Saturday, September 30, 2017

Taipei: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the Changing of Guards

My brother-in-law has been to Taipei a few years ago and he told me that if ever I will be visiting the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial monument, which is a very popular attraction in Taipei, I better go and check out the changing of the guards.

My plan really is to visit the CKS memorial monument but I didn’t know about the changing of the guard's ceremony. So I did some quick research and found out that the ceremony happens on the top of the hour from 10:00 to 16:00, thus, on an hourly basis.

I have seen a couple of changing of the guard's ceremonies in other capital cities, namely the Royal Palace in Stockholm (Sweden), the Parliament Building on Syntagma Square in Athens (Greece) and the Buckingham Palace in London (United Kingdom) where I got bored waiting together with the massive crowd that I decided to leave.

I may have seen more changing of the guards in other countries but these 3 are the ones I can recollect quickly.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Amsterdam Dinner Cruise

This is probably my eight or ninth canal cruise in Amsterdam... and the fourth dinner cruise.

The first and second dinner cruises I had were work-sponsored. If I remember it correctly, the first one was a company dinner cruise for new hires in EMEA and the second one was a Christmas dinner cruise. The third was with the Dutchman on board the Supperclub Cruise. And now this, the fourth one, also work-related =)

Cruises, as you can see, are very popular events in Amsterdam.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lunching: Vork & Mes in Hoofddorp for the second time

For Bubbles and I, we had our last (late) lunch out for our April jaunts at this unique restaurant that is shaped, designed and located extraordinarily in the outskirts of the Haarlemmermeer forest in Hoofddorp, just a stone’s throw away from Schiphol Airport.

I have been here before many years ago as well, having had lunch with a business partner who was quite pleased when I told him we are eating here. He obviously knew the place.

A restaurant with the perfect location and view.

I just loved the tranquil surroundings of this place, the restaurant right on the water and with an abundance of nature around it, gives diners just the perfect reason to retreat in peace and enjoy the food and time spent here. It would have been better if the weather cooperated but at least it wasn’t raining when we were here. Spring in the Netherlands can be very tricky you know.

Restaurant Vork & Mes is not easy to get to with public transport. It is about 14 minutes drive (or with the cab) from Schiphol Airport and not too far away from Amsterdam.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Chasing Tulip Fields in Holland!

Trivia: Did you know that tulips originally come from Turkey?

If you visit Turkey in spring, you will find the beautiful gardens of Istanbul in a colourful carpet of tulip flowers. I was able to witness this 2 years ago. Check it out here: Sultanahmet Park in Istanbul, Turkey

Tulips these days, as synonymous to Holland aka Netherlands, were made popular around the world by the Dutch, after a professor brought the tulip bulbs to the Netherlands for further experimentation and cultivation. Who would have thought a flower can cause an economic crisis? But that's another story to tell. The Netherlands tourism website even uses the orange tulip as one of its many quintessential logos.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Antwerp: Shopping Stadsfeestzaal on the Meir

Shopping can get me tired, and I mean this seriously. Sometimes just the thought of it makes me tired already. I know, I am a party pooper.

This monumental shopping building that is once the party hall of Antwerp City Hall is easy to find on the Meir (main shopping street of Antwerp).

I tend to lean towards a masculine approach when it comes to the real chore of shopping. So I shop for a purpose and it is usually something that I plan ahead. The only time I would spontaneously shop is when I am travelling, but not all the time. At home, I just stay away from city centres and shopping places. That way I will not be tempted, haha.

But there are always exemptions!

The City of Antwerp showcases a lovely shopping centre called “Shopping Stadsfeestzaal” (Festival Hall Shopping) which really has little to do with shopping, in my opinion anyway, but more of a platform to celebrate Antwerp’s rich architecture and history. What can I say, the shopping building is a national monument! Now, that is more my cup of tea =)

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Belgium: Cathedral-like Antwerp Central Station

So I was in Antwerp, Belgium last April together with girlfriend Bubbles.

The cathedral-like train station in Antwerp, Belgium opened its doors to the public in 1905

We went on a day trip with the car and managed to park adjacent to Antwerp Central (Antwerpen Centraal) station. Which was spot on because I wanted to show Bubbles the cathedral-like railway station which is an attraction in its own right. She was very much looking forward to seeing it as well.

I have also stopped counting the number of times I have been to Antwerp. It is actually my go-to place when I am craving for steamed mussels. Lucky me it is not too far away =)

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cebu Visit 2016 Photo Essay

So another photo essay on what I did last year during my visit to Cebu, Philippines. This is basically a part of my daily life when I was there which was documented by my camera but did not make it to a blog post =).

I guess you can call these the in-between scenes. They are as important as the posts that made into a blog post because they reflect a dose of daily reality travel life. The less glamorous part I guess?

The state of the Philippines last November 2016. This was the headline news. Duterte is still the president of the country though, so he is still very much into his term. Am I pro- or anti-Duterte? Let us just say that I both like and do not like his ways.

Pimped-up Japanese manufactured jeepneys. These ply the Naga (south) to Cebu City route and vice versa. 

Well, I actually still have 2 more blog entries for Cebu, but they can wait.

I am so backlogged with my blog entries but that is nothing new. If I were to choose between work and blogging, I think many would bet on the latter, haha. But yeah, real life kicks in and we all have to earn our living, especially these days when most that occupy my mind is retiring early. Ergo, need to work my bum off.

But in between, I travel and do my best to enjoy life.

We've got to live our lives you know. Do what we like and do our best to get what we want. Responsibly of course. Because we die only once but we can live many times.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Moselle River: Postcards from Riesling Land

We are in Riesling land!

The village of Zell-Merl on the Moselle River. Ah, we had lovely weather!

Test-driving the hybrid Audi. We are loving the virtual cockpit. GPS screen on the driver's dashboard! Really, really cool. I can even instruct by voice where to go and which person to call (my iPhone is connected).

Just a long extended weekend in the Moselle River where the German Riesling grape grows. We are test-driving my brand new lease car from work so we picked a destination that is not too far away and not too close as well.

It is beautiful here and it is my second time here in the Moselle River Valley. These are just a few pictures and I will be posting the villages and activities we did in separate posts soon.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Monday, September 11, 2017

My Daily Life in the Netherlands #002

Life has many surprises. It never ceases to entertain me, as I wait and wonder what comes next. Yeah, what's in store? What's it going to be?

I guess I see myself as a little kid sometimes, even though I am nearing 50 (gasp! lol). An independent, strong-willed and adventurous little kid. Very eager, curious and willing to take risks.

Life every day is a risk anyway. Making tough decisions at work can be risky. Choosing to be snappy or patient at your loved ones, yeah, at your own risk! Giving (sometimes unsolicited) opinions is surely a risk. Booking that holiday can be risky from many angles. Even crossing the street is a risk. There is no escape.

Well, I turned 47 last June. I can't believe I am in my late 40's now. I will be 50 in 3 years time! We were blessed with good weather so we celebrated outside in the park. I did not have a lot of time to prepare as we just arrived from our summer holiday in the Greek Islands.

Work has dominated my life in the past 2 months... but I try to not think of work during the weekends. So when the weather is good, we go out. Nothing fancy at all. Sometimes I go on my own and stroll the city centrum. Other weekends, we would go out for a drive. I do my weekend runs, while Dutchman bikes and skates. But most of all we just love staying at home.

We try to live and enjoy life in the simplest ways =)

[To see the rest of my daily life run rate pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Friday, September 08, 2017

Cebu: Parilya Lunch Cebuano-Style with an Old BFF

My visits to the Philippines are always about food and I am not really complaining =)

It’s just that every time I am visiting, I always gain an extra kilo or two or more. Gaining weight in your late 40’s is very easy. It is almost like a natural thing, like breathing air, and losing it is like signing up for a 100-kilometer marathon that will happen the following week.

Old girlfriend Sheena and moi go back to our high school days.

My parents joined us for the lunch.

I have now lost between 6-8 kilos since my trip to the Philippines (and China and Vietnam as well) last year. I did not diet at all. I do eat healthy food and devour huge amounts of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. The only consolation I have is that I love to eat them. We also always cook at home. I bring my own food to work, too. Another consolation is that I am not very fond of sweets and baked products fattened up with lots of butter and sugar. It’s really more about the portions that I am watching. Because I love to eat, haha. In addition to this, I do some running on the weekends.

Anyway, this post is about one of the lunches I have had in Cebu. My friend was a bit surprised that I have packed some weight. If you see me during my younger days, you will also wonder. I weighed under a 100 pounds / 45 kilos you know! Hence the weight rant =)

But I love lunches, especially if they are long and lazy and with people I know very well. The best lunches I have had though were always the ones in the Greek Islands during summer with the Dutchman. But this is another blog post.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Cebu, Philippines: Filipino-Style Chinese Dinner at Margarita’s Family Cuisine in Robinland

When I was in Cebu, Philippines last year, the sister-in-law treated the family to dinner at this interesting restaurant located in the penthouse of the Robinland building.

Chinese-Filipino food for dinner at Margarita's Family Cuisine.

The restaurant doesn’t look like your usual kind of restaurant that you can just walk into. Firstly, the restaurant is somewhat out of the commercial area and is located on the top of a building. It does not have easy access at all for any passing could-be interested customer. Next, I have not found any website of the restaurant, which is somewhat a bit strange. It is not actively advertised to consumers so it seems. Lastly, it looks like it mostly caters to corporate events and special parties.

The sister-in-law who has been dining here many times said that the food at this restaurant is quite good and that the main take away is really the view as it offers panoramic sights of the reclamation - port area of Cebu. Now that sounds inviting enough I guess, so I was quite looking forward to the evening's dinner.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Xiamen, China: My Walking Lunch in Zeng Cuo An Village

I managed to arrive in Zeng Cuo An village by taking a bus from Zhongshan pedestrian road get getting off at Baicheng Beach, just before Hulishan Cannon Fort and walking the beach boardwalk route to the once fishing village.

Very little is left of the old Chinese fishing village. It is now a very busy tourist attraction connected to the popular Baicheng Beach.

Just 2 years ago, the local government responded to the rise in tourism in the local area and built a foot bridge in the design of a fish cartilage, perhaps to immortalize the old fishing village history. The bridge connects the beach shore part to the main village across the national road. On this fish bone bridge itself, one can already find many street vendors.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Friday, September 01, 2017

Baicheng Beach Stroll in Xiamen, China

One of the places in Xiamen that I was very keen in visiting, is Zeng Cuo An village. I came across this during my due diligence research of Xiamen. I heard that there is a lively ‘street food scene’ there.

I have learned that the best way to get to Zeng Cuo An is by bus which drives along the main coastal road. The ride takes approximately 15 minutes from the central area of Siming District (Zhongshan pedestrian road area). Not bad at all but I have also read that there is a paved walking route along Baicheng beach that leads to the village, passing by the Hulishan Cannon Fort and several interesting monument spots.

Hmm, why not explore the (nature) surroundings a bit and walk to Zeng Cuo An? Strolling on the beach does sound like a great plan.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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