Posts tagged ‘Asia’

August 31, 2022

My airports in Indonesia!

I have been thru too many airports in my last 40 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. I have made about 8 trips in the last 11 years to the country and always fond memories of places and friends, Let me update and tell you briefly on my airports in Indonesia!And, plenty of domestic flights once there!

My main point of entry was the Jakarta International Airport (Soekarno-Hatta), 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 at my last count.

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The airport is divided into three terminals. 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.

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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. I have been picked up by locals as well as use the Silver Bird services.

jakarta airport outside feb13

The official Soekarno-Hatta airport : http://www.soekarnohatta-airport.co.id/

The official Jakarta tourist officehttps://jakarta-tourism.go.id/visit/

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.

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surabaya juanda airport outside feb13

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.I have was picked always here by locals.

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The official Juanda Surabaya airport https://www.juanda-airport.com/id

The official Surabaya tourist office : http://www.surabayatourism.com/

A very nice experience for me was to go inland into Yogyakarta and Ngoro, etc towns. The Yogyakarta Adisutjipto International Airport was 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. This is the one I used; here for the memories of always.

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Yogyakarta Adisutjipto out of airport look driver past bus stop nov16

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The official oldAdisutjipto airport : https://adisutjipto-airport.co.id/id

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, It is 45 km from the city, and was inaugurated on May 6, 2019. The airport became fully operational on 29 March 2020 with all scheduled flights (except turboprops, cargo and other non-commercial flights) relocated from the old airport , This one I have not tried yet.

The new official Yogyakarta airport:: https://yogyakarta-airport.co.id/en

The official Indonesia tourist board on Yogyakartahttps://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/destinations/java/yogyakarta

The best way to move about in Indonesia using various airlines most of the time Garuda Indonesia; Sriwijaya airline; and Wings, etc. The official Indonesia Tourist board : https://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/home

There you go folks, now you all set to enjoy this exotic beautiful country in Asia. Lots of memory of my trips there in the last 11 years! And lots of good friends still in touch. I am always looking forward to be back, eventually. In the meantime, get to know my airports of Indonesia !!

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

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August 9, 2022

Epiphany and the kings!

The celebration of the 3 Wise Kings, or Los 3 Reyes Magos or simply the Reyes Magos is something that fascinated me since childhood and passed it on to my boys. It is difficult to carry traditions away from your home base but we try, From my Spanish Catholic tradition it is the day where we give our gifts to our children, as the Wise Kings gave it in honor of the new born child Jesus. Over the years my travels and my nationalities I have mix all tradition where we do follow up with all !

Living now in France since 2003, and as French since 2000 , the day is not celebrated even if a Catholic country per se, we just do the galette des rois a frangipane of almond with a figurine inside that according to leyend was the opportunity for role reversal as a Roman slave took the place of the emperor before he reigned for a day later was send to death. King Louis XIV was the first one in France who push for it, and the tradition flourished, where the person who gets the portion with the figurine in it, gets to be the king or queen for the day and especially gifts are given. The cakes differed a bit from the north to the South of France, what we do today is usually call the Parisien version of the almond bake frangipane cake.

In my other country of Spain, we have the similar cake of Roscon de Reyes;as a cake to eat on these days, but the celebration is much bigger with parades of the Wise Kings with great beautiful décorations, and the gifts to our children, under the arbol de Navidad or the Christmas tree. In my Madrid, the route of the parade change a bit every year but one popular one begin in the evening by Nuevos Ministerios (corner with plaza San Juan de la Cruz square ) down the Paseo de la Castellana, and passing through the Plaza del Doctor Marañón, Glorieta de Emilio Castelar, Plaza de Colón and the Paseo de Recoletos, with arrival at the Plaza de Cibeles, where King Melchior will read the message on behalf of the three Magi. After this there is a fireworks show.

Of course, in the USA this is not celebrate it we just do on our own even if in some Hispanic communities a parade is done too, No particular food on Epiphany neither In Cuba well that is another world, nothing is done , I never had it unfortunately

Basically the meaning ,and history  in Spain is like this

The Magi from the East is the name which according to tradition are the visitors who, after the birth of Jesús from Nazareth, came from foreign countries to pay tribute and give rich symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Gospels speak only about «magicians», nowhere lists their names, which were Kings, nor were three (a number that is possibly due to the amount of offered gifts). These beliefs were added centuries later and have remained in the popular tradition.  According to Catholic belief, these Magi were representatives of «pagan» religions of neighbouring villages, which the Gospels come as the first fruits of the Nations that accept the Catholic religion.  In some countries (usually Spanish-speakers) there is the tradition of representing Kings bringing gifts that children have asked in their wish letters during the night before Epiphany.  The Magi, traditions in some countries, part of the crib next to Joseph, the baby Jesus and Mary.

The Catholic figure of the Magi has its origin in the accounts of the birth of Jesus, some were integrated from the canonical Gospels that now make up the new testament of the Bible. Specifically the Gospel of Matthew is the only biblical source which mentions a few magicians (though not specific names, the number or the title of Kings) who, following a so-called Star, looking for the «King of the Jews has been born» in Jerusalem, guiding them such a star to Jesus born in Bethlehem, and to whom offer offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  In that same apocryphal gospel it is said that they had any family link, and that also came with three legions of soldiers: one of Persia, Babylon and Asia. 

According to subsequent interpretations, the wizards were considered to be originating in Europe, Asia, and Africa respectively . However, the last book written by the Pope Benedicto XVI on Nazareth Jesús, «Childhood of Jesus», notes that the Magi probably came from the East, as it has believed traditionally, but Tartessos, an area that historians located between Huelva, Cadiz and Seville (Andalusia, Spain). In this way, the wise men from the East have become Kings, and with them have come into the Manger camels and dromedaries, said  Benedict XVI and continues:”the promise contained in these texts extends the provenance of these men to the far West (Tarshish, Tartessos in Spain), but tradition has further developed this listing of the universality of the kingdoms of those sovereigns«, interpreting them as Kings of the three then-known continents: Africa, Asia and Europe “. They represented all men seekers of God of all times and all places and that included everyone until then known and whose western boundary was Tartessos, in the Iberian peninsula”, he explains. Mention to Tartessos, Benedict XVI refers to this geographical limit that had the world in the 1C, «magicians are East but that God seekers men of God of all places and all times are represented in that concern by search». With regard to the names of Kings (Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar) the first references seem to date back to the 5C through two texts, the first entitled Excerpta latina barbari, which are called Gathaspa, Melichior and Bithisarea, and other apocryphal gospel, the Armenian Gospel of childhood, which are called Balthazar, Melkon and Gaspard.

There you go folks, a wonderful story whether believe or not. The Epiphany is one tradition worth keeping especially in our agitated crazy world we live today. I will be looking forward to my next one whether on TV or in person in Madrid, we will see by January 2023 what the world will bring me. Hope you enjoy the post and feel free to tell me your versions of it.

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

July 31, 2022

WordPress ,you and me 2021 !!!

So taking a small time to thank you all for your loyal following during these last 12 years. It has been a wonderful trip which I have enjoyed very much, hoping you too.

I started on WordPress after advice from an American  friend living in Madrid for over 25 years who told me it was easy to work for the non technical guy in me and it has been so. It was November 26th 2010 so holy cow already almost 12 years !!!!!

And ,I have decided to look at my numbers with the help of wandering a bit into WordPress. Even with humble numbers compare to some of you, it has been a wonderful ride and fully satisfy. Again thank you so much. Merci beaucoup, muchas gracias, muito obrigado.

After already not counting this one, 3 824 posts in my blog, come to realize my best viewing day is Sunday…. and the best time is 9h or 9am!! The best day viewed was December 10, 2012! with 972 views!!! A record hard to beat !

My best view pages or posts for 2021 have been: A look back of history, a Palace in the Tuileries!, Some streets of Versailles !!! , and My college days in Florida-ERAU !!! The most view post all time has been Versailles and it’s historical Churches with 172!!!! ,Which since, I have split into individual posts ! Again , a record hard to beat !!

I have 974 other blogs following mine an honor! ,thank you all. I have cut down a lot as do not like folks just hanging on, need to have exchanges, views ,comments stories, suggestions that is part of traveling folks ! Anyway, never in my wildest dreams would I thought to have these many reading my blog wow! There are about 15 steady commentators and the top 10 are well known you know who you are , and my wish is to have more comments, constructive comments that is.

The countries that have most folks viewing my blog are in order: USA, France, UK, India, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, and Australia! Thanks!!! In actuality, it covers the world with many many countries in fact for 2021 counted 148 !!

The year of great activity with most views was 2012 with 120 701, and the one with the most visitors was 2013 with 27 140, the most likes , and comments was 2021 !! In 2021 , I had 48 635 views , 23 487 visitors, 26 977 likes, and 832 comments. . Another good year me think, Thank you!!!

There are a total of 7 pages on front page, 15 categories of posts and 15 tags with 7 favorite outside links in the blogroll . There are over 50 000 photos already here wow!!! 49,3% of memory space taken !

I am sure WordPress will have better numbers to tell in 2022. In the meantime, thanks for reading mine and sharing yours, always a pleasure to read. Enjoy your Summer as I.

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

July 27, 2022

The Municipal Opera of Ho Chi Minh City !

I have come to Asia quite recently in my life actually last trip was 2018, but before that were over 20 trips ! One of the most visited was Vietnam, and there Ho Chi Minh City. For an amateur lover of history and architecture this is a must for a different look even if history tells us that there are ramification of the world mobility all over for one reason or another vestiges of France are in VietnamLet me tell you about a place not been in it as no time to see all,  but did walk by and was inspired by something familiar! The Municipal Opera of Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam looks like the the Petit Palais of Paris!  Another wonderful experience of a vibrant, cosmopolitan city on the move, plenty of moves always busy and exciting day or night. Ho Chi Minh City , the former Saigon.

The theater of Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon Opera House was nice and another French inspired building.  Inspired by the architecture of Petit Palais de Paris, it was built in 1898-1900. During the Vietnam War, this theater was the seat of the parliament of the Republic of South Vietnam. Located on the main axis of the city center, the building is a cultural landmark of Lam Son Square and Dong Khoi Street or the former Catinat Street, between the famous Caravelle and Continental hotels. Exactly at No. 7, Lam Son Square, Ben Nghe, District 1.  With its white columns and elegant arcades, the Ho Chi Minh City City Theater makes one imagine for a moment that one is in a small romantic Paris, away from the busy downtown.

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Saigon’s Opera House has its specific characteristics. Its architectural style is influenced by the flamboyant style of the Third French Republic. The facade is inspired by the Petit Palais built the same year in Paris. The interior is well equipped, with perfect acoustics and lighting. The building includes a parterre and two balconies, capable of offering up to 800 seats but the oval auditorium has 468 seats.  However, the facade decor has suffered some criticism. Following the Gothic style, the facade of the building was decorated with inscriptions and reliefs , which was worth describing as complicated. In 1943, some of this decoration was removed. In 1998, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Saigon, the city government reconstructed part of the decoration of the facade.

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The Saigon Opera House is worth the detour for a high-end show that must satisfy contemporary and traditional art lovers; in addition to concerts and ballets, it offers a whole range of activities promoting the local culture by adopting innovative and original approaches.

The Vietnam tourist office on Ho Chi Minh City things to see, see video theater:  https://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/southern-vietnam/ho-chi-minh-city

A good info Lune productions site on the theater: https://www.luneproduction.com/saigon-opera-house

There you go folks, another architecture and historical landmark in the former Saigon,now Ho Chi Minh City. For the opera/theater lovers is worth the detour. For me well just happy to see it and admire its French architecture in the Opera House of Ho Chi Minh City. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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July 18, 2022

My 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 ! Many nice memories and more important nice friends, always looking forward to seeing again. For now let me tell you about my other towns of Indonesia , such as Bogor, Mojokerto, Ngoro, Malang and Sidoarjo. Memories forever.

The Sidoarjo Kabupaten admin area is located in the province of East Java, south of Surabaya, (see posts) 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 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. The flows have  repeatedly  buried  villages, communication  routes and fields despite  the construction of numerous retention dams.

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The road warrior in me passing Sidoarjo and a great city center shot indeed for the memories. The East Java tourist board on Sidoarjohttps://www.eastjava.com/east-java/tourism/sidoarjo/candi-sumur.html

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.

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! I also passed by you guess it a market, always love these anywhere. Time to eat of course, and 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 Foursquare on Warung Bu Krishttps://fr.foursquare.com/v/warung-bu-kris/4e3bccbee4cdab9b932bff73

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The Indonesia tourist board on Malang :https://www.indonesia.travel/fr/en/destinations/java/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,(see above)  Sidoarjo Regency and Lamongan Regency. 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. Driving by car and ate in Mojokerto at the Me Joyo Restaurant of local cuisine. The Foursquares on Me Joyo Restaurant: https://fr.foursquare.com/v/rm-mejoyo/5149417ae4b00b4871d39af9

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The Indonesia tourist board on Mojokertohttps://www.indonesia-tourism.com/french/java-est/mojokerto.html

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 !!!  This is where my branch office was, and I was in charge of Finance team for them. The official Ngoro Industrial park :https://www.ngoroindustrialpark.com/location

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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,(see posts), 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 !!!  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.

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 BogorThe 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.

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.  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 just road warrior trips and not enough photos in these smaller towns.

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The Indonesia tourist board on Bogor : https://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/destinations/java/bogor

These were on the road warrior 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. The memories of these sites and friends will be long remembererd fondly, and always looking forward to a repeat visit to Indonesia. There you go folks, a dandy ride in exotic Indonesia ; hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

June 19, 2022

Curiosities of Asia !!

Looking at my vault, found some older pictures on paper and took my digital camera to take picture of the pictures and use them in my blog. This allows me to show in my blog places not shown or pics with new angles of places shown in the blog. Nostalgia sets in and here I go on the curiosities of  Asia !!

Well found me a couple from my visit to Singapore when passing by Taiwan several years back even before blogging ! Memories found and glad to show it in my blog.

Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Built in 1827, Mariamman Kovil or Kling Street Temple as it was popularly known then was constructed for worship by immigrants from the Nagapatnam and Cuddalore districts of South India. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, known for her power in curing epidemic illnesses and diseases. By 1827 a temple structure made of wood and attap was built at South Bridge Road. In 1843, a building made of plaster and brick was put up for the first time. It was only in 1962, that a new temple structure was developed complete with intricate sculptural works reminiscent of temple architecture in India.

singapore Sri Mariamman temple

Rattan has remarkably stood the test of time. And its history goes way back. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt were buried with wicker furniture. Even the Roman empire was big on rattan furnishings. In Asia, raw rattan largely came from Indonesia and was shaped into furniture by craftsmen in China. Because of its proximity to both, Singapore was said to be Southeast Asia’s biggest exporter for rattan furniture. Eventually, the booming trade and colonists in Asia brought rattan to the US and Europe. I do not recall the name of the shop but it was full and busy ,just a reminder maybe someone can tell me what is the shop,do not recall and can’t make the name. Thanks in advance,

singapore rattan shop

There you go folks, a walk of nostalgia from my very earlier trips to Asia. The wonders of Singapore that brings nice memories my mind. It’s small world ,after all and looking forward to be back. Hope you enjoy the post as I reviving these old pictures into the life of my blog.

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

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May 26, 2022

The Greenbelts of 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 have written briefly on them before, but it was such a fun time for me, that decided to group all info into one post on the Greenbelts of Manila!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

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Greenbelt is a shopping mall located at the Ayala Center, Makati, metro Manila, It opened in 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.

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Greenbelt 1 features lifestyle, food, and supply stores, two cinemas, an onstage theater, a performing arts theater home to the Repertory Philippines. It is also the location of a branch of The Marketplace, the supermarket chain of Rustan’s.  Greenbelt 2 features high-end restaurants and the Greenbelt Townhomes, a two- to three-story condominium on top.  Greenbelt 3 features a mix of international brands including luxury labels, sit-down restaurants, five cinemas and entertainment facilities. The largest Philippine branch of Louis Vuitton was found here. Greenbelt 4 features high-end boutiques. Also included are branches of H&M and Globe store. Greenbelt 5 has boutiques of Filipino designers, high-end department store Adora, and boutiques.

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Restaurants can be found in Greenbelt 1, 2, 3, and 5, with Greenbelt 1 concentrating more on fast food, and Greenbelt 2, 3, and 5 featuring sit-down restaurants. Santo Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel is in Greenbelt Park at the complex’s center. Built as an open-air, concrete dome in the middle of a pond, the chapel holds Masses and other religious services every day for mall patrons and office workers. It celebrates its titular feast day every third Sunday of January.  Greenbelt is served by an interconnected basement parking built beneath it. It is also served by parking buildings located at Greenbelt 1 and 2, respectively, and the Paseo Steel Parking, located at the corner of Paseo de Roxas and Esperanza Street. The steel parking and Greenbelt 2 parking are interconnected to each other.

manila greenbelt chapel entr jan16

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. The company was great talkative, friendly, attentive and learn a lot about Manila and the Philippines! Nice memories indeed. I read this restaurant is tempo closed, do not know if open again. They were at 3rd Level, Greenbelt 3.  Either way, will keep in my post as memories lingered beyond and good times forever.

I was joined by friends for lunch at Mesa a nouvelle Filipino cuisine restaurant right in Greenbelt 5; It  was special having lunch with good company. The resto is still there at the Ground Floor level. They have other concept restos and its own webpage: https://foodeeglobal.ph/Brands/Mesa

manila-mesa-resto-inside-greenbelt-5-jan15

The mall is currently undergoing major re-development, with the ground level of Greenbelt 3 closed in 2019 for renovation. The new area re-opened in October 2021, which now hosts luxury labels and a newly-renovated Starbucks Reserve Cafe. One reason why maybe the TGIF resto is no longer there.  Greenbelt 4 will start its renovation works in 2022.

The official Ayala Malls on Greenbelthttps://www.ayalamalls.com/explore/ayala-greenbelt

Really if you are into shopping and in a great garden park with plenty of restaurant choices, this is the best one stop place in all Manila me think. To me of all the shopping malls I visited in the country (see posts) ,this was and is tops. Ayala Malls are everywhere but Greenbelt is in Makati, Manila!!

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

May 26, 2022

This is Lemery, Philippines!

I look again into my vault and saw bits of this nice experience meddle with other post so decided to take it out and do one post on it alone. One of my memorable road warrior experiences in the Philippines, I made several trips to the country over the last few years, 6 times to be exact from 2014 to November 2018, all memorable with many friends still in touch, see my many posts on the country in my blog. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on Lemery in the Philippines! Hope you enjoy it as I.

lemery arriving town center nov18

The town of Lemery is in the province of Batangas, Philippines.  The town was named after Captain Roberto Lemery, a commanding officer of the local garrison. As the story goes , during the early part of the 18C, adventurous settlers from Taal, northern  Mindoro and southern Cavite were attracted to the vast plain near the shores of Balayan Bay because of its abundance in fish and other marine life The place was first called Punta, meaning “point”. In 1818, the village of Punta was converted into one of the neighborhoods of the town of Taal. It was later renamed San Geronimo. In 1858, the neighborhood of San Geronimo became officially known as Lemery, after the death in 1856 of Captain Roberto Lemery. For economic considerations, Lemery was again annexed to Taal in 1904. Finally by virtue of a presidential executive order, it became an independent town in 1907. Lemery lies next to the heritage town of Taal; together they form a single urban area. The boundary runs along the Pansipit River; the river area was part of the sea until it was buried by tephra deposits from the 1755 eruption of Taal Volcano.

lemery enter complex twin lakes passing nov18

I went up to Lemery for breathtaking views of Twin Lakes. I reached the town from Tagaytay via the Diokno Highway, which is the road I took, While passing by the nice fruit market of Tagaytay, province of Cavite ,about 59 km from Manila.

lemery twin lakes passing nov18

tagaytay

Some of the things to see here are :Fantasy World, Km 78 Diokno Highway, Masayang. 300-hectare (740-acre) theme park, though incomplete and closed to the public This is, however, a common stopover for picture-taking by tourists travelling from Tagaytay to Taal . As I did see pic.

lemery fantasy world park passing nov18

Casa Corazon Motorcycle Museum ,National Highway, Sinisian . A private collection with many bikes and some classic cars. Lots of BMW machines including one from WWII with a machine gun mounted on the sidecar. The complex also includes a restaurant, hotel and some park areas. Saint Roch Parish Church . Lemery’s main parish church, it dates back to 1887, and used to have a Neoclassical façade with two belfries. It was badly damaged by aerial bombing at the end of WWII in 1945, and the façade was replaced by a modernist one in 1968, with the belfries demolished , There is a major shopping center seen elsewhere in the Philippines but not here, however, worth the stop with time, The SM Center Lemery, Ilustre Street (Beside Metro Lemery Medical Center), Quite a large mall. Has a SM Hypermarket, Watson’s pharmacy and fast food chains.

The town of Lemery on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MunicipalityOfLemery

The regional government of Lemery/Batangas on historyhttps://www.lemerybatangas.gov.ph/about/history

There you go folks, I feel better now having this wonderful road warrior experience in my blog,nice memories of the Philippines. Lemery was nice indeed, As said, many other visits there and been to several islands, great memories, and great friends. Do not know when back but if long the memories will lingered forever. 

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

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April 28, 2022

Hey! I was at Bạc Liêu, Vietnam!

Oh well looking at my pictures of Vietnam and bringing back memories and good cheers, I found this one little mention in older post. So, credit where credit is due, let me tell you a bit more on Bac Liêu, southern Vietnam. Hope you enjoy it as I.

Bạc Liêu is a provincial city and capital of the Bạc Liêu Province in the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam. The former name of the city is Vĩnh Lợi. At about 300 km from Ho Chi Minh City and about 100 km south of Cần Thơ, the largest city in the Mekong Delta. I came to the airport of Ca Mau, (see post) and drove by car, wonderful road warrior thrill.

Bac Lieu tac say church passing statues mar16

What marks Bac Liêu is its atypical landscape, western-style houses dating from the 20C line the river of the city. Its old villas have their own style, different from those that one can see in other cities of Vietnam. The materials came mainly from France, the architecture is symmetrical, the roofs have high vaults and high ceilings. The inhabitants of Bac Liêu circulate mainly on the waterways of the city, you too can admire the charm of this Western architecture during a boat trip.

A bit of history I like, The name Bạc Liêu is based on the Chinese pronunciation of a Khmer name  In the 1950s the area was a centre of Huỳnh Phú Sổ’s Hòa Hảo religion after Sổ was released there. After the Fall of Saigon, 30 April 1975, Bạc Liêu province and Cà Mau province were merged into one new entity called Minh Hải province. Although it is presently located in Vietnam, the area used to be a part of the Khmer Empire which ruled most of Indochina many centuries ago. It is still home to many ethnic Khmer people in addition to a large ethnic Teochew Chinese population In 1996, Minh Hải province was split into two, with the northeast becoming Bạc Liêu province and the southwest becoming Cà Mau province.

Bac Lieu Tac say memorial passing mar16

Some of the things to see in Bac Lieu ,which sadly had no time to see most of them are : Xiem Can Pagoda, Nha May Dien Gio Bac Lieu, Quan Am Phat Dai Temple, Tac Say Church – Truong Buu Diep (see pic), Cong Tu Bac Lieu House (Prince of Bac Lieu House), and Wind Farm Bac Lie.

Bac Lieu tac say church passing mar16

In Vietnam, Bạc Liêu is the main exporter of shrimp and prawns (for what I came!) . Do try its fondeu of fish, and the mix of Vietnamese, Chinese and Khmer cuisine.

An anecdote I was told: The don ca tài tu is a typical musical art of southern Vietnam that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bac Lieu is said to be the cradle of this art. It is indeed in this province that the greatest masters were trained during the 20C. Born at the end of the 19C from a combination of ritual music, court music and folk literature, the don ca tài tu became a highly prized art in the early 20C. Many groups have appeared all over South Vietnam. In the province of Bac Liêu, the most famous musician was Lê Tài Khi . Founder of the first group of ritual music in the province, he will remain above all for the following generations the “later founder” of the don ca tài tu, for having renovated and popularized the twenty original works of the repertoire. By the 1930s, most of the great masters of don ca tài tu were former students of Lê Tài Khi.

Its always hard to find official Tourism information in English: so these are sites that give some information on the area of Bac Lieu. Hope it helps,

The official Vietnam tourist office on the South Vietnam area: https://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/southern-vietnam

The Mekong Delta area private Far East Tour on boating in the Mekong by Bac Lieu in French: https://www.mekongtourisme.com/destination/detail/Conseils_de_voyage_a_Bac_Lieu_-_Croisiere_au_delta_du_Mekong_52.html

The private Origin Vietnam tourist guide on Bac Lieu: https://vietnam.vnanet.vn/french/la-visite-du-cap-ca-mau-une-experience-inoubliable/429934.html

There you go folks, another dandy off the beaten path trails of mine in our wonderful world. Bac Lieu was a chance to see something different and see the beauty of Vietnam. Again, hope you enjoy the post and do go deep south into Bac Lieu!

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

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April 28, 2022

The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh City!

I had this monument briefly mentioned and the pictures not the best were in other posts. I decided to update the text and use these older pictures into a new post. Memorable moments of my visits to Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon). I like to tell you a bit more even if just passed by it was on my list to go inside eventually; the Notre Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh City!

The Notre-Dame Cathedral sits in the center of Ho Chi Minh CityDistrict 1, not far from Saigon Post Office and Reunification Palace. It was built by the French from 1877 to 1880. It is located Place de la Commune-de-Paris (Công xã Paris), formerly Place Pigneau de Behaine which marks the beginning of Đồng Khởi Street.  

hcmc ND cathedral front passing mar16

A first church is built in the 5th street (currently Ngô Duc Ke). It was a pagoda abandoned by the Cochinchinese during the war of conquest , But it became too small, the governor of Cochinchina, Admiral Bonard, decided in 1863 to build a wooden church on the bank of the Charner canal (Kinh Lớn). Archbishop Lefèbvre laid the first stone on March 28, 1863 , and the construction was completed in 1865, when it was called the Church of Saigon.

In August 1876, the governor of Cochinchina Marie Jules Dupré organized a competition to determine the architecture of Notre-Dame Cathedral. The project by architect Jules Bourard was selected by the competition organizers from among the eighteen submitted proposals. The cathedral, according to Bourard’s plans, is in the Revised Romanesque style, mixed with the Gothic style and based on the model of Notre-Dame de Paris, but inferior in size. All building materials are imported from France. The outer wall of the cathedral is built with red bricks made and imported from Toulouse.  

On April 11, 1880, on the occasion of the celebration of Easter, the inaugural ceremony was celebrated in the presence of the Governor of Cochinchina, de Vilers. In 1895, two bell towers were added to the cathedral, each 58 meters high and housing six bronze bells, for a total weight of 28.85 tons. Crosses are installed at the top of each arrow, measuring 3.5 meters high, 2 meters wide, for 600 kilograms. The building then measures 60.5 meters. The 59 stained glass windows came from the Atelier Lorin in Chartres. Some were destroyed during the war and replaced with modern stained glass windows. The cathedral was electrified in October 1913.

In the flower garden in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, there was a bronze statue erected in 1902. The statue was sculpted in France. The statue was unsealed in 1945, but retaining the foundations. In 1959, the bishop commissioned a statue of Our Lady carved in granite in Rome, the statue which was sealed on the foundations left free in 1945 and honored it with the title of Regina Pacis (Queen of Peace). In 1960, the Holy See erected the Apostolic Vicariates of Vietnam into archdioceses with archbishoprics in Hanoi (North Vietnam), Hue and Saigon (South Vietnam). The cathedral is elevated to the title of mother church of the Archdiocese of Saigon. In 1962, the Holy See conferred on the mother cathedral of Saigon the title of minor basilica. From then on, this cathedral was called the Basilica-Cathedral of Notre Dame ( Our Lady) of Saigon. It still call this way even if the city has change to Ho Chi Minh City.

hcmc ND cathedral apse back mar16

Full services in both Vietnamese and English are held every Sunday morning and are well attended by Vietnamese and foreigners alike. Other services are held throughout the week. Hence, visitors who wish to attend mass should go on Sunday at 9h30 (9:30 a.m.). I was there while doing renovations ,this has been done already, souvenir picture

hcmc cathedral back passing dec18

The private Vietnam travel guide on the ND Cathedralhttps://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/saigon-notre-dame-cathedral.html

The Vietnam tourist board on HCMC and the Cathedralhttps://vietnam.travel/things-to-do/7-must-see-attractions-hcmc

The official Ho Chi Minh City tourist office on the Cathedral: http://sodulich.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/Home/moduleId/564/id/4400/ma/HCCDN/controller/HanhChinhDuKhach/action/Detail

There you go folks, a nice monument that should have been given more and worth the detour in the wonderful District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. Do enjoy the Basilica Cathedral Notre Dame of Saigon! 

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

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