Pinay’s journey to Motherhood in the land of Smiles |Expat Mama in Thailand

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Meet the Rochanaroons ; Journey of one Expat-mama in the Land of Smiles.

Do you believe in College campus romances?

I mean it’s the  time when skinny jeans is not yet the fad and girls don’t shape their eyebrows. Not yet. College campus days are days where you began to dream about your future, exploring your own defenses and suddenly you met the love of your life.Like  a modern fairy tale where you actually end up with each other,sharing a journey together, and realizing that you are living out a dream, like  serendipity… An answered prayer.

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Seascape Love at Hua Hin, Thailand

This is the story of Rann, a Pinay Expat in Thailand. Her exciting story being one Expat Mama is our next feature for our Expat Mamas around the World series. This modern fairy tale story and journey to Motherhood is set in the Land of Smiles in Asia, Thailand. Known for its exotic  beautiful beaches and rich culture, It’s no surprise that my  friend from Campus days, Rann, moves her marriage and lives there for almost a decade now  with her husband, Pin, (who is a Thai-Filipino) and their two adorable sons, Elijah (7 ) and Luke (1).Together they search for family- friendly getaways, indulging in kaleidoscope of Buddist temples and shrines, chasing white elephants and eating too much Chia seeds.

Here’s my Interview story with Rann , her own Expat Mama story :

A Pinay’s journey to Motherhood in the land of Smiles

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All wide smiles in the land of Smiles

Rann’s Background

Rann is a lover of books, a Bibliophile all year  round. A certified book shop-hopper as well as fashionable baby-wearer. A Preschool teacher and a super Mom 24/7.

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A Bibliophile’s ultimate dream : Spending a day with books in a cozy place & of course, a warm cup of coffee!

Born & raised in the Philippines, she developed her love for Diversity when she married her campus sweetheart, Pin,  while both studying in the University of the Philippines. They got  married in 2006 and eventually hop on the Expat life & move her marriage to Thailand.  Rann is a coffee drinker and has a habit of ‘Procaffeinating‘, or a.k.a not starting anything unless she had her coffee.

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University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus : The place where it all begun.
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Buddhism as part of everyday life in Thailand.

A glimpse of Thailand from an Expat eyes

While being on a steady dating for years, Rann already had a hindsight that moving to Thailand is no surprise anymore. Either for marriage or Work, Thailand is a great destination for  Filipino Teachers which has very good command in English. It is  a famous travel destination for tourists and a magnet for Expats from all over the world. The Buddhist culture of this country is a prominent identity . At the heart of everything, there are shrines, temples, and monasteries known as ‘wats’. Buddhism is an essential part of the Thai culture.

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Physically & Emotionally integrated in Thai’s culture

On Bangkok as a very hectic capital

Our home is in a province 100 kms away from Bangkok. We love that we are not too close but not too far from the capital city (and the airport!). Bangkok is a totally diverse place mixed in with the religious landmarks and is one of the world’s most hectic capitals. The traffic is crazier than Manila. Bangkok is a strobe-like city, where motorways have 12 lanes, markets have upward of 15,000 stalls, and restaurants are so concentrated, you’ll never be more than 50 metres away from one. Talking about living in a cosmopolitan who never sleeps at night.

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A Pinay’s journey to Motherhood  (Escapades in Nong nooch tropical Garden )

Although we are not in the big city, we have everything we need here. There are places to bring the children to, good schools to go to, hospitals with superb service, it is safe and clean. I do not at all miss the pollution from the big city.

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Floating Market 
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James Bond island – Beautiful coast and Beach culture of Thailand

On having Quiet times and date nights as couple

Being married for almost a decade now is a milestone. Ten years are not just a number, it’s a lot of hard work,  making each day  a spur on our marriage. With Pin’s demanding job in the medical field, I have learned to protect our marriage. As an Expat, I have seen examples of living abroad without their spouses & children. I am grateful that we are together as a family here in Thailand. Having  a preschooler & and an active toddler didn’t hinder us from having Quiet times together and having same ‘Rock foundation’  that keep us close.

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A working Mama who knows how to enjoy – Don’t forget that you are woman too, a friend, and a Sister.

On Thai’s way of greeting others

I’ve learned how to greet with the head bowed over clasped hands (wai), and not to use body language so much as most Thai people keep their heads, shoulders and arms very still.You also wai to say Thank you. Almost same as in my home culture, showing proper respect is a huge aspect of Thai culture.

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Pink and Yellow sheep in the Sheep Farm -A child’s Haven for learning

On being a working Mother of a child with special needs

It becomes my number one priority to be the Teacher for my sons. I believe that it shouldn’t matter how slowly a child learns as long as we, as parents, and first Teacher to them, are encouraging them not to stop. This is not just a chore for me nor comes with a paycheck. What I teach in school came from theoretical study approach but with your own child, it’s totally hands-on,by mother’s instinct, a pure labor of love.

Since I am a preschool teacher by profession, with a degree from the University of the Philippines on Child Development and graduate courses on Early Childhood Education.  I have been teaching pre-kindergarten in an international school for the past 10 years. Prior to that, I was a preschool teacher for three years in the Philippines. I got paid for teaching young kids,shaping them in their early years. But the time I’ve got to squeeze time to be a wife and mother with my sons, it’s priceless.

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Mothers are the first Teachers for their children

I am a mom of two boys, 7 years and 1 year old. My older son (E) is a gifted, loving boy with social and language challenges while the younger boy (L) is showing a strong personality but is equally sweet like his brother. No, I am not planning on having more kids. I have two hands, so I will have two kids. My husband, being in the medical field, is not always home  so I am often on my own with the kids. So 2 is just perfect.

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Family comes first,in everything.

Share something about the current country you are living in and notable aspects of life.

On learning the Thai language

Thailand is a very interesting country. Some might  think there won’t be much of a difference as it’s also a South East Asian country like mine — but there are huge differences. Arriving here 10 years ago, the language barrier was overwhelming for me. How can I ever learn this language when I can’t read it? Learning Tagalog is easy because if you know your ABC, then you can read it. Not with Thai. It is also a tonal language so there are words than can mean 5 different things, depending on the tone you use. As I’ve learned to speak the language, it has become better. It is still a challenge sometimes (like explaining what you’re feeling in the hospital, getting things done in the bank, requesting for information, etc.) but I am able to understand enough  to get by each day. I am still hoping to formally learn the language but that has been on hold since kids started arriving.

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Setting your foot firmly : On Living and Loving Thailand

On why Thai food is loved internationally

The food here is great! Well, I am speaking from an Asian point of view — I love my carbs (they eat rice, too — hooray!!). Authentic Thai food is one of the best. I needed sometime to get used to the smell of some food but overall, food here is the best. I do miss my  Adobo and my Bangus every now and then but it helps that you can basically cook the same Filipino delicacies as most of the ingredients can be found locally. There are plenty of Asian shops where you can get the ingredients.

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On importance of Education and learning comfortably

Growing up in the busy and populated Manila and spending many years in Manila’s business district, I am very happy that we are in a more laid-back city here in Thailand. I am happy that we are not raising the kids in a condo in a high rise building in Bangkok. My kids can run outside, play with neighbors, swim anytime, touch the grass, pick up stones nearby or enjoy the beach every now and then. We have international schools around and since I am teaching in one, my kids have the opportunity to study here for free. We can only be grateful. Sending them in a Thai school is something I will not do. I believe children learn best when they are in an environment they are comfortable in, a place where they feel they belong, a place that do not put too much pressure or expecting too much from them. The Thai system is very traditional. My son, being with special needs, cannot possibly thrive in a Thai school.

On Pregnancy, Maternity Fashion and Giving Birth

When I was pregnant with my first son, we were just new in Thailand. And since we are an hour away from Bangkok,  I didn’t know where to get stuff (for baby and for pregnancy) in this side of Thailand. It helped that I was skinny then. I just got my clothes from the regular ladies’ section but got them  a size bigger. Pregnant Thai women love to wear tent-like dresses. Not all, but most. Even in their first trimester, they are already wearing dresses that can accommodate 3 of my preschoolers. I knew from the start that I will never wear one of those! Six years after, while pregnant with my second son, I knew better. I brought maternity clothes from home and from the US.  For many traditional Thai, they believe that you’re having a healthy pregnancy when you’re big. I was skinny until my 7th month. I remember my husband’s aunt saying “You might have a very small baby, you don’t look pregnant at all.” My son was born at 3.8 kgs and 51 cm long. Not small at all.

They have lovely hospitals here so I had a pleasant birthing experience. You do need to find a good doctor who speaks good  English, not just some English. I was lucky to have my sister in both deliveries to help me with the baby while I was still sore.

On having a Hired help 

Raising the kids away from my country is not easy. I guess it has its advantage as well  — you get to do your thing — but predominantly, it’s a challenge. It is very hard to find help (nanny) that you can trust with your kids and your home in a country where you can’t speak, read or write their language. I’ve been lucky to have a lovely trustworthy lady from the Philippines as well but there’s always that anxious thought  that one day, she will have to leave and move on with her life as well.

On Thais being clannish and living together as a Family

They have certain ways of raising kids here that are very Asian and some are uniquely Thai. For one, the children are so used to being fed even when they’re already 3, 4 or 5! Also, many children grow up with their parents, grandparents and a nanny at home. These children grow up not being independent and self-reliant. They are used to having people do things for themselves. This is somewhat same back home. It is a struggle to make sure even with help around, I want my kids to grow up not feeling entitled and not being able to care for themselves.

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The benefits of growing as a Third Culture Kid

What is your opinion about raising your kid as a third culture kid?  Are you happy that you are raising an Expat Kid?

I am happy that they will grow up being exposed to different cultures and languages. It is my hope that with this, they will grow up respecting these differences. At the same time, it is my hope that they will grow up being aware of their very own culture. It breaks my heart that my older son does not speak my native language (Tagalog) but I have to choose my battle. He didn’t speak until he was 3 so I am just grateful for the fact that he speaks a lot now, although just in English.

My husband being half-Thai, I consider my kids “third culture” but at the same time, not so  “third-culture” kids. At the end of the day, whether third culture or not, I believe the values they need to learn does not change.

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Make an impact in your own child’s life and you’re making impact in the world .

How do you make an impact as an Expat Mama in your country of residence?

To respect the culture they have but be secure of what I am and who I am, learn what I can learn from their culture but at the same time share what I can share from my own culture. I believe that as long as I can make an impact to my own children, then I am making an impact to the society we are in. In raising quality kids, I am contributing for a better generation in the future.

 

Thank you so much RA for sharing your wonderful Expat Mama story with me. Your life is beautiful because you are one beautiful soul inside & out. It is a pleasure to be in your circle.

P.S  All photos are owned and courtesy of Rann. Should you wish to use it, please mention or inform her. You can follow more of her Expat Teaching stints in her Facebook  and her Life as a Super Mom in her Instagram Page.

Did you enjoy this post?

Are you an Expat Mama and would like to share your own Expat Mama story with us? Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow  other Expat Mama Stories  around the World . Follow my Twitter page and my Instagram page for updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria .

 

 

 

 

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Come and Go | Quest

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Home is not a place…It’s a feeling.

” You get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way  ever again…” { Azar Nafazi }

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An Expat’s quest for  a place to call “Home”- You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.That is the price you pay for the richness of living and loving people in more than one place.

I recently visited my home country last May   with my daughter, her first trip to the Philippines, and for me, Oh well, I thought of  it as another home visit, but a  rather special homecoming because it’s the first time my daughter would meet her Grandmother and the rest of the family. It is also my first time to travel alone with an infant for 15 long  hours . Yes, alone.

As I sit in the plane, looking out in the window, thoughts in my head are clouding again–Hmmm, here I go again,  I’m a visiting Expat –living a double life.

Why do I say this?

The feeling of coming home with an infant in my arms and going through the airport is suddenly unreal to me. Almost the same as the time I went home for quick vacations from work  when I was living in Kuwait for the last 8 years. I was shocked and confused to return and realize how out of touch I was with people who I knew, places and life in the place I had lived for many long years. For the first few days my hands fumbled on my phone because I forgot how to make a call, or even reload my phone, not knowing the codes anymore. I become  unfamiliar with the common places such as banks, streets, and even my favorite shops. My memory is still full of how I lived my days in Kuwait. On the other hand, everything was so familiar and yet, feels so unfamiliar. Sinking back into my old life was almost too easy, and within days my new life in Germany seemed slightly surreal.

I saw some of my closest friends but the feelings is not the same as before. I couldn’t patch the gap that time had created. I could only settle on the present time.Walking through familiar streets and places becomes a new discovery. Some places haven’t changed much in a decade, and yet, the feelings I had is somewhat strange.

 

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No reason to stay is a good reason to go. 

Being able to slip from one life to another is a strange experience that many expats will relate to. By becoming an expat , I started a new life, but fragments of the old ‘me’ still linger in my native country, tempting me when I return.

I heard many times from fellow OFW ( overseas contract worker) , “I’m going home for good”. For good means that their life as expat wasn’t for keeps. The need to return to one’s old home is a never-ending yearning. That is why every home-coming is exciting, anticipated, and full of eagerness. But the secret that Expat doesn’t reveal is the shock of coming home.

Being an expat can be like being two people at once, split between two places. Half my identity belongs to Philippines, and by visiting, I revived that person, the person I was before I left. Even my feet set on another ground, a fraction of an inch of me belongs to Kuwait. It has been part of me and I couldn’t take that away. Walking now in the streets of Germany, I still feel very much alienated.

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It’s a funny thing coming home.Nothing changes.Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what changed is YOU… { f.scott fitzgerald}

After visiting my home country, I realize that it isn’t “home” anymore. Looking back at Kuwait, I can’t see myself calling that place my “home”either. In a way, of course,  Ph  will always be home, but that sense of relief at being at the end of my journey only came to me when I was back together in Germany, in our new “home”, with my  daughter & my husband.

Makes me think: what makes home into home?

Because some little things I am missing in Philippines and Kuwait  are present in my old life, waiting for me to return, but when I was in there, I felt incomplete, because part of me now belongs to Germany and my new life here.

I guess the Quest continues…

Have you had any experience of going back home after long years from abroad?

This is post is in response to this week Photo Challenge : Quest

If you enjoy reading this post, make sure you follow more of my Expat Life stories by following the button below.Are you on Twitter? If you’ve enjoyed this post then make sure to follow my Twitter page and my Instagram page for updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria.

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Kindsbaum and Stork

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Only in Bavaria : Kindsbaum and stork

Last month while I was walking through our neighborhood, I spotted this Stork wood post and suddenly, my husband told me that They’ve got a new baby!” I asked, “How do you know?” and he said that it is an old tradition not only in Bavaria but also in some European countries  like Holland. It is a common sight to put the stork pole in front of the yard or garden of the family who had a new baby.In the beak stork holding a baby in a diaper fixed. A blue ribbons to the diaper means that a boy is born, a pink bow for a girl. Quite similar to  Dutch baby traditions just without the infamous Geboortekaartje (Birth card )  and Beschuit met Muisjes.

It is indeed clear that a happy event took place in this house. A very proper way of announcing to the whole neighborhood, right?

 

The other day, I went on another street and again,  found another familiar wood Stork ,  this time it was a bit different because it has some accessories such as the baby clothes of a girl and a boy.

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Kindsbaum: Only  in Bavaria

Kindsbaum or also known as Stork ( Storch) pole is a traditional way of announcing the arrival of babies in Germany. Especially in southern Bavaria, it is customary to set up a so-called child tree for the wedding (in some regions it is called wedding tree). It is about a 5 to 10 m long, white-blue painted trunk, be suspended from the “branches” various baby stuff (bodysuits, pacifier, bottle, etc.). Usually a stork is mounted at the top of the child harness. In addition, located at the bottom of the tree at eye level a blackboard with a poem in which the newly married couple is reminded of his duty to bring to the world within a year. The setting up of a child tree is a particularly beautiful tradition that is lived mainly in southern Bavaria, and always a wonderful surprise for the wedding couple.

 

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“You have One year to make a Baby, If there is no one after one year, then you have to make a Party for your friends “

So after a year and the couple haven’t had a baby yet, their friends will show up on their wedding anniversary and they are obliged to throw a feast,let’s say  maybe 15 liters of beers ,sausages,and other threats. Pretty simple right?

If Stork bird symbolizes birth & Fertility here in Germany then  what happened to the Stork population  knowing it’s the only country in Europe which  has drastically declining child-birth & has a low birth rate same as Japan? Did the stork migrated to India, Philippines & China? Germany needs more Babies, it’s very clear in statistics and not a mythical opinion.

 

 

Have you had any  experience of unique Birth traditions?

Did I miss anything from this post? please feel free to comment below, I would love to hear it.

 

 

A day in the Pfeifturm

Who doesn’t like to have a view like this?

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View of the old city  of Ingolstadt from Pfeifturm

Sunday is another Ruhetag ( rest day)  but I decided to climb the 200+ steps that leads to the slender Gothic Pfeifturm in Ingolstadt. After climbing the Olympic Tower in Munich I thought I could brave myself with climbing the steep stairs. I like visiting old churches & towers as much as Castles since I found so much history in them, and its better to see them than read about it.

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Pfeifturm as seen in the city’s model displayed in front of the Rathaus. (Photo source : Extraprimagood)

Built probably in the 13th century , and standing at 63 meters high, Pfeifturm stands close to St.Moritz church. It’s the prominent landmark in the heart of the city centre alongside   Alte Rathaus (old town hall) and the new Rathaus (City town Hall). From the old times,the Pfeifturm served as the city watchtower against the enemies and at later part to watch over for fires in the city. The tower is open for public tours and viewing but could only be arranged with Ingolstadt Tourismus . Because of the size of the viewing deck, only 14 participants are allowed on each tour.

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View from above of the steep cobbled stone staircase going up the Pfeifturm.

I wanted to climb the Pfeifturm because I wanted to see the panoramic view of the whole city. I was hoping to see a sunset view but the time is not with me. As I’m always fascinated how would it looked from above and I wasn’t disappointed with what I saw. We had a fine weather last Sunday, the sky was clear, and the temperature is mild, not too much wind up in the Tower & I could even have a glimpse of the mountain caps of the Alps.

 

While climbing the steep wooden planks, I was overwhelmed by the number of flies inside. The windows are almost full of it and it looks just so eerie. The old wooden planks with wooden nails remains intact and sturdy. Still, if you have a thing with heights, and your knees are weak, this tour is not suitable for you.

The Pfeifturm holds a fascinating story since the watchman and his family once lived here. In the early days, there is neither electricity nor water so the family would get a bucket of water from the ground up for their needs. They used lamps for their light.Imagine climbing the wooden planks approximately 200 plus steps numerous times a day! I caught a glimpse of the small area where the family sleeps and a place for the children to play.

Imagine a life in this Tower. Although the children could have enjoyed the views, eventually the risk that they might fall becomes a concern.

 

The view from 45m in the viewing deck is awesome. From Pfeifturm, you can see the wonderful view of the late Gothic cathedral ‘Liebefrauenmunster’. On sunny days during Fall, you might even catch a glimpse of the Alps.

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Have you discovered something historical lately?

How as your experience?

 

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O’zapft is ! my first Volksfest experience

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My first Volksfest experience as an Expat

Finally, I had my first taste of Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest is the largest of Volksfest celebrated in the whole of Germany ( and of the world) along with travelling carnival and fun fair. For the neighboring cities around Munich,each one has their unique Volksfest. Since 1946,  Ingolstadt had its first festival after  WW II, and from then on ,there are two major festival to celebrate. One in Spring and one in Fall. I had always been curious what is all about Oktoberfest and all these hustle and bustle about beer.  I am not a beer drinker but having been able to see how this beautiful festival is celebrated is probably one of the highlights of my days living as an Expat in Germany.

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Parade highlights -there are 93 group delegations who joined the parade.

If you are visiting Germany, you’ve gotta love this! The whole place is so alive and  flooded with colorful people wearing their traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls waslking in the festive vibe of Volk musik.

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Highlight of this year’s festivities is 500 years of the Bavarian Beer Purity Law!

Last Friday, September 23, the Volksfest in Ingolstadt started and will last until 3rd of October. As the renowned legendary and traditional ritual of tapping the first barrel of Oktoberfest-beer is one of the things that I really looked forward to see, by my own eyes.There is something great about seeing it for real compared to the ones that I only saw in internet. Since 1972, Volksfest in Ingolstadt  is held in Volksfestplatz just beside the ZOB.

Volksfest with a toddler? No problem!

Aside from no entrance fee,Volksfest is for the entire family. I was having doubts how would  my daughter would behave during this time because of the crowds  and the volk-musik was continously played by the stage band. I was quite surprised that  Volksfest is kid-friendly. There is something about a father & daughter sharing food, and old couple happily enjoying lunch, and of course, sharing a mug of beer. Volksfest is defintely a disabled-accessible,most especially with people with disabilities and in wheelchairs.

We managed to find the big tent where the tapping of the first barrel of beer would be held. This is known as  the “Schottenhamel” beer tent. I found a very nice place directly in front of the beer kegs but my daughter started to get bored and whining. But even if I had to change my position after my husband take her, I still managed to get an arm’s length from the spot were the barrel will be tapped.Soon, the Mayor Dr. Christian Lösel and his entourage arrived and  began the ceremony.

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Inside the tent filled with happy Germans drinking and enjoying a nice,cold Beer.
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O’zapft is!!!

As usual, the first thing He spoke into the microphone was “O’zapft is!” ( “It is tapped!”) and wished everyone a peaceful celebration of Volksfest. As protocol demands, the first mug of beer was passed on  and with that all the other beer tents could start selling beer as well.

Volksfest has officially started!

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Our first mug of Bavarian Beer! Prost!

Volksfest star of the festivities is the Beer. And oh, the famous Bavarian beer. They’ll serve it to you in a size smaller than a Maß (which is one liter, same as the one in above photo) but if you order anything smaller you’ll be mocked, so don’t. You can also get Radler (half-beer, half-lemonade), water, and soda, but drinking those things is what all the other days of the year are for. Unless you’re a recovering alcoholic! In which case the water and soda are great and Oktoberfest is probably not that fun for you! Waitresses your grandmother’s age will be carrying eight or ten Maß at a time, which is impressive.

 

Talking about food?  You will drool at the sight of food during Volksfest. Order Münchener Weißwurst immediately! Since we are in Bavaria, we soothed our taste buds with threats that is definitely the food for the gods at this time.

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My favorite so far is the simple Bratwurst ,fries, and of course,my daughter’s Bretzel! The size of the Pretzel is so huge that we only share a piece. From the cheeses,breads,sausages, roasted chicken, pork slices and grilled meats were also among the favourites. The smell of the food stalls are just heavenly!

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Old time favorite. Curry wurst with pommes. A perfect combination with Beer.

Outside was a place of colorful Carnival. One of the highlight was the  daring roller coasters, giant Ferris wheel which goes high as 40 meters  and gives you rare views of the whole city, children’s carousel, and so much more.  I’ve heard that this year, a number of rides were new such as  the “Spinning Coaster”, Rollercoaster Crazy Mouse, the rapid jungle giant swing Konga with an altitude of 45 meters and a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour, also 4G gravity. All not my kind of fun and not for the faint-hearted! Just looking at it makes me sick, but for others, it is sure a thrill-filled ride.Me and my daughter enjoyed our very first train ride and it was absolutely fun!

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Train ride for kids!
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Pretty ladies in Dirndl.

The whole fair ground was a full of  families, young & adults enjoyed a week-long festivities. It’s not just about drinking beer. It’s a whole more than that. A true legacy that defines German character and culture. Through the years, beer culture of Germany have been attracting so many tourists and now I know why.

I was even more impressed that the security was heightened by checking the bags,the strollers and there are always roaming guards to ensures public safety.Inside the tent was a no-smoking policy is observed and everything is in order even the public bathrooms. Animals are also  not allowed inside the Volksfestplatz.

 

Have you had a taste of Oktoberfest?

How was your experience?

Have you enjoyed reading this post? If so, make sure to follow the button below to read more on my Expat life . Let’s get friends, are you on Twitter? If you’ve enjoyed this post then make sure to follow my Twitter page and my Instagram page for updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria.

 

 

Chasing the Fog | Quest

Have you ever tried chasing the Fog?

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Chasing the Fog ..The river almost disappear and masked by mysterious mist.

I just did.

Last Saturday morning, alone and dressed warmly,  I discovered the whimsical, magical & overwhelming delight of chasing the Fog. It’s a new experience that I’m thankful I had done despite the cold. I checked my weather app and made sure that I’m going on a right time for fog conquest, sure thing enough, the fog greeted me at our doorsteps.

I find it so rewarding to wake up early, find my favorite places filled with the beauty and mystical charm that fog creates,to discover the unknown and capture a stunning photo. It’s not always planned, but I am glad I followed my gut to wake up early. I knew that I have to be ready to go when the time is right.

One thing I have learned….The fog doesn’t wait for you.

You need to chase it with enthusiasm, with great delight.

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The bridge over the river while the ducks are swimming in the early morning mist.

As much as I enjoyed a lot of wandering and exploring, I enjoy photographing everything that I find beauty in every single day. Recently,when the temperatures dropped down and I saw such a different world during Foggy mornings, I bent myself to chase it.I wish to photographed my daughter in a foggy settings,but she’s still best asleep on early dawns.We lived 10 minutes away from the River Danube that is a perfect setting to chase fog. A whimsical walk into this path leads me to great discoveries about nature, noticing trees, foliage or flowers so that they can be isolated by the fog for a focal point.

 

 

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A walk to remember…chasing the Fog.

Such beauty awaits for those who seek.

If I sleep-in and stayed in bed, then I would have missed witnessing this. After a quiet morning walk, I felt inspired, and perplexed.

Chasing Fog–A quest of something innate from your system, a need for discovery, a rendezvous with time.

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Change as the seasons change.

In response to this week’s Photo Challenge : Quest

Sky is the Limit | Edge

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Sky is the Limit

Sky is the Limit? It’s not as it seems to be here. Even the endless horizon of the sky set back limits and the clouds says it all. Creating borders and defining beauty. Have you seen one lately? I did.

This post is in response to this week’s Photo Challenge : Edge

Why German women are sexy

Yes, you read that right. German women are sexy, and you want to know why, that’s why you’re in this page & want to read , right?

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Who says being ‘Sexy‘ need to be complicated. It doesn’t need an elaborate description or a bare-it-all image for you to understand. German women are sexy in their own special, and in their very ‘Au Naturel ‘way. German sexiness doesn’t come by wearing the sky-high stilettos, plunging necklines, tight & form-fitting short dresses and red lipstick. After seeing them everyday, I realized that sexiness isn’t all about baring and flaunting and it is not always the best look.

I hereby declare that these type of shoes are the most Un-German ladies shoes in Germany.

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Beautiful and fashionable , but probably the most Unfriendly shoes that German women prefer. On special occasions, perhaps.

Tell me how in the world can you walk for hours in cobbled streets with these?

Back then in Kuwait, I saw Kuwaiti women always dress in style a.k.a Flaunting and Killing it. Well, there’s nothing wrong about it actually. Muslim women also dressed up in modesty. Women in general ( myself included!) can’t resist to  designer  bags, shoes, accessories or even the line of make up . The overwhelming  mall culture of Kuwait have boomed so much that you can see locals plunged into every bit of fashion statements that is in trend and what’s in around the global fashion. Women that are dressed up in modest Abayas are wearing sky-high stilettos, rocking the heels & wedges while grocery shopping, and full-made-up face while drinking coffee. A day in the life of an Araba is spent in the Avenues, salons ,spas and lounging in coffee shops , clothed & accessorize with LV, Prada and Louboutins. The epitome of a sexy, modern, Kuwaiti women.

In Germany, I saw something different.

German women on the other hand, typically the Bavarian women that I’ve seen, dress conservatively and practical. Instead of luxurious bags & purses, they often carry backpacks. Instead of designer coats, they dress practically in Jack Wolfskin , North Face, or Schöffel . Trading off their stilettos  for decent, comfortable and most durable shoes everyday. Do you know Adidas & Puma? They are an icon of street wear here and of course, it’s a German brand, and founded by Bavarians.

They may not looked all dolled-up everyday, but who cares,even sans make-up, they are already envied by the whole world for their features ,fair skin and oh well, they are Germans!

Why in my opinion that German women, especially here in Bavaria deserves this remark  as a compliment , Here are my  top 5 reasons ;

1.They cycle in style and it’s Sexy

German women can really make an impression while cycling. I love the first time I saw a German lady cycling in a full dress and sandals.Her bike is adorned with little flowers and on the back side is a wooden basket with a loaf of Bread popping out and a bunch of flowers.While women here are very good in cycling in speed, they are also great in multi-tasking. Watch how a mother swirl with her child’s carrier along the woods and you will know.She transmits a lot of self-security  to her children because she is full of confidence herself.

Have you ever seen a pregnant woman cycling in stride as if its their normal breathing? Yes, only in Germany.

Do you know why old German ladies never gets boring to watch? Just look how she struts in her bike wearing  her  Pashmina  (scarf) and hat.Growing old is not an excuse for not being active and not hopping the two-wheels.

2.They go out, get fit  and enjoy nature and it’s Sexy

Bavarians love to enjoy life. They loved to go hiking or cycling on weekends & holidays. Compared to honking of cars in Kuwait, here in Bavaria, the first sound that I hear that I knew its a great day is the sound of cyclists. Women are no exception.Dressed up in track suit, shorts and comfy shoes,they run and jog,every single day. We lived next to a sports club and I saw German women doing sport just as they drink beer in the Biergarten in the late afternoon. German mothers takes her children for a swim in the swimming pool or just trek into the woods. Instead of spending hours in a mall or salon, they prefer to go outdoors and sweat out.

3.They make it, instead of buying it and it’s Sexy

German women are crafty and artistic. They love crafts and everything in it. It’s a good indication how they manage their time doing this stuff aside from doing their jobs and having kids. I saw so many handmade cards, home-made goodies, cakes & pastries, and self-done craft work like quilts, crochet,and artwork all made by German ladies. My mother-in-law who is Dutch, was a great Crafter too, she likes to make hand-made cards and we have those in every single special occasion,from the moment I got married, when my daughter was born, up to the time we moved into our new place. Everything is personalized. Our neighbor whom I befriended gave us a handmade card too for my daughter’s birthday and I find all these gestures so warm.This European domesticated syndrome is a great thing.

4.They are strong, doing a man’s job & still, they are Sexy

Have you ever ride a bus in Germany? or a delivery truck,  or  have you ever seen Forklifts & Bulldozer and other heavy machine operators doing the road work & tunnels in Bavaria?

Or do you have a Taxi experience in Germany?

From the world I came from, these type of jobs mentioned above are done mostly by men, but not in Germany. German women shows that they can do tough jobs as men does.Here in Bavaria, I have seen German women doing all these jobs. With their blonde hair and still active physique, they just do it as good as men does.

And lastly, since we are talking about Germans;

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Just imagine Oktoberfest without women in Dirndls and mugs of beer! /Photo credit to mail Online 

5.They drink Beer and stay sober. Even one of the boys, they are still  Sexy!

I’m not talking about the wasted moments where ladies  get drunk  from too much beer and dragging themselves in the bathroom. I’m talking about German women who knows how to enjoy life, and knows exactly  what she wants.

What is your definition of sexy?

 

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Frankenstein in Ingolstadt

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Ask any kid during Halloween of which character  they wanna be and it is for sure that one of them would shout   ‘Frankenstein’. Do you know Frankenstein?

Now who would not know this monster, I think everyone does because  it’s as famous as Mickey mouse ,Olaf and Winnie the Pooh. Although this 8 ft. monster is not always favored by babies and toddlers because of its scary face and humongous built, it is for sure a favorite among Halloween parties. Frankenstein the monster becomes a world-wide enigma  and is a part of any childhood ( even adults!)  since numerous movies and world literature were adapted based on this novel.

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I admit that I knew Frankenstein myself, but I never ever imagine that I would live in the place where the setting of this gothic novel is based upon.When I found out about this, I was definitely itching to explore and visit the Álte Anatomie’  in Anatomiestrasse 18-20 in the old city of Ingolstadt. I thought, it could be in Holland , Austria , Switzerland or somewhere else in Europe, but why in Ingolstadt?

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Old Anatomie  Building

Did you know that Ingolstadt is the Birthplace of Frankenstein?

Not many knew but the Frankenstein novel was written by English author Mary Shelley in 1818. From a chapter in her book ,she had named the place where she created the character of Victor Frankenstein  in Ingolstadt, here in Bavaria, Germany . Basically, Frankenstein is the name of the mad Doctor who created this monster,and not the monster itself. Eventually, it becomes his identity. For a fact that Shelley has never been to Ingolstadt, and the University is no longer existing during the period that she wrote the novel.This is what I find quite interesting.

Why Ingolstadt?

This is because Ingolstadt holds a unique and great story that not everyone knows.I myself didn’t know of this , only after I visited the Old Anatomy Building that I’ve learned some fascinating facts that relates to Shelley’s writing.

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Mary Shelley,Author of Gothic novel’Frankenstein’

Do you know about the Illuminati? I only learned about this when I read about Dan Brown’s novels. The University of Ingolstadt produces Johann Adam Weishaupt, a German philosopher, born in Ingolstadt, who gained a Doctorate degree at the age of 20 in 1768. Weishaupt founded in 1776 the academic secret society which included “Illuminati”, the Goethe, Knigge, Herder, Pestalozzi and many other sizes of German intellectual life in the Age of Enlightenment and also Mary’s husband – the famous poet Percy Bisshey-Shelley. Think about a place of thinkers & revolutionaries!

On a closer look, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is  the story of Victor Frankenstein, who study Chemistry  in the University of Ingolstadt . This renowned university was first opened on July 26, 1472, which from that time was  considered to be the medical and scientific center of whole Europe. Ingolstadt university housed the principal establishment specializing in anatomy and biology, The Ingolstadter Alte Anatomie (or the Old Anatomy Building). It has the ultimate “Experimental Building” for medical & scientific research from 18th century! For these reasons, Ingolstadt is the perfcet place for a setting of a Sci-Fi horror novel.

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The Alte Anatomie Botanical Garden with the Baroque building in the background. {Image source : ExtraPrimaGood}

Now this old baroque building is one of the tourist attraction in Ingolstadt which holds an enigma up to this day.

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View of the Old Anatomy and Herb garden-Hortus medico botanicus.

Fast forward to current times, the Deutsches Medizinhistorisches Museum (German Museum of Medical History) shows the  unique collection of medical and surgical exhibits from various continents and periods in the “Alte Anatomie” (Old Anatomy). The herb garden- Hortus medico botanicus contains an abundance of around 250 kinds of medicinal plants. The plants are selected firstly on the basis of their historic and present day psychotherapeutic importance and secondly on which drug can be extracted from them. The garden served as a scientific show garden imparting medico-botanical information on a wide range of indigenous and Mediterranean medicinal plants. I found out that some of the plants here are poisonous ( as it was properly labelled) and yet used to create medicine to cure diseases and for study purposes. The whole garden is therapeutic sight, right in the center of the city. I saw the prominent Opium poppy, passion-flower,Jimson weed, and so much more.

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Alte Anatomie Botanical Garden

In the reception, you will be handed out a remote control and headphones where you can have an audio tour while exploring the  Scent and touch garden, which is  also accessible for people with disabilities.Included in the renovation was a polished hip cafe just before the entrance of the garden. You can have some bread, pastry, and threats while enjoying a glass of wine, beer or coffee while enjoying the serene garden views.

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Lavender alley

As we walked through the Anatomiestr. , in the garden and in the extension building,my mind wonders that based from the novel, it is the same streets where the monster walked away and eventually fled into the wilderness. From above you can see the Liebfraunmünster towers, the old  gable rustic houses,and from this location, Ingolstadt still holds a mystery and enigma.

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Hortus Medico-Botanicus garden in Alte Anatomie

I didn’t see any fragment of the horrific imagery or personification of Frankenstein in the Alte Anatomie but rather a place bound with rich medical history that contributes to the advancement of medical field today. I didn’t know that knowing the story of Frankenstein would lead me to learn about the rich history of the place where we live now. In fact, if you wanted to learn more about the life of Dr.Frankenstein, there is a special tour for this. The story of Frankenstein is something that is only in Ingolstadt &  The Frankenstein Mystery Tour is specifically arranged by the Ingolstadt Tourismus and runs from August to October.This is a very interesting one-of a kind tour that you can have in your life if you are fond of such things.

Tell me, what’s your favorite Halloween character?

Have you ever wonder about the stories behind the famous Horror characters that you like?

Happy Halloween everyone! have fun &  and don’t forget to follow our Expat stories by clicking the follow button below!

 

 

Going nuts over chestnuts

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Chestnuts in the ground during Autumn

Aside from the sight of dewy cobwebs, pumpkins and dried leaves, Autumn is definitely the season where chestnuts come in the show ,and the best way to find them is by looking down to the ground.Today while I’m with my daughter in the park, and while running after her in the playground, I noticed that some of the kids are hovering around the trees. All of them have a bag and they kept on picking out something from the ground.

They’re picking chestnuts from the ground!!

Way back in Philippines, chestnuts are expensive and only available during Christmas season. I remember in Kuwait, I’ve seen these dark brown nuts in the supermarket and although I wanted to have some, I’m in doubt how to cook them.So I decided to join the hustle and pick some and to my delight, we gather a handful, almost a bowl. My daughter had fun picking up the chestnuts and playing with it.

Now what to do with it? The ever-curious in me runs high so after googling out how to cook it, I decided to try it.

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The bowl of chestnut as my first haul today.

Here are some important points if you wanna try the Caveman-way, I did it by roasting in the oven for 210 deg C  for about 25~30 minutes. The chestnuts will crack & turn brown once they’re done you can smell the delectable aroma .

(I call it caveman way because If you don’t like sweating out & hurting your thumb, then just buy the ones in the supermarket, it taste the same anyway )

1. Carefully cut an X into the flat side of each nut with a sharp, pointy knife, cutting through the shell.

2.Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet for the oven or directly on the grill, cut side up

3.Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until they’re tender and the shell comes off easily.

4.Wrap the hot chestnuts in a towel and squeeze them to crush the skins. Leave them wrapped in the towel for five minutes afterwards.

5.Peel while nuts are warm. Remove the inner skin along with the shell. Reheat briefly if the nuts become hard to peel.

Step # 6 is Enjoy which I omitted and I will tell you why.

Before you devour those chestnut, make sure it’s safe to snack on!!

Evil  Horse chestnut impostors are, in a nutshell, making you wanna vomit. Which means it’s a good time to remember that not all chestnuts are what they seem: Some, turns out to be fake,they are Horse chestnuts — similar in appearance and much more common, but inedible. Horse-chestnut poisoning is rarely fatal, ( as per Web site of Canada’s Nova Scotia Museum )  though effects can include vomiting, loss of coordination, stupor and occasionally paralysis.

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Horse Chestnuts that are poisonous ( Aesculus hippocastanum)

Raw Horse Chestnut seed, leaf, bark and flower are toxic due to the presence of esculin and should not be ingested. Horse chestnut seed is classified by the FDA as an unsafe herb. The glycoside and saponin constituents are considered toxic. Aesculus hippocastanum is used in Bach flower remedies.

The moment I’ve tasted these nuts, it tasted bitter and I knew something is not right. I immediately throw all of it in the bin. Again, there’s really nothing wrong about Googling. But sure thing that your taste buds will warn you, unless anything bitter is delectable for you.

So next time you wanna experiment the same way that I did, make sure you are harvesting the right kind of chestnut,and not the ones who can make you ill. Thanks to this incident or else I wouldn’t know that there is such a thing called “Horse Chestnuts”. Here are some for you to look just in case you are harvesting chestnuts this Autumn. These are based on a home-and-garden information center operated by Clemson University Extension distinguishes good nut from bad nuts.

*Edible chestnuts are like woodsy sea urchins, sporting very prickly burrs with one to several nuts inside. Horse chestnuts are less prickly, more easily handled (and thus, more sinister).

*Chestnuts have long, narrow leaves; horse chestnuts have big, compound ones composed of five to nine leaflets sharing a common stem.

* Chestnuts are starchy (and edible). Horse chestnuts taste horribly bitter. Taste buds description :  INEDIBLE.

*Horse chestnuts, have a nasty scent. Unlike edible chestnuts, their covers don’t pop off easily, which makes them, literally, a tougher nut to crack.

Do you like chestnuts?

Have you ever tried eating something and then it’s just too foul to taste?