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 2: Sculpture in the Desert Nature Reserve


“I consider space to be a material. The articulation of space has come to take precedence over other concerns. I attempt to use sculptural form to make space distinct.” – Richard Serra
 

One hot sunny afternoon . We were the very first to see the art installion!
Three years on, another hot, sunny, beautiful summer day in Broque Nature Reserve enjoying Richard Serra’s Art Installations

Another favorite weekend place for our family is the Brouq Nature Reserve especially when the the Richard Serra art installations of four steel plates, over fourteen metres in height each with their perfect alignments has been completed in the reserve. Modern steel art in our favorite country by a well-respected artist in his field. That sounds spectacular to call Qatar home for us.

The art by Richard Serra is titled East-West/ West- East. We love the desert nature reserve and wide desert space with its unique limestone formation all over the art installations. The landscape is simply breathtaking. Especially we look far out and see the span of Persian Gulf and walk along its beach line.

Borooq Nature Reserve is really a unique destination in Qatar!

Add in a good desert weather, amidst the season, hot and humid or cold and windy, it’s a full day out for the family. There’s no wrong weather, only wrong clothes, as we always say, so we always come prepared whenever we come to Brouq Nature Reserve.

Limestone formations are such a joy to climb, different textures than sand , soil or dunes!

limestones formation, always a joy to conquer!
top of the world of limestones formation

This place never fails to make us appreciate the beauty of desert landscape and its wonder. There is always beauty in our surrounding, even without the green! The grass is always not better when it’s greener. At some awesome times, the grass is better when it’s wild, free and growing in the desert.

Isn’t it a wonder how some living things thrive in the barren desert? Awesome wonder of nature! And wonder of life.. 🙂

 

This husband/ wife photo is taken by our eldest Turknoy inspired an ode to a 10-year-old -desert-love

 Ten years together. 
 East West/ West East 

North South/ South North.. 

 Together yet not interdependent. 

 You are you. I am I. You I/ I You. 

 Because being together is a choice. 

Not dependency. ❤️❤️❤️ 

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 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

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 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”

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.

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

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!