Saturday, March 10, 2018

Taiwan Day 1: Holo Hostel, Miniatures Museum of Taiwan, National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, St. Christopher’s Church, Long Shan Temple, Huaxi Night Market

Taiwan was a revelation.  And I thought it was all food trip.  Then, we had all our days fully packed. And we enjoyed every single one of them.  Here's what we did in Taiwan:

Day 1
Miniatures Museum of Taiwan
Dolls even dolls on eggs, toys, very detailed houses and rooms, scenes and sceneries, historical landmarks and places of interests

Then we ate lunch at a nearby underground restaurant – they serve good fried chicken.

National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine 
We went here to witness the changing of the guards. We like taking pictures when the place is clean, I mean no photobombers. This can be achieved when after changing of the guards, you run in the middle of the Shrine’s ground and click away. By this time, most of the crowd are still at the entrance of the Shrine where the changing of the guard ended.  The shrine was magnificent. It looked like a location in one of those Chinese royalty movies.

Taipei Fine Arts Museum
We went here to just roam around and see pieces of interest. We like the tea and weaved installations best. But we went here for the free Art Spaces for kids. The kids have a happy time trying on the art exhibits and installations.

St. Christopher’s Church
We walked around 3 blocks from Taipei Fine Arts Musuem to St. Christopher’s Church. It always warms my heart that when there’s a Catholic Church in a foreign country, there’s most likely a Filipino churchgoer or a Filipino priest. In this case, both are true. The Church has many Filipino goers, since we also have a good number of OFW here. It felt very comforting to have a kababayan sit right next to you in mass.

Long Shan Temple
One of the more famous temples in Taipei. There were a lot of devotees offering their gifts and saying their prayers. We just went around and took photos.

Huaxi Night Market
It was just across Long Shan Temple. We saw this restaurant teeming with patrons. So we went inside to check it out. The menu is in Taiwanese. And the owner can’t speak and understand English. Good thing their menu has pictures. So we pointed out everything to him. We had the best hotpot in Taiwan in this restaurant. And I don’t even know it’s name. We just know that it’s very near the entry of the night market, closest to Long Shan Temple.

Where we stayed:  Holo Hostel 
Address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District
Nearest to Taipei Main Station and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Taipei Station

Miniatures Museum of Taiwan 10491, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongshan District, 
Green Line and Orange Line interchange Songjiang Nanjing, Exit 5, continue walking straight on Nanjing East Road. At the intersection of Jianguo North Road (建國北路), take a right. The museum will be ahead on the right side.

National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine 
Red line: Jiantan station, leave Exit 1 and go to the bus stop to the right side (busses heading south). Take bus 267, 556, 902, or 紅3區 to Martyr's Shrine (忠烈祠).

Taipei Fine Arts MuseumNo. 181, Section 3, Zhongshan N Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10461
After arriving at Yuanshan (圓山) on Red Line, exit into Taipei Expo Park, walking east through the park to the museum. Signage is readily visible.

St. Christopher's Church10491, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongshan District
We just walked from Taiper Fine Arts Museum to here.

Long Shan Temple10853, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District
Take the Blue Line to Longshan Temple (龍山寺), the temple is located just north of the station plaza, Exit 1.

Huaxi Night Market 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District
Just beside the Long Shan Temple


Friday, August 25, 2017

Art in Island: A Different Photo Opportunity

Art in Island's claim to fame - the largest 3D art museum in Asia. And everything is an interactive artwork, where you can be part of each piece.  To be part of art, i think, was the deal breaker. The entrance fee, for me, was rather steep for our three hours of roaming around, getting creative with our poses and picture-taking. But the photos we brought home after, I must say, were priceless.

So what were our top spots for those wonderful photos in Art in Island?

1.    Aqua Zone

2.    Animal Zone

3.    Masterpiece Zone

4.    Central Hall

5.    European Zone

6.    Religious Zone

7.    Winter and Christmas Zone

8.    Love Zone

9.    Fantasy Zone

10.  Object Art Zone

It was something that will never be forgotten because it can't be done anywhere else. It was one-of-a-kind. So if you're a photo addict, this one is for you. It's definitely something that you have to try, even just one time.

Art in Island
Address: 175 15th Avenue, Brgy. Socorro, Cubao 1109, Quezon City, Philippines
Contact numbers: (02) 421-1356
Operating Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 9:30am to 9:30pm
Closed on Mondays except of Holidays
Ticket booth is until 8:00pm
Ticket prices: 500 for adults and 400 for kids

Museum Reminders:
1. You will be asked to take your shoes off. You'll roam around the Museum without any footwear. But socks are allowed. So you'll be on socks or barefooted while touring around. But not to worry. The whole place was spanking clean.
2. There are photo markers around the museum. The "Photo Point" stickers on the floor gives you the perfect vantage point to make the most out of an artwork's 3D effect.
3. No flash photography please.
4. Get creative with your poses to bring home the perfect photo souvenir.
5. No food, drinks and pets are allowed inside the museum.

P.S. All photos are owned by the author and her husband.  Please seek permission before use.

Road Trip: Our 11-day Itinerary for a California-Nevada-Arizona-California Adventure

I never thought that we would actually take the plunge. It felt too complicated when it was conceived. But when we did it, we realized it was a whole lot of fun. We also felt that it was the cheapest option that we've got, given the fact that were 5 adults with two kids in tow. We filled up our rented car with luggages and a whole gamut of food and drinks at 3 a.m. It was the start of a journey that we'll never forget. And would probably play in our heads, more than a thousand times over.

So how do you do an 11-day road trip with the kids? We realized with careful planning it can be done.

There were 3 very crucial things for this trip. 

1. Itinerary
You have to decide on the places you want to visit, then build all plans and logistics around it.
This is our itinerary for our 11-day California-Nevada-Arizona-California Road Trip

Day 1: Suisun to Las Vegas (Hoover Dam)

 Day 2: Las Vegas Strip 

Day 3: Grand Canyon (Arizona side)

Day 4: San Diego Flower Farm

Day 5: USS Midway and SeaWorld

Day 6: San Diego Safari and Legoland

Day 7: Knotsberry Farm

Day 8: Disneyland

Day 9: Universal Studios

Day 10: Warner Bros. Studio Tour and Hollywood

Day 11: LA to Suisun

2. Mode of transportation
You have to know how to go around.  We rented a car. It was my sister-in-law who arranged it for us. It's good for seven people. Since we have a four year old at that time, we needed a car seat. We borrowed this from my sister-in-law's friend. The car was roomy enough for all of us. This is very important. You need a lot of room for comfort since it's an 11-day drive. Make sure to check everything before the start of your trip. We got the car a day ahead of our scheduled trip. This was like the car's break in with us. Also, make sure that your GPS is working fine. This is your key to go from one place to another.

We rented from Enterprise. This is their website -
We picked up our car at their garage in 2101 North Texas Street, Fairfield, CA 94533.

3. Accommodations
Since we'll be on the road for 11 days, we have to find out our pit stops along the way.  We estimated where we'll be at certain points of the day.  This way, we were able to plot out where we'll be resting at day's end. And we booked well in advance.

Las Vegas, Nevada (Day 1-3)
Bluegreen Vacations Club 36
372 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89169

San Diego, California (Day 4-6)
Howard Johnson Inn
1631 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA 92108 US 

Anaheim, California (Day 7)
Travelodge Anaheim Convention Center
2060 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802

Anaheim, California (Day 8)
Ramada Anaheim Convention Center
Los Angeles, California (Day 9-10)
Travelodge Burbank
1112 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

It just needs a lot of prep work but it can be done.  The three things I've mentioned were the most important.  If you know where you want to go, and you plan well ahead, chances are, you'll have the most memorable adventure.  Happy trip!

P.S. All photos are owned my the author and her husband.  Please seek permission before use.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Family Prayer Time

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20 

It was a challenge for my family to come together and pray. Although we go to church every Sunday and we haven't missed a single Sunday mass, my husband and I weren't able to introduce a daily night time prayer tradition. Probably because my work schedule before was so erratic that we couldn't find a regular time to huddle for a prayer. But as they say, if there's a will, there's a way. I guess there wasn't enough motivation to do it and we didn't try hard enough.

But a family prayer time was always a part of my own prayer. I have religiously, prayed for it. That by His grace, this tradition would be introduced organically and fluidly, without debate and fuss, in our family.

The blessing came one night. When I visited the girls' room to say my good night. My eldest was already asleep while my youngest daughter was still awake. I asked her if she's done with her night time prayer. She told me, "not yet". I asked if she wanted to pray with me. She said, "yes". It was my golden opportunity. We prayed together. She even mentioned that she would like to pray for her former adviser who was on a two-month leave because of an operation. It was the first time I heard her worry about someone's health outside our family. After we're done, I felt really good. And I knew she felt good too. I saw relief in her eyes. I took advantage of this. I told her that I am putting her in-charge of our family's prayer time. 

The next night my youngest daughter took her new responsibility to heart. She called everyone to drop everything for our family prayer time. I suggested to use the girls' devotional book as a starting point. Everybody agreed. My youngest was the first one who read the devotional for the day. Eventually, it became a shared responsibility. Everyone had their turn.

This is our guide for our family prayer time
Our family prayer time was really a desire of my heart. And I'm very grateful that we are now doing it. I find it comforting that we're praying as a family. That family agenda are being lifted to God, together.  I hope that we can keep this up forever. That we wouldn't take it for granted. And we would always see the goodness and the blessings of spending time together to pray for each other, with each other.

Here's praying that all families, would be able to come together to offer their worries and praise to God.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My 2016 Journey: Lessons on Fear and Faith

Have you thought about what happened to your 2016? If I'm going to look back at how my year went, I can say that it was all full of daunting tasks, challenges and self-doubt. But then, in these bumps, I saw how grace overflowed. 2016 was the year we finally finished our house - a dream project we never thought we would be able to pull off. It was also the year that I took on added responsibilities at work. It was also the year that we needed to go out our comfort zone and transfer homes from Malabon to Quezon City. It was also the year that we needed to transfer our children to another school. It was a year that made me worry about a lot of things. 1. Would we have enough funds to finish the house the way we envisioned it? 2. Would I be able to do well with a new role at work? 2. Would we be able to survive being away from a solid support system in Malabon, where all my family and relatives are? 3. Would my children be able to adjust to a new school? I can conclude that it was indeed a year of disruptions. But I realized that it was also a year of surrender. Everyday, in my quiet time, I would open my heart about my fears and worries and I would always ask for hand-holding. I find myself being consoled with this verse: "Be still. And know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Knowing that my God is greater that all my worries, that everything is in His perfect will, sends a sense of calm in my being.

Tasks seemed insurmountable. It felt overwhelming sometimes. But days passed, things moved forward, and today I caught myself contemplating on the year that was. And I felt a tremendous sense of gratitude that I'm here...In a sweet,bright spot after a mountain climb. We've finished the house. We've already moved in. My nanay and tatay checks on us from time to time. The upside of being away from our support system meant that we have to rely on each other to get things done around the house. And it feels good that there's a lot teamwork going on. The girls are happier in their current school. There are more things to do at work, but I have magical helpers.

We just need to find our bright spot. Photo by Ramir Cruz.