Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Next stop... Philippines

OK, so it's been awhile since my last trip, and I can't wait til I leave for the P.I. I got a bunch of new stuff for this trip--a new camera (digital SLR), a new messenger bag (for carry on), a new backpack suitcase with wheels, and a new passport. I'm bummed about losing my original one since it had stamps from about 9 countries, I think. Oh well, this should motivate me to travel more.

So I'm leaving next week on the 28th (06/06). First stop is Manila for 2 days. Allan C. was nice enough to offer me a ride from and to the airport and their home. Hopefully I'll get to see the Manila nightlife. Then it's off to Cagayan de Oro enroute to Illigan City. After more than 30 years, I'm going back there again. I'll spend the next 2 weeks teaching English at an orphanage and helping set up the program there. After that, I fly to Cebu to catch a plane for Boracay (via Caticlan). I plan to be there for 5 nights. Hopefully the weather will be nice. I'm planning on getting my diving cert. while I'm out there. Veronica and I did the Discover Scuba course at Sport Chalet yesterday, and now I'm more determined than ever to do it. Fun, fun, fun...

Friday, June 09, 2006

A year in review...

Well not quite a year, but it has been almost that since my last post.

June 2005 - Kona, Hawaii
Out there for Champoy's and Karen's wedding. First time to Kona, and unfortunately didn't quite make it to the other side of the island to Hilo, but there were some highlights, in no particular order:
• Volcano National Park
• the garden wedding reception - after the nice simple wedding at the beach, we went to the Outrigger Hotel for the reception. Right as dinner was just about over, the rain came pouring (which I think in Hawaii is a sign of good luck
• the Place of Refuge
• Old Airport Beach and Park - no crowds, nice place to just hang out
• Catamaran Cruise - fun day especially with slide (to the ocean) from the top deck
• Kona Half-Marathon - it was hot and humid and the rain was a welcome relief
• vacationing w/ the fam

Sept 2005 - Madrid, Spain
Again, no particular order:
• wallet picked out of pocket on my way to the airport to my hostel. I was in the subway train. Felt like a dumb tourist.
• lotsalots of tapas; after a couple of days of pork, cheeses, and deep fried stuff, my body was craving for fiber (for digestive reasons)
• Marco came from Padua to hang out
• hanging out with the Toronto Lumbas in Spain
• wedding in Rascafria and apparently Luismi's family was aware of my stolen wallet story
• day trip to Toledo
• meeting LuisMi's friends and family who were all so warm and hospitable
• partying with Yolanda and Lucy
• practicing my Spanish (with MadrileƱo accent)

Nov 2005 - Frankfurt, Turkey and Georgia Republic
in Frankfurt for a few hours for our layover
• first time to Germany after over 16 years
• kinda weird, it felt like home
• got to try my German again--very rusty

in Turkey
• just getting my ass over there with Jane
• the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Turkish bath (hamam), apple tea, boat ride on the Bosphorus River to the Asian side
• staying at the Sultanahmet area (yeah, I know it's touristy, but the place is really nice)
• clubbing in the modern area (forgot the name)
• waking up at 5:30am by the muezzin's call to prayer--though I don't understand it, the melody had a soothing quality to it

in Georgia
• landing in Tbilisi airport which seemed like a step back in time (to the Soviet era)
• meeting Jane's Peace Corps friends, Karen and Jeremy, and their dog, Nubby
• khachapouri (sp?), the traditional Georgian cheese pie--you'll want this to sustain you through those cold Georgian winters
• Tbilisi, Tbilisi, Tbilisi (wish I could've stayed longer)
• experiencing Georgian hospitality especially in Zestaponi
• visiting Stalin's birthplace of Gori where he is still revered (believe it or not)
• visiting Davit Gareji with our guide Misha; you have to hike to this ridge where you'll essentially be looking down on Azerbaijan
• making our presentation to the English club of the Linguistica Library
• Friday Russian baths with Jeremy and his expat friends and associates
• partying with Georgians, Armenians and Western expats, NGO workers

Feb 2006 – San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California Sur, Mexico
• ROAD TRIP--always fun, especially when you don't have to drive
• cheap and delicious tacos with Pacifico cervezas
• camping on the beach
• getting up close and personal with the California gray whales