THE HIDDEN BEAUTY OF BACONG, NEGROS ORIENTAL

Bacong is a small town in the province of Negros Oriental, 10 minutes ride south from the City of Dumaguete. The town founded in 1801 by the revolutionary Filipino hero Pantaleon Villegas, better known as Leon Kilat. Leon Kilat monument stands in the little park and became the landmark of Bacong. The town’s name comes from the local dialect word “Bacon”, which means stand up.

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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet

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Only in Bacong can you find an old church known as the church of San Augustine with the tallest belfry in all of Negros Oriental and is one of 26 colonial churches within the country selected for restoration by the National Commission for Culture and Arts. It has the oldest altar with gold-bearing and painted friezes and a pipe organ from Zaragoza, Spain, installed in 1898 shortly before the revolution against Spain broke out in Negros Oriental. The only pipe organ of similar provenance is Bohol.

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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet
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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet.

Lots of expats live in Bacong including me and my partner and it became our adopted home after my partner decided to retire from his work in Australia as a Geologist. My partner did a lot of research and reading about Bacong and he  fell in love with this little town.  My partner loves the country side of living while I am a city girl and have always enjoyed diversity of the city, so there was a big adjustment and transition on my side.

Bacong became popular destinations and retirement haven for expats. It’s tranquil small-town life by the sea. It is known for its beaches. Here you can find an array of beautiful resorts and cottages along the coastline. There are plenty of apartments, houses fully furnished  that you can rent for long or short-term which is very affordable.

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The town is accessible by jeepneys, tricycles and private vehicles.  The best way to tour around Bacong is by foot or tricycle because it is such a small town and most of the sights are only a few minutes away from each other.

After nine months of living in Bacong we decided to move to my hometown Silay City, Negros Occidental where life is highly urbanised . It keeps a breast with development yet still keep up the laid back lifestyle. For the time being we are enjoying our life here in Silay City.

Living in a small town like Bacong was one of my best experience. My partner and I enjoyed our time there and one day we will be going to visit. We miss our friends that makes the town what it is ” A great place to live”.

 

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PUERTO GALERA – “PORT OF THE GALLEONS”

It was 2008 when we went to Puerto Galera. The trip to Puerto Galera was part of the company Team Building Workshop. I was pretty excited then. I was so thrilled that the  night before our trip I already prepared and packed my things and be sure tha I have everything I needed before going to bed.

Puerto Galera is just a few hours travel time from Manila, it can be reached by boat within 1-2 hours from Batangas Port. This gorgeous collection of bays and islands is one of the country’s top destinations, known for having a lot of beaches and is cheaper than a Boracay vacation.

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A view of Boat children diving for coins from Batangas Pier ferry passengers going to Puerto Galera!

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The town was popularly known as “Puerto Galera” in Spanish ” Port of the  Galleons” which was given by the Spaniards who used the island as a safe haven in the 16th century. The town later became an important trading center and became the capital of Mindoro Island in the 17th century. In 1903, however, Calapan was named the capital as it remains to the present, and Puerto Galera became but a barrio there. On December 7, 1927, Puerto Galera was declared an independent municipality through Act 3415.

There are several pocket of beaches where you can choose and stay. We picked the White Beach over Sabang. White Beach is more family oriented and thinking that White Beach would have a white powdery sand but we were quite disappointed because it is not really white, the sand is coarse with broken corals and small pebbles. But this place has an array of restaurants, resorts, bars, souvenir stores, tattoo parlors thus, it is a convenient place to stay since everything you need is here. During the day, people enjoy their time playing beach volley ball, sun bathing, massage, swimming and there are lots of water sports to choose and enjoy such as jet ski, banana boat ride and kayak. At late afternoon you can lay out your beach towel and watch the sunset from the side of the island while sipping and enjoying a nice cocktail. But after the sun sets, life in White Beach does not stop at all.  Expect more fun and partying all night. At night you can watch the fire dancers which is very popular in Puerto Galera especially at White Beach. Most of the bars around the place has their own fire dancers to attract visitors.

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Banana Boat ride
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Sunset in White Beach, Puerto Galera
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Fire Dance
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Mindoro Sling

I really don’t drink but occasionally I would sip for a try to one of the favorite booze in Puerto Galera which is Mindoro Sling. It is a cocktail drink of rum, orange, mango juice, sliced apple and Sprite. They said it is a deadly concoction and  be consumed slowly. 🙂

White Beach is very popular and expect the place to be crowded and a bit noisy during holidays especially Holy Week!

Sabang on the other hand is known as Puerto Galera’s Red Light District with a busy night life and bar options. But no beach at all! The main street lined with bars, cafes and restaurants. Sabang focuses mostly on the girly bar scene. If you like bar hopping with each bar being within a minute’s walk of the other and nightlife activities, Sabang might be the perfect place for you.

There are a lot of activities to do in Puerto Galera however, we only stayed for a night so I headed to our room and have a good night sleep as we will be heading back to Manila the following day.

 Note: All photos are not mine. Photos are taken from internet. I lost all my photos from my old phone during our trip in Mindoro, Puerto Galera. Bummer! 😦

TEMPLE OF LEAH – A TRIBUTE OF LOVE

Temple of Leah was constructed in the year 2012 as a tribute of Teodorico Adarna a business tycoon that owns the Queensland chain of motels and the grandfather of actress Ellen Adarna to his wife Leah Villa Albino -Adarna whom the place is named after. He made this Temple possible to show his unwavering love to his wife.

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The Temple of Leah is a work in progress  when we came to visit. It was a little dusty and cluttered, hopefully I am looking forward to visit the place again and able to see its final look. The temple was built on the hillside of Barangay Busay, in the Queen City of South (Cebu City). The area varies from steep slope in the upper part to gently rolling slope in the lower part. This barangay has rugged hillsides and topographically/shrub land area.

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The Temple is an edifice of Roman architecture and Greek methodology inspired as you can see from the sculptures, columns, and high pillars. People who visited the place felt that they stepped into ancient Rome.

As you entered the Temple you would be greeted by a gigantic lions lying on each side of the stairs that will guide you to the door step where you can see a staircase with angels made up of brass and the Queen of the Temple in a 10-ft statue with crown and flower.

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The brass statue is the representation of Leah Villa Albino-Adarna the late wife of the business tycoon Teodorico S. Adarna. Leah crowned matron queen of her alma mater, the University of Southern Philippines. The plaque at the bottom base of the statue reads ” May the beholder discern her innate beauty, poise and gentleness.

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The Temple has an art gallery, museum and a library where all the favorite things her wife owned keep. Outside there are benches where you can sit down, relax, nibble some snacks and drinks while enjoying the panoramic view of Cebu City. I can’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful scenery and intricate works of art, wondering how will it look like once done.

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Temple of Leah is one of Cebu City’s important landmarks that invites and welcomes visitors to see its majestic beauty.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Address: Roosevelt Street, Barangay Busay, Cebu City

Entrance Fee: 50 PHP per person

Parking Fee: FREE if  outside the premises, but limited slots only. 100 PHP if parked inside Temple of Leah

Contact Number: 632 233 5032

Other Fees: 2,500 PHP for photo-shoots

Opening hours: 24 hours a day and 7 days a week

WANT TO EARN MONEY WHILE TRAVELLING ABROAD, QUESTION IS HOW?

 

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Most of us would like to travel the world but afraid to do so because of this kind of reasoning and thinking ” I HAVE NO MONEY”, ” I AM NOT RICH, I CAN NOT AFFORD TO TRAVEL.” I am fully aware that we need to have money to travel but do we really need to be rich to travel the world? Absolutely NOT!

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When I started my travel journey with my partner in 2012, I met travellers along the road who were able to travel spontaneously without worrying and some even quit their jobs. Question is how they were able to make money and sustain their travel lifestyle? With thorough reading, researched and interacting with travellers I’ve met along the way, I was able to compile some of their useful tips on how to earn money while travelling abroad.

HERE ARE THE LIST OF BEST TRAVEL JOBS TO MAKE MONEY TRAVELLING:

  • Teach English Abroad – Teaching English Abroad is one of the most common ways to earn money. Many companies hire fluent English-speaking speaker to work full-time or part-time.

***You can teach English in Thailand  which is very in demand***

In Thailand, you’re qualified to teach English if you’re a native speaker and have a degree from a four-year university, plus a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Languages) or TESOL certificate ( Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). A master’s degree, preferably in education, is compulsory to teach at the university level. Teaching English in Thailand without a degree isn’t really possible. If you don’t have a TEFL certification and want to avoid getting one, you can still teach in Thailand as volunteer.

http://www.volunteeringsolutions.com ( The last way for the first time traveler and experienced adventurers alike to explore Thailand ).

Most teachers start around 30,000 Thai Baht per month (about $1,000 USD) which is a comfortably salary.

  • Be A Travel Photographer – Working in this area are very abundant as long as you are willing to work hard and diversify your skills. There are many ways to make a living with travel photography but the first step is to get out into the world and shoot. If you like photography and if you  are good at it why not give it a try.  Try to offer your services to companies in travel and tourism industries in exchange for a free accommodation. Offer some photography workshop classes and teach people basic and different techniques in taking photos.

http://www.jobmonkey.com

  • Sell Your Photos – One way of earning is by selling your travel photos.  Share your work online  for exposure if you are just starting out.

 Sites to sell your photos online

  • Work in Hostels and Hotels – Offer your services by working in hotels like a housekeeping staff, receptionist, driver  in exchange for free accommodation and some free food as well which is not bad at all.

http://www.workinhostel.com

  • Work As Fruit Pickers – This is a seasonal job but very popular among backpackers. You should apply for this job before the harvest season begins

http://www.pickingjobs.com ( Seasonal Work & Harvest Job Around the World )

  • Accept Massage Therapist Service – If you are a certified massage therapist you can offer your services to clients travelling along the way or offer your services to spas and resorts giving them a cut for referring customers.

However some other countries have their own qualifications. Like such as in Ireland they are self-regulating. You can not work in Ireland as massage therapist without a work permit unless you are a European citizen.

  • Work on your own spare time BE A BLOGGER – Blogging is not easy and needs a lot of dedication and time in writing useful articles to catch the interest of your audience.  Write something that you are passionate about, write from the heart. Just don’t give up it takes time.  Once you create a traffic and able to attract an audience then you can start monetizing your blogs.

 

  • Work As A Virtual Assistant –If you have the skills in organising appointments, event, clerical work then offer your services doing some errand works like transcribing their recorded notes, scheduling media updates etc.

https://upwork.com

  • Work on a Cruise Ship – This is one of the most popular career that allow you to travel with free food and accommodation and the most rewarding part is you paid to travel and see beautiful places.

http://www.cruiseshipjob.com

  • Work as a Flight Attendant – Be a flight attendant, get paid to travel. What an awesome job.  One of my ambition but the dream job was never meant for me. I am not gifted with height. 🙂

http://www.flightattendantcareer.com

Don’t wait for the money to come before you travel. It takes guts, determination, skills, passion, commitment, talent, specialised training and knowledge to make a living on your journey to travel perpetually the world.

THE RUINS – A SYMBOL OF UNDYING LOVE FOR HIS WIFE…

The Ruins or the The Taj Mahal of Negros, yes you heard it right the counterpart of the Taj Mahal of India. Too many people raise their eyebrows when they heard about it, me myself wonder why so. From the way you look at it is far different from the Taj Mahal of India.

It was time for our tour and our tour guide show us the place while telling us the love story of Don Mariano and Maria the couple who owned the mansion and the reason behind why the place was known as The Taj Mahal of Negros.

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The mansion is located between the borders of Talisay and Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. The mansion owned by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, who visited Hong Kong often along with his friends during his younger years. On his visit to Hong Kong, the  sugar baron, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson met a beautiful young Portuguese woman from Macau by the name of Maria Braga. He fell in love with this beautiful lass and eventually the two felt in love with each other and got married.

The couple lived in Talisay and started their own family, blessed with 10 children and two of them became government officials. However, when Maria was pregnant with their 11th child, she slipped in the bathroom and started to bleed. The transportation during those years was a horse-drawn carriage from Talisay to the town of Silay, where a doctor lived and it would take two days before the doctor could reached the mansion.

So by the time the doctor arrived at the Mansion on the fourth day, Maria and her baby were already dead. Don Mariano was so depressed during this time. Saddened by Maria’s death and his undying love for his wife, he then planned of building a mansion in honour of his wife and his unwavering love for her. He told his idea to his father-in law and he agreed  and even went as far as supporting him the best way that he could.

Don Mariano’s  father-in law was a captain of his ship during that time so many of the items in building the mansion was imported from Europe and China, ranging from machuca tiles, chandeliers and china wares carted to Talisay. His father in-law even brought construction workers from China to help build the mansion.

It took three years constructing the mansion. The finishing touches on the walls and posts were a mixture of pure concrete with egg whites, resulting in a marble-like finish which can be seen and felt even to this day.

In 1911, the mansion was the largest residential structure ever built in the area. Built on  a 440-hectare farm. When World War II broke out, Don Mariano and his unmarried children left the mansion leaving everything behind.

When the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines came to the area, there were some rumours that the Japanese forces might have used the mansion as it headquarters. To prevent it from becoming such, Don Mariano asked the Filipino guerrilla fighters in Negros to burn his mansion.

It took three days of burning of the mansion to consume all the  roof, ceiling, floors, doors and windows – all of which were made of hard wood. When the flames finally died down, only the following withstood the fire: the pillars of the mansion, the grand staircase and parts of the two-inch wooden floors on the second storey. For many years, the remains of the mansion were abandoned in the midst of sugar plantations. Until the owners decided to fix it and put a landscape around the ruins.

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Today The Ruins are a historical landmark, open to public  since January 2008.

Now, The Ruins has a  Mediterranean restaurant that operates from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Ruins has a souvenir shop and an 18-hole Mini-Golf course where you can have fun recreation activity with your friends and or family.

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A great love story with a not -so- happy ending and a mansion built by romance and love once filled with beautiful memories before it became into a ruins.

HOW TO GET THERE:

If you are coming from Bacolod-Silay Airport and plant to visit The Ruins, just tell the taxi to pass by The Ruins.  If you are from Bacolod or nearby town, you can ride in a tricycle at the North Ceres Terminal.  Fare  from the North Ceres Terminal to The Ruins is PHP50.00 per head.

The Ruins is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m from Monday through Sunday including holidays.

All of the photos were taken by myself.

EXPLORING ANCIENT RUINS OF AYUTTHAYA, THAILAND

Brief History

The Historic City of Ayutthaya, founded in 1350, was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. It flourished from the 14th to the 18th centuries, during which time it grew to be one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban areas and a center of global diplomacy and commerce.

The city attacked and razed by the Burmese army in 1767 who burned the city to the ground and forced the inhabitants to abandon the city. The city was never rebuilt in the same place and remains known today as an extensive archaeological site.

Once an important center of global diplomacy and commerce, Ayutthaya is now an archaeological ruin, characterised by the remains of tall prang (reliquary towers) and Buddhist monasteries of monumental proportions, which give an idea of the city’s past size and the splendor of its architecture.

Getting Around in the Park

There are many ways to explore the glorious past of Ayutthaya – by foot, rental bicycles or long-tail boats (to enjoy a riverine perspective).

Bicycling around the ruins is the most enjoyable and fun way to spend the day. You can rent a bicycle for around 50 baht per day. The park is easily reachable and manageable on bike. The paths paved and the distance between temples are small.

Boat trips recommended if you want to enjoy the beautiful scenery and Thai lifestyle along the Chao Phraya River.

Another alternative is hire a tuk tuk with driver. The fare will depend on your bargaining skills. Agree on price, duration of the trip and places to stop before setting off.

WAT YAI CHAIMONGKOL, is a magnificent royal monastery, more than a mere place of worship. The beautiful secrets of Wat Yai Chaimongkol acquired a personality of its own. The temple is alive with the smiles of Phra Buddha Chaimongkol, the most sacred Buddha image, and others. Their images not only speak of a time of freedom as well as of the affluence of the Ayutthaya Kingdom but also give a warm welcome to visitors from other lands.

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As we walked inside the temple there we saw the relic of reclining Buddha image. At present, there is no vihara to shelter the image. The village elders said that in the past the vihara roof was made of tin. Consequently, it  struck by lightning twice. After that the local people agreed to leave the image outdoors.

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WAT PHRA SI SANPHET, “The Temple of the Buddha Si Sanphet” is the largest and most significant temple in the Royal Palace’s compound since it was used as the royal temple and palace for several Ayutthaya kings. The ashes of the three Ayutthaya kings were kept here in the three Ceylonese style pagodas which are a symbolic landmark of Ayutthaya.

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If you walk around the ruins, you will find the head of an ancient Buddha image embraced in the overground roots of a bo tree.

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WAT MAHA THAT, ” The Temple of the Great Relic” this temple was the centre of Ayutthaya people’s faith. The reason it was completely burnt down by the Burmese invaders during their final assault of the capital.

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Admission and Opening Hours

There is no fee to enter the Ayutthaya Historical Park. The major temples charge an entrance fee of 50 Thai Baht or less each. Most of the monuments are in ruined state, they are sacred places to Buddhists. Be respectful towards images of the Buddha and never climb on one. For active temples, please follow the dress code which means long pants or long skirts, no bare shoulders, remove your shoes before entering a temple building.

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What To Bring:

  • Bottled Water ( there are many places to buy snacks and drinks but better to carry a bottled water with you, the temperature in Ayutthaya is very hot).
  • Hat
  • Shades
  • Sunscreen

The ruins of Ayutthaya Thailand is a great pieces of history and most of the ruins speak about the strong religious affinity of the people.

DISCOVER VALENCIA, NEGROS ORIENTAL

Valencia is a first class municipality in the province of Negros Oriental, Philippines. It is located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) west of Dumaguete City, the largest city and capital of the province. The municipality voted as “the greenest and cleanest” town of Negros Oriental in 2007.

We used to live in Dumaguete for nine months and every Sunday morning we travelled to Valencia which is about 5 to 10 minutes ride for their  Sunday market. Valencia Sunday Market takes place at the municipality plaza.

Nearby the park, there are some small eatery and coffee shops owned by expats that offer breakfast and coffee.

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Oval Field
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The Municipality Church
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Sunday Market in Valencia
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A small park in Valencia
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A nice pathway
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Acacia Trees all over the plaza

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Valencia grows many kinds of plants, flowers and vegetables due to its cooler climate, because of this Valencia supplies most of the fruits and vegetables found in Dumaguete City and surrounding areas. Agriculture is the town’s main industry aside from geothermal energy.

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Large Cauliflower field
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Farmers of Valencia
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Cauliflower Plantation
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Here you could buy fresh cauliflower in a very cheap price like Php80.00 per kilo or USD 1.65

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If you are an adrenalin seeker  rock hopping and climbing, trekking the river of Forest Camp, Valencia  would be perfect for you. Forest Camp Valencia is a mountain resort about 20 minutes by tricycle (a three-wheeled motorcycle) from Dumaguete. Entrance Fee is Php80.00 per person with the money going for upkeep of the resort.

Forest Camp is a popular for picnic destinations. Cottages, picnic huts and rented tables scattered around the area for rent where you can lay down your picnic baskets and enjoy the day with your family and friends. The place has its own restaurant as well and a tilapia pond where you can fish for your own lunch. You just have to pay your catch and have them steamed or grilled for you by the staff.

The place also offer accommodation for those who wish to stay over night or a days in the mountain resort.

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If you want to escape from the hustles and bustles of big city life. Why not plan a vacation here someday? Include Valencia in your next destination and you would surely enjoy the simplest life and close to nature.

THE SUNSET AT WAT ARUN, TEMPLE OF DAWN

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The Wat Arun or The Temple of Dawn, is named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn. Sitting majestically on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River, the legendary Wat, Arun its one of the most striking riverside landmarks of Thailand. Despite the name, the most spectacular view of the glittering monument can be seen from the east side of the river at sunset, when the spires of Wat Arun make an impressive silhouette against the skyline.

WHEN IN THE PHILIPPINES -EAT BANANA CUE

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Banana cue is one of the most popular street foods in the Philippines.  Made with deeply fried bananas coated in caramelised brown sugar. The banana used for this recipe are Saba bananas, which are very commonly used for cooking in the Philippines. It is usually skewered on a bamboo stick, and sold on the streets.

No matter where you go, it’s clear that one of the aspects of culture that is most important is food. Indeed, one of the best ways to truly experience local culture when you travel is to try the food.  As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do… ” so when in the Philippines  eat BANANA CUE…so yummy! perfect for people who have sweet tooth like me. 🙂

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Photo not mine. From Pinterest site.

EXPERIENCE -PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Perth, Western Australia set on the broad Swan River, this modern city is often described as the most isolated city of its size in the Western World. A living picture postcard with the best views of all from the Kings Park and Botanic Garden one of  the biggest inner-city parks in the world. Larger than New York’s Central Park and home to the Spectacular Western Australian Botanic Garden, which displays over 3,000 species of the State’s unique flora, particularly in spring.

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at the hill-side of Kings Park and Botanic Garden overlooking the downtown Perth

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Towering trees inside Kings Park and Botanic Garden
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Overlooking Swan River

Boasting more hours of sunshine than any other capital City in Australia. A place for outdoor activities like cycling along the foreshore, kayaking through the Swan Valley and the beautiful warm weather makes this possible almost year-round.

Another city icon a travellers must visit is the iconic Swan Bells, which fills the air with sounds from one of the largest musical instruments on Earth. Roaming around the down town area offer plenty of retail therapy. The high-end fashion boutiques of King Street make it the place to be seen. The Murray and Hay Street malls are where you’ll find the big brands. Here you can stock up trendy beach fashions, buy unique Aboriginal art, discover antiques or find special gifts to suit your loved ones.

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Iconic Swan Bells ( Photo from Pinterest)

Feeling hungry? No worries, Perth boasts an extensive buffet from which to delight your tastebuds- whether it’s dining in an elegant restaurant, enjoy a drink in a trendy bar or eating fish and chips at the beach. Take a lazy lunch by the river or beachside and enjoy the fresh fusion flavors of Perth’s many cafes, restaurants, and new small bars. Particularly beautiful at night as the city lights dance across the water’s surface.

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Downtown Perth

IMG_0794.jpgThe whole region of Perth has been likened to one big holiday resort with multiple attractions, miles of clean beaches and waterways, award-winning wineries, adventure activities of every kind accommodations to suit all budgets.

Visit Perth and experience it for yourself.