COUNTRY 11 – Maldives:  An Indian Ocean Paradise

The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul. – Wyland

                                                                    

                         
For a beach-lover family like us, Maldives is paradise! Fine, white beach, beautiful Indian Ocean! Two weeks of magical surreal days in this country did stir our hearts, inspired our imagination and brought eternal joy to the soul. Wyland articulated quite clearly what we got from the Indian Ocean!

Turknoys in Maldives

 

We stayed in a private island for five nights at Gangehi Island and needed to take the seaplane to and from Male. The sea plane ride is the attraction! Such experience to look down at the Indian Ocean and see clearly the deep blue sea, dolphins diving out from oxygen, spurts of water we can only assume from whales! Riding on sea plane, landing straight on the deep, blue Indian Ocean, we can always feel that euphoria when the wind blew our hair and we step out of the sea plane! Such a dream-like experience, the kids were shouting out with glee!

Sea plane to Gangehi Island from Male! We really dont mind doing this again…and again… God-willing!

 
Gangehi Island and sea plane Trans Maldivian Pilot

Snorkeling and swimming in the Indian Ocean, watching sunrise and sunset, enjoying our water villa, chasing wild terns and herons by the beach just in front of our private villa, running around in the white, pristine-like sand, the rain showers almost every hour all throughout the day, the sea breeze, the magnificent view. Such relaxing moments and memorable family bonding times, priceless!

Our beach villa for five days.. swoon!

 
exploring the island in the middle of the Indian Ocean

Exploring the city of Male and the nearby beaches is also a paradise in itself- even better because most of the beaches are free! Public transportation are boat, not buses. Kinda like Venice with their water taxis, but hey, we’ve been to Venice and with the ocean adventure, we’ll pick Maldives over the City of Venice anytime. Seriously. We did claim we are beach-lover bunch!

Huraa Island – best things in life are free! free public beach all day!

 

Himmafushi Island – free beach, all day fun!!

Vilinggili Island – another free beach, another day!!
Hulhumale Island – yet another free beach! We live every day!
Maale – The Capital City of Maldives!

Oh, how we love to come back again to the Indian Ocean! We intend to. When our youngest will be old enough to dive with us, we will dive the Indian Ocean together as family. Because we don’t live only once. We live every day! When one milestones is ticked off the bucket list, another wish is added, milestones to look forward to. We believe, it is not by accident that people are surrounded by bodies of water. Ocean makes us feel the life more, empowers us to live, not once, but every day!

The Beach is our School #worldschooling
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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 9: NEPAL – Mt. Everest, Hinduism and A Whole Lot of Kindness!

“To travel, to experience and learn, that is to live.” – Tenzing Norgay
Nepal is beautiful country. With the country’s majestic landscape, the country has more to offer than any countries of Europe we’ve been to. Add in the Mt. Everest, nothing less than the tallest mountain in the world, to explore, to conquer, to use as magnificent backdrop, or to just admire the wonder of nature at its best! It is no surprise that there are a lot of tourists visiting the country, no matter the season.

our favorite landscape photo!

 

waking up to this for several mornings is serenity!

Nepal is different to our eyes. Instead of churches or mosques, there would be Hinduism temples. There are holy cows (no pun intended) freely roaming everywhere in the country. Holy people basking in the sun, conquering the feat of being holy. It is refreshing to see a new perspective on religion, while enjoying the Himalayas. It is humbling and interesting experience of all family members.

One of the Hindu Temple

 

Pashupathinath Temple where they cremate Hindus when they die

Ten days in the country left us in huge awe with lots of questions about our lives’ priorities. We didn’t see huge mansions or tall buildings yet most of the houses have open rooftops to be able to view the Himalayas freely, probably with a cup of coffee or tea. What a blessing it is to be able to look at the world’s highest peak any given time! Yes, there are no luxury cars, fancy houses or maybe even state of the art appliances and expensive furniture! But who really is richer? Uhhmm, that is a rhetorical question for someone who has wisdom. To experience nature is to live. To actually see beauty of nature in this purest form is to be alive happily! This makes traveling to Nepal worth everybody’s while.

We visited four major cities in the country, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Nagarkot and Patan.

Kathmandu – Three lovely days of Hinduism, Buddhism, Temples and Local Living

posing with the Hindus Holy Men

Going to Pokhara to Kathmandu, we followed the land route. We instantly regretted this when we saw two trucks falling off the road, and our local driver nodding it off like it’s the most normal event in the world – “The land route “normally” have two or three accidents daily.” Well, it was not in the tourist information! I don’t remember the kids huddled so closed together for the remaining four hours of our land journey!

Pokhara – Hello Annapurna for Two Days!

by the Phewa Lake, Pokhara overlooking Annapurna
such carefree joy by the lake!

Nagarkot – Four beautiful days of enjoying the sunrise and sunset with Himalayas as backdrop

We feasted our eyes waking up the majestic nature scenery and marijuana plantation (we kid you, not!) We checked in a hostel in Nagarkot where we didn’t need any hotel amenities, the view in itself is the attraction.

Patan – One day exploring Patan plus our Mt. Everest Flight

Our Mt. Everest Flight

The highlight of our trip, is of course, the Mt. Everest Flight. It was a great experience for the family. Seeing the Annapurna and peak of Mt. Everest from an airplane with fellow tourists – the oohss and the aahhhhs! It is an experience of the lifetime.

More memorable,though,  will be how friendly the Nepalis are. Where we live, there are a lot of Nepalis working, expatriates like us. Their noble intention to not cause any harm to anyone or anything is just something that makes us want to convert to Hinduism (being overly simplistic here).

There may not be infrastructures, even the basic ones, in Nepal. The feel-good feeling over any luxuries in life, hearts over pockets – that we could use all of us, any day in our lives.
For our family. Nepal means kindness. To experience that fully from both ways is how we should live fully.