Hubby and I spent one weekend with friends in one of the rustic places north of Manila named Sagada. The trip has been planned ahead of weeks and luckily, we had the perfect weather – sunny and bright with a cool breeze. There was no itinerary set as everyone in the group had visited Sagada in the past, except for my friend Aldwin and I. All we wanted was a relaxed trip plus a little adventure. And adventure we got, at least from the 30-minute drive from the Baguio town proper to the Halsema hi-way.
When you know that everyone in the car owns at least a GPS-capable smart phone, one would expect NOT getting lost at all. So when we found ourselves in a rough road at the side of a mountain where our tires were just a few inches away from the cliff, our stomachs started to churn. We just had a hearty breakfast in Baguio and puking inside Aldwin’s car could mean friendship over. From the trance-inducing atmosphere inside the car, it suddenly got busy with everyone double-checking their GPS maps. None of us figured any wrong turns we made so we decided to go on and keep our cool. Few more minutes and we got into a narrow rough road where only one car can pass through at a time. As we took our turn, I suggested that we already ask for directions. Hubby, who happened to be on the wheel, asked the driver of the car at the other side waiting for his turn. The driver who may be mistaken as a member of a gang, looked a bit confounded by the question. Either he does not understand Tagalog or he simply was just not in the mood for even a bit of casual talk. He confirmed that we are on the right track by nodding his head, and then looked away. If we are to base credibility on looks, I’d say he’s not telling the truth. LOL. But since we were desperate to get back on course, we went ahead with his snooty confirmation and directions from the maps. We finally caught a glimpse of a paved road just after ten minutes or so. As it turned out, we were on course all along. We mistakenly took the short route provided by the GPS maps instead of the traffic-filled paved road to the hi-way. We did beat the traffic and got out alive, but I, for the love of life, will never take that route again. Even if it means sitting in traffic for an hour or so.
From where we entered in the Halsema hi-way, it took us roughly six hours to get to our destination. Once we arrived, I instantly recognized the rustic charm the place has to offer. Sagada has two famous caves open to public for spelunking – the Lumiang and the Sumaguing caves. We visited both but we only explored the latter. There are also some restaurants that are worth a visit. Pinikpikan House, Yogurt House, Bana’s Cafe, and the Sagada Lemon Pie House are the ones we enjoyed the most. Consistent to its rustic image, one will need to rough it up in Sagada as there are no modern hotel accommodations available. We were lucky to be accommodated at the Residential Lodge. Its location is perfect and is walking distance from most of the good restaurants in Sagada.
Sagada can easily become one’s favorite getaway destination in the North of Manila. Here’s hoping they maintain their charm in the many years to come.
Photo: Diana f+ with Lomography XPro Slide 200
Rather, NOTES to myself.
Start small. When I imposed a shopping ban on myself as part of the Lent sacrifice, I somehow knew I was setting up myself to fail. Immediately after a week from Ash Wednesday, I found myself in the mall trying out designer dresses I could not resist and went home with a handful of shopping bags. Ayuno fail!
When all else fails, try apathy. At work, my team is composed of divas and rock stars, with varying degrees of the prima donna attitude. Recently, one of my Christina Aguilera’s had a major “meltdown”. Ego stroking and diplomatic conversations seemed to fail miserably with this person. So after all the drama, email escalation and what-not, I was left with nothing but to go down the apathy road. So far, it is working out perfectly for me!
Garbage in, garbage out. I went on a food binge few Saturdays ago in a night food market near our place. Trying to be adventurous, I ordered a pile of fish cracklings for myself. It was oily and full of trans fat but i still managed to finish it. Few days later, a major zit appeared in my upper lip. It was big and excruciatingly painful, the type that reminds you not to binge on oily food again. I just hope this zit does not leave a mark on my face. I think I had enough reminder not to indulge like that again.
While we love to go on a beach vacation, we wanted to do something different for our 4th year anniversary. We always get fascinated with history and culture so a trip to Siem Reap was easily decided on. Visitors to Cambodia usually throw in a Thailand or a Vietnam city in their itinerary but we decided against it. We rather explore places one zip code at a time than cram everything in one go. In hindsight, it was a good decision as the temple visits could really get so exhausting. One would need at least a day to recover.
We booked a 6-day trip and had planned to do just two things: revel in their local cuisine, and explore their various historic temples. Fortunately, Siem Reap did not disappoint (so were the local restos we visited). Here are some snaps from our awesome trip.
With the short amount of time, we only got to see five temples. That’s just fine. It is actually not bad for a first-time visitor because after some point, they would all look the same, at least it did for us. If you are after a temple adventure, I suggest you do not skip Beng Mealea. That temple experience is by far the closest I could get to a Lara Croft adventure. If you love to see a restored temple (read: not just a pile of ruins and rubble ), go visit Angkor Wat and Bayon, or even Banteay Srei. Ta Prohm is something in between and almost everyone’s favorite. We skipped the Rolous group because that was the time we were starting to feel the temple fatigue. There are other less famous temples scattered all over Siem Reap, just be sure to mix and match to your liking. It would also help that you get your own private tour. With a driver and a tour guide in tow, we got to explore the temples at our own pace.
Siem Reap is charming in its own way. Scenic landmarks combined with the warmth and hospitality of its people, one can easily get amazed by this place. This trip definitely made our anniversary extra memorable!
2012 has been quite a good year for me. A healthy marriage, a satisfying career, good health, and overwhelming love and support from family and friends – I almost feel beyond blessed! While I am truly grateful for all these things, I realize I still get easily distracted by the woes of life. I lose sight of things whenever life gets rough, and tend to forget to count my own blessings. So for this new year, I have one simple resolution – to be more grateful.
For 2013, I decided to start a simple project that may help keep things in perspective. A jar of gratitude. Here’s the three easy steps to do it:
1. Start with an empty jar and embellish it as you wish. A mason jar or any clean jar will do. Mine is from a recycled container of cheese curls and I decorated it with a cute violet ribbon on top.
2. Every time you want to give thanks, feel grateful, or simply feel good about something, write it down on a piece of paper, card or any cute recyclable material. It’d look pretty neat to use different types of paper. Place the note in the jar.
3. On New Year’s eve, read the gratitude notes one by one and look back how blessed the last 364 days had been for you. You will realize that no matter how small or big the blessings are, there’s always so much to be thankful for!
Here’s to a new year of abundance. May your “jar runneth over”.
Work’s a bit light today so I decided to cook something Italian for dinner.
I’ve seen this incredibly easy recipe from TLC over the long weekend and decided to try it out myself. I added baby potatoes to add more texture to the dish.
It’s literally a toss-and-bake type of recipe that is almost sure to be a hit. Hubby is already making sure this stays in our special menu.
Photo: Instagram without filters