>Winter Blast 2010!

>

The USA is getting blasted with a winter storm here at the end of 2010. From coast to coast, snow and extreme cold is snarling airtravel and life in general for millions. The northeast was hardest hit, as always, with blizzard conditions even forcing the postponement of a football game. Here in the southeast the snow moved in Christmas night, dumping four inches. When I was a kid I would have loved it, now it’s just messy and painfully cold. Meanwhile it is sunny and 85 degrees in Cebu, Philippines.

>Costa Rica Pictures

>

San Jose, Costa Rica

 Thought I would post a few pictures from my trip to Costa Rica. I have been there twice and look forward to going back.

Outside Cartago, Costa Rica






Beautiful valley south of Cartago in central Costa Rica

>Beautiful Costa Rica

>Costa Rica is a country located in Central America. One of the regions most prosperous and stable democracies, it flourishes as a popular tourist destination for American, Canadien and even many Europeans, who find the mild tropical climate, the nice beaches and pristine rainforests a welcome break from the stress of their busy lives. I have travelled here twice, the first time in July 2007 and again four months later.
Like the Philippines, Costa Rica is a predominately Catholic nation. And as in the Philippines many people speak English, although it’s good to know a little Spanish, if only for greetings. The capital is San Jose. It has everything a traveller could want. Five star hotels, eco-tourism, a bustling nightlife, casinos and for the more adventurous, the world famous Del Rey Hotel & Casino. Located in the heart of the city and open 24/7, The Del Rey is San Jose’s place to be. Three bars and hundreds of Ticas (Costa Rican women) for stimulating company, it’s a must see for the single guy.
I stayed there my first trip, I was single! The music pounding until six a.m. along with the visual images of what was going on downstairs made it hard to sleep. My advice is, visit, but stay at the Morazon Hotel next door. Just watch out for the cross-dressers late at night on the street, who will try to pull you away from your evenings companion. It happened to me and a friend of mine. (He actually punched one they were being so aggressive). But as always when in a foreign country be mindful of your surroundings and avoid trouble.

Pan American Highway, Costa Rica

San Jose is a great place to visit whether your single or married. Lots of options for things to do. It’s a great trip with short relatively inexpensive flights from the US. Forget Cancun….Head to San Jose! You’ll be glad you did.

>Chinese Food

>

Chicken Chow Mein…My Favorite

I decided to write again about food after a bit of an absence. As you may know I love Asain cuisine, but my choices in the US are mostly limited to Chinese restaurants. These establishments are everywhere here. There must be at least six or seven within driving distance of my house. They go by colorful names like Chin Garden, Panda’s Den and Fast Wok, and tend to be very popular and successful (have you ever seen one go out of business?). I eat there quite often. The food is fresh, hot and inexpensive, and with five dollar lunch specials on many dishes, you can’t go wrong. I like the food because of the good healthy vegetables incorporated in them, which I don’t always get in other meals. I have visited several but have settled on a few I like. They can’t compete with the authentic Asian food I prefer, but for a quick meal it does the trick. The only downside is the meal doesn’t stick with me (you feel hungry again after a couple hours…is it like that with you?). But I enjoy it and that’s what keeps me coming back.

Hot & Spicy Beef Lunch Special
Garlic Chicken

Philippines Food

On my journey to The Philippines I ate some wonderful foods. The Filipino cuisine is very diverse and full of flavor. It has evolved over the years from many Spanish, Chinese, American and other Asian influences, combined with the indigenous Malay culture and ingredients. Lechon (whole roasted pig) can probably be described as a national dish. Often served at celebrations or parties it’s always a treat. And if your a seafood lover like me, there’s no better place than The Philippines. Fish any way your like it. From sweet and sour Lapu-Lapu (pictured) to the grilled fish (my favorite) and shrimp soups the options seem endless. Combine those with the traditional pork with vegetables and roasted chicken, not to mention the variety of egg roll appetizers and you have some good eating. I did not try the Balut (fermented duck eggs) on my trip but I would have. I have included pictures of the foods from Cebu. Enjoy and comments welcome. Mabuhay!

Down Times

The World is in some down times right now. Lots of conflict and turmoil. Financial problems for governments in Europe and elsewhere. America, I’m afraid, is headed down the same path. The national debt is approaching 13 Trillion dollars. Politicians in both political parties here in the US are out of control, spending money at record amounts and I think putting my country on a path of decline. I am in general a conservative person, but I voted for Obama. I didn’t like McCain because of his illegal immigration stance, but Obama is no better on that and probably worse. The economy is better from a year ago, but this debt our country owes is the biggest threat we face.  I hope I’m wrong and things improve, not so much in the economy, but in governance. I believe corruption is not something that only occurs in Pakistan or some other third world country, but  exists here as well in various ways. Politicians must be held accountable by the people. Spending and growth of government in Washington, D.C. must be stopped, not just talked about. But we are a representative republic that chooses the politicians we have. So the people we elect create the government we deserve. 

Going To Manila

This is a story of my trip to The Philippines. The last in a series I wrote. Please see previous posts for full story. My friends and I left from Cebu for Manila on Saturday July 14, 2007 after having our flight cancelled the previous day. The airline was nice to provide a van back to Angeles at no charge. (Thank you Cebu Pacific). Met a nice Filipino woman on the trip up the highway. A successful business woman heading home to her husband and kids. Her company sells furniture in the Philippines and Internationally. She taught me a lot about the country and answered all my questions. Like are the Water Buffalo’s I saw on the side of the road wild or owned? She said they are owned. I had thought they just ran wild.

Arrived at the hotel in Angeles and said goodbye to the nice lady. Booked a van back to Manila and had some luch while we waited. This was turning into a lost day for my trip. By the time we were going to get back to Manila, the day would be gone. And it was. After another two hour trip down the highway we arrived in the city just in time to catch five o’clock traffic. Got stuck in the gridlock, on a divided thoroughfare with no escape. Took an hour and a half to go five miles. How do they do this day after day? It was maddening! The solution is traffic signals (i.e. Redlights). I saw very few traffic signals at intersections while there. That wound’t be a cure all in a metropolis like Manila, but it would’t hurt.

Checked into the Bayview Park Hotel again on Roxas Boulevard. It had been a long day and I just wanted a bite to eat and a bed to sleep in. I had a long flight tomorrow back to the States and wanted to be well rested. So that was the unclimactic end to my trip. A couple hotdogs from the 7-Eleven next door for supper and a trip around the block to get some cold lozenges for the rest of my body. I was feeling worn down. I had too many nights with not enough sleep during the past week, and was glad to just call it a day and relax at the hotel on my final night there.
The next next day was bitter sweet. Time to leave. This had been a trip of a life time for me. I enjoyed the time spent with our American friends and meeting my new Filipino friends. I love The Philippines! And it’s not just the women, as some may think. I came here for the adventure of it. Hoping to meet some new friend’s and have a good time. I wish I could have really seen the country more. Maybe take a ferry ride and explore the other islands. I didn’t have the time on this trip, only here for a week, but got a good feel for the people and culture. I hope to go back someday. Thank’s for reading and commenting. Good Luck!

Cebu Get Away

Being stuck in Cebu for one more day was an unexpected pleasure. The airline offered to comp us in a hotel near the airport, but we would rather be in the city, so off we went. Got a room at the Holiday Plaza Hotel. Very nice place in the heart of the city. I had just an ok lunch there though, the sweet and sour Lapu-Lapu fish. Something was off about it. Not the best of meals I have had in my travels. We were the only patrons in the restaurant, which should have been a clue that the food’s not that good. But to their credit, the banana split desert was fantastic! So to anyone traveling in Cebu. The Holiday Plaza is a nice place to stay. Just find an authentic Filipino restaurant in which to dine. I wish I had.

Later that evening, after some much needed down time, I decided to ditch the guys and headed accross the street from the hotel to a lounge for a beer. A little away time. I needed a break from the group dynamic for awhile. It was interesting being by myself. Out on the streets of Cebu, the looks from the people on the street. They are not used to seeing younger American visitors. I’m 42, but look much younger. The “lounge” turned out to be a go-go bar. But being weak in the flesh, I stayed for a cold San Mig Light. I had a nice meeting with a couple fellas from Texas there. They were in the the Philippines having a good time. Cool to chat with travelers on their journey, especially from US like me.

My friends eventually found me. We all headed out for a night on the town. I was a good boy this night. I had met a girl, Mage, as told in my previous posts. And my good friend Jeremy told me she is looking for a faithful man. So I decided my goal had been accomplished. I came here to meet someone and I had. No more looking. After a bit of partying I retired to my room. For the rest of the night I watched some of the fascinating shows on TV there. MTV Philippines was fun, but the Chicken Fight’s highlight show was something else. I’m told the cock fighting is a big sport there, which was apparent watching television. Only in The Philippines…well maybe Mexico as well.
Next..Going to Manila

Flight Canceled In Cebu

Our trip out of Cebu was scheduled for Thurday morning. Said goodbye to my new friends and went to the airport for the flight to Clark. After a quick breakfast of coffe and some delicious cheese eggrolls we made our way to the lounge. There we ran into a guy we had met in Hong Kong. Tom from New Hampshire. He had been laid over there like us and we had the chance to chat with him. He was going to Manila to get to know his Filipina love interest Hilda. The nice Chinese man booked us on the same flight. We met her also on the arrival in Manila.

Was a shock seeing him again. Here he was in Cebu. Stephen was scanning the room and said “There’s that guy Tom”. He was also surprised to see us. We chatted with Tom while waiting on our flight and he enjoyed seeing the pictures we had taken of our adventure so far. Hilda was not so happy, seeing that some of the photos my buddy’s had taken were pretty racy. Didn’t want her American lured away by temptation I am sure. She was a great gal though. He was meeting her family on the trip so I’m sure he’s a future Expat in The Philipines.

After several delays for our flight in was finally canceled. A mad rush to the counter ensued. We decided to stay another day in Cebu instead of booking a later flight. And we would have to go to Manila tomorrow instead of Clark. Now, we had to go back to Angeles to pick up our bags, as all of us had traveled with just a carry-on. Which meant another road trip from Manila. It was the price we had to pay. I wasn’t going to spend a day at the airport. Might as well see more of Cebu. Pictures are in Cebu City, Philippines.
Next…Cebu Get Away

Nightlife in Cebu and Mactan Island

First night in Cebu! In the company of a couple of Filipinas who know the town well, even though they live in the northern province in Medellin. Got checked into the Diplomat Hotel and went for a fabulous meal at a restaurant in the SM Mall. These people know how to cook some fish (no surprise). Then it was off to the Sunflower Disco in the city. An awesome place! Live music with dancing. Not my favorite thing to do but after a San Mig and a shot of Tequila, why not let the girls have some fun. We had a blast and after the fun headed to the Jolibee for a late night meal. Mage attempted to find a street vendor selling Balut but was unsuccessful. Which was fine with me. I didn’t try Balut while there, but I will give it a try, maybe, next time. If you don’t know what that is, it is a fremented duck egg, with the duck fetus inside. Know as an aphrodisiac in The Philippines. Not my cup of tea.

The next day we traveled accross the channel to Mactan Island to visit Tambuli Beach. Beautiful new bridge there between the islands. Built by the Japanese I was told. Lots of business between the two countries these days, which is a nice thing I suppose, considering their history. The island is very nice with many resorts dotting the coast. It was a wind swept day but sunny and hot. Just what I came for. The fee was 750 Pesos for the day which included lunch. They had jet ski rentals but they were pretty expensive so we just enjoyed the beach and the views. Fun times! Wish I would have had more time there. I would like to see more of Cebu in the future and travel to the province in the north and see Bantayan Island.

Next…Flight canceled!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.