Posts tagged ‘Asia’

May 21, 2020

Other towns of Indonesia!

Here I am remembering my footpaths in the world and recalling Indonesia. A far away land for many years, and then all of a sudden 8 trips in the last 9 years! Many nice memories and more important nice friends, always looking forward to seeing again.

For now let me tell you about the other towns of Indonesia I went by such as Bogor, Mojokerto, Malang and Sidoarjo. Here is a bit on them for the memories.

The Sidoarjo Kabupaten admin area is located in the province of East Java, south of Surabaya, the provincial capital and main town is Sidoarjo. The Surabaya International Airport (Juanda) is located in the Sidoarjo Kabupaten. Interesting thing to see here are the Pari temple located in the village of Candipari, one km south of Sidoarjo. It is a fairly massive but well preserved brick building. The cella has a beautiful corbelled roof. A date, equivalent to 1371, is engraved on the pediment of the door. The temple of Sumur is located a hundred meters from that of Pari. It is a brick building of which there are only half remaining, but whose staircase still allows access to the cella, which is distinguished by a well about one meter on a side, located in one of the angles. The temple of Gunung Gangsir, located in the village of the same name, near Bangil, south-east of Sidoarjo on the road to Pasuruan, dates from the end of the 14C; it has terracotta decorations representing offering pots and goddesses holding lotuses.   The Sidoarjo mud volcano has caused great damage to the local landscape to say the least. This mud volcano was born on May 28, 2006 in the kabupaten of Sidoarjo, a densely populated and cultivated area. The flows have repeatedly buried villages, communication routes and fields despite the construction of numerous retention dams. Probable cause oil and gas exploration fields nearby and the flow of mud does not stop.

The road warrior in me passing Sidoarjo and a great city center shot indeed for the memories.

A bit more on Sidoarjo in English: East Java tourism on Sidoarjo

Sidoarjo

Malang is a city in the province of East Java as well. It has a history dating back to the age of Singhasari Kingdom. It is the second most populous city in the province. During Dutch colonization, it was a popular destination for European residents. Dutch heritage in general in the form of ancient buildings such as the Kayutangan Church and Ijen Cathedral which has gothic architecture. The city was capital city of Singhasari in 1222, then transferred to Dutch colony. During the Japanese occupation, Malang was also occupied by Japan by March 1942. After the Independence of Indonesia in 1945, Malang became part of the Republic of Indonesia on 21 September 1945 and re-entered on 2 March 1947 after being re-occupied by the Dutch East Indies.

I passed by you guess it a market, always love these anywhere, and here was a live one indeed. The market at Malang.

malang

The city of Malang is surrounded by Mount Arjuno in the north; Mount Semeru to the east; Mount Kawi and Mount Butak in the west; Mount Kelud in the south.The popular active volcano Mount Bromo is about 25 km (16 miles) east of the city. Malang Metropolitan Region is a leading tourist destination in Indonesia with the City of Batu as its center. Malang has various tourist areas including volcanoes to beaches for all to enjoy.

We were on the road warrior mode I love so much , the freedom to move about to exotic splendid areas and of course a novelty a gas/petrol station Pertamina at Malang!

malang

Here we ate at Warung Bu Kris a concoction of local platters and fruit juices very exotic, so much do not recall the names ! all I know is that it was good, and great live rock music!! The webpage found on them is foursquare here: Foursquare site on Warung Bu Kris resto in Malang

malang

malang

Just about to post this and on France 3 they were showing a TV programs on things to see and the food of Malang today so fitting I had this to go up.

The City of Malang in local language here: City of Malang

A tourist site on Malang in English; Indonesia Travel on Malang

The town was Mojokerto a city in East Java Province It is located 40 km from Surabaya, and constitutes one of the component units of the Surabaya metropolitan area ,which comprises  Gresik Regency, Bangkalan Regency, Mojokerto Regency, Mojokerto city , Surabaya city, Sidoarjo city, Sidoarjo Regency and Lamongan Regency.

Ngoro

The Surabaya–Mojokerto Toll Road or Sumo Toll Road, is a part of Trans-Java toll road with a length of 36 km. Very nice quick clean road to take each day of my stay and each visit. And again Pertamina gas/petrol station:

ngoro

It was easy pickup and delivery to the job site in Ngoro Industrial Park, and always with private shuttle. Passing by the great Volcano on the horizon, nice view but its active so nice to have it dormant every time I visit !!!  More on the park here: Ngoro Industrial Park

Driving by car took me to see a gas station glamorous  pertamina and ate in Mojokerto at the Me Joyo Restaurant of local cuisine (one of the advantages of keeping with the locals you know the country well). Very hard to find webpages on it and will just take my word for it, it is good and see the pictures.I took some of the roads passing by. More on the restaurant on foursquare site here: Foursquare on Me Joyo restaurant

ngoro

ngoro

Bogor is in the province of West Java, and its ,also the name of the kabupaten (admin area) of Bogor in which the city is located. Its capital is Cibinong. It is part of the Jabodetabek conurbation, which also brings together the cities of Jakarta, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi and the kabupaten of Tangerang and Bekasi. It is surrounded by extinct volcanoes such as the Gede and the Salak. It experiences more thunderstorms than any other point on the planet! I never got wet thus!!!

I did a bit of driving to Bogor just about 1h30 from Jakarta (50 kms but always traffic) and into another world,different more exotic; well just preferred the city.

bogor

The Jakarta–Cikampek Toll Road or Japek toll road was one I took several times on the many trips to this part of Indonesia, driving was part of the thrills as it was a business trip not much into tourism related photos in this smaller towns.

Bogor

They have discovered inscriptions in Ciaruteun, Kebon Kopi and Jambu in the region of Bogor, written in Pallava alphabet of South India and in Sanskrit, which dates from around 450. They are attributed to King Purnawarman of Tarumanagara. A second inscription found at Kebon Kopi, dated 932 and written in Malay, mentions a king of Sunda. The site of Pakuan, the capital of the Sundanese Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran (1333-1579) was in present-day Bogor.

The name of “Bogor” appears officially in a document dated April 7, 1752 and signed by the Hoofd van de Negorij Bogor, that is to say chief of the village of Bogor, which is located at the site of the Botanical garden. Bogor was called Buitenzorg or carefree in Dutch in colonial times and was the residence of the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies at the time of Herman Willem Daendels ,and Thomas Stamford Raffles ,and much later.

Bogor has a Botanical garden. The garden was founded in 1817 by the government of the Dutch East Indies, which wished to bring together the plants that the Javanese and natives of other regions of their colony used in their home use or as medicine, and allow to study them in order to use them for commercial purposes. More on the Botanical garden here in English: Botanical Garden of Bogor

The tourist office of Indonesia has something on Bogor in English here: Indonesia travel on Bogor

And there you go, these were on the run trips with not much time to see tourist related areas as this part was for the big cities, however, part of the nostalgia of been to Indonesia and the rides with by now friends. Looking forward to a repeat visit to Indonesia. Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 11, 2020

My hotels in Indonesia!

So will need to tell you about my hotels experiences in Indonesia, basically Jakarta and Surabaya, my bases. Is it mundane to talk about hotels? Well, we tend to visit places and like to bring back memories of the things we see and do but hardly or briefly mentioned our hotels/lodgings! I like to bring back memories of my trips to Indonesia to talk about my hotels there. There are many posts on the country and its monuments and places to it even airports! Hope you enjoy it

First, let me give you Surabaya, a lot written on it in my previous posts; so here is the hotel always the same here.

There was always a shuttle to my home base hotel , in Surabaya , the usual have come here Somerset Hotel and Résidences, great place where by now many in front desk know me! Very centrally located and restaurant lane just a few blocks on foot from it. It is well located off the main highway for in and out quick which helps in traffic flooded Indonesia. The hotel is now under new owners and is call the Verwood Hotel & Serviced Residence.   There is a new Somerset to open in 2020 the Samator. Still located at  Jalan Raya Kupang Indah, Surabaya East Java.

surabaya

surabaya

It is a huge property with all the trimmings, and always book here, easy walking to a street of many restaurants and right near the main road taking me to my assignment. This hotel features a restaurant, an outdoor pool, and a bar/lounge. Good for family and enjoy the children’s pool, playground, and arcade/game room. Enjoy the fitness center and perks like free self parking and a free area shuttle. Free WiFi, LED TVs with cable channels on the 467 soundproofed guestrooms with 24-hour room service. Other amenities include coffee/tea makers and free bottled water. Superbe always for several years.

surabaya

The Verwood hotel webpage on it is here in English: Verwood Hotel and Serviced Residence Surabaya

And now in Jakarta there are several hotels.

The  Hotel Santika Taman Mini Indonesia Indah at  Jl. Pintu 1, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, is connected to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII),(see post) one of Jakarta’s most popular amusement parks. Featuring a “miniature Indonesia,” the park showcases the rich cultural and natural diversity of this spectacular country. Located on the ground floor, Krakatau Restaurant offers the best in international, oriental and indonesian cuisine. Available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the Jali-Jali Lounge is open 24-hours a day. The plus was to walk across the street to the wonderful park as above.

Jakarta

The Hotel Santika offers an outdoor pool, 2 dining options, free Wi-Fi and free parking, and modern rooms with a flat-screen TV. The rooms are tastefully decorated, elegant interiors, wooden floors, a safe, tea and coffee facilities and a bathroom with a hot shower. The hotel offers a gym, a business center, a 24-hour reception and a concierge service.  Hotel Santika Taman Mini Indonesia Indah is a 20-minute drive from Cilandak Town Square’s dining and shopping mall, and 1.5 hours from Soekarno Hatta International Airport. 

Jakarta

The official Hotel Santika Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in English: My Santika on Hotel Santika Jakarta

Here, again I stayed at my most used hotel the Grand Kemang Hotel right in the entertainment center of Jakarta. You really don’t need a car staying here as all shopping, restos, bars to boot are walking distances. It has a wonderful Sparca restaurant. I must say for lodging was my best experience in Indonesia. Location is at Jl. Kemang Raya 2H Kebayoran Baru, Kemang.

jakarta

The strategic position of the hotel, just 1 km from the city center, allows guests to easily and quickly reach many tourist sites. With the city’s main attractions including Kemang Street, Kemang Village, Wijaya Golf Course close to the property, guests will love this location. the establishment offers, among other things, 24-hour room service, free WiFi in all rooms, 24-hour reception, WiFi in public areas, valet parking. The hotel rooms have been furnished to the highest standards of comfort and ergonomics and some include the following amenities: flat screen TV, additional bathroom, additional WC, free instant coffee, free tea. The hotel offers an excellent variety of leisure facilities, including outdoor swimming pool, garden.

jakarta

 Painting and art installations will spoil the eyes of visitors on various sides of the hotel. Now for the rooms, there are 203 in total. Some of them are the Junior Suite Room with an area of 48 m2 and an Executive Suite Room covering an area of 47m2 . Junior Suite Room in a spacious room, there is a bathroom with TV, minibar, refrigerator, sofas and tables for relaxing, dining together or talking with relatives. Meanwhile, to enjoy food and drinks, there is Sperta with a la carte menu and buffet, Sparca lounge, courtyard by the pool with Vibar. Great souvenirs and would love to come back here!

The official Grand Kemang Hotel in English: Grand Kemang Hotel Jakarta

The Amaroossa Cosmo Hotel was right in front of an overpass highway along the whole front even if told is in the chic district of Cilandak. My first sampler was at  the hotel Andromeda Cafe, ok with a nice mini garden in the back but again that wall of highway, the other was the Bell Lounge but it was dull no action nobody there lol!!! Not a pleasant experience even if quiet and friendly staff. It is located at Jalan Pangeran Antasari No. 9 a-b, Cilandak, Cipete Selatan, Jakarta.

jakarta

You have   98 guest rooms, all of which are decorated and designed to give you the right to enjoy the most important things offered by all major hotels: the perfect place for you to rest, relax in fantastic comfort where all the needs will be fulfilled and pampered. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, LCD TV, kitchen, living room, safe, hair dryer, telephone and mini-bar. Internet network can also be accessed free of charge in all areas of the hotel. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and restaurant to support your activities while in the hotel. You will also find other facilities such as laundry, free parking. You can drive about 20 minutes to Cilandak Town Square mall, while a trip to Soekarno Hatta International Airport takes 60 minutes from the hotel.

The Amaroossa Cosmo Hotel webpage in English: The Amaroossa Cosmo Hotel Jakarta

And my very last hotel in Jakarta and Indonesia was the Swiss Belinn Hotel Simantupang. And twice to boot on same trip with an incursion to Surabaya and back to Jakarta.  The first round was for five nights and then there is one night before heading back home. Both times at a new hotel experience, the Swiss Belinn Hotel Simantupang, was a great experience even if the breakfast choices were few to me. The rooms were great, modern clean and spacious, and the location was good.  It is located at Jalan R.A Kartini 32, Lebak Bulus, Cilandak, Lebak Bulus, Jakarta.

jakarta

In the city center, Swiss-Belinn Simatupang at about a 40-minute drive from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, and located in the vibrant Simatupang area of Jakarta. The popular Pondok Indah Golf and Country Club and Pondok Indah Mall are both reachable within 7 minutes’ drive from the property. Gandaria City Mall is a 15-minute drive away. The hotel’s 159 comfortable and stylish rooms in 20 floors feature dedicated workspace, sitting area and floor-to-ceiling windows with city views. In-room amenities include air conditioning, LCD TV, IDD telephone, personal safe, desk, refrigerator and complimentary Wi-Fi access. For a luxurious, guests can choose to stay in the hotel’s opulent suites.

jakarta

After a hectic day of sightseeing, guests can relax in the hot tub or feel refreshed with a dip in the outdoor pool. The concierge staff assists with ticket bookings and restaurant reservations. Other than this, it also offers luggage storage, parking, laundry and free Wi-Fi access. A hearty local meal can be enjoyed in the elegant setting of the in-house restaurant, Barelo. It also serves a wide range of international delicacies, and lip-smacking Indian food.

The anecdote was that driving back we got hit with a huge Jakarta traffic jam that in several years coming there never encounter. We decided to walk once saw the hotel on the distance from the road! and got to it first than our driver !! Always funny to tell the story!

The Swiss-Belinn Simatupang Hotel webpage in English: Swiss-Belinn Simatupang Jakarta

And voilà my hotel experience in exotic Indonesia. Plenty of good memories and still good friends, looking forward for another opportunity to be back. For now enjoy the Hotels of Indonesia. Hope you enjoy and can use the information.

And of course, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 3, 2020

Stop at Hong Kong!

Ok talking about airports, well been to a few. Some been not too long but are very memorable for x reasons, and I thought rather than just barely mentioned them in my blog giving it a bit more credit in a single post. This is the case of the Hong Kong International Airport. Here is all about it!

I first flew with Cathay Pacific for the first time; and it was a nice ride indeed. This is the airline of Hong Kong and I was going to the airport there for connection to a final destination. The Hong Kong International Airport was my first time too, but as connections were made tight, really had no time to see Hong Kong. Even if passed twice by it on two different trips! This will be for another time. OF course, with the times that will be a bit further away.

The Hong Kong International Airport is the airport of Hong Kong, about 30 km from the city center. Inaugurated on July 6, 1998, to replace the former Kai Tak International Airport. The current airport has become a major global center for freight transport, a connecting platform for passengers and a gateway to destinations in mainland China, east and southeast Asia. it is the first platform for the companies Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, but also for smaller companies like Hong Kong Express or Hong Kong Airlines. It also houses the Hong Kong Government Flying Service aircraft.

The airport was erected on a large artificial island called Huan Fu Zu, built from the mountainous islands of Chep Lap Kok and Lam Chau which were razed to the ground and joined together in part by their own embankments. It is connected to the north coast of Lantau Island near the historic village of Tung Chung, now in a new city. The construction of the new airport was part of a larger program which also included the construction of a new road and a railway connecting the city to the airport and comprising many bridges and tunnels. The airport is managed by the Airport Authority, which is controlled by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The airport has two parallel runways, each 3,800 meters long and 60 meters wide. The southern runway belongs to the “Category II Precision Approach”, while the northern runway belongs to the higher category (“Category IIIA”), which allows pilots to land with only 200 meters of visibility.

The Hong Kong International Airport has a total of 90 boarding gates,with 77 jet bridge gates (1–12, 23–36, 40–50, 60–71, 201–219, 501–506, 508–510) and 12 virtual gates (228–230, 511–513, 520–525) which are used as assembly points for passengers, who are then ferried to the aircraft by apron buses. Of the 66 jet bridges, five (Gates 5,23,60,62,64) are capable of handling the Airbus A380. Besides T2, the SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course has been opened in 2007 whereas the second airport hotel, the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel; and a permanent cross-boundary ferry terminal, the Skypier, began operations in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Development around T2 also includes the AsiaWorld-Expo which has started operation in late 2005. A second passenger concourse, the North Satellite Concourse (NSC), opened in 2010, followed by the Midfield Concourse in December 2015.

hong kong

Hong kong

Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport is the third largest airport passenger terminal building in the world. Terminal 2 together with the SkyPlaza, opened on 28 February 2007 along with the opening of the Airport Station’s Platform 3. It is only a check-in and processing facility for departing passengers with no gates or arrival facilities (passengers are transported underground to gates at Terminal 1) So far most low-cost carriers and some full-service carriers have relocated their check-in operations to T2. A two-storey North Satellite Concourse (NSC), this concourse was designed for narrow-body aircraft and is equipped with 10 jet bridges. There is a shuttle bus service between the NSC and Terminal 1 every four minutes. The midfield area is located to the west of Terminal 1 between the two existing runways This includes 20 aircraft parking stands, three of these are wide enough to serve the Airbus A380.   Passengers reach the concourse through an extension of the underground automated people mover On 31 March 2016, the Concourse was officially inaugurated.

hong kong

hong kong

The Hong Kong International Airport is renowned for its quality among tour operators and passengers. It is one of the three world airports to have received the 5 stars of the classification made by Skytrax. The airport is accessible with the Hong Kong Metro Airport station on the Airport Express line. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge arrives in Hong Kong near the airport island.

Hong Kong

On 2 July 1998, Air Force One, carrying United States President Bill Clinton, landed at the new airport and became the first foreign visitor to arrive at the new airport.

The official webpage of HKIA here: Official Hong Kong International Airport

The Airport Express Services here: Official Metro Airport Express Services

The Hong Kong Zhuhai-Macao BridgeHong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge

The tourist office of Hong KongTourist office of Hong Kong

There you go all you need for a wonderful stop over or longer stay. I have done the first one;looking forward to do the second one. Enjoy the Hong Kong International Airport

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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April 2, 2020

My airports in Indonesia!

So this is a strategic post lol!!! I have been thru too many airports in my last 20 years to last me for the rest of my lifetime! I do not look at them as tourist attractions but a necessary step to tourism. As Indonesia is a country of many islands and vast distances the use of airplane is a must.

Let me tell you briefly on my airports in Indonesia! Oh yes all coming from my belle France! However, plenty of domestic flights once there!

My main point of entry was the Jakarta International Airport (Soekarno-Hatta) is the main airport serving the greater Jakarta area on the island of Java. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu, who also designed Paris-Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) airport. The Soekarno-Hatta airport was Inaugurated in 1985, it was named after Soekarno, first president of the Republic of Indonesia, and Hatta, first vice-president. They were the ones who proclaimed the independence of the country in 1945.   Jakarta International Airport has 150 check-in counters, 30 baggage carousels and 42 gates. Each sub-terminal has 25 check-in counters, 5 baggage carrousels and 7 gates.

jakarta

Terminal 1 accommodates domestic flights, except for Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia AirAsia, NAM Air and Sriwijaya Air. Terminal 2 accommodates all international flights other than those of SkyTeam companies, as well as domestic flights of Indonesia AirAsia, NAM Air and Sriwijaya Air. Terminal 3 accommodates all Garuda Indonesia flights as well as those of SkyTeam companies. A shuttle system connects the 3 terminals.

jakarta

Taxi counters are located on the Arrivals level after customs and outside at the taxi stand. Several Taxi companies operate at Jakarta airport, including Blue Bird, Silver Bird, Golden Bird and Gamya. Blue Bird taxis are blue and provide basic taxi service from a reliable company. Silver Bird taxis are black and provide premium taxi service at slightly higher rates. Golden Bird is a limousine service.

jakarta

The official airport webpage is here: Soekarno-Hatta Airport at Jakarta

Additional helpful webpage is the tourist office of Jakarta in English: Tourist office of Jakarta

The Surabaya Juanda International Airport serves Surabaya, East Java and surrounding areas. It is my second most used airport in Indonesia. It is located in the kabupaten ,department of Sidoarjo, 20 km south of Surabaya. Open December 7, 1964 as an air and naval base, December 24, 1990, Juanda Airport obtains the status of international airport, after the opening of an international terminal.

surabaya

surabaya

The Surabaya Airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 is split into a couple of sections: section 1A and section 1B. The Level 1 is the Arrivals level, where check-in counters and baggage claim area are located. Level 2 is for Departures, where the boarding area is located. Find in this level access to boarding gates 1 to 6 ,and 7 to 12.   There are lounges close to gates 2, 8 and 11.   Terminal 2, handles international flights and some domestic services of Garuda and Indonesia Air Asia. Terminal 2 is the newest one and opened in 2014. It is located at the east side of Terminal 1. The Ground level This is the Check-in area and the Arrivals level. It has a boarding lounge at west and the Arrivals facilities plus the baggage claim can be found at east.   Find also here transportation options (bus, taxi, shuttle, car rental). Upper level: This is the Departures area, split into the Domestic and International departures.   Access to boarding gates 1 to 9 from a single point. Mezzanine level Find in this level the airport lounges. Taxi ranks are properly located outside Arrivals of both terminals, after the baggage claim area.   In order to take a taxi at Surabaya Airport, passengers should purchase a taxi coupon from the transportation counter. Blue Bird and Orenz Taxi.

surabaya

The Surabaya Juanda airport webpage in English here: Surabaya Juanda airport

A very nice experience for me was to go inland into Yogyakarta and Ngoro, etc towns.

The Yogyakarta Adisutjipto International Airport is the airport of the city of Yogyakarta. The airport was inaugurated as international in 2004. Adisucipto airport also houses an Indonesian air force base. Adisutjipto will be gradually replaced by the new international airport of Yogyakarta in the kabupaten of Kulon Progo. Airport taxis are available on the arrivals level. Taxi rate is fixed depending on the distance. Purchase a fixed price taxi coupon from the Transportation counter and proceed to the taxi stand outside.

yogyakarta

The Adisutjipto airport webpage is here in English: Adisutjipto Yogyakarta airport

yogyakarta

yogyakarta

The new airport Yogyakarta International Airport or Kulon Progo International Airport, is in the district of Temon, kabupaten of Kulon Progo, which serves the special territory of Yogyakarta in Java, The airport was inaugurated on May 6, 2019. This one I have not try yet.

The new Yogyakarta airport webpage in English here: Yogyakarta airport

And there you go a nice way to move about in Indonesia using various airlines most of the time Garuda Indonesia; sriwijaya airline; and Wings, etc. The tourist office of Indonesia in English for reference here: Tourist office of Indonesia

 

Now you all set to enjoy this exotic beautiful country in Asia. Lots of memory of my 8 trips there in the last 9 years! And lots of good friends still in touch. Hopefully, will have other opportunities to be back soon. IN the meantime, get to know the airports of Indonesia, you will needed.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 1, 2020

A bridge in Cebu, Philippines!

Ok so let me tell you about an anecdote that this road warrior likes. I have visited the Philippines about 5 times in the last few years and this particular area of Cebu 3 times. There has not been too much time to sightseeing as these were business trips but the memorable of the post is the driving and the crossing of the channel from the Mactan airport to city center Cebu. 

However, let me give a bit more about this particular area of the Philippines as I cannot go to a spot on earth without knowing its history.  I will be telling you about the Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Cebu. First, an introduction.

A bit on the province region of Cebu.

Cebu is a province located in the Central Visayas (Region VII) region, and consists of a main island and 167 surrounding islands and islets. Its capital is Cebu City, known as the Queen City of the South, the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines, which is politically independent from the provincial government. The Metro Cebu is formed by 7 neighboring cities such as Carcar City, Cebu City (I was base here), Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City (passed by here) , Mandaue City (passed by here), Naga City, and Talisay City; and 6 smaller towns like Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla, and San Fernando. Cebu City as the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas. Mactan – Cebu International Airport, located on Mactan Island, is the second busiest airport in the Philippines and about 20 km from Cebu city.

And a bit on the City of Cebu.

Cebu is the second largest city in the Philippines (after Manila) and is very similar to the capital: teeming, noisy and contrasting. The city has the particularity of presenting places steeped in history but also very beautiful paradisiacal beaches not far away .It still offers interesting architectural curiosities, witnesses of the different influences of the Philippines.

Cebu is located in the east of the island of the same name. It is the capital of the province of Cebu and that of the region of Central Visayas. Cebu is also the oldest city in the Philippines and it was the first place of colonization of the Spanish in the archipelago. It is the main shipping port of the Philippines and is home to around 80% of the country’s inland shipping companies.

A bit of history I like

It was on April 7, 1521 that Fernand de Magellan landed in Cebu. He is greeted by Rajah Humabon, King of Cebu, and the Queen who converted to Catholicism on April 14 with 800 Magellan natives, however, failed to claim the island for the crown of Spain, having been killed by the king of Mactan Lapu-Lapu on April 27, 1521 during the battle of Mactan. On April 27, 1565, the expedition led by Miguel López de Legazpi begins the colonization of the region with the Augustinian brother Andrés de Urdaneta.

The Villa de San Miguel is the first founded by Legazpi in the archipelago on May 8, 1565. The villa becomes a city with all the rights relating thereto, on January 1, 1571, thanks to a royal decree of king Felipe II under the name of Ciudad del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús or City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. In 1898, the city was ceded to the United States of America after the Spanish-American War and the American-Philippine War. In 1901, it was administered for a brief period by the United States and obtained a special status of self-government in 1936 allowing it to be managed independently by Filipino politicians. Occupied by the Japanese during WWII, the city eventually integrated the Republic of the Philippines by July 4 1946.

Some of the things to see an enjoy here are

The Sinulog held each year, festival and ritual dance of nine days organized from the third Sunday in January to celebrate the baby Jesus of Cebu: Santo Nino. It’s a ritual dance, two steps forward then one step back, to the sound of percussion. I have been twice at the beginning of it with lots of actions activities in town, a real fun way to visit Cebu! Until 1980, the Sinulog, which falls every third Sunday in January, was not a major event in Cebu, but the regional director of the Ministry of Sports wanted to give it new impetus and organize a larger parade, mainly around the Cebu Basilica. Supported by authorities, the festival has grown in importance and is now one of the most important events in the Philippines. It is huge!!! Official webpage:  Official Sinulot Festival at Cebu

There are a number of significant Spanish colonial constructions in the City such as the Basilica of the Holy Child , Fort San Pedro, the Casa Gorordo museum and the Magellanic Cross. The Taoist temple of Cebu dominates the city and its neighbors of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.

And after all, I give the most famous bridge in all of the Philippines and yours truly has passed and enjoy it on several occasions. A great souvenir to remember forever.

The Marcelo Fernan Bridge is an extradosed cable-stayed bridge located in Metro Cebu. It spans across Mactan Channel connecting from Cebu to Mandaue City and to Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island (where the airport is located). It is currently the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Philippines. It has a total length of 1237 meters (4058feet) with a center span of 185 meters (607 feet), and was completed and inaugurated by President Joseph Estrada on August 3, 1999. And this is the bridge I passed each time there from the airport to city center Cebu! Nice ride!

cebu

On the Mactan Island side of the bridge, there is a park called the Millennium Park at the base of the bridge’s piers, and the Filipino Seafarers Memorial is located in that park. Also, the bridge has two pedestrian walkways, one on the north side of the bridge, and one on the south side. On the Cebu Island side of the bridge, there is Mandaue City, and the bridge is accessed via United Nations Avenue. The Mactan Island side of the bridge, which is in Lapu-Lapu City, is accessed by Old Patiller Road, a spur road of the Manuel L. Quezon National Highway.

cebu

The memories and friendship will endure and hoping one day to be back there. Time will tell, in the meantime, thank you for the warm wonderful welcome each time.  Remember , even the best here are the beaches! Cebu is wonderful.

I leave you with a couple of webpages to help you plan your trip here

The official tourist office of Cebu Bohol in English: Tourist office Cebu Bohol on Cebu

A guide to Cebu unofficial: Tourism info on Cebu and Philippines

And remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

 

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March 27, 2020

Shopping in the Philippines!

So have been here done that, not an expert in shopping but it seems that every time I go to a country, the locals take you shopping lol! weird but true oh well. This time was making trips to the Philippines and its cities and did went to some shopping centers. Therefore, here is my take on them, sit back and do some virtual shopping in the Philippines or rather better go there!!

Let me start you off with Ayala in Makati, Manila. I stayed mostly in Makati district and was able to go the wonderful Ayala Malls and especifically in the Greenbelt malls 1 thru 5.  This is really a shopper’s paradise with about five malls all interconnected with stores, restos ,cinema, chapel and others all wonderfully modern and clean; a place to spent a whole day and night. I was there having a few beers at my old hangout TGIFriday’s and great chat with bartenders Grace and Manny! I know the TGIF’s and always fun to seek them anywhere.

A bit on the shopping mall complex.

Greenbelt is a shopping mall located at the Ayala Center, Makati, metro Manila, It opened in the 1988 and the mall offers a mix of high-end retail shops, restaurants, amenities, leisure and entertainment. Currently, the mall has five sections: two enclosed areas, two buildings with open-air shopping areas.  Built around a 250,000-square-meters (2,700,000 sq ft) retail complex, the mall, which merged the previous small arcades and shops, was first opened to the public in 1990. It was renovated in 2001, and as the complex grew, Greenbelt 2 and 3 were opened in 2002, with 4 and 5 opening in 2004 and 2007.

manila

Greenbelt 1 features Automatic Centre as the anchor appliance store, along with other lifestyle, food, and supply stores. Greenbelt 3 features a mix of international brands.  Greenbelt 4 features high-end boutiques.  Greenbelt 5 has boutiques of Filipino designers, high-end department store Adora and boutiques. Restaurants can be found in Greenbelt 1, 2, 3, and 5, with Greenbelt 1 being concentrated more on fast-food, while Greenbelt 2, 3, and 5 feature sit-down restaurants. There is even the Santo Niño de Paz Chapel a Catholic place of worship in the park.

manila

manila

The official webpage for Ayala Malls and specific on the Greenbelt complex is here in English: Official Ayala Malls Greenbelt Makati

Next,  I have been to Bacolod and of course tried their shopping mall too. The nice shopping mall SM City really nice modern and many nice stores, we had our coffees here at Starbucks inside the mall. The stores were all very clean, nice displays and many popular names notice.   A bit on the shopping malls SM city.

bacolod

SM Supermalls, is a chain of shopping malls in the Philippines that is growing and last had 74 malls located across the country . SM Supermalls has become one of the biggest mall operators in Southeast Asia.  The company that operates the malls was started in 1958 as Shoemart, with a store in Manila. In the 1960s, Shoemart expanded its shoe store chain. By the 1970s, Shoemart was a full-line department store, shifting its name from Shoemart to SM. In the 1980s, the company diversified and ventured into the supermarket and home appliance store business. It opened the first Supermall store in 1985 in Quezon City.

My experience was in the  SM City Bacolod  located along Rizal Street, Reclamation Area, Bacolod City , region of Negros Occidental, an island,  It opened on March 1, 2007 and currently has a total floor area of 133,894 square metres (1,441,220 sq ft). The SM City Bacolod was composed of two one story wings; North and South.

bacolod

The North Wing section of SM City Bacolod includes restaurants and cafes, such as Krispy Kreme, Breadtalk, and Giligan’s, for customers to dine in. The second floor of the North Wing includes many clothing and technology companies. The third floor is mostly fashion salons and stores. There are some cafes and small restaurants scattered throughout as well. The South Wing has more restaurants found on the outer section of the wing , like Jollibee, KFC, and many more. Many home goods are bought in this wing due to stores such as Ace Hardware and The SM Appliance Store.

The SM Cinemas movie theatre is located on the South Wing. The SM Supermarket  entrance is found in the south sector of the wing. There are two indoor bridges that allow for customers to explore the North and South Wings without being affected by weather conditions.

The webpage for SM City Bacolod is here in English: SM Supermalls on Bacolod

I flew to Cebu, really my center base there and of course did went into the shopping malls including the other SM City there. The SM city mall  in Cebu, great shopping and food here too; here had a great pizza pepperoni with San Miguel beer call Veneto Pizzeria Ristorante.

cebu

The SM City Cebu shopping mall is the 7th largest shopping mall in the Philippines. It has a land area of 11.8 hectares and a gross floor area of 268,611 m2 (2,891,300 sq ft). The mall opened in November 1993. SM City Cebu is a seven-level complex namely lower ground floor, upper ground floor, second floor, third floor, fourth floor, fifth floor, and roof deck featuring a total of eight cinemas with seven regular cinemas and one IMAX theater with a total seating capacity of 5,812, a food court, a fully computerized bowling center, 8,000-square meter amusement center, and a 2,000-square meter trade hall. This is one huge one stop mall folks!

cebu

 

The SM City Cebu webpage is here in English: SM Supermalls on Cebu

Another one was briefly the Parkmall, one of the newest ones there. The Parkmall opened its doors in 2008, located in the heart of Mandaue City, a next door city to Cebu. The parkmall has a two-level mall at its centerpiece a sprawling property of lush, landscaped parks.  Along the facade of the mall is the longest stretch of outdoor dining in Cebu. Parkmall’s wide variety of cuisines from around the world nestled right beside the gardens makes it Cebu’s al fresco dining destination.

The Parkmall webpage is here: Parkmall Cebu

And yet another one in Cebu. It was the J Centre ,also in town great malls too easy town shopping and eating. The newest mall there and tried by yours truly first! It is located at 165 A.S. Fortuna Street, Bakilid, Mandaue City, Cebu. One of the few malls in the area that has a movie theater and sm supetmarket. Not as big as sm cebu or ayala but its ok for the area. It opened on November 11, 2011, along with several of its anchor stores.

Cebu

It has over 200 boutique stores and restaurants that provide ample options for the avid shopper and meticulous diner. One of its anchor stores is SM Hypermart, which is a business entity operating under the SM Group of Companies brand as seeing above.  A pleasant experience indeed plenty of choices.

The official webpage for JCentre mall Cebu in English; JCentre Cebu

There you go plenty of shopping choices, plus great cinemas, and plenty of food choices as well. It seems this is a prime time thing to do there as most major activities happened in these malls. Hope you enjoy the brief shopping ride to the Philippines!

The official tourist office of the Philippines here: Tourist office of the Philippines

Enjoy it as I did , great company too; and remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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March 26, 2020

Union Square shopping HCMC!

So not a great shopper myself but the locals encouraged me to come here as was close to my hotel and walking is the magic word for me once in town. So I let my legs walk a bit and saw beautiful French style architecture on the main square near city hall and then the shopping mall!

I have several posts on Vietnam but let me bring to focus the grand shopping at Union Square Shopping Mall at Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC!

hcmc

Union Square was originally a new part of Vincom Center A, the shopping mall across the street, but was later sold and is now an independent shopping mall in a prime location. The mall is home to a wide range of foreign luxury brands as well as a mix of everyday brands from Vietnam and beyond. Right on the corner diagonally from the city hall you have the shopping center. There was construction of a new metro line 1 that begun in 2012 to be completed by 2021 as told.

hcmc

Union Square Shopping Mall houses a wide range of designer brands, both local and international alike. Set within District 1, this upmarket shopping mall occupies a massive French colonial building and is fitted with luxurious interiors, broad halls, marble tiles, and European-style décor.

This is a good youtube video showing you Union Square shopping Mall


Attracting a steady mix of affluent travellers, locals, and expats, luxury brands available here include Dior, Hermes, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Lauren, Versace and Dior, some of which offer relatively attractive promotions from time to time. However, don’t expect real bargains as it’s one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most high-end shopping venues.

Open daily, Union Square Shopping Mall is within a five-minute walk from the Saigon Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the People’s Committee Building. It’s also flanked by the famous shopping street of Dong Khoi and the popular Nguyen Hue walking promenade, making it a popular spot for dining and shopping after a day of sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City. The exact location is at 171 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, HCMC.

The Vietnam Guide has further info on the Union Square Shopping Mall: Vietnam Guide on Union Square

And a interesting webpage call Scooter Saigon Tour has a nice layout on Union Square Shopping Mall here: Scooter Saigon Tour on Union Square

And there you, who say the French have left! Lots of nice architecture features on the building, and beautiful stores inside as they said if specials days you can find some nice brand names here. Hope you enjoy a bit off the beaten path thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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March 20, 2020

Some news from France, CCXCXIII

And lets get back to some news from France. The world is on the move and we cannot stay away from it, even travel lovers who are most direct concern. We have covid19 or whatever you call it, and it is bad, hurting people all over. No need to give ranking who is more or less , and who is close or not, WE are all concern sooner or later. So lets get inside our homes, minimize outings , wash your hands often, do tele work like me and keep busy. I did my pressure cleaning outside my house and the garden bricks for example.

And lets help whenever we can volunteering in my town has started for the elderly and needy with a support team we are participating as on call basis. We can do it together, I know in France and Europe we had gone thru worse times and we overcame, we will this time too. Vive la France!!! Long live  a united Europe!! and as I am a believer, may God Bless you all!

Now the news from various sources in my belle France!

The French Senate gives green light to bill on state of health emergency. The Senate with a right-wing majority adopted on the night of Thursday to this Friday at first reading the bill allowing the establishment of a state of health emergency.  The text, voted by 252 votes in favor, 2 against and 90 abstentions, also authorizes the government to take measures to support businesses by ordinance and records the postponement of the second round of municipal elections “at the latest in June”.

In California USA finally placed in containment. The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, decides to place the entire state and its 40 million inhabitants in containment to strengthen the fight against the pandemic. The directive is one of the most stringent measures announced in the United States since the start of the health crisis.  Los Angeles residents placed in confinement. The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, ordered Thursday confinement of all the inhabitants of this metropolis of 4 million inhabitants, asking them to refrain from any unnecessary movement to stem the coronavirus pandemic. Good for California!!

The cases are increasing in the NBA. Two Los Angeles Lakers players infected with the new coronavirus on Thursday, three of the Philadelphia Sixers, one of the Boston Celtics and a member of the Denver Nuggets: cases are multiplying in the NBA, stopped for more than a week due to the pandemic. NBA in case you are visiting earth, is the National Basketball Association in the USA.

Visas suspended in the United States. The United States has suspended the issuance of all regular visas to all countries of the world, the US State Department announced. “As far as possible, embassies and consulates will continue to issue emergency visas,” they  said.

No containment for the whole of the United States. Donald Trump says he does not envisage confinement for the whole of the United States. Playing with fire as deaths mount.  Closure of the United States / Mexico border. US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo announces the closure of the US border with Mexico for “non-essential travel”. ah yes…

Reinforced measures in New York State. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has decreed a halt to all non-essential activities and a ban on all gatherings. NY NY!

Why mobile links sometimes leave something to be desired. From a technical point of view, telephone operators have “two points of vigilance”, the interconnection of networks and the traffic on submarine cables to the United States. Operators are strengthening interconnection capacities, which allow a subscriber of one network to reach the subscriber of another network. This explains the difficulties that some have encountered in recent days. This was running in some newspapers in the USA.

NASA suspends its lunar work. The American space agency announces to put a stop to the works of construction and test of the rocket and the ship of its manned mission Artemis on the Moon. This is due to the increasing number of people affected in its teams.

Half of Air Canada’s technically unemployed workforce. Air Canada will lay off more than 5,100 flight attendants, half of its workforce, according to a union source. The measure will affect approximately 3,600 flight attendants of the first Canadian airline and 1,549 members of its low-cost subsidiary Air Canada rouge, at least until April 30, specifies the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in a communication news.

 The prohibition of any movement and gathering on the roads on the banks of the Seine, the lawns of the Esplanade des invalides and the Champ-de-Mars, from Friday and for the weekend. This is in Paris.

The Paris Stock Exchange opens on a 5.48% jump to 4,066.79 points. The Paris Bourse attacks the session of conquering mood (+ 5.48%) this Friday morning, partly reassured by the massive monetary measures adopted by several governments and central banks, in particular the European Central Bank, to face the impact of the coronavirus epidemic. Same trend in Frankfurt, London and Hong Kong. And it keeps going up in Paris but you know this is an up and down game!

SNCF traffic increasingly reduced. Only 15% of mainline trains this Friday, 25% TER and almost more connections abroad, indicates the SNCF. Traffic is 35% on the Transilien network of the Paris suburbs, according to the company. Abroad, the service was suspended to Germany, Italy and Spain. There are still 20% of Eurostar trains to London, 20% of Thalys trains to the Benelux, and, to Switzerland, a Paris-Geneva return trip and a Paris-Basel return trip. The offer is likely to be further reduced in the coming days.

Free transport for carers in the Grand Est. Caregivers will be able to borrow free from Saturday TER and intercity buses in the Grand Est region, announced the community, which wishes to facilitate their travel while Alsace pays a heavy price in the coronavirus epidemic

Orange awaits masks with great impatience. Orange, which had supplied stocks of masks to comply with the requisitions for healthcare staff is waiting with “great impatience” to receive new masks for these teams responsible for maintaining the networks, this Friday explains its CEO Stéphane Richard.

Call for volunteers in Ile-de-France hospitals. The regional health agency in Ile-de-France is launching an appeal to active or retired health workers to help healthcare establishments. This is going on all over France now!

Humane Society worries about many abandonments when shelters are already overcrowded. , OMG don’t be a monster, these loving animals need our help too, and they will be right with you, they do not get the virus so keep them in with you please. I have a loving dog Rex and he is part of my family no way he will be treated lesser.

The soldiers prepare the field hospital in Mulhouse. Preparations for the deployment of the military field hospital in Mulhouse are well under way. This morning, soldiers in lattice are on site to prepare the installation of 30 beds. The future hospital will be set up a few meters from the heliport, right next to the Emile-Muller hospital. Yes the Armed Forces are people too, great! The hospital has begun to be deploy and some patients are been transported to Toulon where there are more hospital military installations.

There are still 130,000 French people are stranded abroad. France must organize the return of some 130,000 nationals stranded abroad by the Covid-19 pandemic, said this Friday the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. They will need to find transport back to France, not an easy thing to do. French abroad have been exceptionally authorized to enter the Air France crisis center.

Already 18,000 reports since the start of confinement. According to a police source cited by BFMTV, since the start of the confinement on Tuesday noon, the police have carried out 225,000 checks for 18 reports. This is the control for people not to go out, some idiots do not understand still they need to stay home and go out as needed with a attestation de déplacement dérogatoire which can be obtain blue for individuals and red for professionals/entrprises from the Ministry of Interior webpage: Min Interior of France

The agents of the City of Paris will be able to issue fines. The law on the state of health emergency (under examination) should give the agents of the security service of the City the same powers as those of a “real” municipal police. Now now this is a bit hysterical.

President Macron of the French Republic: “The State is holding up”. Emmanuel Macron says a few words in front of the cameras before the defense council. “We have taken exceptional measures to absorb this first wave,” said the President of the Republic. The crisis is mobilizing all aspects of the life of the Nation ”. “The State is keen, we will be there in the long term,” he says, thanking his ministers for being there “morning, noon and night and overnight.”

Pension reform abandoned? During his speech last Thursday, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron announced a break from all the reforms undertaken. Interruption or total stop, the question arises at the top? I believe it will be an interruption while the virus crisis is on.

Social benefits paid automatically. Social benefits requiring regular declarations of resources to qualify for them, such as the RSA, the disabled adult allowance (AAH) or housing benefits, will be paid automatically to beneficiaries “incapacitated”, the government announced. This is in France, no need for forms if you were on these programs benefits will continue; Vive la France!

And are we will be getting mail? Six unions of La Poste claim in a letter to the Minister of Economy and CEO Philippe Wahl a “discussion about the missions that the La Poste group should carry out as a priority” during the coronavirus crisis, according to a press release.  The unions (CGT, CFDT, SUD, CFE-CGC, CFTC and Unsa) are alerting to the health and social situation within the La Poste group, where “security conditions are far from being maximum”, and note that ” the essential missions that La Poste and its subsidiaries must fulfill are very broad in concept ”.

The meetings of the Defense counsel starts. A Defense Council starts at the Ministry of the Interior, chaired by Emmanuel Macron, with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and the main ministers concerned. This is sort of a control center to monitored the needs and actions needed as we advance.

In Nice, the mayor Christian Estrosi announces the closure of the Promenade des Anglais and all the city’s markets. Good measure too many people there anyway! And it gets tougher. A curfew at 20h (8 p.m.) in Nice. Christian Estrosi, the mayor (LR) of Nice, issued an order to impose a curfew in his city from this Friday evening.

No national curfew in France. “It is not a question of establishing a national curfew on the whole territory but of supporting local initiatives, such as that of the mayor of Nice” who has implemented a curfew in his city at 20 hours every evening, starting today, specifies Christophe Castaner, Interior Minister.

In Cannes, the Palais des Festivals opened to accommodate the homeless. This announcement is made on France Info the mayor of the city, David Lisnard. This decision is made “both to protect them, but also to protect any population from the spread of the virus,” he said. Good deal Cannoises!

An emergency fund for companies in Lyon. The metropolitan area of ​​Lyon has created an emergency fund of 100 million euros for companies affected by the containment measures, allowing in particular the payment of aid of 1,000 euros per month for certain self-employed. This is just a regional effort, nationwide it is 1500 euros per month.

After Mulhouse, the army in Ajaccio to evacuate patients. For the second time in a few days, the French army will be involved in the fight against the new coronavirus: after the evacuation by military aircraft of patients from Mulhouse, the navy will transfer this weekend patients from Corsica to the Riviera. The amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) Tonnerre of the French Navy will go to Ajaccio this weekend for “the medical evacuation of patients with Covid-19” to establishments in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, announces the prefecture of Corsica.

Creation of a buffer zone at the Saint-Etienne teaching hospital. The CHU of Saint-Etienne is preparing for a ramp-up of its capacity to receive patients with symptoms of coronavirus and has set up a “sorting center” near the emergency department.  This advanced medical center, in the form of a long canvas tunnel 18 meters long by 6 wide built from scratch within the grounds of the Hôpital Nord site in Saint-Priest-en-Jarez (Loire), has been fully disinfected. “It will be active in the coming days, depending on changing needs,” says the direction of the CHU.

The beaches of the Somme dept 80 Hauts de France are prohibited. The Somme prefecture has announced that it will prohibit access to the department’s beaches until March 31.

Several protective measures for public transport adopted in France. Public transport companies must disinfect their vehicles at least once a day, the climb from the front of buses is prohibited in principle and travelers must stand a meter from each other, according to a decree published in the Official Journal on Friday . Reinforced controls will be implemented this Friday and this weekend in Parisian stations. The Paris prefecture of police reminds in a press release that departures on holidays and weekends are not part of the cases covered by the certificate of derogatory travel.

New Caledonia closes its airport. All international flights to and from New Caledonia are suspended from midnight on Friday, the local government announced. Initially, the traffic was to stop gradually by Tuesday but the executive decided Friday late in the day to shorten the delay.

Back in America,we have the first three coronavirus deaths in Peru. The government reports a considerable increase in the number of cases for a total of 234 infected people across the country.

Rio de Janeiro ,Brazil closes its beaches and restaurants. The state of Rio de Janeiro announces that it will close its beaches, bars and restaurants for Saturday, for at least two weeks, in the face of the coronavirus epidemic. The decree published by Governor Wilson Witzel also provides for suspension of land, sea and air links with any other Brazilian state with at least one confirmed case of coronavirus, but the measure must be validated by the federal authorities.

Brazil prohibits entry to Europeans and Asians. These restrictions, valid for one month, apply to passengers on flights from the European Economic Area (European Union, United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and of Malaysia, who do not have residence in Brazil or a professional or family justification to return to the country, specifies a ministerial decree.

Argentina decrees the containment of the population. Argentine President Alberto Fernandez decrees “preventive and compulsory” containment of the population from this Friday until March 31 to fight against the coronavirus.  Argentina has 128 cases of coronavirus and three deaths.

In Europe,  Youtube suspends HD. With European networks suffering from slowdowns, YouTube is stopping playback of HD videos to relieve European networks. In the wake of Netflix, the platform reduces its impact on the Internet by passing its content to Standard version. No problems still see them  fine.

No lifting of confinement before April 13 in Austria. Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz announces that the week-long containment measures in the country, where travel is drastically limited, will be extended until April 13.

Cases are exploding in Belgium. The number of deaths jumped from 21 to 37, announce the Belgian authorities. The country records Friday 2,257 confirmed cases, against 1,795 identified the day before.

Oh my poor and resistant Spain passes the 1,000 dead mark. Spain is approaching 20,000 cases, announced this Friday the director of the health alert center Fernando Simon. The country has “1,002 deaths” and “nationally we have 19,980 cases, with an increase of 2,833 cases compared to yesterday (Thursday), an increase of 16.5%,” said Fernando Simon. The death toll has increased tenfold in seven days. It is second only to Italy in confronting this awful virus.

Arrival in the Czech Republic of a plane from China with a million masks. This plane landed this Friday in Prague. “The plane contains 1.1 million FFP2 masks that will be immediately distributed to hospitals and other places,” said Interior Minister Jan Hamacek at a televised press conference at Prague Airport . Prague acquired the equipment for around $ 3 million, he added. To be fully reported, China has done the same for Italy, Spain and France so far as well.

New restrictive measures expected in Italy. The Italian government is considering new restrictive measures which could be adopted quickly. “In the next 24 to 48 hours, new restrictions are possible,” announced Minister for Regional Affairs Francesco Boccia, citing, among other things, the possibility of suspending outdoor activities. The governors of the northern regions, the richest in Italy and the most affected by the epidemic with around 3,000 dead, are calling for even more closures and the deployment of the army to enforce these measures.

The most affected nation today, Italy .It is still the Milan region, Lombardy, where hospitals are overwhelmed, which pays the heaviest price, with 381 additional deaths (2,549 in total). In the country, nearly 6,000 additional cases have been detected, again a figure never reached before. Forza Italia!!!

Bavaria , Germany, is the first regional state to order containment. “We are going to reduce the whole of public life to almost nothing,” announces the head of the Bavarian government, Markus Söder, the measure having to enter into force at 11 pm (midnight) and initially to last two weeks.

Reinforced measures in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom orders the closure of pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theaters. It’s about time ….!

EasyJet will maintain the majority of its fleet on the ground. The British airline EasyJet has announced that most of its fleet will remain on the ground from 24 March. The carrier will only maintain a few connections to certain destinations, mainly from the United Kingdom or to the country.

Reinforced measures in Switzerland. Switzerland has tightened its measures, banning gatherings of more than 5 people, but has ruled out any confinement – a measure adopted by other European countries – believing that it was “spectacle politics”. The government has also released an additional 32 billion Swiss francs (30.4 billion euros) to support the economy. An envelope of 10 billion Swiss francs had already been announced a week ago. Hard to tell the Swiss lol!

Back on the source:  Second day with zero new local cases in China. For the second consecutive day, China reports no new local coronavirus contamination this Friday, even though the number of imported cases, 39, reached a record.

And be careful Africa.  Gabon announces its first death. A first patient died in Gabon of the new coronavirus, the second in sub-Saharan Africa after Burkina Faso, said this Friday the spokesman of the cell for monitoring the epidemic in this country which has counted so far only three cases . The 50-year-old patient “died at 8:05 am as a result of complications from his diabetes and an acute respiratory distress syndrome,” said spokesman Dr. Guy Patrick Obiang Ndong.

More than 200 cases already in South Africa, authorities worry. A total of 202 people are infected in the country by Covid-19, against 150 the day before, said the Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize to the press in Bloomfontein (center). The authorities estimate that the disease could infect up to 60% of the country’s population of 56 million.

General confinement in Tunisia. Tunisian President Kais Saied has announced a general containment of the country, without specifying its date of entry into force or its duration, after having recorded an increase in the number of patients with coronavirus.

Jordan will impose a curfew from Saturday morning until further notice, the government spokesman said. The latter explained that this decision had been taken after “citizens’ failure to comply with the directives” asking them to leave their homes only in the event of an extreme emergency.

More than 10,000 deaths worldwide. At least 10,316 deaths worldwide are now totaled, according to a report established by AFP on Friday. More than 5000 of these deaths are in Europe. Since the count made the previous day at 19h (7:00 p.m.), there have been 490 new deaths. If you like to keep count, there is Worldometer/coronavirus site that maintains tallies worldwide here: Worldometers information on Coronavirus

The Euro carried over to 2021 will be called … again Euro-2020. The Euro football initially planned for next summer but postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic will officially keep its name of Euro-2020, announced UEFA.

Of course, these news will change and expand in the coming days, weeks, and I promise not to give count of the virus, enough to have it recorded. Let’s keep the spirits up . Best wishes for everybody!!

And remember, happy travels, YES, good health, we will pray together, and best wishes to all!! indeed as always by yours truly.

 

 

March 20, 2020

General Santos City!

And let be back to Asia, and take  you to an unique city way down under and off the beaten path of the Philippines! I was here to tell you even if the area was not visited extensively. It is an area to go with caution.

Anyway, let me tell you a bit more on the General Santos City!

General Santos City or GenSan was previously known as Dadiangás, and is the southernmost large city in the Philippines. It is geographically located in the province of Cotabato del Sur, but is administered independently of it.

The first inhabitants of General Santos were the nomads B’laan. Within the framework of a colonization movement organized by the Philippine State, General Santos Paulino led the installation of 62 Christians from the Island of Luzon on the shores of Sarangani Bay. The first settlers came aboard the steamer “Basilan” of the Compañia Maritima on February 27, 1939. gradually leading the B’laans to move to the mountains and lose their traditional livelihoods. During WWII, the Municipal District of Buayan where General Santos is located today was occupied by Japan. Remains from this era can still be seen at the Guadalupe site. Six years later, in June 1954, the city was renamed General Santos in tribute to the pioneer general. The city of General Santos is the largest producer of tuna in the Philippines. GenSan is the second largest fishing port in the country.

And I had to take a loong air trip to get there!!! I had to go the night before on a hotel at Nantes airport and the next morning walking to the airport and take my AF flight to Paris CDG and then China Southern Airlines to Guangzhou, China , changing again on China Southern to Manila inter airport. Finally, set for General Santos City on Cebu Pacific Airlines. 

General Santos International Airport is approximately 14 km away from the central business district of the city. A concrete 6 km Philippine-American Friendship Road and the 30 km General Santos Diversion Road connects the airport to the Pan Philippines Highway leading to the city proper as well as to the nearby provinces. General Santos city is located at the head of Sarangani Bay of the Celebes Sea along the southern shore of Mindanao.

gen santos city

I headed to my hotel upon arriving late a night: I had local driver and stay at the Microtel by Wynham hotel  which was nice and friendly, the place to be in town me think. And yes photo turn out blurry but only one I have ! Webpage: Microtel Hotel at GenSan

gen santos city

I ate at Big Ben Restaurant, where the tuna steak was great as the city is famous for it ,tuna that is. more on their Facebook page here: Facebook page of Big Ben Steaks & Grill

gen santos city

I took my time upon my first full day in town, and did a lot of walking ,the city is base around lots of malls or shopping centers where the locals and nearby areas come in for shopping and night out.  And of course, tried one of these buggy transport idea!

gen santos city

I went for dinner at Giligan’s where the tuna feast continue, and great San Miguel beers, the resto is a chain and this one was Inside the Veranza mall a nice shopping place too, go to Mindanao and then Veranza Mall for more at Giligans’ webpage here: Giligans restaurant at Veranza mall

gen santos city

As said, General Santos City is the shopping capital of the Soccksargen region.(formerly central Mindanao) These malls are home to both national and international brands of retail merchandises as well as restaurants and cafes. So , if want to browse for some bargain shopping, its the best one two combination in town, here is the Veranza mall webpage: KCC Malls on the Veranza mall

gen santos city

The overall tourist office for General Santos city is here: Official tourist office of General Santos City

And there you go another spot in my globettroter globe and nice experiences, good friends still in touch, and always looking forward for a repeat visit. Hope you have enjoy the tour of General Santos City in the Philippines!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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February 27, 2020

Another look at the world of wines!

Let me give you some news from the world of wines, my world. If you have read my blog you know that once in a while I need to tell you about wines. It is part of our family tradition for generations and of course it is tradition not alcohol. We drink respectfully.

As the lead country, France, wine is always on the table and my table. There are some rumblings out there and would like to keep you abreast and a notch for me too. Here are the latest tidbits of the wine world from France.

The cru bourgeois are making their revolution with new colorful banner (brand identity), new coat of arms (logo) and new motto (baseline): “Quality with the eyes closed”. But in substance, they return to the old regime, distinguishing “crus bourgeois exceptionnels”, “crus bourgeois supérieurs” and “crus bourgeois“. The selection was unveiled in Bordeaux this past Thursday, February 20 (hot off the press!!) . It is the fruit of nine years of work intended to extinguish the smoldering sling. Because, in this immense and very diverse family of XXS or XXL vineyards, family properties, belonging to private or institutional investors, or even active in large groups, which represents 31% of the production of the Médoc with 28 million bottles, the chateaux enjoying a brand as strong as the label threatened to secede.

Owners and traders deplored the volatile nature of the annual classification: how to explain to the markets which abhor the uncertainty that a same vintage is bourgeois in this year and loses this quality the following year. Consumers, themselves, wondered about a price range varying from simple to triple depending on the prestige of the appellation and the reputation of the chateau with prices generally pulled down. The L’Alliance des crus bourgeois du Médoc,( Médoc Crus Bourgeois Alliance) has therefore clarified its offer. The new protocol, validated by the public authorities, introduces a return to prioritisation with constraints and independent controls specific to each category. And stabilizes the offer with a classification valid for five years, enough to sustain trade relations. They need to adapt to an ultra-competitive global market, while the quality level has generally gone up. This revised classification sounds a new start for the cru bourgeois wines.

Two hundred and forty-nine chateaux have therefore been selected from seven Médoc appellations. Fourteen are distinguished “crus bourgeois exceptionnels” wines, fifty-six are recognized as “crus bourgeois supérieurs” , 179 are “crus bourgeois “. The first level of qualification was for all a blind tasting, by the verification body set up by the association, of five vintages chosen between 2008 and 2016. For candidates for an additional mention, the second level of qualification included the tasting of five other vintages. It was then a question of appreciating the regularity of the quality, as well as the evaluation of the cultural and environmental practices, the management of the exploitation, the promotion of the vintage, the quality of reception, and the wine tourism offer.

Three categories but a collective promotion. Among the crus bourgeois exceptionnels winners are some of my favorites (in black) and others, these are Agassac, Arnaud, Belle-Vue, Cambon La Pelouse, Charmail, Malescasse, Malleret, Taillan (in AOC Haut-Médoc), Arsac and Paveil de Luze (Margaux), Le Boscq, Le Crock and Lilian Ladouys ( Saint-Estèphe), Château Lestage (Listrac-Médoc).

All these new “exceptional” were once “superior”. A good progression therefore. And among the new “superiors” of today, 24 ordinary citizens of yesterday are promoted while 18 regain their former title. It included nine “exceptional” (including Chasse-Spleen, Haut-Marbuzet or Phélan-Ségur) which, since, have prospered and 87 superior. Those who today would be unhappy with their fate still have the opportunity to appeal. As for the coexistence of these three categories, on the need for collective promotion, mention or not in titles. To be seen now the public reaction and welcome of these labels and properties. There are in general a very good price quality ratio to had.

More info in English at the official webpage of the Alliance: https://www.crus-bourgeois.com/en/

One of the best wine salons fairs in France is at Mâcon; Saône et Loire dept 71 in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. Knowing a growing success, the Salon des Vins de Mâcon or Mâcon Wine Fair is renewed for the year 2020 on April 17, 18 and 19.

The show offers a tour of France of the wine regions. It will take place at the Mâcon Exhibition Center. You can discover and taste wines from all over the country and build a quality cellar at various prices. This event, open to the general public, promotes discussion between producers and consumers in a warm and friendly meeting place. The Concours des Grands Vins de France or the Great Wines of France Competition is also organized among all the exhibitors and will reward the best wine. The latter will take place on Saturday 18 April 2020.

Brief info the event will be held at the “Le Spot” Parc des Expositions, avenue Pierre Bérégovoy, 71000 Mâcon. The schedule hours are Friday April 17 from 14h to 21h, Saturday April 18 from 10h to 21h, and Sunday April 19 from 10h to 19h. Price admission is 5€ adult or free for children under 12 . The admission includes free tasting, and a free vintage tasting glass. More info here: https://www.concours-salons-vins-macon.com/

A misled issue out of trade barriers which we all talk of bringing down but still active. This one does not make sense as we cannot compare planes with wines! Apparently America thinks they are the same. The long meeting on Saturday with the President of the French Republic; Emmanuel Macron at the Salon de l’Agriculture or Agricultural Fair did not calm fears of the wine industry. Affected since October by a 25% surcharge on still wines exported to the United States, French wine-growers insist on the “urgency” of a response to an unprecedented crisis situation, which should cost them 300 to 400 million euros of turnover this year, out of 1.2 billion realized per year in the country of Uncle Sam.

A retaliatory measure linked to a judgment by the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Airbus, accused of receiving public subsidies that distort competition with Boeing. The WTO therefore authorized the United States to tax $ 7.5 billion in products imported from Europe per year. The Trump administration immediately imposed an import tax of 10% on commercial aircraft and 25% on wine (Airbus produced in the state of Alabama which explains the low tariffs applied to aeronautics so a biased system indeed). The EU is still evaluating their counterattack nbut it seems do not want or need further escalations on trade barriers. In the meantime, the French winemakers suffer and the public over the pond pays higher prices.

And be ready as from March 1 to 31, 2020, Duclot La Vinicole, distributor of Bordeaux Grands Crus, presents its ninth edition of “Carte sur Table” (menu on the table) . Fifteen very fine Bordeaux wines will be on the menu of prestigious establishments at cellar prices so that amateurs can indulge themselves from 60€ Château Branaire-Ducru 2012 to a 690€ Château Cheval Blanc 2006. The selection is made up of wines that have reached perfect maturity or are highlighted in younger vintages, ready to drink even if we can still keep them waiting. These fifteen vintages will be available in a dozen of mainly Parisian restaurants such as Le Gabriel, La Scène, Origines, Gaya, etc ; but also in Versailles in the Trianon Palace to which are added Flocons de Sel in Megève. Among the bottles not to be missed, let me tell you to note a Château Pavie-Macquin 2014, 1er grand cru Classé of juicy Saint-Emilion, powerful, mineral, with chalky tannins 75€, a Château Giscours 2006, 3rd classified growth of Margaux en magnum , supple and silky, with melted tannins 150€. In the Saint-Estèphe appellation, connoisseurs will appreciate the Château Cos d´Estournel 2008, 2nd growth classified complex and generous 160€ or the Château Lafon-Rochet 2001, 4th growth classified 75€. Without forgetting a Château Lafite Rothschild 2004, Premier Cru Classé of Pauillac 690€ as well as a Château l’Évangile 2012, a magnificent Pomerol 160€. Superb opportunity at good prices, more info here: https://www.cartesurtable.com/

And one big news if lately the country has scare a few…. We do not seems to stop going ,investing, and enjoying China. La Fondation pour la culture et les civilisations du vin or in English the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilizations, which manages the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux, brings its expertise to a pharaonic Chinese project: musée universel du vin or the universal wine museum. The opening is scheduled for the end of 2021. A cultural center dedicated to wine will be created in Fangshan, 40 km from Beijing, just over five years after the inauguration of the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux. The two institutions work in cooperation, but it is neither a copy nor a trademark license.

Its initiator has been speaking French since the age of 12 and knows the hexagonal culture (French) and its wine well, he planted a 60 ha vineyard in 1999, south-west of Beijing, and vinifies his Château Bolongbao organically (“ Bo ”for Bordeaux,“ long ”for the duration and“ bao ”which means castle, very French), in Bordeaux style, and finally, the City/Town Hall of Beijing is participating in this museum project as well, of course…

The new 18,000 m² space, located next to the Bolongbao estate, will include a 6,700 m² permanent tour with temporary exhibitions, an auditorium, multi-sensory events, a cellar, a gourmet restaurant and a wine school. The neighboring commercial area with hotels will obviously include wine sales spaces for individuals. There will also be a breeding ground for Chinese and international businesses. Designed in partnership with the French agency Architecture Studio, based in Paris, Shanghai and Venice, the project is presented as a stone village backed by vines, inspired by Saint-Emilion. The Scarabée agency, which had already focused 10 years ago on the founding fund for what would become the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, is also associated with the Chinese project.

The 5 themes presented will be: What is wine; wine in the world with 12 major countries, 6 from the New World, 6 from the old, including France and China; the history of wine in China, rich in its latest archaeological discoveries; wine and the senses will present the categories of wine (red, rosé, white, sparkling …) and their sensory effect, with whenever possible, a passage to practice and advice on the art of living. The unmissable tasting stage will be staged like in a Parisian bistro.

The cooperation project of the Cité du Vin de Bordeaux is the 4th French museum project in China. It was announced after, the opening of the annex to the Pompidou Center in Shanghai in November 2019, as part of a brand license agreement, sale of expertise, loan of works and organization of exhibitions. the association of the Musée Picasso Paris and the Giacometti Foundation with the opening of a new art center in Beijing in June 2020, in district 798, as part of a contract for the sale of expertise, loan of works and organization of exhibitions; the project to create a Rodin museum in Shenzhen, the fruit of a partnership between the Rodin Paris museum, the city of Shenzhen and a Chinese collector, within the framework of a contract for the sale of expertise, loan and purchases of works and organization of exhibitions. And a 5th project should be announced soon by another French scientific museum.

SOURCES: avis-vin.lefigaro.fr, lejournaldesentreprises.com, vitisphere.com, and winespectator.com

Hope you have enjoyed this special post on the wines from France. And do drink it awesome tradition with good food , good cheers, and good family reunions. En Nino Veritas.

And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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