COUNTRY 13 – NORWAY: 2,407-KM-Away from the North Pole!

 It’s our 13th Country to explore as family and we are so amazed with Norway. We haven’t done much in Norway but one full day of winter at Narvik, enjoying the closest point our family was the closest (so far) from the North Pole with lots of snow. It seems that not having a complete family photo is a great reason to go back. And we really intend to go back. We have our hearts set on this quest! 

a taste of Narvik keeps us wanting more of Norway

a taste of Narvik keeps us wanting more of Norway

The fun of exploring never ends. Once we step on new territory, there will always be some new feat to conquer, new bucketlist to tick off.

We intend to explore of Norway and now aim closer to North Pole! Oh my, let the dreaming continues! Dreaming knows no bounds, only the limits that we set for ourselves.
 

the closest we have for a family picture, our youngest is indoor enjoying the warmth and view
our youngest in Narvik enjoying indoor view of Narvik and below freezing temperature

“A tied dog does not jump farther than his cord. ” – Norwegeian Proverb

“Bunden hund bykser ikkje lenger enn bandet rekk”

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COUNTRY 10 – Sri Lanka, Our Perfect Cup of Tea

“Nobody goes undefeated. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.“– Kumar Sangakkara

Sri Lanka, “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” Our family hailing from another “pearl” country, The Pearl of the Orient – Philippines, concur with all our guts!

When we first arrived in Sri Lanka, we were immediately reminded of the Philippines weather, if not for the monkeys and the right-side driver seat! The tropical weather and the sea-breeze humidity reminded us of home. The plant species diversity is almost exactly the same. Maybe even for the animal species, except for the elephant and as we have mentioned, already, those cute, adorable, cheeky local monkeys!

Mommies and babies – cheeky monkeys

Elephants! Not our first elephant ride.. but our last – because we learned to treat animals with compassion – things we learn when we travel with our eyes wide open!

Pearls symbolize innocence, love, perfection and purity. And these two pearl countries are just that, both in a positive and not-so-positive way!

Innocence, love, perfection and purity which can be interpreted by kindness and sadly, naiveté. The sign of submission to conquerors by all locals are recognizable from a fellow “conquered” mentality. The Dutch/British influence is everywhere as much as the Spanish/American influence is everywhere in the Philippines. Yet, the cry for country’s own identity can be heard and seen in all aspects of their day-to-day life like the very obvious mode of transportation, Tuktuk and Jeepney.

Royalty Car during the colonial times!

Studying herbal medicine , which we are pretty sure also available in Philippines

It is very funny how two countries can be so different yet everything can remind us of home – Places of worships, infrastructure (or the lack of it), palaces, food, pure and pristine beach, hospitality and sports!

Old Palace by the Kandy Lake

Exploring and Loving Buddhist Temple

Sri Lanka is our Pearl in the Indian Ocean, the people with their perseverance for a better life as individuals and as a nation, will always be champion-in-the making for us! Slowly yet surely. Preferably, while enjoying their organic, pure tea straight from their best-class-in-the-world tea plantations!

To date, we have already visited four cities in Sri Lanka – Kagelle, Colombo, Kandy and Sigirya. The first three cities  with kids and we had a great time with the elephants, temples, beaches and food! We visited Sigiriya as a mum-dad quality time together and it was fabulous!

Sigiriya Rock or Lions Rock viewed from Pidurangala Rock

We intend to come back to Sri Lanka! There are just way too many things to explore which may lead us to better appreciate our home countries. It is very close to Middle East countries, and we now understand why this country is the favorite holiday destination of the local and expatriates residence of Qatar and even UAE.
Sri Lanka and perfect tea time, makes perfect sense to us! 

Brown, Powdery Beach and Indian Ocean, no less!

COUNTRY 7: Liechtenstein: The Prince and Us!

“I think it can be taught, but of course, to be successful, you have to be at least gifted to a certain extent. When I was a boy I was taught to play the piano. The teacher gave up soon because I was totally ungifted,” he says. “I think it’s the same with leadership. It’s still a little bit of a black art.”
– Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein on Leadership
 
After our family’s visit to Monaco, a very small country, our family started to become fascinated with small monarch countries. It’s amazing how a small group of (very rich and powerful) people look up to their monarch leader and enjoy all the citizen’s benefits of a what-it-seems to be a powerful state.
 
Liechtenstein is a tiny alpine state nestled on a narrow strip of land between Switzerland and Austria. The landscape of this narrow strip of land is indeed magnificent and resembles mountain paradise.

Turknoys Exploring Liechtenstein

We spent a full day of awe in Liechtenstein. We watched a marathon of healthy people, young and old, we ate at the healthy restaurant, we trekked the path leading to the Castle of Vaduz, where apparently, the Prince of Liechtenstein live. 

A majestic landscape of a small monarch country!
kids watching the marathon!

Having that bold tourist attitude, after the long beautiful trek up the Castle, we knocked at the gate of the Castle of Vaduz and asked with lots of enthusiasm the heavily armed guards where the entrance to the Castle is. To which they replied with a polite laugh, that the Castle of Vaduz is not open for public as the Castle is where the Prince of Liechtenstein lives.

Castle of Vaduz , not a museum but a monarch residence!

 

Ooopps!

We retreated to our family photo taking when the citizen running pass by and we asked him, again boldy, to take our family picture with the castle. Poor guy didn’t have any choice; we won’t let the moment pass by without that family photo.

One of our most loved family travel photo!
Turknoys Exploring Liechtenstein

 

And then the gate of the Castle of Vaduz opened! The BMW car drove out of the Castle, the Prince on the driver seat looking so ..”normal.”

We were not sure it was the Prince himself until another citizen, this time a beautiful woman passed by us and we asked her again to take a family photo of us (yeah, we know, tripod, right?!) and she asked: Did you see the Prince?

And husband replied, quite merrily: Yes!

Kids were curious and happy. The prince driving his own car, without a desperate princess running after him asking him to save her! A prince who is actually a real person living in a real life castle.

Just like that, our kids’ eyes were open to the “real world.” Which turned out to be more wonderful than what Disney fairy tales want us to believe!

It turns out the Prince Hans-Adam II really lived quite a great monarch example. One of the wealthiest monarch who saved his family’s business right after business studies like any other normal student. He then saved the country and built a name for it, hence, he is quite well-loved among all the citizens.

 Prince Hans- Adam II will always be a great example of a leader for our family. 

We feel very lucky spending one day in Liechtenstein. The Prince will never know how much his life gave so much impact to a traveling family like us. Yet, we will remember this as one of our fondest traveling moment.

We want to be part of this world!!

What a beautiful place to be!!!