It was our first solo travel as a couple. We were dying in anticipation when rain was pouring heavy and wind was blowing strong the day before our planned trip. We had to try other options like originally Puerto Galera then Baguio, Batangas, Vigan and so on. We even delay it for two days hoping for a better weather condition. Once confirmed that it can’t be any finer, we still had to push through as I, myself, wouldn’t wish for my vacation leaves to be put to waste. Besides we’ve been waiting for this long enough that we can’t afford not to carry on. Thus resolving to Subic instead.
After searching for nice beach hotels in the area, I chose (yes I get to choose, if not always most of the time) the one that looks clean, comfy and with relaxing ambience perfectly suited for the very intense atmosphere due to typhoon.
It took us around three hours of bus ride in which we were mostly asleep before getting to the resort. Because we arrived ahead of standard check in time of most hotels we shared bottles of beer, two each, first in their homey in-house restaurant to wash our vexation off the worsening weather. About checking in, thrilled as we were, true to their website the room was spacious and the bathroom too. It was minimalist inspired. Toiletries were provided along with set of towels and robes. The room has a minibar too where drinks are readily available. They were quite pricy by the way. It was too cosy that we couldn’t resist resting a bit.
In search of a place he used to visit few years back, late afternoon until nightfall we were downtown subic. In there, we had our petty little fights. We realized how different we are and how we argue on the smallest thing ever possible just because have opposite thoughts on the matter. We annoyed each other too much that we went back to our accommodation silent. It was an earsplitting silence. After awhile he walked out of the room and then went back. Three times repeatedly without a word. I kept quiet too. Until he hugged me closed to him while saying his sorry. Avowedly accepting fault wasn’t neither of us I hugged him back. We came to terms and finally conciliated. He pulled me up and lead me to a small, private and beach-overlooking spot. We watched the procellous waves below and looked at the dim clouds above. Finding peace amidst chaos hand in hand with someone you love, it was all about that. Nothing else counts.
Other days are not anything contrary. There were conflicts but we patch up and still stick to each other. The best part of the trip was being aware of each other’s likes and dislikes and knowing how to compromise.
We would have surely savoured the place and the moment itself if we have witnessed the sea in a more serene and tranquil state rather than those of raging big undulations brought by the storm. I personally hope for us to come back. Maybe then everything is synchronize, the people, the place and the weather condition.
This is how social media ironically influenced myself. At the beginning I would take numerous pictures of myself then select the best ones and upload it in my facebook, instagram or sometimes on my twitter account. But now it seemed like I have mastered the art of timer and the angles I thought I look good. I’d like to make myself believe, it is only because sakura is just a phenomenal season in Japan justifying myself for frequently snapping. Yet it wasn’t just that. The narcisism in me has been developed pretty much ever since I owned a mobile phone with front camera and when “selfie” is forged. So why am I saying all these again? Hmmm.. probably so I can get more exposure here on my blog! Nevertheless I loved everything about spring here in Japan, not only the cherry blossoms but the weather, the tulips and any other radiant flowers, and the feeling of goodness it bestows.
Note: All photos were taken by myself. It is very convenient though setting cam on timer. Like my friends say, it is important to get the hang of it when you don’t have a partner to do it for you. Somehow they were right. Urghhh.
I must say Odaiba has been a favorite get away for me whenever I came by around Tokyo. First was back in 2014 with people from work, we were eight, three of us were Filipinos and the rest were all Japanese. It was a bit of haste so I didn’t have that much time to explore but still enjoyed it because it was only from then that I experienced a short river cruise. Being born with just enough where lavishness is an impossible thing, the cruise was already luxurious for me. The route we took was from Odaiba down to Asakusa via Sumida River.
The next was just last year with two of my co-trainees. It was a purposeful travel because we yearned-for a final peek before Gundam be taken down and replaced with a new iconic touristy figure which wasn’t revealed until late September of the preceding year. We were also quite in a hurry as we are looking into other places to drop by as well. Even so we have taken copious souvenir photos of the well-known anime robot.
While both visits were surprisingly short but sweet I wanted more from the place. It is as if a pain that hankers for cure and an empty hole that needs to be filled in.
I knew if I get the opportunity to call in once more I’d be happy to compel. So when my co-trainees at present planned a trip for cherry blossoms viewing last weekend I took advantage of it and suggested that we shall go see Odaiba too. With all of my convincing prowess complete with search results from the internet, it appeared at least to me like winning over a well-fought battle. Then we were off to set foot on the notable manmade island.
We first went to Chidorigafuchi moat for a boat ride (I have written about this from a previous entry), ate late lunch on a picnic ground not far from the pier, window shopped at the busy crowded Asakusa Nakamise Shopping St. and paid respect at the Temple.
Exhausted after all those, we leisurely moved to Odaiba. Because it’s a first time for most of my companions, astounded by the rainbow bridge and the replica of the statue of liberty they took off immediately for some photo ops. Walking here and there, completely unaware of the hour, it was almost dusk when hunger struck us. We responsively grabbed a meal and went on probing the rest of the area. Hurling ourselves towards opposite direction of the bridge, we bear witness to the new self-aggrandizing life-size Unicorn Gundam. Unveiling it with our own eyes is undoubtedly seventh heaven as majority of the anime enthusiasts may agree on. It is still the renowned robot but an upgraded and modernized version. On the spur of the moment we were back to being youngsters!
We learned that the gigantic figure will have a show later that night at 7:30pm. Yet we decided to start rambling again and just go back closely when it starts. That’s when our pedes brought us to palette town. Part of it is a shopping mall patterned in an 18th century European town, the Venus Fort. Inside is an exhibit free-of-charge showcasing vintage cars and a small library compiling their chronicles accessible for public reading. There are besides a series of posh restaurants and boutiques. Its best feature for me would be the domed ceiling in an artificial deceptive real looking sky. With our eyes replete, we head to Megaweb Toyota City Showcase. It is home to latest models of the popular brand where you can test drive any of the cars displayed for a certain amount provided that you have driver’s license accredited in Japan. Unfortunately we got there a minute later than their closing time. Probably another reason to hark back again huh?
Afterwards we were sitting in Diver City Tokyo Plaza all good and ready for the Unicorn Gundam presentation. Basically it is a 3-5minutes entertainment showing transformation from Unicorn mode to destroy mode of gundam vice versa with Japanese animation demo in a huge projector alongside. I’m not sure if they do but it would be nice though if they have a certain schedule where it can be watch dubbed in English or maybe with subtitles in it. Nonetheless this kind of amusement for me is outstanding, interesting and unique.
I reckon the day had been awesome enough to conclude. While we were directing towards the train station going home I laid my eyes ahead to the rainbow bridge. As a debut viewing it during night time I was instantly hooked. I got really infatuated and that’s when I recognized that was it. The pain has been cured and the empty hole has been filled up. I sat down and stayed awhile cherishing and capturing the mesmerizing structure in front of me. Moment passed and we went along. And so whilst my spirit was on high I left with a grateful heart. So long Odaiba!
It was an almost unplanned sudden trip. Saturday when we invited our work friends for dinner at our house. We do it often as we are all on a tight budget and it would be practical to share meal expenses. While we were eating we talked over so many things until we came up to the idea of hanami which is Japan’s far-famed “sakura”~ cherry blossoms viewing. And then before we knew it we were all consumed at the thought.
Sunday next morning, it was a bright sunny lovely day as if apropos for such an event. We left the house at exactly 7am as we are catching the 7:21 train via keiyo line going to Tokyo. Nearest station by the way is 13-15minutes walk from our accommodation. Upon us all arriving at the station we boarded the train using our suica card and alight to shin kiba station. We then proceed to changing trains via yurakucho line going to kojimachi station. We got there at 8:15 and carried on for a 20minute walk as we reached the pier for the boat ride.
The long queue is no joke. Good thing there were six of us that we never ran out of topics to hash out. And of course internet had been a big help in killing our boredom which I supposed all of us can relate to. Also we had an ample time appreciating the scenery and taking photos of the river and the cherry blossoms around the area.
When it was our turn purchasing tickets for rental fee, we settled for the 30minutes option which costs ¥800 per boat. The other option costing ¥1600 was one hour. Each boat can accommodate strictly only up to maximum of three persons. Wearing life jackets are not compulsory but are available upon request.
The weather had been perfect and the sailing went smooth and suave. The combination of the picturesque panorama naturally painted in pink by cherry blossom trees, the still clean waters and the clear blue skies soothing the inner senses is definitely not for one to miss out.
Indeed the pleasure sakura brings for this certain season is incomparable. Lasting only for a week or so, making it more too precious, no one can just skip this once-a-year phenomenon if you are around the area. And I couldn’t think of any other better way of celebrating it than riding a boat in Chidorigafuchi moat. It is my third time here in Tokyo during springtime so I know at least some sorts. I was only skeptical back then due to waiting time. I now have proven its worth and that the only regret was not doing it for an hour instead of half.
Starving after cruising, we were off to find a good place to eat our packed lunch. Like I said we are all on a mission to save up so we brought food with us. And hey it has also been a tradition to have a picnic and drink under a sakura tree during this very same period so it is just well-timed to do so. Luckily we stumbled on the picnic grounds not far enough from the pier. It was crowded and full but still a delight to witness families eating together and hearing kids’ laughter. I smiled at the thought until we finally discovered a vacant space for us to dig in. We fed ourselves and finished with not just our stomachs full but our hearts, minds and whole of our beings as well.
Considered myself lucky as I am heading off to my next hanami this coming weekend in my favorite park because Tokyo and Chiba has a one week full bloom interval. I’m so worked up now!
Was it not too cold today or I’ve just only gotten used to this chilly weather? Either of which I cannot tell. What I can say is that I have managed to go out for a quick walk at my favorite park (which I have already written about in my previous blog) earlier today. Yes finally, passed two weekends and I’m able to drop by. Aobanomori park hasn’t changed at all. It still feels like home to me.
What bothered me more is that it took me too much time prepping. Funny as it may sound, it’s far worse than having a date. Like real date (which reminds me valentines is fast approaching, dinner maybe? I wish), you know there’s just lots of things going on in the mind before it. How to impress the one you’re dating, what dress and perfume to wear, or how to do your hair and makeup? Stuffs like that. Anyway, back to what I did before going to park, I showered a little longer than usual, chose my clothes well (changed couple of times) then put makeup on. Not normally doing these things as I have always been the on-the-go type of person. I’m always in a hurry thus I cannot accommodate all those.
Yet today (maybe more like recently), I cared so much for myself like completely losing it. Why is that so? I’d like to blame it on PMS like any other women would do so but my thoughts are on to something better. Perhaps it’s personally redirecting my own femininity realizing that it isn’t too late to be conscious on how you look. More over so, how you wanted to present and carry yourself.
This is actually one thing Japan has taught me. You see, I ended up in clothes where colors are all mix up. There is no such thing as “overly dressed” here hence, I couldn’t care less and still wore what I wanted. People freely express themselves more specifically on how they dress up regardless of the occasion, the place they are into and the people they are with. In fact they are very appreciative of things around them. And if at some point they didn’t like what they see, they won’t ever insult or judge you. They have high regard in everyone irrespective of your ethnicity, status or job. Really admirable that is. Merely this is just my very own opinion and does not bear any other people’s.
Today I’d like to write about my first week since I got back here in Chiba, Japan. It was Monday, January 22, when I flew from Manila to Narita. We had a good weather back in Philippines that day so I was surprise when we encountered excessive turbulence before we hit the ground. Little did I know that Japan’s weather forecast was that it’s going to rain and snow heavy in Tokyo also including Chiba which is where I’m heading to. We landed safe though. When I alight the plane and went out of the airport around two thirty in the afternoon, it was only raining but as I travel through Chiba (via taxi) it gently started snowing. Along the way, I was informed that office work has been suspended due to bad weather conditions that may cause trains to stopped operating thus it might be hard for employees to commute going home.
Snow intensifies as we went on. Two hours later, I made it to the place I’ll be staying in for three months. Before I came in, I took a video of the snow fall as a souvenir of my very overwhelming arrival. Inside, I found two boxes containing some basic necessities (towels, shampoo, body wash, detergent, frying pan, cooking oil, salt just to name a few). Yes, they do provide us such things, to survive our first week or so. Very well accommodating hosts, who are actually our clients and also sponsors of our training.
Realizing I am all alone, delighted with the fact that finally, for once I can live on my own even on a short period of time. Privacy and independence is exciting especially when you’re in a safe foreign country. Freedom? Oh yes freedom, where you can actually run around the house naked or play music and sing your heart out loud! Not long since, my deep thoughts were shattered by a rang. When I checked and answered my phone it was a video call from my parents. It surely made my day. Yet brought me back to reality that I’m way too far from home. It sadden me for a moment but I need to keep moving. Being stagnant is not my thing, least I thought. I carried on cleaning and arranging things, maximizing the comfort within my space. “My space”, how lovely that it sounds to me. And I concluded that night and have fallen asleep merrily.
Morning of Tuesday, the following day, I got up, opened my balcony door and saw an endearing view. All of a sudden, it felt like Christmas again. Everything is covered in white and it’s very enchanting. Much as I would like to play and enjoy more of the snow, I geared up for my first working day in lieu. Prepared my own food, ate by myself, showered, dressed up and catch the train. It was a typical day at office. I finished early for I had to run an errand and buy some things I need at home. Same with the next day, Wednesday, it all went good.
My Thursday was a bit different. I, together with my co-trainees, visited and observed a job site somewhere in Kanagawa Prefecture. About an hour and a half drive from office. I was on facetime with my co-workers in Manila the whole time so they can also keep an eye to what is there at a construction site managed by our clients. Also for them to see in actual what they are designing in paper and point some differences between two. After more than an hour we head back to the office. Exhausted as I was, still I rendered more than an hour overtime to finished a deadline. It was a fulfilling day.
Came Friday, it was also a normal day till we were done working. We were invited and went out that night with the bosses. It was a welcome dinner for our general manager from Manila and for us trainees. The whole event was filled with fun and laughter. Everybody enjoyed each other’s company. Only that there’s lot more to drink than to eat (coming from someone who doesn’t really appreciate raw food, sorry I honestly don’t like it). Anyway, it wouldn’t be called “nomikai” meaning drinking party for nothing. The best part was, each trainee received a gift from our general manager. She got me scarf and I loved it.
I started as early as 7am the succeeding day, Saturday. I did my laundry (some items I have to hand wash), cleaned my crib and made myself food. I was eating when I came to understand some things. That it will never be easy moving out from your comfort zone. That it’s a lot of hard work setting up your own place. That time management is difficult particularly if there’s so much in line to do. And that all these things would have been more light with another pair of hand.
As a reward for surviving my 6th day and hopefully for the days to come, I went to the mall and bought myself some stuffs, clothes and a pair of shoes to be specific. And then again, it was a happy day. No days are happier for a woman who stumbled on lots of sale while shopping!
Today, Sunday, I went to church but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the mass as, unknowingly, they moved the schedule from 12:30 in the afternoon to 10 in the morning. Some things changed, if only google had known (yes I did my research first before coming). So I just stayed there for awhile and pray. And then I planned to have a walk in the park but it’s cloudy making the weather even more chilly. So forget the park, it can wait. I dropped by the supermarket instead before coming home.
As soon as I got home I put everything I purchased in place and started cooking one of my favorite Filipino dish, Vegetables with Coconut Milk (Ginataang Gulay). It was only 4pm when I completed the recipe but I was so anxious to have my first real meal of the week. I have only been consuming everything in instant the past few days. So with no second thought I dug in and ate up my dinner early. So now I’m ending my day with this blog completely contented and full. Choose to find joy in little things and end each day with a smile. Life doesn’t have to be that complicated, does it?
I’d like to believe this was my first official hike. I used to climb mountains when I was in high school yes but I didn’t have the perception of real ‘hike’ back then. September 29th Friday night of last year when we travelled from Manila to our destination in Puncan, Nueva Ecija. It was actually annoying for our service van arrived late in our meeting place to the extent that I already considered backing out. Good thing I have my childhood friend and my cousin with me. We entertained ourselves catching up with our stories of here and then while waiting. It was a bumpy ride going there thus, I barely had some sleep. I supposed everyone on that trip too. My cousin Ate Joy and I stayed awake and went on chatting until we finally reached our jump off point. We got there thirty minutes past five in the morning (if I remembered it correctly). We were advised to use the toilet, change clothes (if we have to) and eat breakfast before we start moving. We had a short introduction too courtesy of the local guides. According to them, it is actually called Mt. 387 because it is in an area holding 387.9 hectares of the Talavera Watershed Forest Reserve. At the end of briefing, we were asked how we want to go back down, everyone chose the traverse trail except me. Yes I refused raising my hand for that. But my friend and my cousin were up for it so I just went along and approved of it eventually. The other option was slightly plane as the guide said so only that it is way farther and will took longer hours to descend. There is no easy way out and I was a little anxious about it.
Afterwards, we started ascending. As we go on uprising, only few minutes later I went through hard breathing already. Succumb to my laziness of having exercise regularly. Resulting of me being at the tail end amongst everyone else who were with us on this trail. Hardly noticing the path we were taking, not even recognizing the first view point neither, all I could think of was to carry on and get it over with.
I have only started acknowledging and appreciating the woodlands and forestry as we passed by when the track became moderate. Well, at least for me. It could have been the easiest for more steady climbers.
But apart from the scenic views, it is the purpose that comes with climbing that makes it worthwhile. And for our time, this time, it was the tree planting activity. Each hiker shall plant a seedling or two during rainy season in accordance to agreement between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and locals for reforestation. However on dry season, one must bring a liter of water to help in sustaining the seedlings planted by previous climbers.
I was surprised and overwhelmed to know about these. Apparently, I wasn’t aware when the local guides were explaining all of these earlier. I just had to ask our guide again who generously and patiently expound it for me.
We then proceeded after planting. We had plenty of stops for photos first before we finally got into a turning point which is overlooking the popularly known Chocolate Hills of the North. Though it was green colored due to prevalent grass growth, it is still a beautiful panorama to witness.
Another view point right after a few steps is the Batong Amat Peace Park landmark. Here we spent more time to breath in and to absorb the beauty of nature.
At the summit facing down to where we began, I say hard work has at long last paid off. It is a moment of victory for me which I can always share but will never be stolen. The precious part was seeing that it is in our most unglamorous and hard times that we most appreciate life.
After an ample time of rest and some photo ops, we headed down and continued with our traverse to Aloha Falls. Here’s the part where I don’t want to elaborate nor I wanted to remember. As we resumed the steep and slippery road seemed endless. I don’t recall how many times I have asked our guide, “are we there yet?” and how many times he answered me with, “just a little more”. And then I would joke on him, “you are fooling us” but he would say, “no mam I am motivating you”.
Worst was my knees were shaking and its bending became voluntary. I’d feel like I already wanted to crawl or roll myself down just so I could be there quick. But it can’t be. So I had to motivate myself that this is temporary and soon will be over and that we’ll be approaching the Aloha Falls soon.
You couldn’t ever imagine how delighted we were at the very sight of the tall running water. It was also very refreshing to see. We were too shattered and exhausted to jump in through the cold water and bathe hence, after taking photos of it and with it, we hurried to our drop off point. Took a shower hastily, ate a little and headed back home.
The next day, Sunday, my legs hurt so bad and couldn’t get up from bed. Yet it was all worth it. For the record, I only agreed to do this because everything just seemed to be not working the way I wanted them, both work and personal matters. So I thought I should try doing new things. And I don’t regret it, this was such an exceptional breather. If someone invites me for a climb again? Let me think about it. Hahaha! Kidding aside, yes I might. Pardon me if I don’t have that much and not familiar with real climbers’ “terms”. It’s just a shame not blogging about this so I did it with how I experienced it and understood things my way.