Table for Bantayan – part 1

I posted this on November 2013 on a different blog. Yes, I have/had another blog and I’m not even going to share the link because it only has this post. And I’m closing it today. That time, I was thinking of having a blog that is solely for my kitchen adventures. But life happened, and I forgot about it (the blog, my kitchen adventure is soaring!).

This is part 1of 2 of the Table for Bantayan project. I have photos of the second dinner and will post about it this week. With the 2 dinners, and some friends helping out, I was able raise $800 for the cause. 

 

PS. And my photos suck, no? 

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As most of you already know, Philippines was recently hit by the super typhoon Haiyan. It left high count of casualties and massive destruction in the eastern islands. Unfortunately, my mother’s hometown, Bantayan Island, was not spared. Bantayan is the north most island of Cebu and is very close to Samar (where most of the news cover). You can see the aftermath on these links:

http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/typhoon-yolanda/43523-bantayan-island-yolanda-bangon-bantayanon

http://www.demotix.com/photo/3239153/devastation-typhoon-haiyan-over-town-guiuan-and-bantayan-island

Our relatives, my first cousins and their families and my mom’s cousins, are lucky to have survived the storm but they’ve lost everything – their homes and their means of living. Relief are coming from the government operations as it’s still difficult to reach these areas. Where I’m planning to help is on the rehabilitation. They definitely need to build their houses and boats again. Also, will there be enough resource for food and sanitation before they can stand on their own again?

If I just send the amount that I can, I know it will not be enough for everyone there. Then I thought that maybe this Table For N project will be a good way to raise more funds! I’m so glad I have supportive friends for this cause – last night was the first “Table for Bantayan”.

Menu:

  • Tangy barbeque pork ribs
  • Honey Bourbon beef ribs
  • Baked chicken breasts and corn
  • Smoky baked beans
  • Coleslaw
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Turkish bread (to dip into the beans!)

This is the table:

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The banner photo that didn’t make it

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I changed the layout of my blog and I wanted a photo for my banner. I was going through iphoto when I saw my set from Floriade last year (I haven’t opened them since I transferred to my mac. I really love the colors on this one, so I cropped and tried it on as a banner. It was perfect!! Right?

So why I didn’t use it?

It is so not me.
Those who know me will instantly get why I think of it that way 🙂

Video

Salkantay Trek

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We all know why I was in Peru – to see Machu Picchu!

The easiest way is to go by train to Aguas Calientes (town nearest to Machu Picchu) but I don’t do easy stuff. Pfft. lol
No, I didn’t do Inca trail. Because 1) when I was on my initial stage of planning I thought it was expensive, I estimate it’ll cost me $800 including rentals and tips (too much for a walk!) and 2) when I felt like I wanted to do a trek the tickets for April were all sold out, they have limited spots per day for the trek.

So I did one of the alternative treks- the Salkantay Trek.
It was 5 days, 5th day for the Machu Picchu visit. It was long (1st day-19km, 2nd day-23km, 3rd day-10km and 4th day 10km) and high (highest point on the Salkantay pass is 4600m). It was my first high altitude trek and it was my first more than 2-day hike. It wasn’t easy (because I don’t do easy) but it was beautiful! Plus the people I met on the hike were all awesome and it made everything phenomenal.

I’ll let the video speak for the trek. If you have questions about it, just ask! I’ll gladly give tips/recommendations.

I didn’t expect to love Lima – Part I

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I spent too much time reading travel blogs and reviews before my trip. And I’ve seen posts that they didn’t like Lima. They said Lima is gloomy and lacking life, so I didn’t expect much from it. The main reason I planned to stay 3 nights there was because I knew I would need to have a rest and time to recover after the long flight from Sydney. Oh, and I was thinking of joining a cooking class as Lima is known to be the gastronomical center of South America so I thought I would need 1 full day for that.

Things didn’t go as planned. I didn’t need a long time to rest and I didn’t take cooking class. However, I did see the beauty of Lima in my 3 full days of stay. I actually think I can live in Lima for a year (haha, just for a year!).

I think my hostel helped a lot in my appreciation of the city. Staying at Lima Backpackers (http://limabackpackers.com.pe/) and having Marco as the host made a big difference. It felt like I stayed with a friend and he was so happy to have us as guests at his hometown.

So what did I do in Lima?

1. Visited the Old Town (Historic Center)

Our hostel is in Sucro, it’s quite near Miraflores and Barranco. Marco lent us Metro bus tickets so we can just top it up. It is 2Soles per ride, and we took the bus from the station near Plaza Vea (a chain of supermarket in Peru) Sucro to the Centro stop. Do not expect that all information will be available on the bus stops, we didn’t know which gate to board, but there were very nice locals that told us where to go. They don’t speak English but they were to tell us not to board a certain bus and how many more stops until the Centro station.

From the Centro stop, we just walked for 15 minutes until we get to Plaza de Armas where the free walking tour starts everyday. I was immediately smitten by the Plaza de Armas. There were beautiful old colonial infrastructures everywhere, I felt I was transported back in time. I’m not a history geek but I was in awe with the sights. I highly suggest to do the walking tour as it gives you a summary of this bustling place.

From the center of the plaza, you can see right away the Governor’s Palace, City Hall and Cathedral.

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Plaza de Armas, Lima

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Governor’s Palace

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First update on my South America trip

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Ola. It’s day 4 of my 2 month South America trip. I thought I’ll be able to update my blog regularly but there’s just so many things happening everyday. Spent the first 3 days in the beautiful Lima, and today I’m flying to Cusco. I have around 1.5 hours to spend here at the airport before boarding and there’s no wifi, so might as well write a post in notepad and upload it later at the hostel.

 

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Our route from Sydney to Lima. Original photo of map from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/

Day 0 was the big journey from Australia to South America.

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Bacon and Chorizo Shakshukah

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Bacon and chorizo shakshuka

Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poaches in tomatoes, capsicums (bell peppers), and onions. I first had it at Cafe Shenkin in Erskinville, and loved it.

So obviously, this is not an authentic shakshuka. Don’t hate me. But who doesn’t love bacon and chorizo?

I’ve done shakshuka few times before. Actually I did it just last Saturday. But I left the eggs too long and it wasn’t runny anymore. And couldn’t forgive myself for that until I make a good batch, that’s why I made it again this weekend, and I’am happy!

Initially, I wanted to do everything from fresh produce so I started by making my own tomato sauce. I won’t explain it on this post because I still ended up using 2 cans of chopped tomatoes. I guess this will serve up to 8 people if you’ll just give them small bowls. But me and Andrew ate half of it in one seating. LOL

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Homesick

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I’ve moved to Sydney 3 years ago. And for the past 3 years, I’ve only been home twice and only for a week visit each time. 

I don’t call home every week – only when there’s something to discuss or when I’ll greet them on special occasions. 

 

I’ve heard of people not finishing their work contracts overseas because they can’t handle the homesickness. I can’t imagine myself on that state. I do miss my family and friends, but not to the point that I’ll book a ticket a home. One reason is that tickets are expensive, and the other is that I can brush off the longing feeling easily. Like today, I was reading the blog post I wrote 6 months after I moved here in Sydney and suddenly I miss being at our home in Fairview. I miss having a lazy Sunday, all you do is eat and watch TV and annoy my siblings. But will I feel sad the whole day? No. I just remembered that I have to wash clothes so I placed the first batch in the washing machine, went back to researching about Brazil and I already forgot that I was missing home.

 

Sometimes, I feel bad for not being homesick. On Christmas or birthdays, I’m ok not to go home. I can go home if I want to as it was shut down at work anyway. But I chose not to. If money is not an issue, yes, I would love to be home. But I know that money spent on my fare if I go home during peak season will be better spent on my family’s Noche Buena or for monetary gifts. Or maybe I can use that money for my travels.

 

Maybe I’m just being practical and not sentimental. 

 

But maybe I’m just like this. Independent. I was seldom at home even when I was in still in Manila anyway.

Or maybe because I’m living in a bubble here.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m only not missing home, or I’ve blocked it out of my system. 

 

I wish I can afford to be sentimental.

 

But for now, I’ll leave it as it is. 

1st day of the year at Kiama

Andrew had always been keen to go to Kiama. I’ve been to Kiama once, to see the blowhole, and I thought there’s nothing much to see there beside the blowhole. Since we had enough sleep at Cockatoo, we just dropped our stuff at home, took shower and left for Kiama. We probably left home around 10am.

Andrew wanted to go to the beach. So I just googled what’s the nearest beach from town. I know, Kiama is along the coast but I never heard anyone going to the “beach” in Kiama. It’s just the blowhole and the lighthouse. Apparently, the Surf beach is just few meters away from town and from the lighthouse. Great!

We found a park in between the lighthouse and the beach, and lucky it was in front of a pub. We had some drinks at their garden area. It was New Year’s day and the pub was almost empty. And then went to the beach. It was cloudy that day that Andrew thought he didn’t need sunblock. I’m sure he learned his lesson. Haha.

After our naps, we decided to walk around. I showed him the blowhole, but there was no water that day. Boo! Then we walked down on the other side and saw the cool cabins for rent and the rock pool! I didn’t see that rock pool before. And then went get fish and chips! One of the best battered fish I had, we got the flathead one. The chips got soggy but maybe because the fish was placed on top.

It was a lovely first day of the year!

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January 1 @Kiama

New Year 2014 at Cockatoo Island

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My first NYE in Sydney (2012) was spent by sitting on concrete grounds of Circular Quay for 12 hours under the sun just to see the famous fireworks at midnight. It didn’t feel too bad while waiting as I was with a group of friends (most are even from Manila), and I was still excited to see the fireworks and I knew I was on the best spot to watch it. But I’ll never do that again.

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Waiting for fireworks at Circular Quay

So for NYE 2013, I stayed at home with Andrew, and we went over at Monde and Tim’s to see a bit of fireworks from their balcony. We were at Rhodes, so we basically saw the city skyline turned reddish. We were watching the fireworks on TV to give us the details. haha!

I wanted something special for 2014 but I didn’t want to be stressed. I was lucky that when I checked Cockatoo Island, there were still spots for Area B camping. I didn’t know what’s in Area B, I just thought that as long as we’re at Cockatoo, it should be good. So I booked it straight away, 2 friends said yes when I told them about the camping spots, and 4 other friends booked for another 4-person site.

So how was our new year’s eve at Cockatoo?

Awesome!

Why?

1. We had great view of the fireworks that were released just in front of the island and we could still see the fireworks released at Circular Quay. They’re in sync so it was awesome to have 2 views of the fireworks at the same time – one up-close and one a bit far. I think the only bad thing is that we didn’t see the details of the fireworks on the bridge.

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Fireworks as seen from Cockatoo Island

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Fireworks as seen from Cockatoo Island

Both photos of fireworks are from Paul Villena. I tried to take photos using my camera but I’m getting rusty so I just stopped using it and enjoyed the fireworks instead.

2. We had a great view and we didn’t have to tip toe or try to lengthen our necks just to fight for our view. In CQ, you get a good view but it’s so packed and the angle is so bad that the person in front of you can block everything that can possibly see. With Cockatoo, even if you’re sitting on the common ground, you can still see the fireworks when you look up. Sweet, right?

3. We also didn’t have to suffer under the sun for 12 hours, with just 3 inches away from someone you don’t know (yes, I did that in 2012 at CQ). There were a lot of other campers but the island is big enough to accommodate and most probably the island management already know the maximum number that it can accommodate. We didn’t have to be there very early on the 31st to save a spot. Me and Andrew got there around 5pm (Andrew had to work until 2PM), hung out with friends under a shade, and then laid on our mats on the common area as soon as the sun was out as we waited for fireworks.

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The Cockatoo Island team around 5PM

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With other campers at the common area

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It got cold after sunset!

4. We didn’t have to queue for portable toilets. The toilets in Cockatoo Island were not first class and with the number of people there you can’t expect it to be spotless, but they were flush toilets and even late at night I could still see staff maintaining the cleanliness. In CQ, we had to queue for 10 mins for a portable toilet. And we all know how is it with portable toilets!

5. There was good party music near the kiosk selling alcohol and all of our friends danced there for about an hour before the midnight fireworks. Our friends danced as me and Andrew catched up on our zzz’s on the mat. Yeah, boring. But we were so exhausted from the move the days prior nye!

6. We didn’t go with the huge crowd trying to catch the train after the fireworks. We went back to our tents, our friends had drinks on the big tent and me an Andrew went to sleep. We were really boring that night, but we made up for it the following day when we did a road trip while everyone else caught up on their sleeps!

Also, to share some newbie tips we learned:

1. Campsite A is the one face the Harbour Bridge while campsite B just faces the Parramatta River. Does it matter? Not really, because there’s a common area beside campsite A anyway. And imagine if you’re on camp A and then there’s a huge castle-like tent in-front of you. Yes, there was a huge castle-like tent last NY.

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This is campsite A

2. If you’re a large group, you do not have to buy your tickets all at the same time. Just make sure you are all in the same campsite (A or B), and just checkin all the same time so they can put you all on tent spaces that are side by side.

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These are our 2 small tents (silver with green lining and the blue one) on campsite B. We had 2 tent spots but we used 3 tents, thus the space in between.

3. You can get 2-night camping, or just 1 night. We got the 2 nights, but we did not camped there for 2 nights. Me and my other friend (the booking was under his name) checked in on the 30th, claimed the 2 tent spots, pitched our tents and left the island. We were worried that we might get a bad spot if we check-in on the 31st as we do not have plans of going there early. Why we didn’t want to camp for 2 nights? We do not have proper equipments. We don’t have large esky’s to store our food, most don’t have chairs, etc.

4. No one stays on the elevated part of the island after 5PM on the 31st. What a shame. We climbed the stairs with our esky and chairs so we can go to the perfect spot, only to be asked to leave when we got there. There were no signs that “campers are not allowed beyond this point”. Only the royals can stay there. Those royals who could afford to rent those houses on top. Fine.

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Me and Andrew on the perfect spot before we were asked to leave by the guards.

Hello there, 2014!

Another year, another chance to be a good blogger.

Haha!

But it’s sooo hard! When so many things are happening, I won’t have time to blog. And during slow weeks, I don’t have anything to write about. But I know I should blog. Mainly for myself- days pass by so quickly (it gets quicker as you age), and I couldn’t even recall what I did for this and that (recalling things is related to age too, I guess).  Another reason is when a friend ask me tips for travel on places that I’ve been too, I couldn’t tell a lot because I forgot.

 

As for the past year, it was a mix of everything..

Some travels – 1 month in Asia with Andrew (with 1 week in Manila), climbed Mt Kosciuszko on Easter with Lilian, June long weekend at Katoomba, October long weekend at Kangaroo Valley and Alice Springs-Uluru trip with Monde, Tim and Jenny. Ok, I had to check my facebook photos to remember where I went last year. I had a feeling that it was a slow year for travel but it wasn’t so bad!

Moved units TWICE – from Rhodes to Ashfield and to a better unit in Ashfield towards the end of the year.

Conflicts between people around me.. (I hate confilcts)

Joined a new client company, my first non-telco project!

I joined bootcamp, which I was able to reach the fittest stage of my life. Ever. LOL

Finished my advanced diving course – which I really don’t want to remember.

Andrew finished uni!!! Yey!!!

And i think I’ve cranked up my cooking to another level 🙂

 

For 2014, I don’t know yet. I’m just sure I’m going for a 2 month holiday to South America (April-May).

That’s all in my mind for now. Haha

Oh, and we scored cheap flights to KL so we’re spending the Australia day long weekend there. It should be good to catch up with RA and Mei.

 

It should be a good year to blog about places, food, friends and myself. Haha!