Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bali with Love

Indonesian Trip: April 14, 2014 – May 3, 2014

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lesson learned: Expect the Unexpected

Traveling is not easy especially when you have to step out from your comfort zone. All the inconvenience, desperation and unexpected troubles happened during the trip are lessons to reflect upon. We have proven how risky traveling is when my husband and I went to Europe for our honeymoon last year. There were times we put ourselves in danger because we messed out our bookings and things didn't work out as we planned them.

Since the first day of our trip, we were used  to booking our next departure ticket every time we arrived in a city. It was in contrast on what happen in Sweden. We didn’t know that we had to book the ticket from Copenhagen. Apparently, we thought that we are getting ahead, but we are not. We had to call Denmark's office to book the ticket knowing that we had no where to print it. It was a blessing that the Sony Center allowed us to print the ticket. 

When we arrived in our next destination, Germany to Paris at exactly five in the morning, we sighed for sadness and disappointment. We were expecting that we could book the later 10 o'clock evening departure, but we got the 5:45 in the morning. This means, we would arrive to Paris in the middle of the night in unsafe place. Come what might happen, we didn't have food and accommodation. What we only got is TRUST in God.  

Indeed, bad happenings for others might be good thing for us. Along the way in Cologne, Germany, the police stopped our bus for inspection and they had to hold him up because of the missing documents. As the result, we had to stop and took this chance to buy food and water. For us, that was a blessing.  

Eventually, we arrived in Paris half excited and half worried. We were excited to see Eiffel Tower , but we were worried because we couldn't afford to sleep for 100 euro five- hour accommodation. Good thing, we brought sleeping bags and set them up outside the bus station .Of course with our winter jackets on, we felt warm and comfortable. We had no choice, but to wait outside the station to open ,and we chose to sleep on the ground than walking around in the darkness.  

With this in mind, traveling is an ultimate adventure to live. Bad things will always teach us lessons. I am sure, we learn something out of it. It is good to be prepared and expect the worst scenarios when embarking on a journey. Thus, lessons are all around us if only we can recognize them for what they are. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Trip to Gallipoli Campaign : In honor of the Commemoration of ANZAC April 25 and Tribute for Mother's day.

DATED : October 24-25, 2012 

Traveling is very good for self-growth says Ainslie, author of Instruction and growth cited by solo traveler author Janice Waugh. It's because we discover some aspects of ourselves we aren't aware of. This month of mother's day, growth was intensified with our traveling experiences in Canakkale Region of Turkey. I could never forget the love of a Muslim Turkish mother to us, who were foreigners of the land. Second, the journey, we embarked on reminds us for the mother's hope and misery. If only she could save her children from suffering and pain, she would be grateful to do that.

There's something about seeing the place in Gallipoli Peninsula located in Turkish Thrace , feeling the presence of the soldiers fighting for their country, and being in their mothers' position hurting after their sons death. Gallipoli derives its name from the Greek "Καλλίπολις" (Kallipolis), meaning "Beautiful City" . This beautiful city is mother's misery.


Hassssh (the sound of wind)... Shhh... Raindrops slowly fell down, disturbed by the faint cold breeze. It was 7 o'clock in the morning as the sky had still pitch black, when we arrived in Canakkale, Turkey, the town seaport on the southern(Asian coast). As we crossed to the Europe side of the strait by a ferry, the wind blasted much stronger.

After 20 minutes, we were in Eceabet. Still the thunder followed, with a crash that rattles all the places. Rain came pelting down smashing against our body. We felt very cold. I told my husband, “ I don't know how long I can stand this cold,” We were shivering badly. My husband who was so assuring,” Don't worry we can find a warm place.” Venturing out into this unknown place in a bad weather turned to create precious moment of reflection - "We need our mother.”

As we went into a space at the most corner of the back of the souvenir shop, we saw a woman in her 50s. She was the restroom attendant, who collects the payment for every usage. Though we couldn’t understand any single word she said, but we know she welcomed us with her compassion while giving us seats.” She's a Muslim.” Why did she do this to us?” The voice inside of me was confused. Deep inside, there's an inner joy when you think that they have different perspectives and religion than ours, but she was still caring for us, who were foreigners in her eyes.

Why Christians and Muslims are fighting when both believe in the same thing – compassion and love of your neighbors? Or Maybe they do it because they wanted to protect their religion? I don't know. Maybe because she is just a mother, who can't afford to see her children suffer. But I know that time when she offered us with Turkish tea to keep us warm was really an act of love. I told her. Thank you. I am hoping she understands what I meant.
Given by the Turkish mother

Soon, we need to go to see the The historical National Park of Gelibolu Peninsula preserving that time in history when 500,000 soldiers who lost their lives. This place left traces deep enough to change us and strong enough to be felt even the day we were there. Everything was seems so real. We were driving around the park and stopped at the cemeteries. We ignored the burst of lightning brightens the sky, immediately followed by a low rumble disturbed the peaceful atmosphere of the pristine coastal forest, green hills, sandy beaches and blue waters. The rain falls down hard, crushing the resting place for the Turkish, who fought bravely to protect their homeland and for Australian, New Zealand, British , French and Indians (ANZAC), who wanted to end the world war.

I felt crashing inside. We couldn't stop our tears from crying when I felt the strong emotions of pity for the mothers of these dying soldiers. My husband was a tough guy, but he couldn't stop himself from being emotional and his tears and raindrops wet his face and bursting out and cried, “ Their mothers had suffered so much . They cared for them and nurtured and protected them.But now look at them, they were sent here to get killed and died young. Very young. I am sure their mothers were grieving in pain upon losing them.”

The images of the war and the ruthless attack on their children were very painful for a mother like them. One of the letter was recovered written by one of the soldiers that says,” Don't worry mother. I'll come back. I am sure with that,” How do you think the mother would feel after hearing the news of her son's death? She lost her hope and she was badly in pain because she's expecting her son to come home.

When we visit the battle sites (ANZAC Coves), lone pine tree, memorials and cemeteries, we can feel the special spirit of this place. We can feel the heart of Turkish nation. The wind in the tree-tops and the waves of the eternal sea sing the song of the heroes of this war.

One of the significant legacies is the mutual respect between the Turks, Aussie and Kiwi guest who they continually welcome with open arms – once enemies, now are brothers.

Kemal Ataturk in a speech to the first visitors to Gallipoli from Australia and New Zealand in 1934: (cited from Natalie of
 Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives!
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. 
There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

Lone Pine
That's how the area and the cemetery got its name from this only one Pine tree in the area Lone Pine
 — atGallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.

Everything that happened in the past Gallipoli is an extremely moving place. For others, it emphasizes the strength of unity that is now shared between former enemies, but for me, it reminds us the love of their mothers, who sent their sons far away from their country. If Christians and Muslims will start another war, let's remember our mothers. Even we have different perspectives on religions, we still have the same mothers who taught us how to love one other.

Traveling indeed is good for the souls' growth. After the trip, it develops our a greater understanding of our own cultural and religious warfare – we don't have to end up killing each other like enemies before we realized that we can love and forgive like brothers. Let's love one another as how our mothers love us so much. This is the most important thing we learned after we embarked on the Gallipoli journey.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Strife and Exhortation in the European Capital of Culture: Istanbul,Turkey

October 20- 27 and 29-30, 2012

The wind blew colder around 5 in the morning than in Thessaloniki, Greece when we arrived in bus station (otogar), Istanbul. We were waiting for the sun to go up. I could see the roaming people busy going in and out of the buses. “Where are we going now?” I asked. I still felt like dried leaves that any time I am going to fall. I felt so tired and I wanted to catch more sleep. I need to snap out of these worries. I am worried on what happen again in this unfamiliar place. We always follow our instincts and trust our map.

Up the road across the terminal, at the bus station we looked for Taksim. There was a guy who sold bus stubs for 7 TL, and he never gave us the tickets. I think we were being tricked. One thing I learned in Istanbul, be cautious and alert. You can't trust anyone. I am sucked with this unpredictable experience in every city in Europe. But, I know it is going to be fun. We didn't know the language and we didn't know where Taksim was. There was a guy who could speak English helped us and gave us direction on how to find our accommodation.

It is easy to find the Taksim because it is the center of Istanbul and there are Tourist Information centers where you can ask for free maps. In the Center, I could see thousands of people and tourists going back and forth along the famous avenue, Istikial Avenue.

You could also see clubs and bars, grocery shops, restaurants and shopping centers on each sides of the streets. At the end of the avenue, you could find the tunnel. It was constructed during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz. It is second oldest subway system of the world.

Along the road as we walked down to look for the Kalyonco Kullugi Caddesi no. 79 on the map, we had the hard time finding the accommodation, but the funny thing was the SOHO hostel is just along the next street. As I was standing in front of the English Learning office when a serene sounded so loud. I didn't know that it warned me to stay away from the building premises. But anyway, I didn't stay long there because we'd found finally the accommodation. I was so exhausted. Bringing the heavy baggage with me, I went to my husband .

The night came and we had enough energy (after resting 2 hours), we didn't miss any single moment upon our arrival. We went immediately to the night market in Istanbul to see what their market can offer. You know Tibi loves market and bargain. I have to support him.

As we rode on the metro train towards the sea port of tranquility. I have reflected on our long journey of our trips – we had fights and misunderstanding. To the extent, we almost lost each other. Finally, we come to our last leg, TURKEY. “I will try my best to submit myself this time.”I thought. I was wrong because during our stay, there were times, we didn't talk and he even complained that I let him do everything from decision making to cooking the meal. I thought submission means letting him do everything and I just have to follow him was a good decision I made, but it was not.

One day, we had to go out and started our Istanbul exploration, I couldn't hold on the pain anymore. I broke down and cried... while walking,I had torn the map into pieces as burst out my anger.“Why are you torturing me like this? What should I do, so you won't stop blaming me?”. I cried.

I think there's no way out to fix this. I think this is true that you will know the person when you travel with him. It is not easy to travel with someone, but it makes memorable one when you had a fight.

For the sake of the trip to work out, we had to reconcile and make things fine again so we can explore and enjoy our stay in Istanbul, Turkey.

Here are the places we agreed to see despite of the conflict we had. (The descriptions you can read here were taken from Istanbul Cultural map.)

Towers and Monuments 

Hippodrome was commissioned by Septimus Severus for chariot races. It was enlarged by Constantine I in 325. The U-shaped race track was about 450 m long  and 130 wide. Its stands were capable of holding 100,000 spectators. The two obelisks and Serpentine Column, now sit in holes in a landscaped garden. We spent one night and day in this beautiful garden and we had taken a lot of pictures. You could also enjoy the colorful fountains nearby.

Galata Tower was built on the highest point of city walls, in the time of Genoese colony in 1384. In 16th century, it was used as dungeon for Kasimpasa fleet captives.  It had been also used as observatory, fire tower and was restored in 1967. We decided to get in the tower to see the panoramic view of the city and we did also take pictures from the outside because we have a lot of places that we need to see. The day was so beautiful and the sun was bright to walk down and explore the city. 


While we were on the bus, we could see some remnants of the history which the orange brown walls made of clay bricks, along the city lane.  These walls were built through out the history, but did not survive. These were starting from Sirkeci and following Sarayburnu and Marmara shore used to reach the hills on which Hagia Sophia was found. Now, you could see the remaining clay bricks of these walls to prove of its existence. However, my heart broke when I saw the walls being ambushed by pain. Abandoned. When we were in the Tokapi Palace Gate walls, I saw some squatting gypsies on the space in between these walls - good enough to shelter them from the cold nights. Not only that, there were trashes all over. I felt so sad to see things like this. I have realized when you are tourists you see not only the beautiful spots, but also the ugly reality of it. I hope they will preserve their cultural heritage.


We visited the Catholic church along the Taksim street, where most of the Filipino Overseas Workers went for Sunday gathering. 

The most highlight of the church visits was the Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia is one of the magnificent masterpieces of world architectural history. It was originally built as a church. The construction began during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor and wooden roof burned down due to riot and no remains survived. What a sad story of this church! From the architectural viewpoint, it is made up of vast interior. It covers with a dome that has 30.31 m and 55 m of height.  Now, Hagia Sophia was changed into museum in 1934 and opened public in 1935. However, seeing the long queue of tourist who wanted to get in, we hesitantly left. Instead we went to the famous, Blue Mosque across of it. I just wonder why they call it Blue Mosque. Is it all in Blue? 

Before we went in, we saw outside, that there's a free seminar, understanding Islam, so we joined because it's free. I learned from the speaker that Islam and Christianity have the same origin and so we are brothers from Abraham. After that interesting insights, we went in the Blue Mosque reminding ourselves to follow their custom like wearing scarf and covered your body and removing your footwear as paying respect to the church. 

Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Kulliyah  is the only mosque that was originally built with six minarets. As the walls are adorned with world famous Iznik (blue) titles "Blue Mosque" all over the world.  It's architect was  Sedefkar Mehmet Aga. It's pulpit is decorated with mother of pearl while its interior walls and columns up to the second storey windows are sheathed with the richest tiles in various types. So beautiful, right? It is well-carpeted in red on the ground spaces inside. During our visit, we were given a chance to take few shots inside the church only until the designated lane because beyond that was a prayer area for the Muslims.

We also attempt to see their bridges like Galata bridge, Ataturk Bridge, the Golden horn and the famous one, Bosphorus Bridge,which looks like the Golden gate bridge in San Francisco USA.

"The bridge was completed on 30 October 1973, one day after the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey, and opened by President Fahri Korutürk and Prime Minister Naim Talu. The cost of the bridge amounted to USD 200 million ($1.03 billion in 2013 dollars).At the time the bridge was opened, much was made of its being the first bridge between Europe and Asia since the pontoon bridge of Xerxes in 480 BCE. That bridge, however, spanned the Hellespont (Dardanelles), some distance away from the Bosphorus." (wikipedia)

In the first four years, pedestrian could walk over the bridge, reaching it with elevators inside the towers on both sides. No pedestrians or commercial vehicles like trucks are allowed to use the bridge today. Because of this, all we could do is to watch the beautiful bridge closer from the port after a thousand miles walking attempt all the way from Taksim to Dolmabahce Palace and Museum (It was closed then for holidays, so we just took pictures and enjoyed the view). 

We were enticed by its beautiful glittering and sparkling series lights that were pleasing to our eyes at night from further opposite view in Galatia Bridge. That was another awesome walking attempt with my husband. When we went home, we agreed to get on a bus way back to Taksim. But this time along the way back home, we noticed some skyscrapers and buildings in the greenish park. The set-up looks like in Ayala heights business center. 

"Haaaahh," I yawned. "Finally, we are back to the hostel. Now we have to worry for our next trip out of the city." When I looked at the map, I can't imagined we've been walking around the big city of Istanbul. Suddenly, my stomach is growling. I get hungry. I think better I grab some food from this restaurant just across our place.

Some time after we came back from our Turkey trip (Gallapoli and Pamukkale),we need to move to another hostel – Gakkos Hostel. Before we got there, we saw the horrible side of Istanbul – the abandoned buildings occupied by the gypsies and homeless people. We were so scared and I could see on Tibi's eyes how afraid he was when three people were approaching us. We were walking fast as we could and we went out to unknown street. We started blaming each other and he blamed me for taking ahead of him and walking through Istiklal C.

I just kept my mouth shut and finding our way out before anyone could rob us. The place was really look like a ghost town and we saw a guy at the corner of the street praying and he told us that the street that we were looking for was at the next two corner. Thank God!!! What a relieve... after we found it. Seemingly, we were away from the center, but it wasn't hard to find our way back to Taksim.

Even there in our new hostel, we still have misunderstandings. There was a night when we didn't talk. But, we were trying to reach out for each other. Our room mate maybe noticed something wrong between the two of us, she approached me and had me read her message, asking if we were okay. Then I told her bluntly that we were. But, I thought there was really something wrong. I think traveling with a partner is more challenging than traveling alone.

On our last day in Istanbul, we did find our way to the Ataturk airport taking the bus 96T line bus for 4TL from the central Taksim around 8:20 in the morning. On the last day, we arrived at the airport two hours before the scheduled flight to Dubai, then at 9 p.m. from there we would be transferred to Thailand. While waiting on our seats, I saw a Muslim lady across our seats crying so loud. She was asking for help. Unfortunately she missed her flight. I felt so sorry for her. That is very expensive trip to lose and to miss. I looked him grinning and thought," Even we sometimes we disagree on some little things, but it's good that we agreed to come to the Airport two hours before the flight. I couldn't forgive myself if we missed the flight.

At last, Tibi and I felt better after our relationship went back to normal. May be we were just so stressful along this long journey. Love and hate are normal when you travel with a partner. Just be patient and show willingness to reconcile to avoid disastrous trip. I have no choice then, I have to stick with him or else he would leave me there having nothing - the worst thing would ever happen. If there's one thing I learn from this trip, I can't hate him for long. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lessons from Bad Experiences

Tibi and Che went for a long European journey last year. They found that all the inconvenience, desperation and unexpected troubles happened during the trip were  lessons to reflect upon.

1. Expect the unexpected. Be prepared always.

It's true that it is risky to travel. When you put yourself in danger or maybe things don't work out as planned, you put yourself at risk. On their trip to Nice, France, they thought they could catch the bus to Austria, but unfortunately, it was fully booked and they had to book a rude for the next scheduled departure on Sunday. Therefore, they had to stay two nights in an expensive city. They didn't have that much money to spend for another two nights’ accommodation, so they had to sleep in the temporary bus terminal on their last night and in the bushes in Monaco. It’s a good thing they brought their sleeping bags. The same thing happened when they went to Paris. They were supposed to leave on the late departure  however, it was fully booked again, and they could only book for a  5 a.m. departure and they would arrive there at 12 midnight. Paris is another expensive city. “100 Euro for one night only, no way!!! “Tibi said. They had to stay outside the metro station until the sun shines all over the place.

2. Prayer is your only weapon to be safe. Pray unceasingly.

In Paris, they both felt fear for their safety. All they could do is to pray that wherever their trip leads them, it would be in safe place. Prayer saved them too while they were traveling to Paris from Hamburg. They encountered delays during the trip and it was good for them, so they could buy food and water. Only when you are out of your comfort zone ,you rely on prayers. When they were in Sweden, they had trouble booking back to Germany on the date schedule because they didn't know that they had to book the next departure from Copenhagen. Things got messed up and there was no internet shop where they could print the ticket. Thank God... the Sony Center agent allowed Tibi to print it out. I call it a miracle.

3. Enjoy the Adventure. Don't let the fear stop you.

Don't let your prior knowledge and fear stop you from enjoying the city. It was during this outbreak – rally and all the protest, that they decided to go to Greece. They were wondering whether to go there or not. However, they didn't let their fear overcome their joyous escapade. They still flew out despite the bad news they had heard. They had no regrets upon going there. In fact, they enjoyed Athens' Parthenon, temples and all the free museums. Moreover, they enjoyed Greece so much because of the crisis, and everything was cheaper. Even a beautiful hotel cost only 10 euro and food was very cheap as well. They also enjoyed Thessaloniki's bay walk and cruising. Though they  could see the stress in the city, it didn't really affect the tourism.

4. Know the new city. Take the free chances.

Don't miss getting to know the city even if you are on a budget. Take initiative in knowing the city, and not just taking pictures. Like Tibi and Che, they joined free tours  that took them to important tourist locations and historical places in the city. They got free tours in most European Cities like Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Sweden, and Serbia. For the rest, they did their own research.  However, they missed going on a free tour in Budapest.  It was there where the greatest mistake that ever happened took place.  They bought 3 stops tickets instead of a one -way.  When they got off, they were charged to pay fines of 8,000 Forint. This made them feel so down. They had realized the  importance not only of knowing the  city's history but also policies in transportation, governance and culture.

Therefore, bad things will teach you lessons to keep with you forever.  Even though we always remember bad memories more than good ones, at least like Tibi and we did, we learn something from them.  Lessons are all around us if only we can recognize them for what they are. Always remember, good happenings give memories and bad memories  give learning experience.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Our First Step to Conquer the World

I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.  ~Mark Twain

When you said that you are going to give the world to me, I laughed. I thought you were joking. But not until one day, you meant what you said. You took me to Europe and you'd shown the world to me. I love you honey! It was a great experience traveling with you, and from that trip, I knew you profoundly and I could feel how much you love me. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Our pictures in Szeged paints all the beautiful memories.

What a beautiful morning it is. I've been waking up with my husband who is staring at me while I am still sleeping .

How beautiful the place in Szeged City, Hungary is. The buildings are classic and the architectures are amazingly  beautiful. I will miss this place for sure.

I am at the lobby of Pinter's Family, relatives of my husband. I was just standing at the corridor and Bodo Imre told me to stand and he would take a picture of me. Though my Hungarian was so bad, we understood each other. What made me smile was the beautiful music of birds singing like sacred music at my back ground.