Envious of Joanna Lumley

It’s not the monarch neither the Spice Girls.  It’s not Elton John neither J. R. R. Tolkien.  Though I admire the wit of Stephen Hawking and at awe with Margaret Thatcher, it’s not them.  The British human being who I envy the most when it comes to world travel is the effervescent Joanna Lumley.

Joanna thru her series of British TV travel shows feature amazing spots on the planet and showcase interesting cultures around the world!  What is so enviable about this travel diva is that she got to go around and got a bunch of travel-savvy production team who will do the chronicling for her!

 

I was at awe with Joanna’s enchanting Trans-Siberian adventures.  I enjoyed her splendid exploits of the inestimable Japan from north to south.  And how I wish I will be granted with the gift of travel for I was truly envious with her Silk Road adventures!

I have read somewhere that travel envy can happen to anyone.  It is caused by emotional discontent, frustration, feeling left out, the tendency for endless comparison and even social media.  In my case, it would be a mix of all of these combined with being stuck for a year due to this crazy pandemic.

I too read that one way to cope with travel envy is to turn such envy into inspiration, that is by planning the next adventure.  But it looks like planning for an out of the country escapade now seem unrealistic.

I would rather practice gratefulness and reminisce about my past trips.  Good thing I have this blog because reading through some of my travel posts decreases the intensity of my feeling jealous.

this is one spectacular spot joanna lumley has yet to step on! haha! https://neillangit.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/batad-rice-terraces-no-words-to-describe/

And while I was busy basking on these feelings of envy towards the British travel muse, I paused for a while not knowing how to end this invaluable writing.  I turned to my Facebook for a break and this very fitting photo struck me.

Hoping to see the world soon!

I Missed My Locale

This morning while the tropical sun is still mild, I dragged myself out of bed and decided to step out to give myself some pretty good cardio drill.  And while taking a break to catch my breath every so often (no thanks to the pandemic) only then did I realize that it has been a year that I have gone outside within the local vicinity where I live.

So in between the fast walks and jogs, I would stop and take a number of photos of the area.  It was the morning that I got to appreciate the aesthetic attractiveness of the spots and places where I live.  It felt like I missed my locale!

manila morning

fresh!

quiet…

i love this minute jungle in this part of the city

In the past, I have always been the kind of person who would rather chuckle and laugh at strangers (visitors and tourists alike) who would marvel, appreciate and take photos of the areas near my place.  I have been so used to how my nearby vicinity looks like that I find it weird for strangers to admire and gape at the charm and appeal of the area.

a cool morning in manila

And when the morning started to get too hot and while I walked my way back to my unit, I realized that people need to leave in order to miss their place and had to travel so as to realize how precious and beloved one’s starting point was.

Have a beautiful day everyone!

Me, Anthony B. and the Vicious Sisig

A couple of years ago while on a 6-hour pit stop at Incheon International Airport on my way to San Francisco for some exciting solo adventure, I can clearly recall that I chose to sit at a very quiet portion of the airport and a tall white curly-haired gentleman sat across from where I was.  He too was quiet and seem so engrossed with his mobile phone.  My hazy brain tells me that the guy looks like Anthony Bourdain.  When the guy looked at me and realized that I was staring at him and seem to have noticed that I know who he was, he stood up took his leather bag and silently left.

I recalled this vivid experience because of my recent visit in an eatery at the culinary capital of my country where the late Anthony Bourdain once dined. I was at Aling Lucing’s, a humble eatery in Angeles City, in the province of Pampanga. A two-and-a-half-hour ride from Manila.

anthony bourdain with the sisig queen during his visit (framed memory posted on the wall of the eatery)

I chose to dine in this modest eating place for its original dish called “Sisig”.  This too was the same dish that drove Mr. Bourdain to dine in this eatery because the tasty Sisig has been established to be one original Filipino food. 

I consider Sisig to be in the same league of other scary savage Filipino dishes like the Dinuguan (black-colored pork blood stew); the petrifying Balut (steamed fertilized duck egg); Betamax & Helmet (grilled coagulated pork blood and grilled chicken head respectively); Tuyo (the dreadfully stinky dried fish); and, the lewd Soup No. 5 (soup made from bull’s balls & wiener) to name a few. 

sisig!

these other food selections clearly complements the ferocious sisig! steamed tilapia, grilled eggplant, salad with pink shrimp paste, balo-balo dip (another savage dish made of fermented rice sauteed in shrimp & tomatoes)

a collage of photos i took during my visit

Sisig for me is vicious and ferocious because it is the ears, the face and sometimes the brain of the pig that is the main ingredient – grilled, chopped into pieces and served on a hot sizzling plate!

Sisig has gone a long way since the time this has been created by the Sisig Queen herself, Aling Lucing.  In fact, during that solo trip in San Francisco, I had the chance to eat Filipino Sisig in burrito form! Click here to learn about it: Sisig Burrito.

According to Mr. Bourdain “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park.  Enjoy the ride.”  And one unique culinary ride that one must take is by trying the vicious, un-elegant yet very tasty Sisig.

A Non-American and the Un-American at the US Capitol

If it would be inevitable to change my citizenship, one of the nationalities I would prefer would be to be an American.  Sad, crazy and outrageous as it may sound but who would not want to be part of the populace who has the strongest economy, the richest opportunities, a very hip civilization, beautiful people and a super power status as a nation?

It is therefore not surprising that setting my foot on USA soil (at least being a tourist) was on top of my bucket list.  Luckily by some grace and blessings from the heavens, this entry on my long and arduous bucket list has long been done and accomplished.

majestic yet a tranquil visit

I, a non-American have been to USA a couple of times already.  And in my last visit, I found myself at the capital state of Washington DC touring the insides of the US Capitol.  I can clearly recall that the outdoor grounds as well as inside of the Capitol Building gave me some incalculable sense of calmness and security.  It was majestic, it was peaceful, it was secured.  I can also recall my regret of not bringing my favorite pillow then.  Reason behind this is that being inside that most secured building on the planet gave me immense feelings of security and comfort.  The building made me feel so at ease, dreamy and relax I wanted to take a nap.  Haha!

loved it!

But these personal experiences in and out of the Capitol Building was a total opposite of what I saw and read on the news when Americans themselves consecrated the dignity of that honored spot of their country.  For me, the reckless and unwise siege done last January 06, 2021 at the Capitol Building was so sad and very un-American.  From my personal view point, the January 6 incident did not in any way made Americans great again!

Though some peace has been restored, I was in fact quite glad that on the day of the humiliating siege I was not an American.  I just hope that every American would realize how lucky, how fortunate and how free they are being citizens of the strongest and most democratic nation on the planet.  They should not let these valuable benefits slip from their hands because of some rash, thoughtless and heedless revolts and rebellions.

If some un-Americans are tired of being American, a lot of deprived and underprivileged gasping human beings here at a third world far east are willing to swap with them.  I guess, only when they become non-Americans would they realize how precious it is to be one. 

Dine Out, Put Your Seatbelt & Be Safe

Weird as it may seem, dining out in a restaurant at this time of contagion would be like riding a rusty roller coaster, a rickety Ferris wheel or entering a spooky horror house.  Dining out is so scary people don’t know if they would catch the deadly virus or would come out of the restaurant still hale and healthy.

But since I am in a state when I would rather go out and live a life yet would still observe extra precautions to prevent catching the bug, I decided to dine out here in Manila.  The lucky joint I chose is the 36-year-old Bistro Remedios, an authentic regional Filipino restaurant in Malate, Manila.

And I was glad to know that on the day of my gastronomic consumption, the week-long citywide project of Manila City government called Restaurant Week was on-going.  Bistro Remedios was participating in this initiative by the city mayor whom I predict would be the future president of this country.

I ordered and munched on these…

As I was to finish chomping on my beautiful dessert, dining out at this time of pandemic was indeed like having a roller coaster ride.  I experienced the thrill brought about by the visceral sensation of fear – pounding heart and faster breathing – when I was about to enter the resto.

Similar in a roller coaster ride, cheery attendants would ask you to sign a waiver and settle you down by putting on your seatbelt.  It was so similar in Bistro Remedios because the smiling waiter asked me to fill out a health declaration and contact tracing form and sprayed a mist of alcohol on my hand before leading me to my table.

When I sat down and relayed my order, I realized the increased feeling of well-being and wakefulness.  And when the food was served and had my first bite of the delicious meal, I closed my eyes, felt the busting of flavors in my mouth, my endorphins were high and was having a euphoria!  Good thing I failed to scream when I opened my eyes inside that restaurant. Hahaha!

fasten your seatbelt!

Conquer your fear this time of pandemic.  Dine out, put your seatbelt and be safe!

Frustrated Japanophile

Let me be a little materialistic today!  My avaricious stance at the moment is caused by the airline who texted me that my October 29 flight to Japan has been cancelled.  And since I cannot take a trip to magnificent Osaka, I let bits and pieces of Osaka take a journey to me.

i love everything japanese! except for the karokke (croquet) chips, all these are actually available in my country. hahaha!

I have just received the package full of Japanese stuffs I ordered from my Japan-based niece!  Yihee! These are the cheap Japanese junks, the absurd Nippon messes and the silly Japanophile stuffs I would have purchased in Osaka if my trip pushed through.  Please excuse me but ordering and receiving these stuffs are my coping mechanisms in expunging my extreme frustration when I learned about the cancellation.

japanophile! 

Let me then I agree if you find me so worldly and so twisted in this circumstance. Got to go!  I need to do my airline refund! Haha!

Her Istanbul Is So Much Better Than My Istanbul

In my long-ago adventure in Ciudad de Mexico, there was one influencer (YouTube travel vlogger) whose posts about the city made it easier for me to go around.  Her posts about Mexico City was so helpful during that time that I made it as my reference on where to go, what to visit and how to go about.

This vlogger recently posted her adventures in Istanbul, Turkey.  I was a little swollen with pride to learn that I being a small-time traveler actually came and visited years ahead before she did.  I was secretly hoping that she has read a number of my blog posts about Istanbul for her to use as her travel reference of the city.

inside hagia sophia

But when I watched her posts about Istanbul, I was so envious that I wanted to revisit the city and re-do all my lackluster blog posts. Hahaha!  Her vlogs were so vibrant, so appealing and so alive that though I already have seen, felt and tasted what she was featuring, I wanted to go back, do the same and do the way she does! 

I guess I am just bitter that I could not produce a better feature of Istanbul the way other travel content creators do.  Am I really envious about her work? Or I am just finding an excuse because I really wanted to go back to the grand and splendid Istanbul?!

Let me then post a short clip of my personal experience in Istanbul. 

I hope that re-reading multiple times this blog post would in some way reduce my craving to revisit that beautiful transcontinental city.  And to that lady vlogger – whom I refuse to identify and feature here, hahaha! – I do admit that you really do a better job than I do. 

Let me just then be contented with the powerful saying that: “recognizing one’s own weakness is one of the biggest strengths that one can have”. And yeah, I am so bitter and really wanted to be back in gorgeous Istanbul. Hahaha!

Rediscovering Asiong’s Restaurant

Fed-up, tired and cloying from staying indoor due to the pandemic, me and 3 of my close colleagues decided to sneak out of the metro.  Despite the continuous spike in coronavirus cases, we agreed to break the monotony of staying in our respective houses and drove up to the scenic city-province of Tagaytay, an hour and a half drive south of Manila just to have lunch. 

We nevertheless took extra precautions prior to leaving the metro.  We were wearing face-masks and face-shields, brought along bottles of alcohol and I even have a huge pack of disinfecting surface wipes!

But only about five minutes away from our destination, we encountered a highway check point.  To make the story short, we were prevented from entering Tagaytay because we do not have the local government’s required travel pass to enter the province.  Yeah, this is how strict it is here in the Philippines due to this ridiculous pandemic.

We made a U turn yet decided to still have lunch someplace else.  And when I turned on Google to check for the nearest highly recommended restaurant, it responded ‘Asiong’s’.

I remember having dined at Asiong’s in the past.  I know that the food is really good but the atmosphere is something I really do not admire especially that moment when it would be the first time after a very long time of not dining out.  I know Asiong’s is not even a casual dining restaurant but some sort of a low-grade canteen or a roadside eatery which in the Philippines is called carinderia.

I nevertheless still suggested to proceed to Asiong’s because of their great food!  But I warned my colleagues that the ambiance is not like the typical snooty restaurants found in Tagaytay.

But when we followed and let the GPS navigation app point us to our destination, the road we were taking was totally different.  It seem no longer the same road I took when I last dined at Asiong’s eight long years ago.  (Click HERE regarding my 2012 blog post about Asiong’s)

pose first (the obligatory photo taking session)

a collage of photos i took (with jb, willy and mj)

The location of Asiong’s now is a totally different spot in Cavite!  And the establishment is totally dissimilar from the way it was!  The concept and its aesthetics has impressively been improved.  Their alfresco dining is no longer by the dusty road side but a cool garden dining set-up.  We actually settled alfresco for we did not want to be confined in a closed area during this time of pandemic.

The only akin and parallel to how Asiong’s was in the past was the marvelous food!  The awesome gastronomic experience was still the same.

asado de ignacio (braised meat and innards) an authentic savage caviteño dish

adobong pula (pork adobo in annatto sauce)… a must in asiong’s

pancit pusit (rice vermicelli noodles cooked in squid ink)… a house specialty

crispy tawilis (a fresh water sardine exclusively found in the philippines)… this dish is gone in 3 minutes!

a filipino meal will not be complete without the rice. this one is “binagoongang rice” (fried rice in shrimp paste)

Thanks to the valiant military men manning the highway check point. Hahaha!  If not for their being so rigorous in implementing the pandemic rules and protocols of the province, I would have not rediscovered the fineness of the present Asiong’s restaurant.

I Pay for Autumn, I Buy My Winter

It’s September 1.  Considered as the start of the BER-months, this is usually the day I would start getting excited about my purchased autumn or winter season.  Yes people, since I live on a spot where there are only two climate periods in a year, I buy my autumn and winter seasons.

Living and growing up in the Philippines which only has wet & dry seasons, my childhood is deprived of knowing what it’s like during autumn and winter.  And because I live in a climate where it is either hot or hotter, donning on thick coats, a beany and earmuffs would result to some fatal heat stroke.  Instead of owning trendy coats and jackets, me and my friends grew up possessing either a plastic rain coat or the mighty umbrella.

me and my sister love osaka!

And guess what?! During my early childhood days, I thought countries where snow falls are wealthy because that is where Santa Claus lives.  I would often wish that snow would fall in the Philippines so that it can finally get rich and Santa would have easier access getting here!

Now that I am old and my silly childhood wish for a cool autumn and frosty winter in my country will never ever occur, I purchase these seasons for me to personally enjoy and experience.  How do I do my purchase?  I simply apply for an elusive travel visa, book an airline ticket, reserve a cheap hotel and file my treasured vacation leaves so as to journey to a chilly northern or southern hemisphere spot on the planet.

Here’s some of my purchases…

happy at a snow festival in hokkaido!

braved trekking the ihlara valley in turkey during winter! 

my recent purchase! a chilly autumn in st. petersburg, russia

have always been a fan of autumn in koyasan, japan

Yeah! I envy people living on places where the leaves turn bright orange and where fine white snow falls. I guess, folks who say “people long for things and places they do not have” are so correct.  But for those who got yet hate these seasons, you just don’t know how blessed you are!  I so envy you that I even spend heaps of time and money purchasing it!

The Church of Multiplication

Raise your hands if you badly miss going out for a travel and be excited on an adventure!  I for one badly miss travelling.  No thanks to covid19 and this insane pandemic! A lot of us are stuck in the confines of our home and are left to settle not for a vacation or staycation but a “safe-cation”.

To ease and satisfy my cravings for an escapade, I was left with no choice but to checkout and revisit my previous exploits thru my stocked photos.  And while ogling onto some photos, I realized that (aside from my bad taste in fashion) there are lots of places that I have been to yet I failed to chronicle and write about. 

Since I am stuck in my house, let me take the opportunity to revisit these places and recall the adventure.  Here’s one awesome site in Israel…

expecting some fish sandwich!

The Church of Multiplication

No it is not a place of worship where you would have to master the multiplication table before you can enter.  It is actually a holy biblical place where Jesus performed an awesome miracle by feeding a crowd of 5,000 by sharing the meager two fish and five loaves between all these people. 

This charmed place where the miraculous treat for fish and bread occurred is also known as the Tabgha Church of the Loaves and Fish.

with my dear sister…

highlight is on the floor! those mosaic!

happy travel

Though it is a rather humble and simple looking place of prayer, I can clearly recall during me and my sister’s tour that the place was too quiet and that not all places are accessible.  According to the guide, it was because the place was just bomb a year before our visit.  The guide relayed that young Israeli Jewish extremists burned a portion of the site making it sadly inaccessible and were under repair.

While gawking at my photos, how I wish that in the present situation, it is fish and bread that is spreading throughout the planet instead of the sickening pandemic.  One can truly say that at present, we badly need Jesus for some meaty fish and delicious piece of bread.