Kdo hledá, najde. “He who looks, finds.”- Czech Proverb
First, a disclaimer – we never explored all parts of the country, like what we attempt for other countries we explored , at the very least, two cities of the country. Our thirtieth (30th, baby!) was mainly spent enjoying the Renaissance, baroque and gothic architecture of its capital city, Prague. No matter, boy, did we get ourselves full of stories, facts, science and history in, arguably, the city with the most tourists.
We explored the city of Prague, mainly by foot. Yes, our 10 itchy, wanderlust-y feet, plus the three-wheel stroller, which turned 5 years in the family.
New Town or Old Town, all bridges crossing the River Vlatava, ornate castles , holy churches, monasteries and our family’s favorites, library and brewery!
The heart of Central Europe definitely left a mark in our hearts to come back. We want to know more about the Bohemian and other parts of the country.
Hey-O! Completed 30% of our goals. You can be like our family, too! Whatever your families’ priorities are, just go for it!
We’re glad to have made it to Lithuania. Positively surprising, this country indeed is. We visited two cities, Vilnius (the capital city) and Kaunas. We walked around these cities and for whatever reasons, the kids were very playful and carefree. Even the traveling parents has lots of time for romance, in between churches, museums and monuments.
We celebrated our youngest traveller’s 5th birthday in a very petite ice cream and cake shop.
Of course, we had fun exploring a new city for another year of our little explorer’s adventures.
Read books and drink coffee. Those words are music to our ears when we had a long day exploring. The locals and residents are still heavy on reading in this country, cafes are so beautiful to observe and to just relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee and books. We took with us a lot of books home, too.
Exploring another city in Lithuania, Kaunas is the second-largest city, former citadel of Russian Empire, temporary capital of Lithuania during the interwar period, point of intersection of all main roads. In addition to all historic infrastructure, plazas and monuments, the landscape is magnificent.
If this country is a person, Lithuania is beautiful inside and outside. Do you agree?
“He who does not jump into water will not learn to swim.” – Estonian Proverb
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.
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.
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.
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!
“Happiness does not come from happiness itself, but from the journey towards achieving it.” – Finnish Proverb
Our gateway to Eastern Europe from Middle East is Helsinki, Finland. Making Finland, our 23rd country to explore as family. If you know our family up close and really personal (which will be the case if you read all our blogs because that’s really us! – read on! ), then you’ll know that NO. 23 is a huge life sign for us. Not in a Michael Jordan kind of way. But that huge and enormous impact. We guarantee, that Finland will play part of our family life’s future. We’ll do all efforts, of course, and God wills will pay the wave. Anyway, we are a happy bunch because we are loving our journey.
That moment we landed in Helsinki… it’s like taking a huge breathe of fresh air! Inhale, exhale. We felt we were home in a strange land. Actially, we always feel at ease in Scandinavia countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Although some geography experts will claim that Finland is not part of Scandinavian Region. Oh well, either way, these countries are our true north. (Literally and figuratively!)
Unique Christian churches, busy people going on their business, convenient transportation system, artistic places everywhere and of course, playground of big and small kids abound.
We stayed in memorable accommodations in this capital city – cabin by the sea and an apartment owned by an awesome artist. You know those phrases we, as traveling parents often say during our holidays, became more surreal —-“People live this way?! Day in and day out? What a spectacular way to live.” Of course, the optimistic family family members will rave and say with conviction – We can live like this, too!”
With this energy and vibes, we started the first day of spring with the biggest bon fire our family has ever seen! And yes, spring coincided with Easter festivities, oh what fun. Easter bonfires in Seurasaari is a Finnish Tradition during Holy Saturdays . According to Finnish folklore, evil spirits, witches and trolls are particularly busy on that day and bonfires are believed to scare them away.
For our family, this actually makes sense more than Easter bunnies, don’t you think? Since Jesus Christ is yet to rise, the Black Saturday is like a fun day for evil spirits, hence, bonfires can help! That’s how our family interpret this tradition. Anyhow, it’s really cool to witness world traditions especially one that we can relate to.
Another highlot of our Finland adventure will be life’s celebrations! I ur eldest kid traveller celebrated her 11th birthday in Helsinki at Linnanmaki, an amusement park we enjoyed way better than Disneyland.
Oh yes, she’s feisty , courageous, determined, gorgeous, visionary and eleven! Her talents, wits, beauty and brain will sure change the world we live in. What better way to celebrate this by pumping the adrelin with adventure and sugar in a very metropolitan city?
We definitely made family memories in this country. True to our vision of living up to the uniqueness and individuality of our family members, up to paving our own family trails. It’s just really fantastic exploring a new place while kids grow… by age and by number of countries visited.
“A frog living at the bottom of the well thinks that the sky is as small as a cooking pot lid.” – Vietnamese Proverb
Ho Chi Min City
After exploring The Kingdom of Cambodia, off our family rode a bus crossing border to the Vietnam’s capital Ho Chi Min City, popularly known as Saigon.
The gazillion motorcycle aside, there’s something about Vietnam that we can’t quite pinpoint. It’s in the air, the food and the accommodating smiles and nods of the locals. Our travellers’ hearts and feet felt at home in a strange yet very familiar land.
As part of our worldschooling and our love for city tours, we happily stayed in the crowded city for few days exploring the country’s war museum. Most of the tourists are Americans. We maybe politically wrong here, but we felt that they are not so proud of what happened during the Vietnam War. In the eyes of our traveling kids, war will always be wrong and exerting violence on anyone or any country is an unfair, if not futile, use of resources.
We have lots of thoughts on our museum visits, some of them include words like “barbaric,” “horrid,” “bullies,” and we’d rather not articulate our sentiments in this Vietnam blog. (We will, of course… in a separate blog.)
After we had enough of wars and museums, of course, Vietnam culinary journey galore. Oh we did eat a lot of Pho! Yuummm! Street food, restaurant, hotel, airport… burp!
Ha Long Bay
UNESCO World Heritage Natural Wonder, Ha Long Bay is a spectacular, almost surreal experience for our family. We stayed in a cruise for two days and one night in Ha Long Bay surrounded by natural wonder of almost 1,600 limestone islands and islets covering an area of over 1,500 square kilometers. Extraordinary experience waking up to beauty, watching both sunrise and sunset. Majestic scenery we only used to see in movies (Bond… James Bond! among others, of course.)
With heavy heart and heavy feet, we left Ha Long Bay to Hanoi, The Paris of SouthEast. It’s true! The city is very posh, classy, cosmopolitan like Paris. Yeah, yeah, we feel that we know Paris… We are not dreaming of Paris anymore. Only the places we’ve never been to, and the places we’ve been to. Basically, dreaming of the world, exploring in our dreams.
Now, back to Hanoi. We experienced living like local. Waking up 5AM, we felt we were really early but we were so wrong. Seemed that everybody was already up and exercising, mostly tai chi and ballroom dancing in the park! What an experience! Imagine, if this is the lifestyle that everybody gets embedded in the deepest of mind’s molds. Happy, healthy and disciplined people and an awesome world to thrive in.
Vietnam is in our hearts! Definitely a precious pearl of the orient with its unique charm and glory. We’ll be back, we know, we barely explored this country and we are craving for more!
It’s easy to make travel wishlists, bucket lists of places we want to go, destinations we dream of! Even those creatures under the rock would want to visit some places they have never been. But most of the time, they do stay under the rock, left in wonderment of what’s like outside their world.
Why wouldn’t they, staying under the rock, is comfortable. It’s easier to just keep wishing to explore the world than actually travel. Similarly, it’s way easier to make the Eiffel Tower photo (or other places!) the desktop screensaver than actually book a ticket and go to Paris.
But bucket lists are meant to be ticked off, and not to remain list forever.
The secret to realizing going to these destinations are actually pretty straight forward.
1. Faith and Vision go together. A strong vision is backed up my breakdown of goals, yes, but more importantly, it’s main support and foundation is a belief system, a strong faith about something. It could be Jesus Christ for devote Christians, it could The Force for Star Wars Fanatic, it could be the unicorn for people who believe in the unknown, the extraordinary, the unseen. We believe in fate, God’s blessings and positivity. Those are the foundation of our Vision, family values, you may say. The thing is, Vision is something we strive for long term, hence, our faith, values and passion should support our own desire for the future.
2. Visualize. Visualize. Visualize. And Visualize Some More. Have you seen the movie Jumper? If yes, you know that it’s about a young man with a teleportation abilities, his travel adventures mixed with family drama and young love action. Making our travel dreams come true is similar to how he used his teleportation abilities. Focus on that one.. Did you notice that he can only go to a place if he can imagine it? Pictures of different places all around his room. If he doesn’t know what Rome looks like, he can never teleport there. It’s simple and actually neuro-science worthy!
3. Don’t be just SMART. Be SMART-ER. Our family is more of an advocate of setting vision and goals than travel addicts. Well, we are travel addicts, but all of our travels are part of our bigger plan… to travel more! Seriously now, we believe that setting goals is necessary for everybody!
Everybody has this “SOMEDAY!” Here’s the big open secret to getting to our “someday.” Not only we need to be SMART, but what really works is if we are SMARTER! This good, (very) old acronym works!
Measurable (no-brainier KPI)
Attainable (in life, all goals are!)
Realistic (make sense to YOU!)
Time bound (w/ deadline set)
Reviewed (evolving YOU!) .
Write down goals, most preferably, uninfluenced, own personal goals which echoes your deep inner desires and passions, and evaluate it periodically, make necessary adjustments (to yourself, to the lifestyle or to the goals!) Of course, you can change goals in life. Life is….life. Sometimes, there are changes in life which we can’t control. When we say, our family aim to travel to 100 countries together, we are declaring and sending our thoughts on how we want to live our lives. If, for whatever circumstances, the Universe, God or Energy have other megaplans for us and the world, then we will adjust our goals. Revision of goals is not non-achievement of living life. It’s driving the car and changing routes when a particular road is blocked.
We can see this in every work employee. They are almost always afraid to set high goals at work because they may not achieve it, get punished for non-achievement and be embarrassed about it. But such is not the case about life – setting goals and being open about these goal, means the intent to maximize one’s life potential and God given resources.
4. Positive Can-Do Attitude. The glass is not half full nor half empty. Oh the places we travel with that glass!
The reality in life – positive attracts positive. Positive multiplies positive is enormous positive potential. We are the sum or total of the positive influence we surround ourselves it. That may be the universal requirement for goal achievement.
5. Be Spontaneous and Just Leave. Action cures fear! The beginning of a thousand miles is a single step! Take the first bite is how you eat the entire cow.
A little trivia about our family? We started traveling right after our Traveling Dad lost his day job. That’s when we know for sure that life is off to good start the moment we say…”What the heck!! Let’s just go.”
“Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard.” – Psyche Roxas-Mendoza
Since we moved to a different location in the city, we now lived more than an hour way from any beach in Qatar. It’s not really far, at all, although it will take a little getting used to. We’ve lived less than 30 minute-drive away from Al Wakra Beach and at any point that our family want some unscheduled activity, we always end up going to hang out by the Al Wakra Beach.
We’ve done almost everything at Al Wakra Beach – plane watching (way back to the really old Doha Airpot) , Eid Celebrations, BBQ, Overnight Camping and endless family chatting and eating, hanging out by the kids playground . In addition, Al Wakra Beach is a haven for the dogs and our dog lover family members.
Al Wakra is another town from Doha, so we were technically going “out-of-town” everytime we visit the beach. Priceless family memories almost always involve beaches.
Yes, we conclude, have dogs and kids in Qatar? Al Wakra Beach is a perfect place to hang out at leisure.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” William Hazlitt
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!
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.
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!
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.
3. Bonifacio – Not as popular as the Balintawak Bonifacio momument but nothing less historic.
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.