COUNTRY 19 – Oh Thailand! You are Really Amazing! #AmazingThailand Indeed! 

We’ve been traveling for the past two months and it’s really very difficult to go back to our “normal” including blogging! But hey-o! It’s New Year and we intend to make 2017 way better than 2016, which is saying a lot because 2016’s filled with lots of travelling and great vibes! 2017 is still new, so here’s our family wishing you and the rest of the world health, prosperity, happy feet, mind, energy and soul for 2017!!

“Let’s be more amazing than last year!” – Turknoys
 

Here goes the blog about Thailand! 😘
“A good person can make another person good; it means that goodness will elicit goodness in society; other person is also be good.” -King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 1927-2016



When it comes to family travel, seeing a new country or a new place all at the same time, brings a lot of emotions! Yet we realized, when we traveled to Thailand, a land both of the Turknoy parents have visited, separately almost a decade ago, that it brings more emotions, add in the nostalgia and fascination how much the country have changed since we last visited. There’s a little bit of biased when traveling as we wanted desperately for kids to see Thailand as we saw the country when we were younger. That was interesting feeling!
 
We visited three cities in the country and we can’t get enough! We explored several temples in Bangkok, mesmerized by Chiang Mai festivals (which were in our bucket list for quite some time) and were fascinated by Chiang Rai!

For this adventure, the best travel moments are the cheapest ones! We took the sleeper’s train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, went family biking around in a very scenic rural park, and lots of street food market – really a lot! (This will be part 2 of the blog.😘) 

Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s capital city has the longest name of any city in the world (it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records – you can look it up – Kroong Tep or Bangkok!)

Our first stop – The Golden Buddha statue, Guinness World Record of the most expensive (or highest valued) sacred artifact!
Wat Traimit!
There’s also the Unicorn Café which we wanted to go because of our fascination with #UnicornVibes . Although a little bit underwhelmed by the café, we still managed to enjoy the uniqueness of the place in the city!

Unicorn Cafe food and drinks
Unicorn Crepe 😜
Playing Unicorns
Unicorn Burger

We also had a quick chat with a relative who has been working in the city for quite some time and loved it there! We loved it there and we only scratched the surface of an amazing country!

Asiatique Riverfront with Cousin, lovely beautiful Bangkok Night
And more favorite part of the city – their Science Museum! Very underrated, we’d say! We’ve been to a lot of Science Museum, including Scandinavian countries’ museum and the Bangkok Science Museum ranks high for us to top!
 

You just cant make this up! ❤️❤️

 


Chiang Mai, Thailand
 

Festival of Lights – We Love King

Loi Krathong could be translated as “to float a basket”, and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river. The festival takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai Lunar Calendar; hence, the exact date of the festival changes every year. The festival usually falls November. When we visited Chiang Mai, it was November 18-20 . It was a bit toned down because of the year of mourning of the King of Thailand but it was still very fascinating for all family members.

Loi Krathong
Lighting our family’s best intentions !

The festival may originate from an ancient ritual paying respect to the water spirits. Each one of us made us wish as we send out a krathong to the Ping River. We also sent out all bad thoughts we have wishing for all the great things yet to come for the world.

 

Yi Peng or Floating Lanterns Festival coincides with Loi Krathong. Floating Lanterns are launched into the air where they gracefully float through the sky – oh such blissful sight! The festival is meant as a time to make merit. Our family sent out two lanterns to give thanks for all the blessings and to make a wish! We also watched the major parade, it was all meant to honor the greatness of the Thai King reign, solemn and beautiful parade.

  

Floating Lantern Festival
our second night during the Yi Peng Festival 2016
Parade Finale!

Three memorable nights , two festivals! Our hearts are overwhelming with happiness and optimism enough to last us for a long time! We believe we should celebrate life like this all the time. Less commercial, more looking forward and giving thanks to life’s energy!

During the days of the festival, we managed to squeeze in a day trip to the Long Neck Tribe where life is simple, faith in tribe is strong! When we see places and people like this, we are always reminded that life is always simpler than how we made them to be. 

Long Neck Tribe
Long Neck Tribe

 


Chiang Rai, Thailand
White Temple is a very contemporary designed temple! Not an ordinary temple and worth the visit, 3-5 hours ride from Chiang Mai. 

White Temple!

One of the most memorable activities we’ve done as family was our family biking  around Singha Park – beyond words! The majestic view, the stunning landscape, the kids laughters for two hours, the parents panting and struggling to bike up the slopes! Ohhh what memories!

Biking Around Singha Park Majestic Views @Chiang Rai

 

One very interesting and profound Thailand experience: 

All throughout the country, the Thai people are all in mourning, showing their grief and loss of the King of Thailand, the longest reigning monarch, by wearing black or non-bright colored outfits for a year. We also wore black or white when we can even when attending festivals. The loyalty towards a leader and a country is very evident among the Thai it’s humbling and overwhelming! This is when a lot of leaders are being scrutinized all over the world. Maybe we should obey more than we are complaining as a world’s citizen. Maybe we should act like Thais every now and then.. Maybe the world would be in a better, more unified state. Maybe that’ll work. 
 
The Land of Smiles, Amazing Thailand, we want more! (there’s Part 2 of our Thailand blog.) 

COUNTRY 18 – Malaysia: Truly Asia!

“Being Malaysian is about embracing cultural diversity and harmony between different people and religions. Malaysia will always be my home.” – Jimmy Choo, Shoe Designer

86 floors-high and we are on the tallest twin tower in the world! we spy solar panels down below…
 
Looks like Philippines, feels like Turkey, Malaysia feels like home to the Turknoys! 
 

oh the so many places to visit in a Truly Asia country. we ‘ll be back, God willing

Turknoy Dad has been to Malaysia more than 1o years ago and he fell in love with the country right there and then. The people, the beaches, the coconut trees, the localities, the green environment and yes, even the humidity! It was understandable that he was very excited to show us around the country for the first time.
 

During our travel to Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur, he was the happiest one! Our itinerary was very simple as our time was very limited much to the Dad’s disappointment yet we tried to have a taste of everything the two cities has to offer, but not the beach! The beaches of Malaysia for sure will require another adventure for the family.

Legoland Malaysia – first in Asia and first international park in Malaysia ; authentic Malaysian hospitality at its best!
 
We went to Legoland coming from Singapore which took less than an hour! That was a really pleasant surprise. The family stayed at Legoland Hotel for two nights as a treat to the kids and so the parents can rest! We ended up enjoying more than we expected. Legoland offers Malaysian hospitality at its finest!
 

Even the 5-hour-bus ride from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur is a delight! Seeing all the greens and the organized highways. Every now and then, we discuss how countries with similar resources be so different in economy and international passport recognition.
 

Our two night-stay in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur was spent exploring the Petronas Twin Tower, KLCC, observing people, walking around the city and eating Nasi Lemak! Oh yes, we just can’t get enough of Malaysian food! The coconut and pandan flavoured rice, the sambat (red chili paste) , fresh cooked chicken and fresh vegetables. We gained more than 10 kilos together as family after this trip!
 

Nasi Lemak is ❤️❤️❤️
Nasi Lemak is ❤️❤️❤️

Personally, we didn’t know this can be done, yet Malaysia made us see that this is possible – using the country’s resources, promoting the unique Malaysian culture to the world and becoming so successful at it and yet, encouraging diversity and at the same time harmony and respect among all people with different backgrounds, ethnicity and religions. We have been to some metropolitan cities, yet Malaysia gave us that authentic feeling of accepting diversity with respect to all people. You can’t get that genuine feeling with any effective tourism marketing. It is deeply embedded in the Malaysian culture!

China Town in Malaysia

To use own unique talents and traits, to accept one’s identity, to be accepted for one’s real identity while accepting other ideas of life, culture and religion and having no judgment at all, if we can all be this, maybe world peace is possible. 

Indeed, a country Truly Asia! We’ll be back for more of Malaysia!
 

Central Market

 

COUNTRY 17 – Singapore: The Lion City

I started off believing all men were equal. I now know that’s the most unlikely thing ever to have been, because millions of years have passed over evolution, people have scattered across the face of this earth, been isolated from each other, developed independently, had different intermixtures between races, peoples, climates, soils… I didn’t start off with that knowledge. But by observation, reading, watching, arguing, asking, that is the conclusion I’ve come to.


– Lee Kwan Yew, The Man & His Ideas, 1997
 

There are lots of realization for the family during this particular family travel to our 17th country! We attribute this realizations as part of getting used to the routine of being together in a foreign land for the first time. After all, human nature tends to survive frequent changes and adapt to adapt well, if that makes sense to anyone at all. It sure makes sense to all of us, even the kids get used to seeing something new for the first time and not make such a big deal out it. Early in life, we believe, it is a real blessing to have these kids get accustomed to quick and frequent changes. Their tolerance to changes gets higher as we go visit one country at a time.

Indeed, life is all about changes and at the same, we also realized that we need to stay true to our personal brand values. Early on, we decided that our family will not patronize places where it violates animal rights like zoos. With this, the family decided not to visit the Animal Safari, day and night, in which most of the tourists who visited Singapore highly recommended to us. It is not right to treat animals without care for their freedom for touristic purposes. As our kids justified, there will be Africa and the Amazon to appreciate animal habitants in the future.

This awesome moment! Kids wanted to visit Singapore Botanical Garden over Universal Studios Singapore!

The kids also decided against visiting Universal Studios! The fun rides with the high humidity was not just worth it for the kids especially with varying heights for fun ride requirements for the three of them! Disneyland only reminds us of queuing for brief moment of rides and we didn’t want to waste any more time queuing in city new for us. Instead, we explored the awesome and huge Singapore Botanical Gardens, explored and met a longtime friend at the Gardens by the Bay and got lost way too many times at Singapore’s very impressive transportation system! 

The Metro, The Bus and All Around Singapura…with Umbrella!

 

Separately, Turknoy Mum and Turknoy Dad have been to Singapore during their single days as explorer-wannabe. Seeing the same country at different times of our lives does make a lot of difference. There were no night life for us, this time around, instead, we have great family moments which includes dragging the kids while they sleep in the MRT going from one line to the next line to reach our hotel.

We have booked our hotel at Sentosa Island which takes another mono trail or cable ride from the harbor. It was fun seeing the metropolis city from top with kids! We have weird family discussions only we could relate to and it is very previous! 

We had intimate moments with Merlion, both by the Marina and in Sentosa Island, where we talked about great leadership in Singapore and why discipline, not necessarily democratic, can work for a country. A country can have similar resources and geographical location on Earth, yet with different style of leaderships, every country can be very unique at its achievement in terms of infrastructure, economics, culture and diversity!

Being an Islamic country, the kids find it amusing that it tolerates all the other religion as manifested by its temples for Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and its churches as well. Yes, we are not created with the same belief. Isn’t that the essence of faith? To trust into something, to believe that it is real, despite being surrounded by other belief system. It is very similar with commitment in most aspects, to be surrounded by lots of choices, yet making the same choice over and over, to be with family, to be with the chosen partner, for better or for worse.

What we think faith is not is what others think faith is. Faith is not choosing a belief system just because we are recruited into it, for socialization, for acceptance.

All these discussions are witnessed by the Merlion. And we completely agree with the great Singapore leader, we are not created equal. We realize that every time we travel to new country, seeing unique facial features of the local, exploring different landscapes in the country. Yet, inequality makes life interesting and makes it perfect just the way it is, worth setting goals and objectives to live for, a quest worth our while. 

And we bet, the Merlion will agree with us! Maybe even Lee Kwan Yew. 

Qatar 3: Al Zubarah – Beach, Port and UNESCO Heritage!

 
All who are running on their father’s footsteps, are anyway running. – Qatari Proverb, which means the son will always do what the father does.
 

always fun at the beach early morning! the color of the sea is the color of the public transpo in Qatar!

Did you know that Al Zubarah is the remaining complete plan of an Arabian pearl-merchant town. Al Zubarah is a very unique archeological evidence to the human interaction with both sea and the harsh desert environment of the region.
 

Al Zubarah Fort

Kuwait traders founded the Al Zubarah village, imagine the geography now! When Al Zubarah was nominated to be a UNESCO heritage sites, our family was cynical about the entire UNESCO qualifications as we have been in the country for quite a few number of years. Yet, we started traveling, we have come to realize that Qatar is indeed a country full of treasures. It’s the harsh weather that is fascinating about the country and how the citizens and residents, then and now, respond to it. It’s a peninsula country surrounded by the Persian Gulf with mainly desert terrain and yet, there are lots of treasures in any form with a defined Islamic and Qatari culture embedded in daily lives.
 

old house in old desert village
somewhere in the middle of the desert – a carving yet to be interpreted by archeologists in Qatar.

We have been to other UNESCO heritage sites with less. We are proud Qatar residents that this site is included in the ever famous UNESCO Heritage list and we take every opportunity to visit the area whenever we could!

Discoveries in desert are always golden!
 
family discoveries in the desert are worth more than gold!

The pristine bluish-green beach is a site worth driving 2 hours already! Add in the architecture of the port and the history hidden it the archeological site and if we are lucky, there are camels and sunset!
 

It’s a guaranteed full, stimulating and fun day of exploring in Al Zubarah!

sunset and history in desert, we just love this kind of day

 

Philippines 1 – Indang, Cavite: Kalamay, Severino De Las Alas and Bonifacio!

 
“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” William Hazlitt

Mabuhay, Indang!

A wiser traveler loves and promotes the home town, says our Turknoy Family! This may be a biased post as Turknoy Mum grew up in the serene and quiet town of Indang long before it gets too populated. She is “Tubong Indang” means one of her parents is originally from the town. Indang and by default, the province of Cavite, will always be home sweet home for our traveling family!
 

Likod Bahay!

The first time the Turkish husband, then friend, stepped on the evergreen side road/ highway of Indang, he fell in love and maybe realized there and then that he should marry the Pinay so he could have access to the beautiful town. The trees that seem to grow everywhere, the fresh air, the helpful and exotic bugs that seem to be so appropriately accessible to humans.
 
The thing about traveling to all the beautiful places like Himalayas of Nepal, Mediterranean coast of France, Italy, Greece and Turkey , fjords of Scandinavian countries and countries on the Indian Ocean like Sri Lanka and The Maldives , is that glory feeling of “we also have this back home.” Not in a gigantic, enormous touristic scale, but in an awesome village scale which day in and day out was taken for granted because it’s “normal.”
 
Yet, the beauty of Indang is beyond normal. Our family being an expat in a desert country appreciates the green, the fresh, non-air-conditioned-required weather way, the cold water straight from tap quite blissfully whenever we are home. One would consider these the simple things, yet these are the exactly the very same luxuries an industrialized country is spending their money and effort to have, day-in and day-out, like “normal” in their environment.
Elegant housing compounds here in the Middle East even have cooling system for the shower for summer period. We have that in Indang every season!

Most flats (apartments) in Europe strive to fit in their plants in their very petite balcony, while we have hectares of farm in Indang to toil!

Industrialized countries pay way too much money for authentic “organic” dishes, yet all our dishes are organic in Indang, at least back in the days!
Fresh air. Sun. Rain. It’s as real in Indang as true love in our family. That’s poetic and we can’t help not to be romantic when Indang!

We may be able to say these things to all villages in the Philippines, but hey, again, we had a disclaimer for this post earlier! This is a home sweet home post. Yet, there are great things that are uniquely Indang in which our family are proud of through this years. We have three. Obviously, there would be more but since our stay in the town is limited, we try our best to keep this post up-to-date when whenever we go home.

1. Kalamay Buna

Kalamay Indang is a delectable sweet delicacy of glutinous powderized rice called malagkit mixed with coconut milk and brown sugar (panutsa) – this should be on your bucketlist to eat in Philippines. 

Kalamay Buna – Only in Indang!

And this is our favorite when we go back to our work country with all the kalamay we can buy. Kalamay and Turkish Coffee. It’s like the mixed of our Pinay Mum and Turkish Dad. Sometimes, the best of both world meets every breakfast!

Kalamay and Turkish Coffee seems meant to be together! 🦄🦄💞

  2. Severino De Las Alas



Cavite State University will always be Don Severino De Las Alas for oldies alumni like the Turknoy Mum. Severino De Las Alas will always be a reflection of a real Tubong Indang! 
Who is Severino De Las Alas? 
Translated into English by Turknoy’s Mum.
SEVERINO DE LAS ALAS
Patriot. Teacher. Philanthropist. Secretary of Internal Affairs during the First Republic of the Philippines.
He was born January 8, 1851. Attended San Juan de Letran and completed his Law Degree at University of Sto. Tomas.
One of the prominent signatory of the Biak-na-Bato Constitution.
(Side note: This is really important – Biak-na-Bato Constitution. This called for the separation of the Philippines from the Spanish Monarchy.The End of Colonization period!)
Elected twice for two periods as President of Indang Municipality. (1906-1909 and 1909-1912)
Died at Indang, Cavite on 4th November 1918.

Severino De Las Alas

The Turkish side of family getting to know any Kabitenyo should be proud of!

 
3. Bonifacio – Not as popular as the Balintawak Bonifacio momument but nothing less historic.

Indang Town Proper is where Bonifacio was impronised for some time

 
Limbon Indang , Cavite

Laban! Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangan at Katapangtapangang Katipunan!

We have three uniquely Indang for now, hope there will be more in this post, soon! 
Our family is proudly from Indang, Cavite. We may not say “ahuy” or not even fluent Tagalog like Cavitenos but our hearts will have huge Indang written on it.

COUNTRY 16 – Georgia: Awesome Mountain Views and Turkey Way Back The 80s 

 
“The dog was asked:

Why do you bark? : To scare the wolves.

Why do you wag your tail? What do you think, am I not afraid of wolves?”

– Gregorian Proverb

 

To Travel is To Live

It’s Country 16 and are we are just warming up to family travel and the kids! On this trip, we have combined low cost airlines, with connecting flights both way and absolutely wonderful, albeit a little dangerous road trip using the country’s public transportation! Indeed, one of the highlights of our visit to the country is the Metro fun! Almost 45-degree inclined escalator for two minutes made our hearts excited for several times! Who knew metro escalator could also be a fun ride for kids and adults?! 

Tbilisi Metro escalators are pure delight! seriously fun!

During this trip , we also tried everything local. Well, this is not really saying much because Georgia’s border to the south is Turkey (which is one of our home country!)

Checking our quest status (100 countries in 10 years!) by far, we have achieved 16/100 in three years, it’s really a good feeling to settle in our family’s priorities in life. It’s exhilarating, most of the time, scary sometimes, yet that family satisfaction is reaching to new heights every time we explore another country. We bark loud, we wag our tails and enjoy life in dogs’ years.

We said it again and again, that there are great benefits when traveling with kids, especially when traveling becomes a lifestyle for the family. The routine of preparing for the journey, the joy of seeing new things, the body clock adjustments, that jet lag feeling. All familiar things leading to something new. 

We have explored the city Tbilisi in less than two days and have explored the nearby mountainous city Kazbegi in just one day! Our interaction with the local is limited to public transportation and the local shops we have enjoyed, yet there is something about the Gregorian hospitality we are so familiar with that we love. The country feels like Turkey way back in the 1980s. Most of the locals do not speak English yet, although the country had opened up tourism to nearby countries, with the visa-free privileges!

Overlooking the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi enjoying the summer weather. Found the tree of gold and fountain of youth.. we wish! 🦄🦄😍❤️🦄
Overlooking the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi enjoying the summer weather. Found the tree of gold and fountain of youth.. we wish! 🦄🦄😍❤️🦄
Bridge of Peace, Tbilisi, Georgia
Old Town Tbilisi

A family of five coming from Qatar, we would spend more going to UAE with the visa alone, compared to going to exploring Georgia and staying in a not-so-fancy B&B! It’s a nice long weekend getaway alternative for the GCC countries residence. Of course, we still recommended going to Turkey as nothing beats the history, the landscape and architecture of the cities of our beloved Turkiye. Yet, Georgia, is a close second choice for us, if we are to include travel costs as a defining factor.

Mt. Kazbek at Kazbegi, three hours road trip away from Tblisi
Gergeti Trinity Church! Best way to pray and wish on top of the mountain, reception maybe better! 🤗🤗

Georgia – warm hospitality, awesome mountain landscapes and wine culture! The country is surely a bliss break from desert work. God-willing, we get to enjoy the country in winter season, how we would love that for sure!

Happiest feet have wornout shoes – Turknoy Travels 100

Qatar 2: Sculpture in the Desert Nature Reserve


“I consider space to be a material. The articulation of space has come to take precedence over other concerns. I attempt to use sculptural form to make space distinct.” – Richard Serra
 

One hot sunny afternoon . We were the very first to see the art installion!
Three years on, another hot, sunny, beautiful summer day in Broque Nature Reserve enjoying Richard Serra’s Art Installations

Another favorite weekend place for our family is the Brouq Nature Reserve especially when the the Richard Serra art installations of four steel plates, over fourteen metres in height each with their perfect alignments has been completed in the reserve. Modern steel art in our favorite country by a well-respected artist in his field. That sounds spectacular to call Qatar home for us.

The art by Richard Serra is titled East-West/ West- East. We love the desert nature reserve and wide desert space with its unique limestone formation all over the art installations. The landscape is simply breathtaking. Especially we look far out and see the span of Persian Gulf and walk along its beach line.

Borooq Nature Reserve is really a unique destination in Qatar!

Add in a good desert weather, amidst the season, hot and humid or cold and windy, it’s a full day out for the family. There’s no wrong weather, only wrong clothes, as we always say, so we always come prepared whenever we come to Brouq Nature Reserve.

Limestone formations are such a joy to climb, different textures than sand , soil or dunes!

limestones formation, always a joy to conquer!
top of the world of limestones formation

This place never fails to make us appreciate the beauty of desert landscape and its wonder. There is always beauty in our surrounding, even without the green! The grass is always not better when it’s greener. At some awesome times, the grass is better when it’s wild, free and growing in the desert.

Isn’t it a wonder how some living things thrive in the barren desert? Awesome wonder of nature! And wonder of life.. 🙂

 

This husband/ wife photo is taken by our eldest Turknoy inspired an ode to a 10-year-old -desert-love

 Ten years together. 
 East West/ West East 

North South/ South North.. 

 Together yet not interdependent. 

 You are you. I am I. You I/ I You. 

 Because being together is a choice. 

Not dependency. ❤️❤️❤️