| Home| Personal BLog| Compositions| Health Avenue| Places| UnEditedMe| Philippines| Monk|

Windy Dutch Autumn and Culture Mix and Comparison

wind tegen, biking against windBeing flat and low, Netherlands always get its fair share of wind... and this time of the year, it is really windy. Yes, I can compare and see a big difference how windy it can get here.It is much wilder and stronger compared to wind in Italy or in Asia in a normal day at this timeof the year. I especially noticed it because I have been having hard time pedalling my bicycle since yesterday. The good thing is, I live just around 2 kilometers away from work. The distance is very manageable. I am very grateful for this fact. I also have the feeling that the wind is "always" against me although I am very sure that this isNOT true. The thing is, I only feel its emphasis when it is blowing against as it is not helping me at all. It can bedangerouswhen it is pushing me though as it forcedmeone time to cross a red light!

bikes in Netherlands
We do love biking here in Netherlands! Healthy and thrifty!

The good thing of seeing places is that it widens one's perspective. In the Philippines, if a lady ismarried and seen biking, that would be ridiculous! Here in Netherlands, everyone bikes. When I tell everyone, that includes individuals, both males and females up to the age of 90 or as long as one is alive and can still cycle. Amazing culture and mentality! I really salute this attitude.

Back to the topicof autumn, goodwarm days are almost at its finish so getting ready for the colder season now. Last year was really a heavy winter. I hope this one willbe better.

To make the season at least funtolive, I share with you the following autumn-themed stop-motion picture. Enjoy watching.

Amsterdam Weekend Fun

Having a sunny day here in Netherlands for quite the whole day is a real blessing. We were lucky to have it on that Saturday when we planned to go around the city of Amsterdam. We were able to walk around without problem, to enjoy the attractions, the canal cruise,museums, and the rest.

Although it was sunny, it was still having fresh breeze,thus I was really lucky to have my jacket with me. Along the course of the day, the activities continue and the energy started to get turned on and the heat could be felt. However, so long as we were under the shadows, without the direct hit of the sun rays, it was still a bit cold.

in amsterdam waiting for the cruise boat
Right after we exit the Central Station to buy our cruise and museum tickets...

The Amsterdam experience started right after we arrived at the central station (train) of the city with a single train trip of about an hour and a half from my domicile city, Nijmegen. It was a busy day, as expected, in the busy city where everyone meets/ends up in Europe: Amsterdam!

in amsterdam waiting for the cruise boat
Lovely day huh! Waiting impatiently for our cruise boat here...

According to wikipedia (for some educational part):

[the city] is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. The city, which had a population (including suburbs) of 1.36 million on 1 January 2008, comprises the northern part of the Randstad, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of around 6.7 million.The city is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city.In 2010, Amsterdam was ranked 13th globally on quality of living[10] by Mercer, and previously ranked 3rd in innovation by 2thinknow in the Innovation Cities Index 2009.

in amsterdam waiting for the cruise boat
As the boat started its course for the canal cruise

to be continued....

Sagrada Familia Barcelona Experience Review

Last summer, I was in Barcelona to visit the country that about half a thousand years ago introduced Christianity to my country. It was a very interesting 4-day stay and I was full of experience,learnings andof course, at times at awe or even at disappointment. Somesuff in Spain, or to be more specificfrom Tarragona to Barcelona can be awesome but can also be annoying. We visited many spots, museums, castles, touristic areas and the like and tried to feel the culture and the country.

One of the first places we went or visited was the sagrada familia church. I learned so much during the tour. In fact, it was kind of educational more than anything else. We opted to have the guided tour and never did I regret paying extra for it. If I remember good, the entrance fee including the tour guide totalled €15 in all. It was amazing though.

barcelona sagrada familia experience

According to wikipedia:

The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (official Catalan name; Spanish: Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia; "Expiatory Church of the Holy Family"), often simply called the Sagrada Família, is a massive, privately-funded Roman Catholic church that has been under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain since 1882 and is not expected to be complete until at least 2026. A portion of the building's interior is scheduled to open for public worship and tours by September 2010.

Considered the master-work of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), the project's vast scale and idiosyncratic design have made it one of Barcelona's (and Spain's) top tourist attractions for many years. The church is to be consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI on November 7, 2010, during his visit to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona.

As I have said in the introduction, I have both joys and disappointments. And for this church, I don't really believe it's that unique of beautiful. It is but it is not the most beautiful or unique or whatever.I respect the works of Gaudi but what I do think is that it just got a lot of publicity plus it gets sympathy as well because of the architecht's untimely death and humble life but there are many churches much better than this with lovely concept as well... For one,I can mention the Duomo inMilan.... I mean, I appreciate that church more than the Sagrada Familia... the only bad thing is,not somany people advertise or promote this church and I never saw any tour guide nor did pay an entrance fee.

the sagrada familia review visit in barcelona spainVisit the church, see its wonders, appreciate it... that I suggest but if I were you, I wont really believe that it's the best... but of course you can decide for yourself.

Nijmegen Netherlands... That's Where I Live Now

I have written articles about other places and not where I currently live. Before I move away from this city, at least I share some things that are in here to the outside world. So what do I think or what comes to my mind when I hear the word Nijmegen? Hmmmm… this is quite a question huh! I actually was caught off guard. Let’s see what really comes out my mind when I think of this place, and then I will elaborate later on why these things come up over the others. Thus, Nijmegen is:

1. where I live
2. almost Germany
3. Maas-Waalkanaal
4. the 4-day July march
5. oldest city in Netherlands
6. NXP
7. a Small city
8. where my bike was stolen
9. I worked in finance department for 10 months
10. 133.6 kilometer away from Rijswijk, The Hague where I work

Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa
Click this map, place the, (1) click the "Earth" option and check the "photos" option and enjoy seeing real shots of various places in the city (instructions in screenshot below, encircled in red)...

watch live photos of various places or areas innijmegen netherlands

Wow! These answers surprise me. Now time for a bit of elaboration. I have to admit that answers one till five were almost automatic and for the sixth to the tenth answer, I had to think a bit. When you live in a place, it’s either you like it or you don’t like it. In my case, I am not that type. I always like the place I live after a month or two of living there. I mean, I just love the place, anywhere it is, where I can feel home. I know that for people who love city life, I don’t think there is really something here. But for those who love red-light places, you’ll find it here. The things that I don’t like here include: (1) Too far from my work place which costs me €500 monthly only to travel, not counting wasted time and effort; and (2) Business establishments are closed on Sunday!

So here we are the elaboration part. Look at the stated numbers corresponding to the numbers in the list above relating to Nijmegen. Plain and simple (1) I live here, no need to elaborate on this for sure, right? I relocated here last May 2009 for my previous work assignment.

2) The city is very near Germany. In fact there are busses passing here every 30 minutes or one hour that go back and forth to Kleve, the nearest German city. We also use the German airport Dusseldorf/Weeze when we fly out of the country. It only takes maximum 30 minutes to drive there from where I live.

(3)River Maas is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea with a total length of 925 km. Maas is the Dutch term while the river is called Meuse in English. River Waal is the main distributary branch of river Rhine flowing to the central Netherlands for about 80 km carrying 65% of the total flow of the Rhine. The Maas-walkanaal (Meuse-waal canal) connects the two rivers. See illustration to have a graphic view of it.
aerial view of the maas-waalkanaal. canal connecting rivers maas and waal in nijmegen netherlands

(4) Nijmegen has its nationwide or Europe-wide fame for the International Four Day March Nijmegen, nationally known as Internationale Vierdaagse Afstandsmarsen Nijmegen, or locally called the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse, an annual event starting on the third Tuesday in July, comprising four days of walking (distances ranging from 30 to 50 km a day), and the accompanying festivities, the so-called Vierdaagsefeestenincluding rock festival de-Affaire. It has been driving in participants for the past few years. My colleague at my previous work here used to join this march but for shorter Asian legs like mine, I think this is just too much!

5) Is it really the oldest city in Netherlands? As they say, yes, as Nijmegen celebrated its 2000th birth year in 2005. History mentions this place way back the 1st century before Christ when Romans found this place strategic, for its rivers and hills (the latter I can’t testify to its truth, it’s all flat here, you know!).

(6) NXP or NXP (for Next eXPerience) Semiconductors is the name for the new semiconductor company founded by Philips. Its seat is here in Nijmegen and it is one of the reasons for having a lot of expats here. I met and still meet a lot of people from there that’s why this came to my mind. There are many Asians employed by this company.

(7) Yes, compared to where I used to live, The Hague, it is very small. It is out of the Dutch randstad (western Netherlands highly industrialized-commercialized busy cities) and it’s at the tip of the country. There are not so many big or major stuff here. The city center itself is not that big at all.

(8) No need of elaboration I think for this. But for more details, the story of my stolen bike is also posted here. Come and see!

(9) As mentioned, the reason why I live in Nijmegen is due to work assignment. That work lasted for 10 months and now I am back working in The Hague. Maybe I will be relocating back in The Hague soon.

(10) Yes, the sad part of the story is the distance to my work. That means waking up early and travelling and wasting time. But still, that’s life. There’s always good thing from something. ^^

So that was it, Nijmegen, from my personal view. From the view of other, I found an article online written by Vihren from Munich, Germany. I quote here:
Nijmegen is a nice town in the Netherlands on the Rhine River. Being one of the few towns in the country founded by the Romans Nijmegen claims to be the oldest city in the country. The central pedestrian street is very large and has a large amount of different shops and shopping centers and I found the prices very good for the Netherlands. The river here is great by sunset – there is a wonderful view to the west. Although the town is not very full of old buildings or tourist attractions it is a nice place to spend a few hours and watch the sunset above the river.

Best and Affordable Shopping in Manila Philippines

Wide variety of goods to shop at the most affordable prices? This is possible when you're in Philippines and you need a lot of thing you usually do not find in regular stores. Before going in Europe, I made sure I have had enough clothes to combat the cold weather. Since I was in the Philippines and it is all year round hotty summer over there, I really had to look for a place where I could buy stuff I needed. And so I went to Greenhills Mall in San Juan. This mall is very famous for its price and for variety of ready to wear goods that it offers to the shoppers together with accessories and souvenir items. I have bought a lot of things there including pants, jeans, shirts, gifts, sets of cultivated pearl jewelries, six pairs of watches, shoes, among others. The prices are indeed good and the quality is not bad. Yes, it may not be all original and branded and the mall is a bit crowded but the quality is really something.

very good quality imitation watches at greenhills mall manilaThere are also boutique style stores but what Filipinos flock for in the area is the “tiangge”/bargain style of vendors where it is possible to negotiate with the sellers on the price that they initially offer. It’s really good for those who have a strong bargaining power. I remember the watch they sell for Php 2,000, we have managed to let them sell at Php 750 and the pair of girly mother pearl earrings for Php 50 instead of the original Php 300. Actually, buying in volumes do help because vendors look at you as a valuable customer giving you the favors you want. Just be wise and insistent though of you want to really save a lot. The place is safe, with security guards around. It is also clean and air-conditioned. There are restaurants and fast food chains both around and within the building. There are also ATMs.

If I can go back in Philippines again, I’ll definitely shop at Greenhills mall again.

Winning Ryan Air Charity Scratch Card Lottery During My Christmas Holiday Return Flight

What's one good thing that goes great with traveling? For me, it was winning! Yes, everytime we go on-board one of the most affordable (if not the most) airlines in Euurope, Ryanair, we purchase this raffle ticket and crossour fingers. And know what? I won! Yes, not the Eur 40.000,00 but the Christmas Hamper. I bought this ticket on the 26th of December during my flight from Italy (Bari) to Germany (Frankfurt Hahn). Why I posted thiswinningso late? Because the prize was delivered only today!

Irish CHristmasHamper
Surprise, surperise! What's inside!?!?

Irish Christmas Hamper wonfromRyanair Charity Scratch tickets
Food and beautifully wrapped suprises!

What I won was a "Christmas Hamper". I had to do the following to be able to receive my Ryanair winning scratch-card prize:

1. Visit http://www.bfm.eu.com to see what I needed to do
2. Send my winning ticket to Dublin through registered mail (28 December 2009) costing Eur 7++
3. Receiving the Irish Chhristmas Hamper in my front door (22 January 2010)

So what's inside the hamper? I am lucky as I know the chest/hamper itself isworth more than Eur 7++!

irish christmas hampert
Opening the first wrapped goodie! A chick calculator with a small pen inside thebox-calcu...

winning prize from ryan airt

The contents aremostly food products but we also got some small give aways beautifully wrapped in those paper wrappers you see in the 2ndand 3rd photos up. Coolhuh!

So what do you think about my winnings? Well, the thing is, whenever we win, we feel excited and happy, not only of what we won but the thought that we are "lucky" already makes us glad! Lovely feeling, isn't it?

Bottled goodies: pure honey,marmalade and some preserved rosemarino with garlic.... strange but I will tellafter I try..

The Christmas pudding with some written jokes...

Solet's cheers with this winning! Why I dobuy these tickets everytime? As the ryanair personnel promotes them for Charity and Eur 2 per ticket dosnot hurt! I won and this even hurtslesser!Right? Cool huh!

The 272 Steps & Monkeys of Batu Caves

A. Reaching the Cave from the City Center
It was Friday afternoon. Wearing a pair of shorts and a cotton shirt, Amore and I proceeded on taking a public bus near Chinatown into the heavy but colorful traffic of the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur. It was really a great local-like experience. We were beaming with confidence that we would reach our destination without any mistake because the bus continuously flashed its destinations. Batu Cave was one among the many destinations flashed in the screen. Another thing that boosted our confidence is the confirmation from the bus conductor that we were on the right bus. Malaysians are good English speakers: they understand and can be understood. After 45 minutes and 13 kilometers of bus ride, we reached the Batu Caves entrance. The first thing that caught our attentinon was the remarkable 42.7 meter high gigantic golden staue of Lord Murugan.

gigantic lord murugan statue in batu cave
The gigantic statue of Lord Murugan situated at Batu Cave

B. Mandatory Viewing?
We were walking around lazily and with great enthusiasm past the entrance while taking photos of the place along the wide concrete walkway, carpark and all- purpose pavement when we were huddled in by two Indian guys inside the air-conditioned single-room building. We did not understand anything but what can you expect from startled tourists? We assumed they were officials in the area. We were so confused until we found ourselves looking at the projected video promotion of the area (but not before they robbed us of RM 20.00 in exchange for tickets). 1 Euro is roughly RM 5.00. RM stands for Malaysian Ringgit or Malaysian Dollar, the country's currency. The only thing I appreciate is that the short film was so informative.

C. For Better Knees...
After the twenty-minute forced viewing of the place's promotional material, we bought chocolates and soft drinks to be taken up the 272 stepped- stairs. It was tiring, yet thrilling and gave a feeling of achievement and great strength to have reached the top. Indeed it was with aching knees and lungs crying for oxygen to rush in! But it was really great, I tell you! Not different from its foot, the top of the steps also contains merchandise for tourists and locals alike. It also serves as an art gallery and home to various cave animals. The most that we have seen are monkeys. We took breath taking views down the temple, into the various objects in their reduced forms. Also seen from behind the golden statue was the clearly laid out cityscape

D. Snatchers in the Temple???
batu cave 272 stepsWhile wandering inside the cave and reaching the north wing, we posed and took photos of ourselves and other interesting things as well. We were on our way back the cave's opening and I was hungrily munching on my toblerone when it was snatched away from me. I had to scream with astonishment! After seconds of realizing what just happened, i saw a monkey happily eating the toblerone instead. We all laughed. --- We were happy to go back to our hotel in Jalan Pudu. I suggest you take a visit at the temple too. -- This experience is one of the simplest and coolest that we did in Malaysia. Entering the cave is very affordable and it was one ofmy first encounter with the Hindu religion. I learned from the educational film that we watched that there is the annual festival (January if I am not mistaken) and the Indian people (Hindus) try to offfer something and sacrifice to their Gods... very interesting.

Philippine Airports Security Checks Are Only for Fashion!

airport security check caricature... ...
The following article I previously posted at a travel review site but that was 2 years ago! I would like to share it also with you, my dear readers.

A. Checking for what? - Upon entrance to the airport, there are security checks. At a meter's distance, there is the luggage scanner/x-ray (or whatever they call it) check. After checking -in at the booth and proceeding to to pay for the airport terminal fee, there is a security guard check. After clearing with the customs/immigration officers, there is a scanning device and even belts and shoes are required to be taken off. When entering at the departure waiting area, there is a check. At the departure waiting area, the personnel of Emirates opened our hand-carried luggage. We have these all! No less, but may be more.

ninoy aquino philippine airport security checks check inB. At Dubai, We Were Reprimanded

Arriving at Dubai Airport, we only had one check for the hand-carried/cabin luggage for our connecting flight but we had to take out an electric socket inside our hand-carried luggage because at a single check in Dubai airport, it was seen. But what was the point of checking many times in the Philippines and without telling us anything? We were not aware that what we were carrying was supposed to be in the checked-in luggage and not allowed to be hand-carried. Now I can really conclude that the checking for security purposes (as they claim it) in the Philippine air ports are mere a show, not for a reason. What a shame and real waste of resources!