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

 

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 1: Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar

“What makes the desert so beautiful,” said the Little Prince, “is that it hides a well.”
 

“They’re sleeping in there or else they are yawning. Only the children are pressing their noses against the windowpanes.” “Only the children know what they are looking for.” “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” “What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…” (Quotes from The Little Prince)

Our family didn’t love traveling instantly. It was a slow courting process for the parents and kids to love exploring. We used to be conformist to any society’s standards. Got married, checked! Got kids, checked! Put the kids in the best school we could possible afford, checked! Went to church and mosque religiously, checked!

Life became routine and predictable. We are very grateful. That is one value our family will always have – being grateful to whatever circumstances and predictability life hands to us. Yet, we can’t help but hear the silent questions of our hearts and minds.

“AND THEN WHAT?!”

 
What happens when a family wants something more? What happens when every family member questions all society’s standards? We are in our journey and we don’t have the answers just yet but this we are very sure of: When you start questioning the validity and existence of one norm, such as education and traditional family lifestyle, there is no turning back. We just had to question all norms and the “why” we do the things we do day in and day out, like robots, like zombies, like programmed applications in a matrix.
 
That is why we like hanging out in the desert. The Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar close to Al Kharara is our favorite place in Qatar, whatever the weather! Yes, even in the middle of summer when the temperature is scorching 55++ degree- Celsius!

Sand dunes in the winter

 
Sand dunes in the summer!

There is something about the beauty of the sand dunes, dependent to the blowing of the wind, yet standing firm and proud to its desert background while humming its sand dune songs!

We may be an ordinary expat family in Qatar, yet we have our ambitions and goals as family. We go where the wind blows, especially with the unpredictable world economy nowadays, yet to stand firm and proud to our family’s quests and questioning while we hum our family quests song unique from all the songs of other family!
 

Sand dunes are better explored bare foot!

The Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar is a must-see for all Qatar residents, visitors and tourists! During winter, this is the perfect place of hanging out with friends for a BBQ and bon fire, sand duning, sand tobogganing, climbing cardio exercises and a lot more activities! It’s a great hang out for kids.
no filter !
 
Great playground for kids with free play-all-you can sand dunes! Our family has seen the sunrise and sunset from the Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar, both spectacular nature wonder at work.
 
Most of the time, what we actually question in life has no right and wrong answers. Those who claim, they have it all figured out and they know the right answers are all wrong. And we are mostly sure, they didn’t watch the sun rises or setting from the sand dunes or desert!
 

Sunset, Sun Dunes, Desert and a lot of Life’s Questions

Maybe life should never have answers. Maybe deserts contain hidden wells, yet again maybe none.
 
Does it matter really? When we can survive life without water?

different lovely shades of brown
 
 

COUNTRY 14- Denmark: Where Life Seems To Be A Real Fairy Tale

 
“Every person’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers. “– Hans Christian Andersen

One of our family bucketlist is to enjoy the Nyhavn in Copenhagen; there’s something about the multicoloured and posh houses close to the harbour that makes life look like a fairy tale
 
Is it a coincidence that our two favorite children’s authors, Hans Christian Andersen and Astrid Lindgren both stayed in Copenhagen, Denmark? Maybe or maybe not!

 
To be able to see where these authors worked during the prime of their lives before they have written their printed masterpieces, is like a dream come true. Kinda like seeing the Nyhavn street with is colored houses by the harbor in Copenhagen. A real fairy tale place.

Denmark will always be that fairy tale land for our family. We had enjoyed five wonderful days of exploring and enjoying castles, fairy tale rides at Tivoli Garden (what a great full day it was!) and scenic landscapes and statues like Little Mermaid and Carlsberg aka for our family, beer paradise.

The ever famous Little Mermaid Statue and Turknoys

We also enjoyed tremendously the walk in Denmark suburbans with all the elegant cabin houses. We always say to each other: “These people actually live in this place?! Seriously?!” The grass is always greener from the other side of the fence, yes. But Denmark houses are beyond green, it’s green, flower-filled, technology-savvy paradise!

Walking around with suitcases feeling happy! 😍

We were also amazed with how the Tesla electric cars is already so normal. It is a different world where we are used to land cruisers powered by cheap fuel oil. Well, its kind of given in our family. Summer in Denmark and yet we were wearing our winter jackets, we desert-dweller, we!

 

Model S Tesla is very common in the country! Onwards to the future!

Rosenborg Castle!
While we were enjoying the Rosenborg Castle, our little boy gained a tourist friend when we were exploring the throne room of the castle. The kids our boy were playing with came from North America, USA , together with their grandparents.

The grandfather was so fascinated that our family came from Qatar, he ran to us and asked – Do you ride in camels in Qatar?! (True story!) Most of the tourists looked at us with different expressions on their faces. Mostly, fascinated faces.
 

The sarcastic version of ourselves wanted to blurt out, “Oh my God, aren’t you so uniformed citizen of an industrialized first world nation. You actually believe that only your country can be so civilized. Hoops, wait a minute, did we feed our camels before we head out here in Denmark, kids?!
 
Well, it’s a great story for our family’s fairy tale story. Once upon a time, there was a family who only know camels and decided to explore the world….. Turknoy Travels 100 happily ever after.

Of course, we were not sarcastic to our fellow tourists. We tried to be articulate about our life in Qatar. After all, we are ambassadors of three countries when we travel, Qatar, Philippines and Turkey. We wanted to look like “educated travelers.”
 

Oh well, side story in Denmark over. That’s not about the country, it’s about how people treat us when we travel. Nonetheless, a story linked to Denmark memory.

We moved on to exploring the place and was able to visit the ever famous Little Mermaid. It’s really not that impressive, a popular tourist trap. When we visited Carlsberg, there is another Little Mermaid almost similar to the original ones. Exploring Carlsberg gave us a lot of opportunities to talk about global entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

all set to explore the Carlsberg Brewhouse
 

You see, Mr. Carlsberg is the one who donated the Little Mermaid statue for the love of art. The take away we got from all the discussions is, we can be passionate about something and yet earn a lot of money from businesses we are not really passionate about. Somehow, passions will link the two together.
 

Diversity even in Beer bottles !!!

It was a great experience, exploring Denmark with all the getting lost around the neighborhood, the people we met, the awesome views we’ve seen, lessons learned.
 

We read this quote about Copenhagen and we agree to this interpretation of the city and even the country. Country No. 15 and our conclusion that country affects the attitude and way of life of people, residents or citizens alike holds true. Swoon!
 

“If Copenhagen were a person, that person would be generous, beautiful, elderly, but with a flair. A human being that has certain propensities for quarrelling, filled with imagination and with appetite for the new and with respect for the old – somebody who takes good care of things and of people.” Connie Nielsen

Yes, being in the country for few days, we know why Danes are the happiest people in the world.

Happiness is all about awesome balance!

COUNTRY 12 – Sweden: From Freezing Snow Cold, Northern Lights to Almost Midnight Summer Sun!

The present moment is significant, not as the bridge between past and future, but by reason of its contents, which can fill our emptiness and become ours, if we are capable of receiving them. –Dag Hammarsköld

After three years, we came back to Europe to explore the beautiful countries and this year (2016), we went to explore and enjoy the Scandinavian Region.

Our first stop was Sweden, which easily became our favorite country… so far. We’ve seen the country in two seasons, February winter and July summer! Both seasons are spectacular, our family travel memories just piled up with awesome moments of awe, bliss and oh-my-goodness!

With our weirdo family members aged 39, 37, 9, 6, 3 it was a dream come true to witness the wonders of nature up north. Truth be told, it was a bit scary for us, desert dweller family, to bring the kids in a negative-degree-Celsius climate but we went ahead chasing dreams. We wanted to see the Northern Lights and the parents were determined to enjoy this spectacular nature show with kids. With our hot cocoas and while kids were snowboarding in the dark, there up the wonderful round sky (it’s that far north!) we first witness the twinkling green dancing lights, until it gets brighter and brighter, like it was dancing only for us, to welcome us in Sweden! We can only hear the steady beating of our hearts and the inhaling and exhaling of the kids full of wonderment and amazement for full five minutes. After that, they were too cold not to complain. It was magical yes, mixed with the human shortcomings of not being able to bear extreme cold weather even in the state of bliss!

It was truly a magical experience, watching the Aurora Borealis dance in the sky for three consecutive nights. We explored the town Abisko and Kiruna scared yet with wide eyes opened how the life happens in freezing temperature. Our family had read so much books about the winter in the North before embarking on the trip together yet nothing could every prepare us for the wonderful nature at work.

Dreams Do Come True, Northern Lights and Turknoys for Three Awesome Nights Up North
Dreams Do Come True, Northern Lights and Turknoys for Three Awesome Nights Up North

Maybe that’s life. We can prepare the best we can, but with grateful hearts and wide eyes open for all possibilities, nature and our destiny with God’s magical will, life is still full of magical surprises.

Yet sometimes, we get taken aback and get scared and prevent ourselves from experiencing the magical suprises. We are at peace with that experience still. We experienced the fear of walking in a frozen lake for fear of plunging to our death in the cold. Yet a lot of people were walking, skating even to their heart’s delight. We chickened out, yes, but we were able to stare at the wonderful frozen lake with family, while humming.. “Letting Go!’ Ha! We take what we can do.

Turknoys on Frozen Tornetrask Lake while walking and taking pictires on its surface! scary!

Turknoys on Frozen Tornetrask Lake while walking and taking pictires on its surface! scary!

 

Reindeers will always have Santa Claus and Santa Claus will always have his reindeers. We all know the story. Yet having our own family reindeer stories to cherish is just too precious, we have a field of reindeers in frozen lake and snow mountain view early in the morning in Abisko while the mother was shouting, reindeeers, until every breath of excitement ran outs. The kids will forever remember reindeers with their mom, full of life, chasing dreams and that is a more awesome reindeer story to remember. But maybe not as awesome as the reindeer pizza supreme we had for dinner while on the train heading out of the north of Sweden.

There’s also the moose, the snow wolves and snow mobiling under the Northern Lights while scaring the kids about trolls which lurk in the frozen lake and forest, all without photographs yet those memories always cross our minds every time we talk about Sweden.

This 3-year old can conquer below freezing point cold dark days, under the Northern Lights 😊

From Abisko, then Kiruna town proper, we went to the Ice Hotel. This hotel was another level of awesome, spectacular adventure with kids. It is quite humbling to be able to see manmade innovations with kids and note the hope and admiration in their eyes. God-willing, they will be able to innovate from the levels of greatness they have witnessed already in their lives. Education through travel is the best education there is.

Ice Hotel

Stockholm, the capital city, will always be very special to our hearts. We stayed in a boat hotel and was a truly great experience for the kids. Walking in the Old Town and enjoying family activities in Junibacken and getting to know Pippi Longstockings who we love dearly already. We have all the books Astrid Lindgren, our family’s favorite kids’ books author!

Turknoys and Pippi Longstocking’s Horse in Junibacken

We also enjoyed a lot of ABBA Music at ABBA Museum! Full day of fun and music! 

Every family travel has a favorite story and our favorite story in Stockholm is after our visit to The National Museum of Science and Technology. The kids had fabulous time enjoying the exhibits in the museum that we got lost track of time and stayed at the museum until we were advised that the museum was closed for the day. It was winter and days are short and it was already too dark for us to walk. We went to the bus stop and waited for the bus in below freezing temperature. In the dark. Cold. With three hungry kids. We didn’t purchased the day pass for transportation access in all Stockholm because we were really enjoy walking around.

The bus stopped and we asked if we can pay cash or through credit card. Bus driver simply said, No, sorry! And drove away. Ouch, we were stunned and silent for whole five minutes. We are stucked and stranded in the bus stop with no means to get home!

Another bus stopped. We begged the bus driver. Without breathing, waited for the driver to respond. This driver has a cheery attitude. He said, Hop in, Don’t worry about it! And just like that, we were saved from a night of frost bite and death! Yes, we do exaggerate about this story a bit.

Our real take away is that in every city, there will always be that guy who won’t care and that guy who would. In everywhere we go, we want to be that guy who cares as much as we want to meet those guys who would care.
 

We can’t get enough of Sweden that we had to book another trip to Gothenburg and Stockholm again. Stockholm is called Venice of the North but yes, not really fond of Venice so we will pick Stockholm over Venice anytime.

We have explored the Volvo Museum, Haga and Botanical Garden in Gothenburg and we can’t get enough of the beauty of the city.

Gotheburg and Stockholm in Summer where days are really looooonnngggg!

We were able to visit the Vasa Museum in Stockholm and we are impressed how a huge failure can be a big tourist attraction. We believe this reflect the peace-loving nature of the Swedes, they get over mistakes easily with no desires to blame or punish and just celebrate the lessons and the benefits of the mistakes. Because yes, we always get loads of benefits from the mistakes in our lives. In tourism, in education and in our everyday life.
 

We’ve experienced the Ice Hotel, stayed in the boat hotels, enjoyed cabin in winter and summer, got fluent with Sweden’s public transportation, train, metro, ferry rides, we can say proudly, that we really love Sweden! We really really do and we can’t wait to get back.