. 
Flashback to the 90s. 
These are just the only Sweet Valley Twins' books that I personally bought. The rest of the series that I had read were from the high school library. I was introduced to reading novels because of SVT and  Nancy Drew, while at freshman in high school. Luckily, our school library had tons of teen novels, from Love Stories series to Hardy boys (which I never read), and even old Time and Life magazines in binder files.
My default Cebu phone is a Nokia 105. Bought it brand new in 2013 at less than 3,000 PHP. I bought it because I don't allow my iPhone to do roaming for the charges would be too costly. With this cheap phone, it is functional and inconspicuous. I have been using this for two years now and its basic functions of call and text are all I really need while on break.
Summer is terribly hot and humid in the Philippines. The temperature in Cebu felt like around 33degC (according to my last check). Without even the slightest move and even after a very refreshing shower, I still get sweaty after a few minutes. In Amber's case, she sweats a lot, too; that I end up bathing her for the second time in a day just after dinnertime. 

Inset photo was taken at Plantation Bay Resort & Spa. It was my first time there, and our impression was that it felt like being trapped in an island paradise, like a Disneyland resort even. It's very different from the usual resorts around Mactan. What I love here are the many shallow pools suitable for kids, restaurants are many, and the maze-like feature of  the whole resort allows one to navigate and discover little nooks to hang out.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Amber's Japan trip

                              
Amber and T came to Japan just in time for the long Golden Week holidays. With the many activities we've done, which were next to perfection because everything went according to planned -- a rarity in life, I cannot go into great details to blog about it. Hence, i am posting only some. 

On the next day of their arrival, we went to Anpanman's Children Museum in Yokohama. This is as per Amber's request. It's amazing that she's still a fan, to think she left Japan a year ago at barely 3 years old. Even back in Cebu, she prefers to watch youtube videos of Anpanman & Friends. I was expecting she'll forget soon but well, she still holds them dearly along with the Frozen sisters. 

Day 3 was a Tuesday, so i decided to take a personal leave and spent it at Tokyo Disneyland with them. Amber's second and better than the first because she's older and got into more kid-friendly rides. 
Day 6 at Shinjuku Gyoen National Park. Her first jump shot! It took many takes but she understood the concept. 

Day 7 was spent at Fuji Shibazakura

Day 8 at Kawagoe, Saitama. This she didn't get to enjoy since she slept the whole time on her stroller while the accompanying adults were busy roaming around the narrow streets.
Day 9 at Ueno Zoo. Amber loves animals. Her favorites are the elephant and giraffe. She likes zebra, too. So while at Ueno zoo, we skipped the reptiles, nocturnes, and birds; and focused only on the major ones. 
Day 10 at Tokyo Skytree tower. Probably the tallest observatory we've been to looking over Tokyo. 
Day 12. Amber on board the Odaiba Giant Sky Wheel. She was brave enough to conquer the heights while I was gripping onto dear life. 
Enjoying her ice cream by the beach. The ice cream treat was getting seldom because of me. 
Day 13 at Tokyo Sea Life. T took her there while I reported to work. At her age, the sight of fish that many was awesome.
Amber, at 4, was such a trooper. I made sure her activities for the entire duration of her trip were educational and fun. She'll probably forget most when she gets older but the whole thing was for her to see the things she can't or won't experience back in Cebu. I do wish we had more museums and parks in Cebu for kids to enjoy.

I look forward to enjoying more time with Amber. The times and plans may change but i will always do my best to make time for her.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Kawagoe, Saitama

With the long Golden Week holiday (about a week of no work!), we made sure to go as far as our feet and budget allowed. The day after our Shibazakura trip, we went to Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture as a random pick.

The JR Wide pass allowed us to travel far far away. It covers three consecutive days and applies only to JR lines and some special express lines. With that cost, we made sure to explore the unknown! Far away places to where we were not familiar. The first ever trip we made was on 29th of April to Shinjuku, as our starting point for the Fuji Shibazakura trip.

Train map routes are helpful. This, by the way, does not show all lines. You'll be amazed how complicated train routes in Japan, especially Tokyo area.

We were introduced to Kawagoe via japan-guide.com.

It was a last minute choice since we didn't know exactly where to go after having been too exhausted with the Fuji Shibazakura trip. But since we still had Day 3 left in our JR Wide pass, we couldn't just let Day 3 be spent at some familiar and nearby place. We wanted somewhere different.

What attracted us to Kawagoe was the Warehouse District. 

According to japan-guide.com:

Its main street, lined with Kurazukuri (clay-walled warehouse-styled) buildings, retains an ambience reminiscent of an old town from the Edo Period (1603-1867) and allows us to imagine the streets from past centuries. Thereby, Kawagoe became known as "Little Edo".

The place was crowded considering it was a Sunday.
(inset photo is an #icecreamselfie which I have decided to include at every trip I venture to from that day onwards)

The camera phone really is convenient. Though we did lug a camera with us, we did not take any pictures using it. I am seriously contemplating on buying a small, compact, point and shoot camera because I tend to take a lot of photos. But phones are more convenient since I can upload it at any social media at real time.

Photo was taken at Candy Alley.

This part of the street is filled with delicacy & souvenir shops, local products and cafes. The crowd were swarming all over. I think most of the tourists were locals.

Total travel time was around forty-five (45) minutes from Ikebukuro, including by foot. We took rapid express line on the way back to Ikebukuro to save with travel time. 

Away from the main street, this street has less crowd and was filled with Koinobori (carp streamer). These streamers are hanged all over Japan in Spring time, from establishments, streets and even homes as an event to celebrate Children's day (the last day of the Golden Week).