My Island-hopping with a Banca

Adventure is worthwhile.” ―  Aesop

 

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“Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life..”.{ Werner Herzog}

I grew up in the second largest archipelago in the world, and with 7,107 islands with 36,289 kilometers of coastline,the sight of Banca ( Banka in Tagalog , pumpboat or  canoe ) is as common as hundreds of  typhoon-visits I’ve seen in my whole life! Although, we didn’t live near the sea, my childhood is filled with family swimming trips and beach getaways with friends. A country with tropical climate and abundance of water sports, it is very easy to indulge in the beach and explore nature through a tiny fishermen’s boat. The banca, also known as ‘pumpboat‘, which has 2 large outriggers which are usually made of ‘Bamboo‘to give the necessary stability.

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Accidentally we found another beautiful island…

Just like any firsts,  my first Island hopping experience was unforgettable, at the same time, liberating.  I said this because when you ride a banca, you will lost all your inhibitions, your sea & motion sickness , tensions, and fear of the waters will be gone. ( At least it works for me! )  Thoughts like ; ‘Is it strong enough? Will I reach alive in my destination?  or what if it suddenly sinks? ‘. Totally morbid thoughts!

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Sitting at the dock of the Bay { Soundtrack of my Life}

When you go on an adventure boat ride, it seems that the boat absorbs all your worries and transport you into another world, literally. Every move, the roaring motor sound it makes, the way that the boatman pull and start the engine, every push of the paddle and waves creates a magical nostalgia. This is how every island trip becomes special to me.Imagine owning an island for a day? Or sleeping under the stars, endless bonfires and the beach as your backdrop!

As each banca has its own personality, so as the journey. There is something so raw, exciting, and at the same time exhilarating about sitting in a wooden rugged ,slim boat where you can see the  fishes swimming, your face get wet from the splashes of the tides, and the open view of the sea that makes your horizon like  blue infinity.

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Our rental Banca during  Island hopping 

The banca is as typical as the colorful Jeepney, but  only 20 % of about a million bancas are registered. Uniquely, all of them have a name. Yes,you can recognize them in their flamboyant writing such as ‘Princess of Coron‘, Poseidon, Madonna or Seahawk. Most bancas are normally named after their owners, like the name of the hotel and resort, their son, or daughter. Isn’t nice to have a boat named after you?

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Waiting for the next destination…

I have boarded the largest sailing ‘Dhow’, the Al-Hashemi in Kuwait and explored nearby islands through a modern Catamaran, but my excitement can never surpass  the time when the wind blew over my face when I am on board in the little,skimpy, noisy, and colorful Banca. Have you ever wondered how a banca is made? If you watch the Secret Life of a Banca then you will realize how special it is.

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Unique cone-shaped bancas we used to explore the craters of a volcano

After the devastating  typhoon Haiyan, around 30, 000 bancas were destroyed, debilitating  the poor fisherman’s source of income in the Philippines. The old Banca  is being honed and re-engineered from the old model with the new through the use of fiberglass boat technology.Aside from its touristic usage, the Philippine bancas are now being built better, to empower the local livelihood and to weather the storms of the future. They are not just for photo shoots and having some fun in the islands, for the locals in the coastal areas, the banca  is the way of life and a way to live.

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Our rental banca in the midst of limestone rock mountains

If you’ve never ridden a boat, maybe the sight of a banca might intimidate you. But trust me, they are the  most reliable mode of transport to cross the sea, river, and lakes and wander through the mountains into the best-kept hidden paradise. Bancas are relatively robust if they run to ground since they have no deep-set keel or a centre board (sailing boat). But their maneuverability is relatively limited due to the flow resistance of the outriggers and the small oar blade. They are only partially ocean-going. Bancas can differ in degree of motorization, forms, sizes and colors.

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Bancas in front of the houses in the local neighborhood in Negros Oriental

I have seen smaller paddle-bancas. Children who lives along the coast  uses these boats as their playground. At an early age, they are taught to swim and  join their parents to go fishing.Poorer fishermen have only a paddle-banca but at night, they join the bigger motorized boats to catch more fish. The sailing-banca are seldom used but can only be seen in the southern regions of Sulu, especially used by Badjeros. They are famous for their colorful sails. In Boracay island, I saw bancas with blue sails docked on a bay during sunset. They look spectacular in summer!

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A beautiful day to sail

During island-hopping, the banca is usually provided and arranged by the hotel we are staying. They have their own boatman, with a guide and they are all experienced in sailing. They provide life jackets and are very flexible to our needs.While exploring the island, snorkeling, and swimming, our rented banca is just there, waiting  patiently . Everytime we hop on back to the banca, I know that the next adventure awaits.

“The sea is the same as it has been,since before men ever went on it in boats”

{ Ernest Hemingway}

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Until then…we shall sail together again.

 

Have you ever ride a small boat like the banca?

How was your experience?

If you love reading this post, share it with your friends and leave your comments. Thank you once again for stopping by and see you in my next island hopping adventure!

 

 

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My tiny human’s Little feet

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My Tiny human’s footprint in the shores of Arabian Gulf

One of the things I missed from living near the beach is having  lazy early morning beach walks. Unhurried, calm, serene and the most special thing, barefoot. Away from the chaos, and free from the hustle and bustle of the city.With the wonderful backdrop of the beach, my thoughts oftentimes drifts away and going places as the gentle wind touches my cheeks while holding my daughter’s hand.

There’s something so therapeutic and calming whenever I step on the soft, ticklish sandy shores along Arabian Gulf.  I’ve always been a beach girl  and you can imagine my glee when the day comes that my tiny human finally put her tiny toes in the shores and feel the waves and sand…for the first time. She loved every second of it. It was such a precious moment. She left her footprint, a precious mark —unscaled and raw . This tiny foot mark that I have excitedly captured in photo before the waves swept it away . Looking at her tiny feet made me realize that she had a big world ahead, waiting for her to explore, and that she had to stand firmly on a big feet in order to thrive.

But right now, she’s still so tiny, her feet still so fragile, yet so special.

That once in her life back in Kuwait, she had walked baby steps there, watched the sunsets, and sunrises too, played  barefoot, and waddled her tiny  feet in the shores…making memories.We  made thousands of  footprints in the beach… a beautiful chapter in our Expat life.

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My tiny human’s little  feet over mine.

With the beach front far from where we live right now, she now walks on different grounds. She’s stomping happily on pebbles & cobbled stone pavements and running though the lush grass fields. She’s making her own stride,taking her time to feel the ground,and walking confidently in her own feet. She even learned to jump into muddy puddles and walked on the crispy autumn leaves. She’s still making foot prints, leaving traces of her childhood-in her own tiny world.

As I’ve said before; the Littlest feet makes the greatest footprints in our hearts.

Do you like walking in the beach with your little ones? How was the experience?

This post is in response to this week’s Daily Post- Photo Challenge |Tiny

Parks & Playgrounds in Ingolstadt

To tell you frankly, I didn’t appreciate parks & playgrounds until I had a child of my own!

If you have an active toddler like mine, I am so sure that playgrounds have become your best friends. Either indoor play yard or an outdoor sandpit, it always saves your day. It’s one happy place where your kids just let go of their  steam and for a moment, you’ve got the chance to inhale and breathe. I know I’m not alone in this,but when your child is happy, you are happy too!

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Sandpit, play area & wasserspielplatz in Baggersee

There are play areas for Kids..Everywhere!

As a new Expat, you search for grocery shops or bakeries, but for me, one of my early priorities is to look for playgrounds for my daughter to play. Well, Germany is famous for its abundance of outdoor activities and play areas for kids & toddlers. I must say that being a kid here is awesome and has a lot to offer. I was really surprised to find that in almost every neighborhood, there are Spielplatz or play areas for kids. Isn’t that amazing? In the Bike shop, supermarkets and groceries, in Biergartens and restaurants, they always have a  play area where kids can play. There are trampolines & rockers along the busiest shopping streets . Some even have a changing area where you can breastfeed, feed or change the diapers for free!

The one in dm-drogerie is our favorite because you can shop while your kids play. Great thing about dm is it’s absolutely free and very convenient. Did I mention that even in the Rathaus ( or the Town Hall) they have kid toys placed in the walls along the corridor. Very kid-friendly especially during waiting time.

It’s beautiful, natural, safe ,full of creative spaces, and best of all, it’s all FREE!

 

Life being an Expat is challenging. You’ve got no friends yet,you barely speak the language, you don’t even know your neighbors, but your child is screaming out for tiny humans company. A bored child is a whining child so the best thing to do is take her out! Searching for parks & playground is also a perfect chance to get acquainted with the new neighborhood and making new friends.It is actually easy to make friends when you have a kid,it’s less intimidating. The moment kids starting to play with each other, it’s easy to start a conversation. This works well for me so I’m sure it can work with you too.

So here in Ingolstadt, we have discovered quite a number of  parks and playgrounds which has helped us a lot in trying to integrate in this new culture. Here’s our list for our favourites ;

Klenze Park

Klenzepark is a huge oasis for kids (and for adults too). This place has a large field and beautiful park I must say, with trees surrounding it and has luscious  rose gardens with fountains. It is the site for the 1992 Bavarian Garden Festival and has a unique open air museum of German fortification architecture. It will host the 2020  State Flower Show so that’s something to look forward if you love nature & flowers.  Ideally located along the  Donau river, it’s a scenic place where you can take your kids for a lazy stroll, cycling or play in the playground.With the view of the historical Neues Schloss and with the love-lock bridge, this is our favorite spot so far.There is a fountain  (Wasserspieltplatz) with huge rocks where children can enjoy playing in the water especially in Summer.The whole field is also surrounded with small water canals where children (and adults!) splash their feet in Summer.

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Wood basics playground – Eliminating all plastics .

Just beside the Wasserspieltplatz is the Natural Playground. It has  wooden slides, climbing areas, rockers, swings and fun activities for kids. In the center is a sand pit where toddlers & kids  playing in the sand. .It’s very accessible by bike,by walking or by bus. There is an ample underground parking and comfort rooms.Inside the park are Biergartens, cafes, and museums.

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Wasserspieltplatz & Fountain in Klenze park

Luitpoldpark

Luitpoldpark is ideal for all ages and the entire family as  well. There is a forest where you can take your kids to have a short trek, stroll and have quiet walks with all the towering trees above you. This is a secluded place to jog, run and or just taking your dog for a walk. In the center was a playground with slide, rockers, and sand pit where your child can play while parents can have a picnic. I have seen many families having their birthday parties here and meet-ups.Adjacent was a football field where bigger kids can enjoy a football game as well. There is a small hill that is great for toddlers to climb up and run.

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Sun rays peeking in the trees

 

Further down Luitpoldpark is the Biotoperlebnisfad and the Nazi victims memorial park. The paths are ideal for skate boarding, cycling plus  exploring through the woods can let you learn more about the trees and its history &  age. If you like Forestry & Foliage, then this is a great place for you.

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Learning about the Trees in Luitpoldpark

 

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Playtime in a windy day!

Fort Haslang Parks and Playground

We discovered this playground by chance. While we are looking for a Pediatrician for my daughter, we decided to let her play a bit and we found this play ground nearby. It has a scenic field full of short shrubs and flowers, a cycling path with apple trees and forest flowers and in its center is a play ground with sand pit, slides, rockers & plenty of space for children to run around. A bit further is a place for bigger kids where they have ramps for bicycles, ziplines, and table tennis areas. This playground has benches for parents too. Surprisingly, almost all parks & playground in Germany always have an area for parents to sit, drink their coffee and a trash bin. You won’t even need to worry about where to throw the soiled diapers.

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Picking summer flowers in the field of Fort Haslang Parks & playground
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Fort Haslang playground

Wildpark am BaggerseeOberschüttweg

This beautiful wildlife escape is just 15 minutes away from our home. Ideally situated near the Dam and you will have  scenic views of the River Danube and lush forest, a lake, and a Lakehouse with lots of Biergarten & cafes. Discovering the beauty of Baggersee last Summer was one of the highlights of our first Summer here. This place is best for campers during summer, and ideal for cycling. It has 54km stretch for you to cycle til you drop. If you have a kid’s seat attached to your bike like most Germans does or an Anhänger ( Child chariot), then you can easily explore this place thru cycling while having panoramic views of the Auswaldsee.  The Wildpark & Baggersee play area are absolutely free. The wasserspielplatz for kids is one of my daughter’s favorite and I like that it has an active water pumps where parents can do some activity and exercise.

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Wildpark 
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Building sandcastles and playing with sand 

Biergarten Künettegrabenalong Jahnstraße

This Playground is adjacent to a Biergarten. Yes, in Germany, there are Biergartens which has a playground beside it. It has lovely views of the winding bridges, old fortifications, and the ponds filled with ducks.  Go here early in the morning and you can enjoy the peace & quiet. Perfect for nap times too.The playground itself is frequented by pre- schoolers  on their outdoor walks & play times because it is surrounded with trees, and has lots of creative games areas. There is a sand pit, water pipes, slides, swings, turntables, see-saws and table tennis & basket ball courts. They have swings made of old tires.While your kids play, parents can have a happy hour in the Biergarten as well or just feed the ducks!

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Up close with the wild deers in Wildpark

Zoo WassersternGerolfinger Str. / Aloisiweg 19

This small Zoo is a one of a kind attraction for kids. It is a non-profit zoo which houses different animals which look more like a private collection. The place is a combination of a Botanical Garden and a zoo. There are reptiles and birds on the ground floor, an Aquarium and sea animals in the basement and wild birds, monkeys, and birds like parrots, owl and other birds located in the garden. It is frequently visited by Kindergarten students, visitors, and people with disabilities. Ideal for a family getaway on weekends. There are tables & chairs for parents to rest and a changing room for babies.

 

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Climb steps in St.Anton Spielplatz

St. Anton play ground & Park-Münchnerstr.

This playground is very close to the Haupbanhof and just across the St.Anton Church . It is in front of a Pet Zoo shop and has a shady park & play area for the little ones. We love to walk going here. It has a huge field where people do yoga, train their dogs, or just have a lazy weekend picnic. It has a pebble & sand pit, rockers, slides, and a wooden climb & maze paths. It is one of our favorite playground because it is shady and quiet. It is surrounded with ample trees as well.

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Close to nature

I am so thankful that we live in a place where these playgrounds and parks are accessible. As a parent,there’s a lot more to write about playgrounds here in Bavaria, they are really something to be proud of. We keep on discovering new ones each day. Play areas doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. In Germany, the approach for more green, natural, simple & safe play outweighs farther the confines of an indoor play areas.

How ‘s it been Expat Mamas? How was your move so far?

 

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The Spider games | Nostalgia

I was going in our garden shed to get some tools then I noticed something in the bush beside it. For a moment I thought it was just a ball of cobweb but looking closely enough I noticed something. It’s a spider caught up in its webbings or something that I am not familiar with. I’ve heard that these creepers are on sight especially in Autumn here in Germany . The color of the spider itself is new to me, a light yellow with tints of black and the size is almost as big as my thumb. Not the kind of spiders I want to mess up with.

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Spider games

When I told my husband about this, He was shocked.Spider fighting is your worst nightmare come true. This ghastly sport takes place in the Philippines and is popular among children although it has attracted a large adult audience as well. The rules are pretty simple. The arachnids are placed on a stick and shoved toward each other until they start fighting. If a spider falls off the stick three times, it loses. If a spider gets wrapped up in its opponent’s webbing, it loses. And of course, a spider match can always result in death. This is one of those situations where winning really is everything.Pretty  simple but exciting,right?

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Spider in the bush 

Looking at this spider brings me back to the distant past of my childhood. At one moment I felt the nostalgic feeling of being a child again. In the place where I grew up, Spider games is a part of any childhood , especially for little boys. Yes, you heard that right, playing with spiders, it’s like a cock fight, a boxing match of spiders. Having a bet on which one would knock-out the other. These spiders are normally house spiders that crept on ceiling, or in the plants. They are trained to fight. Sounds crazy but this is true. If you’re afraid of spiders then you can’t even watch how they murder each other.They are not the poisonous ones like Tarantulas etc. It’s the kind of game I used to watch my cousins,( mostly boys) are playing. We used to keep the spiders in a small box of an empty matchboxes. I remember that one of my cousin has 5-6 boxes with his ‘pet’and always waiting for a suitable opponent.There’s an art to catching the right spider. Kids wake up early in the morning to hunt for future champions, and the best fighters are said to be the ones living on electric power lines

Such nostalgia from my childhood.

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Only in the Philippines : Playing with spiders ( Image source: Google)

I grew up in a place where the only high-tech game on hand is the brick game, with few Super Mario and Nintendo. We don’t have the money to buy Lego, walking Dolls, PSP or Xbox yet, the Apps  for Candy Crush or Clash of Clans (COC), or even a computer which we can play PacmanWarcraft or Starcraft. We don’t have these luxury yet during those times. As children, we contend ourselves by playing outdoors, climbing trees, running through the rice fields, playing ‘Patintero’ which we draw lines using water during full moon, playing ‘Piko’  & ‘ Chinese Garter ‘right after school in the playground, and if its raining, we just slouch on the floor and play ‘Jackstones‘. These are my favorite traditional games.

Nowadays,childhood games have evolved into something else. My daughter’s favorite is playing with her Papa’s old toys like the wooden Bike, Duplo blocks & Legos or just playing in the sand and pebbles. I find them quite special too because they are old toys where my husband used to play with when he was at her age. But kids nowadays have access to more modern toys and entertainment like the smartphones & iPad.

Yes, time has changed our generation. But Nostalgia keeps us coming back to the past. To the old place and old toys that we had that brought joy and happiness in its simplest form. Nostalgia is sweet page to flip on, just like the spiders in the boxes, but let it be there, just a memory to cherish on.

 

This post is in response to this week’s Photo Challenge |Nostalgia.

 

Wild and Free 

•When you don’t do wild & free-spirited things while you’re young & free…then you don’t have anything to smile about when you’re grey and old …

Petrichor

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The smell after it Rains…

p .  e .  t .  r.   i .  c . h . o . r

Do you love the smell of the ground after the rain?

I remember one childhood memory that I am so fond of , that is smelling the grass and the ground just after it rained. The air smells so good, so fresh after a drizzle or even a downpour. This  thing is  called -Petrichor.

After the rain,me & my cousins would run after each other and just stand in the street to inhale the grounds or smell the plants. We would pull the leaves still drizzled with raindrops. I love those times. Being carefree and wild. When it rained so hard, we would play in the puddle and make a man made-dikes to let the rainwater flows through it. I would even climbed into the roof just to enjoy the rain. Those were the happy days of childhood.

I didn’t know any scientific explanation about Petrichor back then, all I know is that I love it whenever I smelled it. When you were a child, you are more concerned about enjoying it, rather than learning what is it. But when I become an adult,  I knew that odors of the past triggers and brings back memories . Smells rings bells. It works like a magic like that. I don’t know about you, but this is one of the things I feel nostalgic about.

 “Petrichor,” lingers when rain falls after a prolonged dry spell. Petrichor — the term was coined in 1964 by two Australian scientists studying the smells of wet weather — is derived from a pair of chemical reactions. This is the scientific definition of this lovely word.

 

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The Scent of nature ,incomparable to any perfume

Some plants secrete oils during dry periods, and when it rains, these oils are released into the air. The second reaction that creates petrichor occurs when chemicals produced by soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes are released. These aromatic compounds combine to create the pleasant petrichor scent when rain hits the ground.

I love these out of the spin- moments that I slip into the past while nature is at work. What a journey it might have been to be in the present right now, but still, the fond memories like of happy childhood, dancing in the rain, smelling the flowers, and the magical  Petrichor lingers on.

How about you, Do you have any childhood memory triggered by sniffing a certain smell?

What do you feel when it rains and its gone?