A day in the life of a Teaboy in Kuwait

When i moved to Kuwait, I was taken aback of this country’s love affair with Tea & Coffee. They are  heavy Tea-Drinkers as well as Coffe addicts, i must say. A day in the life of Kuwaitis is not complete without Chai (commonly known as Tea in Middle East ) & Gahwa  or Arabic Coffee. I see so much coziness from them  sitting and enjoying a cup, whether its in the confines of their homes, or in outside cafes.

In Kuwait, tea is usually served after lunch. Kuwaiti tea is just regular hot tea, but many families add some flavors to it such as saffron or mint. Arabic coffee is also very important especially when Kuwaitis have visitors. Traditionally, when people visit, the first thing served should be the Arabic coffee.

Noor , a native from Bangladesh have been working in Kuwait as a Teaboy  for the last 10 years of his life. He has 7 children, all that He left behind in Bangladesh without watching them closely while growing up. He goes back to Bangladesh once a year for his annual vacation for a maximum of 2 months and he goes back to Kuwait once again. His first Kuwaiti sponsor refused to grant him release to be able to transfer to other company. A release paper is needed for an expatriate to transfer his residency to another sponsor and get a new job. He earns 80 KD  (approx. 263 USD ) a month for his job as a Teaboy.

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Afternoon treat : A typical tea with dates in the Middle East

Noor, like many of the expats who works in Kuwait as a Teaboy has a very tedious routine. His main job is to provide Tea & coffee, everyday. His life revolves around boiling water in the kettle, making tea or chai , Gahwa, other variants of coffee  for all his superiors and staff in the company. Oftentimes, he is also a runner. He does the errands of taking supplies from the Jamiya ( a supermarket ) once He rans out for his tea & coffee supplies. His space is the pantry or a separate kitchen in the office. He is quite regarded as a passive employee, but his importance cannot be taken for granted. I have seen that my Kuwaiti Bosses get ill-tempered knowing that there is no tea or coffee to be served. Kuwaitis drink chai almost every 2 hours. There’s no such thing as coffee break in the Middle east  (at least here in K-Town ). Staff asks for their cup of tea whenever they want it. But during Ramadan, Noor has a a lax schedule since people are fasting.

He had this special skill to make the kind of Gahwa that even our company visitors commend. Once the Big Bosses arrive, Noor is the first person they call. All staff knows the teaboy. If you make great Tea, then your job is secure. His happiness is to see his Boss and the staff enjoy his tea with delight. If you asks for a second cup, you can always see a sweet smile forming in his face.

One time I had a talk with Noor after He just came back from his vacation . I asked him if his wife knows how to make tea or arabic coffee. He replied that He’s the one making it for her because He knows it better. After all, Its his Job.

You see, drinking tea and coffee is a big part of an Arabic culture in Kuwait. It is part of their life. Their day revolves around doing their work  while having a warm tea , or a quick caffeine fix of Gahwa (also known as Arabic coffee). In most Diwaniyas (or Kuwaiti gathering of men ), having tea is a part of a lively discussion. They most enjoyed it while having traditional sweets & dates. A typical Diwaniya mostly last more than 2 hours , mostly in the late afternoons. Imagine how much tea and coffee a Teaboy needs to make if there is a big gathering? Most Kuwaiti household has a separate Teaboy who  also do the job of a gardener or a Houseboy help.

I wonder many times what would happen to Kuwait without their Teaboys? Or who makes Tea for the Teaboys?

How about you, Do you find any surprising cultural Habits in your new country?

If you like this post then you might want to check out my other posts about Culture shocks & fascinating encounters i have in my Expat Life here in Kuwait.

Shukran!

 

 

 

 

 

Al-Hashemi II-Dhow-Amazing!

What was the largest boat you’ve ever boarded?

Surprisingly, the largest wooden Arabic Dhow in the planet is sitting in Kuwait. The “Al Hashemi II ” which is graciously docked along Arabian Gulf coast and standing tall with Kuwaiti pride right beside the world class 5 star Hotel Radisson Blu along Al Bidaa. Seeing this amazing Dhow is one of the highlights in my whole length of stay in this country. I had the most amazing time of being on board . I have never seen a boat as big & grand as Al Hashemi II. Truly this is a masterpiece and one of Kuwait’s pride. Seeing the wooden boat for real reminds me of ancient Noah’s ark.

It’s no wonder that Kuwait’s rich history is linked to the seas, since it is strategically adjacent to Arabian Gulf. In the old times,the Dhows from Arabian regions sailed to trade routes to India and east Africa for hundreds of years.

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The Al-Hashemi II docked in Kuwait grounds

 

The Al-Hashemi II, a world breaking masterpiece (Guiness World Record holder ) which was opened in March 2000 after 15 years of construction by 250 expert crafts people. This is one of the main attractions in Kuwait that every Expat and visitors should not miss.

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One of the highlighst of our daytrip to the elegant Al Hashemi II  is the stunning Grand Ball Room, which can also be hired for galas, weddings, and other events. It has a total area of 1,200 sq/mtr reception hall  .It has 12 meeting rooms for 650 persons, 2 Boardrooms which is modernly designed for meetings & symposiums, and the 2nd floor of Al Hashemi II  has 1,000 sq/mtr open space which is ideal for parties & cocktail engagements.

We admired the maritime architecture inside while descending from an ornate wooden staircase. We marveled in its decorative floors. The grand Ball Room takes in the lavishly carved walls and ceilings, elegant columns and pretty lighting.The chandeliers are quite a sight!

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View of the Grand Hall inside Al-Hashemi II

 

Right even before the oil discovery in Kuwait , the country thrived on fishing as its primary means of livelihood. This is one their Heritage and i find it so amazing how they preserve its significance up until the modern times. This is particularly evident with the number of Museums dedicated to showcase their Maritime history.

Al Hashemi II is so huge that it houses the Al-Hashemi Maritime Museum. We let ourselves loose exploring its history and significant contribution to Kuwait. The museum’s collection of scaled-model traditional dhows, marine tools, photographs and other objects highlight the traditions of shipbuilding and seafaring in Kuwait. Entrance to the museum is free, and a shop on site sells maritime mementos. After i saw this Museum, i developed a great respect to this country’s Dhow legacy.

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Scale-models of the traditional Dhows & boats displayed in Al Hashemi Maritime Museum

 

Radisson Blu is our top choice for our setting for our wedding in Kuwait & I had to share that I had the most wonderful experience to have my wedding photo shoots inside the Al Hashemi II Dhow. There’s no better way to pay tribute to it than letting it be my wedding backdrop. It provide such an extraordinary ambiance, which is a dream for me.  We entertained our guests with  dinner inside another boat, the “Mohammed II ” or locally known as” Al Boom “.  This place is close to my heart. It’s our perfect place for a place to create memories for one of the important days of my life.

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Al Hashemi Maritime Museum

 

As an Expat in Kuwait, A visit to Al- Hashemi is magical, a glimpse on its size & grandeur which  takes you back to the times where Noah’s Ark is being built. Now this giant boat is a reminder that out of a one man’s dream could come out a masterpiece  that can never be forgotten. Though it never sailed along the sea, it has its symbolic pride, A true labor of Love. That’s what it matters for Al Hashemi II.

If you are residing in Kuwait, Try visiting the Al Hashemi II and fall in love with its beauty. I highly recommend it.If you want to visit the AL HASHEMI II Museum, you can check out more details Here.

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Thank you for stopping by ! Salam .

 

8 Free things every Expat must do in Kuwait

There are absolutely free things in Kuwait for you to splurge on. Now that we have cooler temperatures, being out and about  gives you us a chance to discover this country’s various hidden facets. But having a great time  doesn’t need to be costly, some things can be enjoyed without spending much . For Expats like me who wants to spend a quality time during weekends with family & friends,you might be interested in these attractions. I have compiled these 8 Free Things to do In Kuwait  that you might want to check out on your next spare time.

Here are my  favorites :

1. Catching  Sunsets in the Arabian Gulf

When was the last time you actually watch the sunset & just admired it ? Give your phone a break and take time to chase a sunset along the Arabian Gulf . The beautiful corniche from the Scientific Center strip up to Marina Crescent is our favourite as it has a beautiful view of Skyline & silhoutte of Kuwait towers & skycrapers .

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2. Exploring  the Souk Mubarakiya

Mubarakiya is the market melting pot of Kuwait. You can get lost in its diversity, and smorgasbord of Arabs flocked here especially on Fridays. If i have a visitor to Kuwait, this is one of the place I would bring them. There’s so much things to see and to do.

What’s so fascinating about Souk Mubarakiya is its diversity . It has numerous shops from Arab clothing, jewelry, toys, perfume, Indian spices, shoes, traditional Kuwaiti souvenirs, household goods, Iranian carpets and a spread of woven crafts & rugs, fish market and the list go on. Have you tried exploring the Old souk and haggle for the beautiful rugs & carpets ? Or the beautiful unique tapestries that are really worth checking out . If you can spend 3 hours just people watching inside Avenues during Summer ,then try for a change to gaze at the diverse culture you can find inside the Mubarakiya.

3. Watch the fishermen and their fresh catch in Souk Sharq Fish Markets

Maybe it’s not your thing but i find it fascinating just to see the different boats in the docks of Souk Sharq . You can see how the local Fisherman went about their business & how each of the boats just float there . If you like, then you can check out the Fish market nearby to have an idea what to prepare for dinner .

 

4. Catch the wonderful Lights show in Kuwait Towers

Have you seen the different lights on the Kuwait Towers recently? If not, try to get there at night and just have a vain selfie .Its a nice walk along its promenade and to have family picnics beside the beach while enjoying the Light Show.

5. Take a Nap in the Park

If you are a mother and constantly looking for new places to  bring your kids & for yourself to enjoy as well, then hit a nearby park & let your kids let loose in the park until they are exhausted . Make sure to pack some snacks & drinks and off you go. Maybe they can have a nap too in the park, while you can enjoy some peace and quiet  and doze off while your spouse can watch the kids. Pick out a not-so-crowded area in the park & lay your blanket for a short escape from your phone & TV. I tell you , being out is good for you . Kuwait Mom’s Guide have a  very nice list of all the Parks & playground around Kuwait that you can check out from Here.

6. Explore the Traditional Arabic Dhows

There are various locations where the traditional Dhows ( Wooden Fishing boats) are displayed for public viewing. You can learn its history, and be amazed how the ancient Arabs built these Dhows . The World’s largest Arabic Dhow “Al Hashemi II” is displayed inside the grounds of Radisson Blu Hotel. Its a renowned Guiness Book record holder  for its grandeur & size.This is one of the top attractions here in Kuwait. Go inside & get lost of its beautiful interiors. Even the chandeliers inside the boat will make you gasp.

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The Al-Hashemi II Dhow in Kuwait

The Al Hashemi marine Museum is totally free admission, In here, you can learn from Kuwait’s rich maritime history. Another  Dhows displays are in the grounds of Scientific Center near seaside  and the one in the grounds of  Kuwait Museum. You can combine this while you visit the Kuwait Museum which has a very diversified collection of Kuwait artifacts and the Planetarium.

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The roof panels of Kuwait National Museum

7. Admire the Architecture

If you’re into Architecture and love beautiful buildings like me, then Kuwait offers a vast views from modern up to traditional buildings that is pleasing to the eyes of Art enthusiasts. You can see a distinct pattern which is a typical Kuwaiti design in Modern buildings, malls, Shops & residence Villas. One example is the Ghani Palace along Salem Al Mubarak Street in Salmiya.

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8. Attend the Grand Mosque Tour

This is a very rewarding experience, and every Expat should see this important landmark in Kuwait. Not only that it boast its grandeur of its islamic design and religious significance,it will  also give you a different perspective about Muslim culture & traditions. For Expats who are interested to embrace the Kuwaiti culture then this destination should not be missed. The Grand Mosque has a gorgeous interior architecture and the tour is very informative about Islam ,and good thing is its conducted in English. The Aware Center  is arranging their Free Tour for the Grand Mosque. The tour is usually  held on Saturdays. Its free and open even to non-Muslim expats even kids are welcome. The women need to dressed up modestly during the tour. The Grand mosque has facilities to provide Abayas to every female visitor. If you are interested, you can check out for more details Here. or read my separate post about my visit to the Grand Mosque Here.

Are there really Free things to do in Kuwait ? YES,absolutely!

If you like this post, feel free to like & share it. Thanks for visiting my page !

 

 

Bakala , 711 of the Desert

Picture this :  It’s Friday and its your day-off from work . You wanted to make some pancakes and checking out your pantry you realized that you ran out of eggs & your box of milk is not enough to make a batter. You quickly get loose coins and head on to the elevator to go to the Bakala right in front of your building .Easy peasy right? Very convenient! Even better , you just call them to deliver !

If you are an Expat in Kuwait, it is for sure that you have a favorite Bakala around in your neighborhood. It’s totally a Kuwaiti thing. I have never seen a Bakala version in the neighborhood in the Netherlands or in Europe.

Bakala is a mini-store, a version of a supermarket , a one stop shop that sits on almost every block all over Kuwait. You can even find a Bakala before you get lost in the vast desert near Wafra , Julaiah, and further most of Sulaibiya. Normally its located on the corner of a building , right next to residential flats, right in front of the mosque [masjid ] or across from the busy streets in the city. It’s uniquely tucked in or adjacent to main shops. Its size is so incredibly small and packed up with various goods.

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 Bakala storekeeper in Kuwait

They sell fruits, bread, milk, soap, soda drinks of all kinds, cigarettes, and even toys for the Little ones. You can find everyday staples in here. Their door is decorated with inflatables or stuff animals that eventually attracts the kids playing in the streets. My favorite is their KDD ice creams in cones. Here, people normally just honk their cars and the storekeeper comes to get their orders. Like a take-away in restaurants that you don’t need to get out from your car. They even deliver goods right to your doorsteps if you are too lazy to go out. I often ordered  boxes of our drinking water from the Bakala right down in our building.They have Phonto pay system for your mobile & internet bills, as well as recharging system.

Once i moved to Kuwait, i noticed the existence of Bakala is quite part of Arab culture.Every Bakala has a distinct identify . Some are really decorated well, some are so tiny that only 1 person can get inside. Normally in every municipality in Kuwait there is a nearby  Coop Shops which is subsidized by the local government. This place is frequently visited by Kuwaitis, other Arabs and Expats too. But also, array of Bakalas to choose from. What surprised me is that i found Filipino stuff in their shelves, like noodles,sardines, soy sauce and even vegetables!

If Sari-Sari store stores exists in Philippines, then this is their local version. The only thing that differs is that in Philippines, they are privately owned by families, they don’t deliver to houses and they accepts credit. In Bakala, you can only pay by cash, or by K-net ( or Debit card /electronic payment ) for some subscription bills .Whenever i miss something from my groceries, i can always rely to the Bakala . A total lifesaver.

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Bakala in the Desert in Kuwait

What about you, do you find any fascinating things  in your new country ? If you like this post,please feel free to leave your comments.

If you are planning to move in Kuwait then you might find more interesting Expat views of Kuwait in my post “Kuwait : from an Expat point of View “ post .You will know more about Culture shock and Typically Kuwait things we found while living here.

Until then and thank you for stopping by and  reading !

 

 

Failaka Island : Forsaken Memoirs

As we continue our quest to explore and look for fascinating places in Kuwait, we finally get our feet on board of one of the Catamarans from Marina Crescent to bring us to  Failaka Island. If you have your own boat then you can freely reach the island. There are only 2 options  for visitors to reach Failaka , You can either sail on board the ferry of the Kuwait Public Transport Company (KPTC), which also allows  to transport your  vehicles on board. This ferry trip usually takes about 90 minutes or a little longer and the ticket costs KD 5 roundtrip per person and about KD 30 per vehicle. A second option is the ferry boats of a private company which sails from the Marina Crescent and costs KD 15 per person. On board of this boat, a passenger can reach Failaka in around 40 minutes. We opt for the 2nd option.

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Watching the sun go down in Failaka

Failaka Island is located in the northern part of the Persian Gulf, approx. 20 km off the coast of Kuwait City. Don’t get me wrong , Failaka is not the hip island destination. Right now, it mainly attract visitors because of its Historical significance. A visit to this place can give you the traditional past of Kuwait with structures dating back to the Bronze Age Dilmun civilisation with more ‘recent’ events such as the 17th century settlement of the Utubs. If you are a war history buff , then a visit to this place might interest you. Rundown buildings and houses with bullet shots is a common sight . It’s like walking into a ghost town .

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Memoirs of war in Failaka

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Iraqi forces expelled the civilian population and mined the beaches. After Iraq was expelled from Kuwait in 1991, the Kuwaiti government resettled the island’s population on on the mainland of Kuwait and compensated the locals for their property. The island has been cleared of mines, and it has been used for military exercises. Many Kuwaitis fish there and some former residents visit occasionally, but special permits are required.

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A Vandalized wall in Failaka Island

Failaka is a floating desert. Once i reached the place i wondered why an oil-rich country like Kuwait afford to let this land goes to waste. If I have a billion KD  I want to buy this land and turn it into something else. It’s sad to see that  it’s deteriorating. The remaining structures are poorly maintained. If this place indeed have a rich significance in Kuwait’s Heritage, then why they are not treasuring this. Soon, time will steal the charm of this place. Nowadays, this place has become home to most camels . Although this is one of the typical visitor’s destination in Kuwait, still,less effort has been seen in promoting the tourism in this place.

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A war tank used during Iraqi invasion

If you step on Failaka island, its for sure that you will take memories with you. Once you see the abandoned town, the hotel lying in ruins , war tanks debris ,and the sprawling barren landscape, you could have an idea how the inhabitants feel whenever they would see their former dwellings. Even their memories are buried there .But wouldn’t it be better if you see hope on this place? War is over , but this place never recover.

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Abandoned hotel

The day tour includes sightseeing on key sights such as the Heritage Village, Camel farms, the remnants of war where you can see old debris of tanks used { which best described as a junk yard } and a coaster driven tour of the whole town. You can see the bullet shots from the walls of  the bank and other establishment. At midday, a buffet lunch served in a big tent which is quite nice. It brings out the ambiance of traditional Arabic feast inside the tents.

Travel Tip !

  • If you want to visit Failaka , check out  Aware Center’s events & schedule,  they  often arrange special tours for this. If you live in Kuwait, you can just head on to Marina Crescent and look  for the trip itineraries & schedule. Recommended time to go in Winter months where the temperature is nice to stay outside.
  • Failaka is a total laid back island. Don’t put your expectations high. Bring enough cash if you plan to get some souvenirs or eat in the restaurants.
  • Delays on the ferry schedules & pick up times oftentimes have a lag so be prepared. We were delayed to embark in our boat  last time because it was low tide.
  • Although this is a family friendly destination but i don’t recommend bringing a baby in Failaka because really, there’s nothing quite new here to entice your baby.

 

A visit to Failaka is a change from the normal life in the city. If you want a short breather and you have free time to kill, then it’s one of the things you could check out while in K-Town.

Thanks  for stopping by !

Becoming an Expat is Hard

Before, I never really thought of myself of becoming an Expat. To travel and visit other places, Ok. But working and living abroad is a different story. An Expat  is someone who lives in another country that is not your home country. Either for work or educational purposes, your life continues, it’s just that it is in another place. So basically, It is a big change. For someone who have never experienced leaving their own country, this idea seems appealing. Most of the time,  others would regard you well because they find it different from ordinary. Little did they know that life abroad as an Expat could pose hurdles in your life, that you should overcome in order to become successful.

Being an Expat for the last 8 years of my life gives me enough reason to share my experience. Aside from the fact that this is my own side of story in internet then let me do so. So why being an Expat is hard? Here’s my thoughts ;

I don’t understand the Language

Ever been in a situation where you felt like your brain bleeds because you don’t know & haven’t got a clue of what that word means ? Or have you been asked to sign a document that has no translation?

Language barrier is far by the most difficult thing to overcome in the life of an Expat. Arabic language is not a typical language spoken so it’s difficult if you don’t know a single word.  It could be a daunting experience to go into a supermarket or just being out and about if almost everything is written in Arabic. The worst part could be when you talk to a local who doesn’t speak English!  At work it could also make you feel like an idiot . Imagine if all paperworks are in Arabic?  I remember my earlier days working here that I could not explain what i wanted to say . Though my Bosses and colleagues knows English, it doesn’t mean that they really get what I meant . It always makes you feel an outsider once you cannot communicate effectively. If you wanted to become at ease in your move, it is always good to learn their language . You can try to learn an online course to let yourself familiarize with the language. It is for your own sanity. Google translate cannot always save your day.

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One fine morning in Green Island ,Kuwait

It can be lonely.

Moving to another country means you leave your family and friends back home. Sure you can patch things up through the ever presence of internet & social meadia ,but its just not the same. Day to day life of an Expat could become a routinary and functional .You go to work & go home to rest . Depending on your lifestyle , you could face a slag in your social activities and you might find it difficult to engage in the things that you do before especially if your new country has limited resources for it. If you move to middle east that has restrictions on so many things, then you might end up lonely  and bored. Making new friends could be difficult because of language barrier and difference in opinions.

Now that I have a child of my own i begin to appreciate more the fact that my own family being together in our Expat Life. I imagine the hardship and emotional struggle of separation of many Expats being away from their Spouses & children  just because of the need to work overseas. I tell you, It can really be lonely.

The culture is different , so as the Rules .

In the middle east,you change the way you dress in modest way for respect of their culture. The working environment is different so as the government, Healthcare, Transportation and the overall social norms. Being in a sponsored residency makes you feel like you owe them your freedom. You cannot make immediate decisions for yourself without consulting your Sponsor first since they are in a legal way responsible for your stay. Most especially if it concerns your work or your residency status. No matter what you do, you will be regarded as a foreigner, an Expat. These are just some of the basic things that could be surprise to you when you moved. Although there are some things that you don’t understand why it is happening, or why things are not the same as you expected, you cannot do so much with it because it has been decided already even before you moved there and there’s not much you can do about it because, as i mentioned above, You are just an Expat. They make the Rules and you need to obey.Kuwait for example is a country who has no program for proper integration of Expats. You need to do the survival for yourself.

Your Life sort of Stand still

Moving  to another country may signal personal growth for others . On the other hand, it could be preceived that your life sort of stand still. Your life is moving sideways but never moving forward. Yes, maybe you are earning much but growing as a person is another thing. Being able to adapt to your new surroundings is personal. It varies from person to person. Homesickness is real. It may come suddenly from the time you least expect it in some degree or another. Your lifestyle had major changes and this greatly affect the way you see things back home. Example, if you leave your family behind in your home country just like most of the OFW’s in Middle East, your life  without them become monotonous. There is always the thought that you are missing something from the life that you left behind. Your relationship could suffer much if you don’t work hard on it. Now depending on the purpose of your move, then you can have back up plans. Most of Expats bring their family with them after settling in, others who cannot afford the cost of it just simply give in to the norms of being away from their loved ones.

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Sometimes Fellow Expats sucks!

When you moved to another country, its very likely that you will be meeting fellow Expats,maybe in the same boat as you. They came from different parts, sometimes same as your country of origin. They are the ones who complains about everything and bitches out about the new country’s customs and its culture, the food, weather etc. , everyday.! This is from a personal experience and although i hate to say this, i just find it so annoying to see fellow Expats behaving like this. It makes me wonder why they come here in the first place. I mean, it is their own choice to be here. The worst part could be that its your own fellowmen who will pull you down. In Philippines,it is known as Crab Mentality. Sad to say that some Expats bring them along with them. You need to develop a tough skin in order to survive when you are surrounded with people like this, or better , remove those from your circle.

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Boats in Souk Sharq

These are just few of the many things I have faced as an Expat . Many times i thought of giving up and i feel lost thinking if I’ve made a complete mistake of moving here. There come a point in time that i need to re assess my goals and reasoning why i have made this choice. On the other side, it have made me appreciate my home country even more and the things i have left behind . Being an Expat has a price, but its up to you to make it through the journey. I have made the decision to embrace the culture of this new country which has become my second home . I got married & had my first child here . I felt alone many times, i have missed being surrounded by old friends. All of these have made me realized that its your choices that define your destiny.

What about you, what is the biggest struggle you’ve faced as an Expat?

Thank you for stopping by  and If you like this post then you might be interested to check out my post about Kuwait : from an Expat point of View  for more up close & personal experience of my Expat Life in Kuwait.

Wishing you the best in your life as an Expat  wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filipino Parenthood

In my previous post 10 Surprising Things about Parenthood in Kuwait, I wrote about fascinating things that caught me by surprise as an Expat parent living in Kuwait. I found so many differences in child rearing in Arab countries as well as in Netherlands compared to how I was raised in the Philippines. It’s not the same  when you are a parent in your home country with your own native culture than becoming an Expat parent in another country with totally contrasting cultural  & child upbringing values. I become a parent and gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait so I don’t have a personal experience how to rear a child in Ph, but these things are based on how I saw my nieces, nephews, and how I viewed childcare during  my childhood. So much changes since then.

So here I want to share with you my humble views about Parenthood in the Philippines since this has become an interesting subject for me when I became a parent. Being born & raised there , my observations were from my personal experiences and the way I see the Filipino way of parenting against Global Parenthood. On the other hand, I am not putting into generalization of everything since parenting is pure hands-on & personal.

It differs from one person to another . You as the parent knows what is best for your child.

  1. On Philippines as a Child-Friendly country

Philippines in general have the  impression of a child-Friendly country. If you google about it, you will see faces of smiling faces of children, wacky as it may seem but children are important part of the society. It is a typical sight that children are seen in every occasion, in almost every social activities and being regarded with respect and protection. You can see Filipina mothers with their young babies out in the night shopping, in the church, in the wet markets buying fish,playing in the rice fields, brought to workplaces, parties or just tagged along doing errands. There is no such thing as off-limits zone for Children.

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Recently ,the Philippines has achieved much in complying to the principles of UNCRC  or (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ) over the past 25 years. But in the next quarter century,they strive for the whole nation to have more caring community where children do not experience discrimination, but the warmth of a community so willing to embrace and protect them.

2.On Embracing the trend in Young Parenthood  & High Birth Rate 

Philippines stands high at #59 ranking for Birth Rate  with 24.27 Births /1,000 population and Filipina women have a High Fertility rate of 2.6 (#67) , Compared to Netherlands which is 1.7 child per woman (#152)  or with Germany which has 1.4 (#186)  only. This really surprised me. Numbers really shows you the fine line between facts and just pure hypes. Numbers don’t lie.

To view the whole article for Fertility Rate per country as per 2015 stats, click Here.

It is  common to see Filipino women to have children at a very young age. Teenage pregnancy have become an accepted norm , It is a taboo subject that causes raised eyebrows and yet mainly because there is not enough education about Sex, Birth control & use of contraceptives. It’s depressing to see young women getting pregnant and becoming mothers at the age of 15-19.

What do you know when you are 19!

I became a mother myself when I gave birth to my daughter at the age of 37. Yeah, too late maybe.

Although the Catholic church is very involved in this issue it shows that its unsuccessful. This trend has a direct impact on the quality of parenthood for Filipinos. Young Filipina mothers faced difficulties in raising a child due to lack of maturity and knowledge about having a child. There is a big change in one’s moral  and character once you’ve got responsibilities  that come too early for you to handle. Oftentimes,it is the child who suffers.

3. On Growing up in Big Families

Filipinos are very  clanish.They tend to live closer to their relatives. I don’t know how this started but I grew up seeing this type of living arrangement. Filipinos have an average of 3-5 children and having a big family is commonly seen as status. Children are raised up not only by their parents but with the whole clan .They grow up being taken care of by their Grandparents, Aunties ,or Uncles and up to their distant cousins. It’s no wonder that the stress of Cleaving and Independency upon growing up is not regarded as strongly as in the US or in Europe. At an early stage of rearing a child, Filipino parents exposed their child knowing that they always have someone to depend on or will take care of them if both of the parents are unavailable. This is maybe  the reason why most Filipinos live together with their parents even when they already have their own families. In a way this is an advantage when you’re a working Mom, you can always count on Grandma to look after the kids if you don’t have a maid. I observed that this is totally non-existent in Europe or in US where Independency  upon reaching  18/21 of age  is a norm. Maybe there is, but it’s not as common as in Ph. In Philippines, It has been an  accepted weakness to ask for help , to rely on immediate support & help from other members of the family.

 

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A photo of Filipino children gamely poses in front of the camera.

This manner of  raising a child have become an integral support system for  Filipino parents. On its positive side, Mothers get the help that she need in child care right away , almost behind her doorstep. It’s very normal that babies are used to seeing their  siblings and relatives ,  therefore Separation Anxiety is easily overcome  as early as toddler’s stage. They don’t have a difficult time adjusting to the surroundings of a Nanny,in a Daycare or Nursery school. Having a hired help ( maid or Nanny ) to take care of the children is not that prevalent although its a personal choice, but this can be seen now mostly on middle-class & well-off families.

4.Filipino parents are totally Hands-on and Attached in raising a child

What i found so common in Filipino parenting is that they are totally hands-on and attached (physically & literally ) to their child. I have observed that Filipina mothers are known to be good homemakers and caring for their child. Maybe this is the reason why many Filipinas who worked abroad as a Nanny  have a distinct reputation of being excellent in raising kids.

Extended Breastfeeding, Babywearing, & Co-Sleeping are among the child rearing values that is so typical for Filipinos. Although many people have raised their different opinions about Co-Sleeping, it has become a trademark of Filipino families. A baby sleeps in the same room with the parents and most of the time, sleeps on the same bed too. I wonder many times how Filipino couples handles the private and intimate moments with a baby in the same room. This way of living  sometimes happens  because of lack of space in the house (separate room for baby ), for convenience reasons, or they just love to be close physically with their child. As for me, my daughter sleeps alone  in her room from the time we brought her home from the hospital. This is a personal choice that we have made.

Filipino parents love to carry their child in their arms. The use of strollers is mainly on long stays outside, out-of-town trips or travelling out of the country. One reason  because Philippines has a poor public transport system and its a hassle for parents to carry along a stroller during commute. There’s no such thing as bus or train that is stroller friendly. Besides of its high cost, this has become a dispensable luxury to most average families. For practical reasons, Filipinos are known to be open-minded about accepting second-hand or giveaway hand down items. It’s normal to reuse cribs or baby walkers that has been previously used by child of  relatives or friends.High chairs or swings are not as in demand as it is here or in Europe.  You can see Filipino parents carrying their child everywhere outside, walking in the street, attending events, or even in crowded places. The early habits such as Eating with utensils & Potty training are taught on early stages of child development.

5.Highlights on Child’s Baptism &  Big Birthday Party Celebrations

Philippines is a Catholic country and one imperative is for a child to be Baptized into Catholic church if both parents are Catholic. This occasion is celebrated with big party (more like a feast ) with roasted pig (Lechon ) and inviting almost all their relatives & friends . Everyone is involved in this family celebration. The child has 5 sets  at least of  Godparents ( or Ninongs & Ninangs ) .  Birthday parties are big thing and it  become a trend in Philippines to throw big parties for their child . Mainly because they have relatives & immediate families living close by to share it.

6.Early exposure to Poverty, Death and natural Disasters

Parenthood in the Philippines involves exposing your child to Poverty, Death & calamities. I remember as a child the memories of the  strong typhoon that badly hit our region and that our house was wrecked . Later we got used to it that natural disasters has become a part of our childhood. We celebrated Christmas with half of our roof is not yet repaired. Raising a child with their eyes open to see life’s difficulties can be challenging for Filipino parents. Children are brought to funerals and participate in the grieving times for a loss of a loved-ones. Nothing is disclosed from them.

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Busaw family leaving in the center island under the Metro Rail Transit along North Edsa in Brgy. Pag-asa in Quezon City taking a lunch break event if it is danger zone and air pollution cause of smoke vehicles. {photo credit to /boy santos}

Filipino parents instilled these thoughts on their child on early stages of life and explaining to them that life can be painful, hard, and at the same time offering strong moral support for their children. Because of this, Filipino children eventually learns the values of hard work.

Do you have any opinion about how a child being raised in your own country? How does this post made you feel?

Would you ever raise a child in Philippines? if given a chance?

I hope I brought you some awareness of how parenthood in the Philippines is greatly connected to its culture . If you like this post, please feel free to read on further on my articles about the Surprising things about Parenthood that I saw in Kuwait and raising the early months of my daughter there and raising her as a TCK (Third Culture Kid ).

 

Why do you need to own Less Clothes?

How many of you owns more than 7 pairs of Jeans ? and how many of those pairs do you wear regularly?How many of you owns couple of dozen of blouses ? and shirts ? or jackets ? Or do you have any piece of clothing that has been sitting in your wardrobe for so long that you actually forgot that you have it? Does it still have a price tag on it?

If you have new clothes that you bought since last year and haven’t worn yet, then you just Own too much clothes. Really! Toss it!

Have you taken a closer look at your closet ? What do you feel when you see those piles of clothing ? Do you have a hard time dressing up in the morning because you just cannot decide which one to wear ? If you would take an account of how much money you spent on your clothing, would it make a difference to how you feel if it could have been a chunk of your savings? These questions are all elementary and only you know and see how your wardrobe looks like .

Lately, this is the reason why I am so inspired by the thought behind Simplicity to create a Life. If you want to have big changes in your Life, you need to start making small changes. In your habits, lifestyle, & routines on a daily basis. Things doesn’t happen overnight. So i decided to have small steps, starting on one of our basic needs, Clothing.

We, as women are notorious on this . I know for most of us that shopping for clothes is a happy theraphy. In our mind,  we don’t need justification why we own too much clothes…well at least not until you really have a lifestyle check. If you really look deeper on it, owning less clothes doesnt mean that you will have a better life ,No. Its just mean that you can have focus on creating yourself a Life that is less complicated .

“We don’t remove the clutter, reduce the stress, and boycott the busyness to have a simple life. We do it to have a life.When you simplify your wardrobe, you have the freedom to wear clothes that fit you and your lifestyle.” -Courtney Carver of  Be More with Less

When we are constantly defeated by not being simple enough, or decluttered enough, we lose sight of what are really after.

Being Frugal doesn’t mean that you Own Less Clothes 

Do you really need to get the new arrival trends every season?

You do NOT own less clothes in order to become a minimalist. You do that because when you have less stuff, it means more money for worthwhile things. It could be clothes or anything else that is more meaningful to you like Travel, Education, or maybe an investment.

We all know that our self- worth is not measured by the clothes that we wear . High quality and branded clothes can make us feel good, look good and be more confident. It’s human nature. So, why do they need you to go against your nature and complicate simple living? Bottomline is, You shouldn’t buy excess items that are more than you actually need to wear.

H O W  to achieve this ?

1.One Item At a Time

You don’t have to do it all at once.

When you perceive decluttering as a huge bulk of tasks, then you’ll keep on procrastinating every time you see your extremely cluttered and disorganized closet. However, there is no reason to rush at all. Take a look at an example of a Doable strategy in owning less clothes by  Colleen’s approach at 365 Less Things.

Her decluttering philosophy is to LET GO of one item everyday, so that by the end of the year you own 365 less items. It doesn’t sound so heavy right ? Instead of ONE TIME boxing all your clothes and sorting what you actually need.

2. Give it away with a Purpose. Donate.

For new Mamas like me , here’s what I have learned. If you have a baby and have incurred so much Baby clothes and stuff and eventually your child have outgrown it, what do you do with it ? If you had another child then its ok but even then, how do you deal with the full closets & storage?

Donate or Give it Away to someone you know who have a child that could use it . Maybe your friends are shy enough to ask so initiating is always a good way to create deeper connections.Three fourths of my Baby’s wardrobe from birth are all second-hand used clothing and given by my friend. I thought that Its a very grand gesture  and until now I am grateful for it. Those clothes serves another purpose than being in a storage for years.I continue this by giving away & donating the clothes that my baby have outgrown to another friend. I let the chain continues.Kindness begets kindness. It built a deeper connection in my friendships and allow us to focus our expenditures on other baby’s needs.

You can check in your local community to give away your old clothes. ( It means that they are still in good condition ) Or if you knew someone whom to give it then don’t hesitate to donate it . I tell you, they would appreciate what you did.

Another source of Inspiration is Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist  shares the following compelling reasons to own less clothes:

  • You would have more disposable income.
  • You would have more time to live your life.
  • Mornings would feature less stress.
  • Your closets would be well-organized and uncluttered.
  • Packing for trips/vacations would take less time.
  • Laundry days would be easier (not necessarily less, but definitely easier).

If it doesnt sound appealing to you or you haven’t thought of this, then i leave you with this ;

If it doesn’t spark joy – Discard it.

How does the idea of owning less clothes appeal to you?
 

The Liebster Award

What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is a new-comer award given by bloggers to other bloggers, it creates a great platform for new blogs to be discovered and build communications. The best thing about this award is, it creates a lot of encouragement and support within our blogging community.

I was REALLY surprised when Dutch goes the Photo nominated me for the “LIEBSTER AWARD”. I mean, I was only Blogging for less than a month and somebody noticed me?Such a sweet gesture! Frank ,Thank you so much for taking the time &  considering my blog worthy of this award.  I was really touched by His warm gesture , since I never expected that my Blog would catch attention from so many great Bloggers like Frank of Jansenphoto.

Please check out his blog Dutch goes the Photo, where his amazing talent in capturing WONDERFUL photos with character is shared to us. Get to know Him deeply through his fun writing  & interesting posts about random things that has deep insights about life, Art, and pursuit of his passion : Photography.

Again Frank , Many thanks to you for this big encouragement and the inspiration that this award brings to a newbie like me.

Now, for those who have not heard about the award, here are the rules:

  1. Thank your nominator.
  2. Show the award on your blog.
  3. Answer 10 questions asked to you.
  4. Ask 10 questions to 10 new nominees (who have less than 200 followers)
  5. Notify them thru social media.

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Now its my turn to return the favor to reply on the 10 Questions given to me by JansenPhoto.

 

  1. Why did you start blogging? – I started Blogging because its a long time dream ,an inspirational hobby that has been delayed for long time ,Now i finally decided to make time for it.
  2. How do you feel about being nominated?- It definitely put a smile on my face! What a surprise it is ,such a great encouragement.
  3. What is your opinion about Blogging101?- I haven’t look into it but its an open option for me.Going to check it out.
  4. What are your hobbies other than blogging?- I love travelling , photography, cooking and i have a toddler to chase so that totally takes all my time at the moment.
  5. What inspires you the most?- My family ,my daughter.
  6. Is this your first/only blog or do you have other blogs too?-This is my first & only Blog.
  7. How would you describe your blog?- A reflection of my thoughts , Fun filled, Relatable Blog, and a lot of real stuff that is based on my interests and what I’m passionate about.
  8. What are the things that annoy you?- Tardiness, slow internet connection,and inconsiderate people.
  9. Who would you want to be if you were reborn?- Myself , Me & I !
  10.  What is the message you want to give to your readers through your blog? – That Less is really More ,that Life is Beautiful ,that you just need to enjoy it with less worries ,so it can be More !

The following bloggers are my Nominees for the “Liebster” award, and I hope they accept it:

  1. livethesan
  2. Dutch goes the Photo!
  3. The Life of Jan
  4. manavmalik
  5. Moritz
  6. The Travelling Space Opera
  7. KiwiDutch
  8. Toddlers and Babybumps
  9. Sittingprettyinthequeencity
  10. A girl with an Adventurous Fork

Nominees are kindly requested to answer the following 10 questions:

  1. What have you learned from Blogging?
  2. What do you love about the place where you live at the moment ?
  3. Where is your happy place?
  4. How do you keep your post original & interesting?
  5. Where do you get your inspiration to write?
  6. If you had to travel to an isolated location far from civilization to live for 2 months without  internet, name three books that you would bring with you to read.
  7. Would you still blog if you knew nobody was going to read it?
  8. Who is your favorite Blogger at the moment?
  9. What is your vision for  your Blog for the next 3 years?
  10. What is the best thing about your Blog?

 

Thank you all for stopping by and let us keep on passing this Virtual Love !

Keep writing! Cheers.

 

~Christina

 

Sagada , A Backpacker’s Paradise

One of the best Backpacking adventure I’ve had was exploring Sagada in the region of Mountain Province . Only with a backpack and full adventurous spirit, we set  off to a steep journey up north. The narrow road going to Sagada is enough to make you feel sick. All through out the journey I was afraid to look outside the window because I can almost see the cliffs ! Upon reaching our destination, I came to see a different world up there in the mountains.

Let me tell you why Sagada is one of the trips in the north of Philippines that you should’nt miss and share with you reasons why Sagada is amazing, Truly a Backpacker’s paradise .

 Take a Postcard with you of the beautiful Mountain Cliffs

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A postcard from Echo Valley in Sagada ,Philippines

Do you like the idea of waking  up in the morning with a view like this ? Up there in the mountain is a charming cottage house . When I saw this, I said to myself  that its my dream house, right at home with these lush greens, with majestic views of the Cordillera mountains.

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The Green Forest with stiff limestone mountains 

Taking lazy morning treks in the Echo Valley

I showed this photo to my husband and asked him where is this place, He said to me with a smile that its in Europe. He said it looks like the mountains in Austria where He spent his childhood vacations or in the mountains in Germany .

I told him its in the Philippines and he was shocked!

Sagada is famous for its rugged mountain ranges. In earlier times, It was difficult for the Spaniards to conquer this area  because of the difficulty of terrains of the Cordillera. The province has many rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and caves. The central and western areas of the province are characterized by rugged mountains and steep cliffs, while the eastern portion has generally sloping terrain.

Learn from the past while visiting the Hanging Coffins

We were touring Sagada and exploring the Echo Valley when we saw this spot in the cliff of the mountain with the Hanging Coffins .When i first saw it, It  really looks creepy, at the same time I was curious . I have heard about it before  but I never really had an idea why people are doing this thing . We asked locals and find out something really interesting .

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One of the most common beliefs behind this practice is that moving the bodies of the dead higher up brings them closer to their ancestral spirits. The elderly feared being buried in the ground. When they died, they did not want to be buried because they knew water would eventually seep into the soil and they would quickly rot. They wanted a place where their corpse would be safe.There are two fears of being buried. The first is that dogs will eat the corpse, so the coffins are placed high up on a cliff, out of their reach. Secondly, years ago, during the headhunting days, savages from different parts of Kalinga and eastern Bontoc province  would hunt for their heads, and take them home as a trophy. That’s another reason why the dead were buried high up – so nobody could reach them.

The coffins are either tied or nailed to the sides of cliffs, and most measure only about one metre in length, as the corpse is buried in the foetal position. The Igorots believe that a person should depart the same way he entered the world.

The deceased is then placed on a wooden sangadil, or death chair, and the corpse is tied with rattan and vines, and then covered with a blanket. It is thereafter positioned facing the main door of the house for relatives to pay their respects. The cadaver is smoked to prevent fast decomposition and as a means to conceal its rotting smell. The vigil for the dead is held for a number of days, after which the corpse is removed from the death chair to be carried to the coffin. Before being taken for burial, it is secured in the foetal position, with the legs pushed up towards the chin. It is then wrapped again in a blanket and tied with rattan leaves while a small group of men chip holes into the side of the cliff to hammer in the support for the coffin.This practice is slowly fading away .Nowadays ,the natives opt to bury their dead underground.

When i visit a new place, i try to learn something about the local life of its people. This tradition is one of the distinct culture that struck me up until now.

Spelunking , Survival &  Getting lost in the dark caves of Sumaguing

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My feet in the glistening cold ice water inside the limestone cave of Sumaguing

Have you ever tried Cave Spelunking? Is the sight of waist-level water and darkness sound appealing to you? I tell you, this is one of the highlights of my travel in Sagada. Its dangerous, exhilarating, nerve-wrecking ,and at the same time exciting . Frankly speaking, this  is not for the faint- hearted .  If you have Achluophobia or Nyctophobia    or { fear of the dark } then you should think twice before you go inside this cave.

You need to get a licensed Guide to go with you to avoid any injuries or worst an accident that could leave you trapped inside. It’s no joke being trapped inside ! The rocks are rugged and sharp edges could really be dangerous. For the first timers, It is advisable to go inside with a guide to go with you through the dark trails inside.

We had our guide for this aprrox . 3 hours of spelunking. We had a short jeepney ride going to the site & quick tour of the grounds on the mouth of the cave. We wear shorts & slippers and luckily my phone survived inside the slippery, grimy, dark cave. Inside we were astonished to see various rock formations , stalactites & stalagmites , all glistening in the dark. Like golden sculptures . Being inside is like a labyrinth , you don’t know where is the end of the dark path. You need to hold on tightly on the rope & squeeze yourself to get through a small opening and using ropes to glide you down the cliffs without slipping yourself to the deep iced-cold waters inside the pools. It was so thrilling especially on the descent, and on the hard paths. Take note : You will slip, you will get wet, you might bump into the rocks. But in the end , you can say to yourself “I have survived spelunking in Sagada !”

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Inside Sumaguing Cave
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Our kerosene lamp inside the cave

As the process gets more challenging, the more the cave reveals impressive rock formations, such as the King’s Curtain, Rice Terraces,The Queen, and the huge hall called the Dancing Hall. The glassy limpid pools are also a sight to behold. Indeed ,spelunking in Sumaguing is a wonderful adventure . The good news is, the dark path has an end and finally we see the ray of light from our way outside.

Having a Feel of the cozy air of a village life

The serene view of  rice terraces fields and ardous green landscape that  surrounds the  villages in Sagada is breathtaking. The smell of pine trees is all over the place that gives you such delight. We spent the afternoon taking a lazy stroll to explore the market, the rice terraces fields and the cottage houses nearby, taking a dip in the Bomod-ok falls, the weaving factory, the pottery sites and just admire the beautifulDanum lake.

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Our trek going to the Kapay-Aw Rice Terraces
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Green landscape as seen from the rows of Pines trees
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A fine day at Lake Danum
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Tall Pine Trees on our trek to Kiltepan

During the night, Sagada changes its mood & leaves you feeling relaxed. Its  very laid back town and  quiet at night since there is a curfew around 9pm. We enjoyed a hearty meal in one of the restaurant nearby and later on we visited the Lemon house pie . The homemade lemon  pie was to die for ! I like the quaint design and genuine hospitality of this place .We had coffee with one of the locals and told us stories about the place.

Wonderful Chase of sunrise in Kiltepan Peak

We wake up around 4:30 to get ready to catch the sunrise in Kiltepan Peak. If you visit Sagada, watching the sunrise in Kiltepan peak is a must.There is a langous trek to reach the cliff where you can have a glimpse of the mountains ,villages and the rice terraces . Its worth to be waking up early because the views were amazing! My photos didn’t even do justice on this place.

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Fluffy clouds covered the mountains while the sun is rising

We left  with our backpack and our glad hearts full of our wonderful memories from our adventures in Sagada . There’s so much things that we’ve seen but i did not write about it, you need to see it & experience it  for yourself.

If you want to visit Sagada and looking for a place to stay ,then i highly recommend checking out George Guest House . It’s conveniently located near to the top attractions in Sagada and they are reasonably priced. They are a great host and we had a wonderful stay with them.

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How about you ? What was the recent adventure you’ve done?

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Thank you for stopping by !