COUNTRY 24: Epic Estonia? Exactly! 

 “He who does not jump into water will not learn to swim.” – Estonian Proverb 



Tallinn, Estonia

Our family stayed right in the middle of  Tallinn’s Old Town. Needless to say, we  were deeply fascinated. We can  almost hear and  feel the stories of  Tallinn’s Old Town, one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and,  it seems  like  another super awesome  tick in our  UNESCO World Heritage Sites  family bucketlist.

Tallinn Old Town is captivating like our little lady traveller

 

Ghost stories, medieval history lessons, perfect view, another day well spent with kids… *swooonnnnn*

Of course,we will  not walkthrough our family travel blog readers with options on how to explore Old Town  of this  fantastic city.  When it comes to travel and  to life,  one family’s logic is another family’s crazy.

We would,  however, highlight what makes our family travel  memorable. After all, this blog, at  the very least, is a testament that we can travel to  places we’ve never imagined  if we set our goals together  as family.

When we travel, we are inclined to be biased to cities or countries who have the culture of reading. Reading is a symptom of desire to learn and innovate.  That’s really important to  develop anyone or any  place.

So, guess what we think of Tallinn, Estonia. We stayed one full  day at the Estonian Children Literature Centre, with lots of reading and creative activities for our kids, for free!  Yes, not  every kid can travel like our kids do (that’s why our kids are very grateful day in, day out… gratitude is our top family value,  right next  to faith.) But, every kid should have access to this kind of  learning environment. How we wish every city, province, state or territory would provide this to every kid, free read,  free to  play, free to imagine! The world would  be  a way  better place.

I guess,  what we are saying,  check out what this Literature Centre is about.

Estonian Children Literature Centre, Free, Fun, Fabulous
 


Tartu, Estonia

After having stimulating medieval lessons in Tallinn, we had  quite  an   impression of Estonia.  Much more when we visited  Tartu, the second largest city of the country and known as the intellectual centre of the country!

 

We breezed through walking around  Old Town, University of  Tartu, Toomemagi Park among others.   It’s not another  town in Europe for  us. We enjoyed staring at famous people’s statues  and reading the history behind them.

Again for us, our family travel adventure highlight is  the modern Science Centre AHHAA, full hands-on exhibits and the 4D cinema.


Science Centre AHHAA: This is the way to build a wall – take that D Trump.
With science, nothing is possible. Lift up a car, why don’t we?!


Epic Estonia has been viewed by the some travel blogs to be the worst tourism slogan because of how the small the country is. But hey, we’ve been to Estonia and it’s not the country’s size which decides how epic the country could be. He possibilities, the intellectual and creative opportunities, exactly epic!  

How did we bring “Epic” home with us?!! Books about Estonia!

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COUNTRY 22: Ethiopia, Land of Origins

Do not hesitate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing. – Ethiopian Proverb

Woohoo! Our 3rd continent and our first  African country  to explore with kids. 

It maybe our love for discovering human history when our family travels that had drawn us in visiting Ethiopia. Our primary goal was to see Lucy, the 3.2 million years old fossil, probably the first evidence of humanity. The continent Africa is known as The Cradle of Humanity, then Ethiopia is its evidence repository.

Our Exploring Family with Lucy (model)
These traveling kids with Lucy!
As a worldschooling family who sets SMART goals to travel to 100 countries in all continents by 2022. This is our attempt to live life to the fullest with kids. Ethiopia is our first country in Africa (our third continent, 30th country visited, to date.
Ethiopia Tastes Awesomeeee!
When it comes to food and accommodation, we had the most unique experience in the country. Barely 4 hours away from Qatar, we were amazed with a totally different world. We definitely had a crash course in archeology and paleontology and how it works in the real world. Our three traveler kids had been to countless of Natural Museums in Europe and Asia yet we were impressed with somewhat “shabby” museum in Addis Ababa containing real human history treasures.

Look at our 5-year old, at home in a new continent ready to explore!
Lucy aside, here are 5 interesting facts about Ethiopia that everybody, yes, including kids, can appreciate:

1. Country History: Ethiopia is the only African country, which successfully fought against the scramble for Africa. It was never colonized, though Italians attempted to occupy it twice.

Ethiopia is a beautiful country worthy of independence.

2. UNESCO Heritage Sites: There are nine, day trips from Addis Ababa possible! Most famous sites are Lalibela twelve-rock-hewn churches. We visited Christian Orthodox churches which gave an interesting perspective for a family with both Islam and Catholic members.

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

3. Religion: Ethiopia appears in the Bible 45 times both in Old and New Testament.

Inside An Orthodox Christian Church

4. Origin of Coffee. Coffee is Ethiopian’s gift to the world. It was found in the Kaffa Region (South-Western Ethiopia.) Even before the visit, we are non-Starbucks coffee drinkers. Enjoying the real “coffee culture” experience in Addis Ababa with really strong and delicious coffee with local ceremonies

5. Abebe Bikila, a star Ethiopian marathon runner, won Africa’s first Olympic gold medal in 1960. Add in the country’s high elevation Addis Ababa is athletes’ heart’s working out paradise. Made us want to become runners and marathoners.

Street Soccer in Adus Ababa
Vast fresh air, massive wild… Ahhh life is perfect with a horse
And oh, more pluses — the Ethiopian women are really gorgeous and almost everybody is kind to tourists. Ethiopia is one of the safest country in Africa to visit. With low costs airlines flying to Addis Ababa almost every day from Doha, Qatar where our family’s currently based, for sure, we would be back for some backpacking with kids.

Take us back to Addis Ababa where kids run wild with the horse and dogs

Why Pinoy Family Should Travel The World 

“Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng ating bayan.” – Dr.Jose P.  Rizal, Pambansang Bayani ng Pilipinas

Translation: The youth is the hope of our nation, – Dr. Jose P.Rizal, Philippine National  Hero

Ang kabayan ang Pag Asa Ng Bayan – how do you want them to lead the future of our Country?!

Well, the world changed a  lot since that  Dr. Jose P. Rizal made that quote infamous. There is still a ring of truth into that quote at this  day and age, that we believe. Despite the fact that how many  generations of youth have let down  Dr. Jose  P. Rizal? Well,  we are not an authority on Philippine History, much more  an  expert on interpreting Philippine current events based on history. Although, proudly we say, our family is raising three global citizens exploring the world (Turknoy Travels 100 ,  now 30/100) using  their Philippine passports.

So, from  one Pinoy family to another, we encourage you to travel with  kids and we have three persuading reasons:

Pinoys  are World Class, Traveling  Magnifies Opportunities For Pinoy Kids to  be World Class. Bragging aside, we know how Filipinos contribute to international workforce, arts, science and new discoveries. Monkey see, monkey  do. When kids see Filipinos all over the world, doing what they  like best  and being admired for it by  almost all  nationalities, that fire of passion will burn until they accomplish  something similar.

A lame comparison,  albeit common, would be to be so  excited about having a Filipino Restaurant  in a certain  city  in any  country! We will definitely be tempted  to visit  and chat with the owner about how that success came to be.

Don’t even  get us started about Filipinos winning in  international competition, mainly in singing or in fashion. Don’t we all feel that same old “Proud to be  Pinoy” sentiments? Speaking of which… “Uyy, there’s a Pinoy winner  in  Project  Runway.” or that Isn’t Bruno Mars Filipino by blood line?!

There’s  fire burning in every adult Filipino to succeed in international scene. When that fire started kindling  at an early age, there’s  no  amount of life’s fire extinguisher  can void that.

 

The  World is Beautiful. There’s  More to Life Than SM. 

Disclaimer alert, these statements are written from a village Filipino perspective, as our family came from a far away village with happily-ever-after endings. Yes, a remote, small village where everybody knows everybody’s names and sadly and  happily, depends on how you look at it, everybody’s business.

Way way back, do you know where our family go to entertain guests? Where we think, we would go for an adventure? SM! Yes, those big, gigantic, enormous buildings, apparently the biggest malls in Asia or in  the world. molding the minds of millions of Filipinos to buy their hard earned dollars, euros, pesos or any  denomination because they are SM! Imagine how small scale entrepreneurs and small scale  real estate agents would prosper without these gigantic commercial monopoly.

Okay, got a little carried away there. The  point is, the Philippines has lots of  magnificent islands, mountains, seas, waterfalls to explore. Thanks to a gazillion of tourists who got viral attention in the internet because they  showcase the beauty of our  motherland, The Philippines.And yes, we know that  Pinoy millennial  have been  traveling the world and the country quite extensively, like no other generation has ever done. Why not Pinoy kids, follow millennial lead?

Going farther, when we travel with kids, we get to see that other countries have a lifestyle, not necessary like our country that works. In Europe, there are no  big malls, yet the  tourists and locals visit Old Towns patronising small shops earning  their living for centuries! Okay, maybe for decades. But that’s the point. Business can  run for decades because they have the  sense of heritage.

It’s a beautiful world, not  in a supermall,  megamall kind of way! The earlier the kids learn this, the better for the country!

If you are not exploring the Philippines by boat, you are doing it wrong!

That Colonial Mentality (Hey Joe!) 

Most – Hey Joe! You American?

Some: Not all white people are Americans! Some of them are Brits!

Obviously pun intended. But hey, not Filipinos fault! Our gorgeous archipelago has been colonized for centuries and the school textbooks are yet to be  revised to  include stories about other countries (you know, like what are Bohemians?! – seriously, hope we are wrong for thinking this, do educate us!)

Every country is different. Each one has different history and culture.  White, black, brown, yellow, pink. If we are  not open to this understanding and keen on  generalizing skin colors, we might as well be uneducated. Europe has 50  countries, each  one of the countries have diverse backgrounds and most of them, black, white, yellow, pink and every color in between. Africa is  not country, the continent has 54 countries and no, not all of their inhabitants are black! Add in the  other  4 continents, and we have almost 200 nationalities. We know how it feels to be stereotype as ” You Asian looks the same with  your small eyes and like rice so much!” Ggrr

I guess, our point is, travel with kids for them to introduce diversity!

These are our three personal reasons why we travel with our Pinoy kids. There are more, like appreciation of world religion, which we elaborated on our Singapore blog post and  our worldschooling  ideas. We  intend to share more as we go on more adventure with our family  goals.

Do you have a  burning reason why Pinoy kids should travel the world?

There are different ways to take a shower, yet, using Tabo is the best!

Qatar 5: Al Fuwairit Beach and Turtle Hatching

“And the turtles, of course… All the turtles are free, as turtles,  and maybe  all creatures should be.” -Dr.Seuss 

 

The turtle nesting season in Qatar starts April and since 2015, the Al Fuwairit Beach is closed during the season until the cute teeny tiny little turtles are off to their place in  the ocean.

Helping tiny turtle hatchlings go to their home in the Arabian Gulf is a very spectacular experience for all of us

The beach normally  opens again first two weeks of August. That would  be a tad hot to swim, not too hot to appreciate the sunset, the fine beach and the calm sea water.

 

Our family photo in Fuwairit Beach! We have the beach to ourselves ❤️
Life is always good at the beach

Maybe it’s our perfect timing to visit the beach, maybe it’s our  instinct way from crowd, but we never really see Al Fuwairit Beach crowded. If we are to describe the beach based on our  experience, it  would be the adjectives “desolate” and “serene.” We usually go  right after work hours of the week day to watch the sunset or Saturday afternoon when  everybody might be heading back to the  city for the work week.

 

The Al Fuwairit Beach is  almost 50-km away from center of the  city through Al Shamal Road. There are no  facilities such as shower, toilets or supermarket   but there will be at least two fuel stations with convenience stores for stop  over along the way .

 

The  kids always have a blast swimming or  just running around the long stretch of white beach.

Dad says Jump… Son says “How high?!”

We sincerely hope that the visitors will  not leave their trash behind to preserve the beauty  of the  Al Fuwairit Beach.  Just like anywhere in the world, nature preservation is the responsibility of every  one of us. If we can’t contribute,  the least we can do is not cause any damage.

It’s a blessing to live in a Peninsula Country. Beach around us! Add in sunset watching and life is always blessed and awesome!

Enjoy Al Fuwairit  Beach, but please..  please.. leave  only footprints and adventure memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 15: BAHRAIN: Shortest Plane Ride, Middle East’s First Indoor Amusement Water Park and World’s First Sustainable Skyscraper with Wind Turbines

 


وش ليش بالبحر و اهواله او رزق الله على السيف


Translation: Why endure the sea and its dangers while God’s blessings are on the shore.


Bahraini Proverb
 

The design inspiration behind the twin towers of the Bahrain World Trade Center makes it the first building of its type in the world. A modern interpretation of traditional Arabian towers, where the shapenot the structure harnesses the onshore winds of the Arabian Gulf, the towers’ architecture provides a source of energy for the bundling, renewable and cost effective.

Bahrain World Trade Center’s unique architecture, wind energy powered- high rise building! Effective way to teach kids about alternative energy in an oil rich country
The visit to Bahrain is long overdue for our family. After spending ten years living in the Middle East, it is just appropriate to see and visit the neighbor country and city and see their environment and day-to-day lives amidst the “similarities.” 

It is our family’s strong belief that no two countries’ cultures are exactly the same and visiting countries, no matter, how close they are geographically proves to us then and again our belief about the every country’s uniqueness.

Our family appreciates Bahrain’s friendly and polite culture. Everyone seems to have high respect towards one another. The places we’ve visited in the country are well-established with high quality services like City Centre Manama, Bahrain World Trade Center and Manama Souq. All these places seemed to be the happy to-be places in the country. All, even our walk along the King Faisal Highway in the middle of the afternoon, something we rarely do on the streets of Doha.
 

Lots of water fun indoors at @ Wahoo!!! The Middle East’s first temperature-controlled, indoor-outdoor waterpark👍👍

Fancy Indoor Skydiving anyone? There at the building behind!
Bahrain is the first country in the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf to discover oil way back in 1932. It feels that the country has developed its culture fully with the equal laws for all residents in the country, the tax (yes, that coming from an almost tax-free country is a surprise for us!) and the room for state-of-the-art technology innovations like indoor water park inside the City Centre Mall and The Bahrain World Trade Centre, a skyscraper with wind turbines in which a percentage of energy of the structure is powered by wind energy harnessed by the turbines.
 

It is also a huge adjustment to use decimals in currency. 1 Bahraini Dinar is equivalent almost to 10.1 Qatari Riyal. The mind conditioning to spend less because it’s expensive is a little hard to get used to. Doing math later on, the prices are almost the same. The mind just played a trick on the currency conversions when multiplied by 10!
 

Life is all about innovation, which is why we endure the sea and its dangers (referring to that Bahraini proverb) yet we should never fail to enjoy God’s blessings on the shores! Enjoying Bahrain for almost two full days, we saw how the locals and residents have capitalized on the country’s gifts being a desert and an island. We have felt the country’s sense of pride from within.

 
Do we recommend a weekend in Bahrain? Yes, we do. Not only it’s a great family getaway from Doha (or any other country in the GCC) but also to appreciate that there is another world out there in a desert island like Bahrain!

And hey, if not for the country, it’s really way too cool experiencing the shortest plane ride ever. 15 minutes! Barely after the pilot has spoken to the passengers about taking off, he’s there at it again, briefing the passengers about the landing and the destination country conditions! The huge disadvantage though, we waited the same time at the airport as we would on any normal flight to another country.

But hey again, there is nothing we love more than kicking off the weekend, right after office hours staying at the airport lounge with the family members complete! Because our favorite thing to do is go together where we’ve never been before!

Manama Souq