of soaring & dreaming

February 23, 2014

somebody is dreaming, too!

Filed under: Life stuff,travel — carnationzky @ 9:14 pm
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Just now, an article posted in FB caught my attention. It was an article in a blog called idreamedofthis. The article is about the blog owner’s experiences while travelling in the Philippines. You can read the article, What I really think of the Philippines here.

I had to post it here in my soaring and dreaming blog for the obvious reason. As I titled this post, somebody is dreaming too! So let’s keep dreaming, and acting on them, as we are able!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASunset at Taringting Beach, San Jose, Antique …

March 29, 2012

A pet?

Filed under: travel,Uncategorized — carnationzky @ 2:29 pm
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I saw this in a farm house in Scotland, when I walked up the stairs. I really thought it was real. Then after a second glance I realised it was not. But it looked cute enough to cuddle. It was just a decoration but a nice one.

October 1, 2008

It’s October already!!!

stirling, scotland

stirling, scotland

October is the month I love the most! Because this is my birth month. And, ehems … I have a secret as well related to October. But I think that secret is not bloggable so I won’t write about it here. Not yet. Anyway, October was already my favorite even before that secret 🙂 So ok, it will be my birthday soon. I will be counting and adding another year to my age. Just a number. Well, what do you think? When I was in high  school I had a classmate who was born on the same day. Her name is Pansang, nickname for Esperanza. Such a nice name. She is a sweet girl with a nice singing voice. Always smiling, with a delightful laugh. I remember her clearly ‘coz we have the same birthday.

Christmas away from home...

Christmas away from home...

So back to the month of October. I know I am a bit late about this but I want to write about it just now, since it is October. It is now the “…ber” months, and in the Philippines, it signals that Christmas is approaching. Actually starting in September, people start doing some Christmas stuff already, i.e.  playing carols, writing gift lists, practicing for Christmas shows, etc. Even though I am not in the Philippines now I can still celebrate Christmas. I have learned a long time ago that it is not in the decorations and the trimmings, but in the heart, in knowing the truth of Christmas, that we can feel the true essence of the season. So no matter where I am I can still feel the spirit and joy of Christmas. It’s of course fun and nice to be with family and friends and especially to be in the Philippines at Christmas time. No doubt about that.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

In temperate parts of the world October is the start of autumn/fall season, when the leaves change into a variety of colors. It is a nice sight and gives one a feeling of awe and amazement. When I first experienced that in Scotland it gave me a feeling of peace and silent joy! And it was good since in Scotland it was so cold and sometimes dark but the colors bring some brightness to each day. This is God’s way of saying that despite the dump there is something brighter; despite the despair there is hope, always.

September 23, 2008

Out of order

I was reading the post, The Senate is “Out of Order” in the stressed in the city blog earlier tonight.  I was reminded of a time many years ago when Key & I were in a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. We were trying to order some food and a couple of items we wanted were not available. The waiters told us they were “out of order”. We got a laugh out of that. It was my first time to hear about this. Then some time later, in Bangkok the same thing happened. I was trying to order something and the waitress also told me it was “out of order”. I was surprised, thinking maybe I missed something about the meaning of this phrase. Maybe this is part of the vocabulary among the restaurant service providers? Nobody knows.

Who knows what other words and phrases are being misused nowadays but have become common place or quite accepted…maybe that’s how words and language evolve.

September 8, 2008

Glad to be away

Filed under: Events,travel — carnationzky @ 8:38 am
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Ubon city with the Mun River running alongside it.

Ubon city with the Mun River running alongside it.

I am just so glad that I was away almost the whole week last week. I needed the break from the rigors of working here which had quite become so stressful. Or maybe it was me stressing everyone? I had a very wonderful time in Ubon Ratchathani, northeast Thailand attending the Mekong Fisheries Symposium despite suffering from stomach problems. It was so nice to be with friends and professionals. I am not saying I do not have friends and there are no professionals here. It was just a different setting over there. I think the most common question we asked every time we saw a familiar face was: “Do you remember me?” Some people I haven’t seen for more than 15 years and now we had a chance to meet again, mostly AIT alumni and former UBU colleagues. I even met somebody from the Philippines who is now neighbors with my former boss. Nothing amazing in that except that since I left for graduate studies way back in 1989, I haven’t seen or heard from my boss. So now I know his whereabouts which is a good thing.

It was also good to go back to Ubon Ratchathani where we lived for three years in late 90s. We did go up to visit it when we left. The place has really developed but still it has maintained its old ways and native charm. There is still no public transport at night, people wake up early in the morning, shops close early in the evening, and food is still delicious. We got to visit the usual places where we used to eat (Ban Nam Jok, Indochine, Rim Mun Market, Nescafe) as well as the new joints (such as Sep Soi 9).

I like the silk and other kinds of cloths they produce.

I like the silk and other kinds of cloths they produce.

One of the things I would normally do in Ubon was to go shopping for some nice and native stuff which could not be found in Bangkok. Or, if available in Bangkok, they would be several times more expensive. Especially the nice woven cloths both silk and cotton, as well as the blouses and shirts.

It is always nice and rewarding to reconnect with people we once knew. That is why communication is so important, as well as networking. As we reconnect with old friends and acquaintances, we also get to meet new ones. And we hope that the connections and reconnections never end. Even as we age and change in some ways, there are still aspects of us that will never change.

September 1, 2008

Field Trip to Chiangmai (Part 1)

Filed under: Events,Sustainable Communities Course,travel — carnationzky @ 10:19 am
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I just loved the color & design of the bus upholstery!

I just loved the color & design of the bus upholstery!

We were excited to see in the training schedule that we would be traveling up to Chiangmai, one of the major tourist destinations in Thailand. The last time I was there was about a year ago, on my way to Phayao province. During this training we would just spend one day in Chiangmai due to limited time. We flew by Air Asia early in the morning and then took the last flight on the same day back to Bangkok. I was both excited and also worried since we were scheduled to leave AIT at 430 am, and gauging by my waking time during the past few days, I was not sure whether I could wake up that early. Everybody had the same thought. So the night before we left, I set three types of alarm in my mobile phone as it has no snooze function. I am using a simple and cheap one. In addition, I also set my husband’s mobile phone to ring, which has a snooze function. In this way, I had at least four different alarm sounds trying to wake me up. Target time was 330 am. Too early for all of us. I also slept late that night so I barely had 5 hours’ sleep. But wake up I did when the phones started their chorus. I still had time for a cup of coffee and a shower, and off I biked to AITCC to meet with the rest of the group and arrived there before 430.

With my SEA-UEMA colleagues.

With my SEA-UEMA colleagues.

Most of us slept in the van on the way to the airport and even during the flight. Some of us had breakfast on the plane even though we had our own snack box. I had a cup of hot chocolate and tuna crackers.

When we arrived in Chiangmai, we were led to the parking lot where a big tour bus was waiting. It was good so we could all travel in one group. During the past days traveling we had to use four vans and travel separately. And we had to be with our own group! It would have been nice to also travel with the others for more exchanges and varied experiences.

Since we had some time still before our appointment with the Chiangmai city officials, we toured the old city and then stopped at one of the temples. Most of us took photos of the buildings especially the ones with interesting art works. Then it was time to go meet the officials. We were there for the whole morning, listening to presentations. I had to stand many times and walk around just so I would not doze off. I knew the minute I closed my eyes, those camera flashes would go off. Actually nearly everyone was watching who would sleep and we would take photos of them. Just for fun! The sessions in the morning were both interesting and thought provoking. But our group was too big and there was too much information for an effective interaction. So by lunch time we were nearly out of energy, and so sleepy. We were glad there was some coffee and snacks to perk us up. Nice Thai hospitality again!

Keeping eyes and ears open!

Keeping eyes and ears open!

We had our buffet lunch at Centara Grand Hotel which was quite nice as there was a variety of food. We had about 1.5 hours before our afternoon field visits. Then it started to rain. We were hoping that it would stop by the time we arrived at the first field site but it was still raining a little bit. So they distributed raincoats and we all felt like we were from outer space going into the community. After a short walk we felt so hot in our raincoats, as the rain had already stopped.

Seriously considering urban planning & tourism issues?

Seriously considering urban planning & tourism issues?

Housing provided by the city to relocate residents living on the river banks.

Housing provided by the city to relocate residents living on the river banks.

August 28, 2008

Ballet in Singapore

Filed under: Events,travel — carnationzky @ 12:43 am
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me, Marlyn, Kate and their friends at Changi Airport

R-L: me, Marlyn, Kate and their friends at Changi Airport

The major reason for going to Singapore last July was to watch my niece, Kate Jimenez, perform and compete in the 10th Asia-Pacific Dance Competition, held at the NAFA 3 Lee Foundation Theater. And of course to meet up with my sister (her mom). Kate’s dance school, Shirley Halili-Cruz Ballet School in Quezon City, Philippines, has been a regular competitor and major winner, giving all the other schools from the region (those who also join) a run for their money. Thus competition is so stiff to the extent that parents and teachers are even more stressed than the dancers. We went there to watch and be entertained. But we didn’t really expect to sense the competitive spirit, but it was there, and strong. The Halili School garnered most of the awards and prizes, and came out the over-all winner, as in previous years. Congratulations to all of them for all their hard work.

Some other countries who joined were China, Thailand and of course, Singapore. A couple of schools each from China and Thailand joined. Majority of the schools are from Singapore. We enjoyed watching all the dances and the various forms of creativity expressed in the actions and steps. There were classical, modern, and retro styles, and the costumes were also very nice. There were solo dances, of which Thailand had a lot of entries. Most of the Thai dancers were already in their mid-teens. They also danced well.

During rehearsals ...

During rehearsals ...

The amazing ones were the group dances, and by the younger kids, especially the below 12 age group, where my niece belongs. She is 11. I could just imagine how hectic their schedules must be, as they balance their regular schooling with the grueling dance practices. But I guess it has some benefits such as learning discipline, order and organization at an early age. But to what extent? Ballet is an expensive hobby and talent, so to speak. I remember my sister and brother-in-law commenting before that with their daughter attending ballet classes, it seemed like they have an additional child based on the expenses.

It is well-known that only the rich families can afford it. No wonder some ballet dancers can be a pain, i.e. spoiled brats, as what we have also observed in some of the kids there. Uh-uh. But there are some middle class families who are working hard just to send their kids to ballet school. It depends on the parents and teachers to instill in their students’ minds to value the ability to dance and to enjoy the glamour that goes with it, and not to forget that success comes through working hard, really. I hope that all the dancers will continue to have this dedication, not only in ballet, but also in all other aspects of life, and in the profession they will eventually choose.

On Orchard Rd for last minute shopping!

On Orchard Rd for last minute shopping!

Getting ready to fly back.

YMCA lobby - getting ready to fly back.

August 26, 2008

Field trip to Bangkok

Our first field trip during the recently concluded training on Sustainable Communities was to explore Bangkok using the different public transportation modes, especially the modern ones. First we went to the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) Transportation Division, then later to the Metropolitan Rapid Transport Administration (MRTA) Office. In both offices we met AIT alumni both from the older (70s and 80s) and recent batches. We were shown what they are doing regarding mass public transport and their plans to better the situation in Bangkok and nearby areas, regarding transport system for the public. It was nice to listen to their dreams and they really are sincere in trying to make things better. It would be good to have a seamless transport system in Bangkok and we do not have to drive our cars but just hop on at the nearest train or bus station near our home. We were shown the plans of BMA for a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System and hope this will be successful. Also MRTA’s expansion plans which include going even to AIT/Thammasat. Wow that will be the day, when we do not have to drive, with the train station just next door and we can go all the way down to Bangkok. That will be good also to the environment, and our pockets.

Smile! We were all camera crazy inside the train!

Smile! We were all camera crazy inside the train!

After the meetings, we went to the nearest MRT station, at the Thai Cultural Center. All of us were excited, even me, as I do not use the subway really. The last time I used it was a long time ago. If I have a choice I would use the sky train. But actually I did not have any qualms using the same thing in London, Manila, Netherlands, Singapore, Tokyo and Toronto . Except here because of some safety issues. But maybe it is better now. We used the subway to go to Chatuchak Market/Mochit Station so we could transfer to the BTS/sky train. We were quite a big group and so it was quite a worry maybe for the guides in case some of us got lost! It was quite easy in the subway as there was not much crowd there. So we got to the Chatuchak Station and we went up to connect to the sky train. We noticed immediately that the two stations are not connected as one has to go out to the road to get up to the sky train station. It would have been better if a connection from the inside goes directly up to the sky train. With our big group joining the outside crowd, it was hard keeping up. Some of us were already up in the BTS station while the others were still walking on the road trying to catch up with the first group. Anyway we finally got together and my, what a crowd! We waited for the card tickets and some of us were given the coins to experience the use of the card machines. Nice. Some went to the mini-mart nearby to buy some cold drinks and gum. Another convenience. We were on a field trip so we had to observe these things that will make transport system in Bangkok more efficient and effective. Once everyone had the card, we went up to wait for the train.

)

Some of us had to stand. Some were shy to look at the camera 🙂

There was one waiting already but we did not take it. So we just moved to the side to wait for the next train. Unfortunately those in our group who came up last thought we were already in the train, and so they ran into the train. The train was about to leave and there we were, shouting, “come out! come out!” They had to hurry to come out or else they would not know where to go once they were on the train, and they would probably not know how to contact us. If that happened, probably they would just go shopping! Anyway, one of them said that the way we were screaming “come out! come out!” was so frightening!!

When the next train came, we got on. It was good to get seats and a relief as inside was so cool. Even cold. We got off at the Victory Monument, where we really felt lost in the crowd. We had to keep our eyes on our leader, Amorn, a PhD student. But after some time we lost him. But I knew we were going to look at the Victory Monument and the transportation dynamics there, so I just kept on. The others followed. After that we saw him again so we knew we were on the right track. We continued also to take photos. It was fun for me to be in Bangkok and not in the car for once. I get to see and experience some other different things. Anyway, time was up and our vans were waiting under.

Traffic was ok at this time but could get worse during rush hour and heavy rains.

Traffic was ok at this time but could get worse during rush hour and heavy rains.

Our next stop was the canal for the boat transport in Pratunam near the Central World. It was a short drive and surprisingly there was no traffic in Petchburi Road. We got off our vans and walked up to the bridge and observed the boats with passengers. At first we thought we would ride the boats but we just observed it. Even looked around as there were many other things to see, such as the sidewalk vendors and the pedestrians. It seems the water in the canal is cleaner than before and there was not much smell. Anyway, it is surely a cheaper and faster means of transport but people can get wet from the water spray.

We did not try the buses, taxis, motorcycles and tuktuks, but I bet that everyone had a chance somehow to experience them during other times, esp. when they went out to go shopping!

Didn't get on the boat this time.

Didn't get on the boat this time.

After the trip we went up to cross the flyover to go to Central World to have our dinner. However, for me and two friends from Kenya (Edith and Lillian), we crossed back again to go to Big C, where food and other stuff are cheaper. We had about 1.5 hours before we got back to AIT. We had dinner at the Food Center and they were quite impressed with the taste of the food and the price, which was quite cheap. They ordered Thai fried rice which cost 30 baht per plate. For me I ordered Pad Thai. Then we bought drinks and our dinner was less than 100 Baht per person. One of them said that food was cheap, and wondered why the previous night they paid more than 1,000 Baht for their dinner. Probably they had it in a posh hotel? We then moved around the hypermart and grocery section to buy some stuff.

View from the flyover between Big C & Central World

Then off to the meeting place in front of Arnoma Hotel. It was a long wait for the vans to arrive due to traffic (as usual). It was indeed a long day and we arrived back at AIT at around 9 pm.

View from the flyover between Big C & Central World

August 6, 2008

The Right Footwear

Filed under: Events,Life stuff,travel — carnationzky @ 9:23 am
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Good old comfy Kito sandals travelled with me to Toronto

Good old comfy Kito sandals (left) travelled with me to Toronto

Wish I brought the right ones when I was in Singapore last July. I was not able to wear then my favorite and comfy Scholl sandals which would have been perfect there. Since my friend told me that it was raining there everyday, I did not want to soil this nice pair. So I chose another pair of step-in which later on I found out was not suitable for Singapore. Especially because they were not meant for walking. And walk a lot we did! As a result, my leg and feet muscles suffered from all the strain of walking and running and climbing. I kept wishing I brought even my older rubber Kito sandals instead of this nice gold, shiny, very flat step-in, which are good only for fashion and short-term wear. My feet had to exert more effort to hold on to the shoe surface because it was so slippery there was no traction on the surface. Until we came back to Thailand, I still felt the pain. So the next day (good I was still on leave), I went to Future Park to have a foot massage. And wow! It was so relaxing and I felt much better.

This shoe experience reminds me of the question my husband used to ask me (a long time ago): “Why do you need so many pairs of shoes?” My answer to him was: I need to have shoes for every occasion. I do not have that many actually compared to some, especially you know who! But I have enough pairs which I can choose from to go with the occasion or with what I am wearing, with my mood or with the weather. When traveling, I always bring at most two more pairs of footwear in addition to what I am already wearing. Just in case. But during this Singapore trip we were using a budget airline so our luggage space was limited.

Anyway, lesson learned: never sacrifice comfort with convenience. Does this make sense?

August 2, 2008

have time? will travel …

It was in June when my sister in Manila informed me that she and my niece, Kate, will be going to Singapore towards the end of July. My niece, who is a student at the Shirley Halili-Cruz Dance School in Quezon City, is joining the school group for some ballet competition (the 10th Asia-Pacific Dance Competition). I was so excited to hear about it and immediately I started to check my calendar. It would be nice to meet up in Singapore, it being nearer and easier to go to (from Bangkok, that is) than to the Philippines.

Fortunately, I had so many days of leave credits which I need to use up before my contract ends in August. As the case here at AIT, as a fixed term contract worker, we could not carry over our leave credits to the next contract period, even if it is within the same project. And it could not be converted to cash either. So if you do not use them, you lose. After all the hard work … hmmm… It was also a surprise that I accumulated that many leave credits because there was no official announcement from our HRO that the monthly leave credit was increased from 1 to 1.5 days. I dunno even when it started. Am just so happy to learn that but I wished I knew earlier so I did not have to take leave without pay a few months earlier (in April) when I went home to Philippines for my holiday. So now I am left with about 10 days leave with barely 2 months to go in my contract. And with a 2 week training program to participate in the following month (August), I have few remaining days to work and so how can I use them up?

So there, the opportunity came up to travel. And I can choose to go as long as I want but it’s not only my own sked to consider. My DH has to come, too, and we have to check his sked whether he could take leave. Fortunately again, that period in July is graduation time at the university where he is teaching. In Thailand, graduation ceremonies take days to complete, so there is basically no work to be done during that period. Which means he is free to take leave as well and travel. So schedule wise, we are ok.

Now the time to check for flights and accommodations. We know that flights to Singapore from Bangkok have a wide range of prices and choices of airlines. Sometimes they really have cheap promos but during this period, there was none. So we had to check the budget airlines and we were able to book one with Air Asia. That’s ok. Next comes the accommodation. So expensive in hotels, that’s out of the question. In the meantime we contacted our dear friend, Lailin and she offered to find one for us among her friends. So that was solved.

So everything was set, we just had to wait. In the meantime, excitement is building up. We do not normally travel just for a holiday. Except for the visit to home in the Philippines, the travels we often do are work-related (professional) and with the ministry. And in times of economic difficulties, work related travel is a good enough chance to travel as a tourist as well. So no need to plan for expensive holidays.

I will be writing blogs on varied topics related to our Singapore trip in the following days. So stay tuned!

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