Archive for the 'WISH LIST' Category

29
May
14

PETRA, JORDAN | REMARKABLE STEPS AND UNFORGETTABLE MEMORIES

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Petra, Jordan. One of the Seven Wonders of the World. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.  In this age when everything is measured in gigabyte memories and digital apps, I cherish experiencing places such as Petra that  left me in awe and gifted me with vivid moments to remember for as long as I live.

THE GAME PLAN

Sometimes, the spontaneous trips without itineraries are the most memorable ones. In my list of a few travels to date, my recent trip to Jordan was the most unplanned, however worthwhile. This short but sweet weekend-getaway from Dubai where I am currently based, resulted from the random impulse to attend the mass of His Holiness Pope Francis in Amman International Stadium scheduled last 24th May 2014, Saturday, 4PM-6PM (the date coincided with my days off at work) that I read from Jordan Embassy website. To be honest, I submitted an accomplished Media Accreditation form last 14th May 2014, a day before the deadline set by The Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan  to cover the momentous event, but even after the said date, I got no response. Perhaps, I thought, they would release the details near the date of the event for security purposes, or they really preferred mainstream media men and not just someone less famous from his virtual home in social media. Nonetheless, something within me made my decision firm to  travel again and discover Jordan this time hence, I did the needful.

Visa Requirements to travel to Jordan for Philippine-passport-holders and UAE Residents like me :

  • Original and copy of passport with at least 6 months validity
  • UAE Residence valid for more than 6 months.
  • Passport ID photo
  • NOC or No Objection Certificate from Sponsor and/or Employer
  • Hotel Reservation (plane tickets are not even a requirement as of this posting).
  • Visa fee (kindly check the embassy or consulate’s website).
  • 30 minutes to apply and wait for the visa to be issued at the consulate in Bur Dubai.

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THE  ARRIVAL

With only roundtrip tickets, boarding passes, 2 overnight-hotel-reservations, duffel and laptop bags on hand, I arrived safely in Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan right after attending to my 8 hour-work in Dubai, via a 2 hour and forty-five-minute-flight with FlyDubai Airlines at 9:35PM (Jordan time) last 22nd May 2014.

It was the first time that I didn’t google and prepare for itineraries because I surrendered everything to the local travel-guide-par-excellence, Hasan, who was recommended by my former student and her husband, Jill and Arence, who recently savored traveling to Jordan.  After conversing with Hasan on facebook and via few phone calls, I simply told him I just want to go to Petra and Dead Sea, and trusted him with the rest (where to go, where to eat, what to enjoy-after all, the best person to tour you around is a local like Hasan with 20 years of unparalleled tour guiding). He picked me up from the airport and drove me to my chosen budget hotel in Amman City Centre – the Canyon Boutique Hotel (affordable, huge and clean room with toilet and shower, fast and free wifi).

Fast forward to the late afternoon the day after I arrived in Jordan, I and my travel-guide-driver, Hasan ended our long but fun road trip (after going to Madaba, Mount Nebo, Dead Sea, Kerak, Showbak that certainly deserve a separate blog posts) in Petra, Jordan. I intently stayed overnight in Petra after spending a night in Amman just to be early at the gates of Petra the following day.

Hasan stayed with his friends after he drove me to Al Anbat Hotel in Petra (affordable, huge and clean room with toilet and shower but NO WIFI in the room -Do you know how it feels to be like lifeless even for overnight?).

The next morning, 24th May 2014, Saturday, Hasan picked me up from my hotel, left and dropped me off at the gates of Petra with pieces of his advice on my pocket :

  • Thou shall not tell the ticket counter that you came with a travel-guide for you will be charged with two tickets.
  • A pass for one day in Petra costs 50 JOD (Jordanian Dinar) or around 70.60 USD per pax.
  • One can avail of Passes for 2 days to a cheaper rate.
  • Access to Petra at night, when candles lord the desert floor in front of the tombs comes in different rate.
  • Tickets are inclusive of horse ride from a few meters after the gate to the Siq until the Treasury. Return rides via horse and carriages are available at another cost.
  • Avoid and just be polite with insistent vendors within Petra.

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“Horses are included in your tickets, Sir! Just give little tip to the guides.” 

“Thank you, but I want to walk and take photos.”

THE  SIQ

After 10 to 15 minute walk from the ticket counter, I found myself at the ancient main entrance to Petra. The Al-Siq or The Siq.

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Hemmed in by cliffs soaring up to 80 meters, the Siq is the stunning 1200 meter long, deep and narrow gorge. Motor vehicles are prohibited to go through the Siq, thus the options left for tourists are to ride horses, donkeys, horse-drawn-carriages or on foot. As mentioned, I went on foot not only because I would take photos but I absolutely wanted to absorb and feel every second of every minute of my walk through it. And there I was. Stunned and awed by God’s creations!

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I caught myself dropping my jaw and silently uttering, “Oh My God!  Oh My God!” upon the sight of the Siq. There’s nothing like it! The multitude of colors of sandstone from cream to rose-red to orange, burnt pink to rust and brown dazzled my eyes. The fact that I was walking the main passage way to Petra where the ancient city of Nabataeans was, that served as the gate to travelers and traders in caravans who came with Indian spices and silks, African ivory and animal hides, Arabian frankincense and myrrh, en route to Egypt and Europe, it’s beyond words. Unbelievable!

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About 45 minutes later, or probably, an hour of my slow-paced walk along the Siq, an incredible beam of golden sun rays at half hour past 8 in the morning, squeezed through those  rose-red sandstone and greeted me.  My heart raced a thousand beats!

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AL-KAZNEH or THE TREASURY

Ahhhh…Finally, the Treasury!

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No amount of words or volume of photos could ever do justice to Petra, particularly the Treasury. Nothing could ever prepare you for it. One must experience it to believe and understand its magnificence, brilliance and beauty.

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Before I click my camera a countless times, I stood still in front of the Al Kazneh or The Treasury. The clock’s hands seemed to cease from ticking. It was those travel moments that I wanted to relive and relive and relive endlessly. It was surreal.

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Al Kazneh or The Treasury is the pride and joy of Petra. The Nabataean’s creativity and artistic touch were apparent in the Hellenistic and Alexandrian architectural style of that 30 meter-wide and 43-meter high incredibly gorgeous facade. Carved in rose-red sandstone in the 1st century BC as a tomb, some scholars stated that it was later used as a temple. Although the exteriors was exquisitely carved, the interiors was empty with dark chamber.

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Didn’t I tell you I walked through the Siq and arrived at the Treasury in Petra on an empty stomach? With only frequent sips of water to beat the high morning Jordanian sun, I felt and heard borborygmi from my then hyperactive stomach. Good thing, I found the coolest unbranded coffee and snack shop in Jordan right in front of the Treasury.

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Too bad my photo of that bitter-sweet and authentic Arabic coffee that I paired with chicken wrap prepared and served to my table, was found to be blurry, and unfit of posting. Nevertheless, it was one of my most extraordinary breakfasts ever!

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After being fed, the tourist in me kicked in. I scouted some local young boys to take my cam and shoot my photos-worthy of instagram, facebook, twitter and blog posts. Tee-hee! :D

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The obligatory shot with the camels and donkey was followed with a once-in-a-lifetime photo-op with 2 good men geared in ancient Nabataean guard attires. While I was trying my best to smile and immortalize the moment, two adorable young tourists stole the show like random professional photo-bombers. Good job, kids! Good job! You made me think about the greatness of starting to travel, live and explore the world early. And you mean, EARLY! My goodness! :D

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I also saw more infectious and innocent smiles from another pair of kids who were too damn lucky to set foot in Petra and learned to appreciate the world we live in at such young age. Their parents were doing it so right!

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Hasan never forget to remind me that it would take me another hour to walk through the Siq again in my return to the gates. We agreed at 11AM pick up at the area after the ticket counter where he left me before 7 that morning. So immediately after soaking myself with the beauty of Al-Kazneh, I glanced at my wrist watch and it was already 9:45AM. I only had less than an hour to walk through the rest of Petra.

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These are the areas near the High Place of Sacrifice where religious ceremonies honoring Nabataean gods and funeral rites were held.

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THE MAIN THEATER

Other than the small tombs and chambers a few steps after Al Kazneh, the next must-see-ruin in Petra is the Main Theater.

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The theater has Graeco-Roman design but was actually built by ancient Arabs, the Nabataeans. The Main Theater could seat 3000 initially and was later extended to hold about 7000 people; it was that majestic!

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Written guides about Petra state that one needs 4 to 5 days to explore the entire Rose-Red City completely. There are more tombs and chambers on cliffs, the impressive Ad-Deir or the Monastery that could only be accessed after ascending a flight of 800 stairs cut into the rocky mountain.

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Obviously, I left an unfinished business in Petra. I opted not to wander further after the Main Theater and strolled my way back to the Treasury, then to the Siq.

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En route to the Siq and to the gates, I saw two young local kids playing.
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One of them saw me taking their photos on a whim. She approached me and offered me a bill just to take her portrait and let her see it. Meet Deema, one of the postcard vendors inside Petra.
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When I saw the money that Deema was offering, it was a ten (10) US dollar bill. She thought of disposing it casually as she only give importance to dinar. I told her not to do so as it amounts to seven (7 ) JOD (Jordanian dinar). I didn’t take the bill despite she was insistent but took 2 sets of postcards instead and gave her 2 dinars for them. She smiled after she saw her photo.

That brief encounter with innocence led to seeing flock of matured tourists hours before high noon.

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I had mixed emotions and thoughts with these tourists. I so appreciate the fact that in spite of their osteorarthritic and rheumatoid arthritic ages, they keep an inspiring enthusiasm to travel. On the other hand, I pity them for being exposed under the scorching sun at noon-time! Thus, keep in mind that the best timings to visit Petra is either early to mid-morning or mid-afternoon to avoid being sun kissed. Wear protective SPF lotion (which I didn’t;  so worthy to unfollow!), sun visors, hats, caps, umbrellas, sunnies or ghuttra to feel and look like local. :)
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I shall never forget that weekend morning in Petra.
Shukran, Petra, Jordan!

Thank you for that amazing experience!

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“May you find the courage to walk to your own path.

May you dare to venture into the uncharted domain of your own heart.

Fear will show you the way, walk steadily toward it, for otherwise you will always be running.

Have trust and faith to guide you like a torch piercing darkness.

Do not believed and do not deny, but find out for yourself,

for there is no truth but the one you have earned in your own experience.”

- Yossi Ghinsberg -

 

*This Jordan Blog Series is not sponsored. It will be followed by blog posts about Madaba, Mount Nebo, Dead Sea, Kerak, and Shobak and the gastronomic feasts I had with my new found-Jordanian friend, Hasan, so please stay tuned. His photo and contact details will be shared on the coming posts. Thank you!

>><<

 

27
Jul
13

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : MASTERPIECE

nepal, lonely planet

My family and I will soon discover a place that’s absolutely new to us.

Where heritage and tradition run deep.

Where multi-ethnic cultures seem frozen in time.

A valley where finest MASTERPIECES of religious, and ancient Newari architecture

are considered treasures for the whole world to appreciate. 

We’re hoping to meet people and make new friends along the journey.

Most of all, we’re grateful and excited to experience remarkable moments together!

 

07
May
13

COUNTING BLESSINGS ON MY 6TH BLOGGING YEAR

08 May 2013. Wednesday.

Beyond Toxicity @ docgelo.com officially turns 6 years old today!

*applause! applause! bow!*

I’m not throwing any blog contest or giveaways but simply celebrating it with sincerest gratitude to my few loyal readers particularly those who have been writing comments on my posts through the years unconditionally.

Thank you very much! Maraming salamat po! Terima Kasih! Xie xie!

Ushering this blog’s 7th year is a list of exciting BLESSINGS this May 2013 and more pleasant ones to come!

*drum roll, please!*

  • Nomination in the 2013 Singapore Blog Awards in 4 blog categories (Best Lifestyle Blog, Best Individual Blog, Best Family Blog & Best Travel Blog). Thank you very much! List of finalists to be announced in mid-June. Awarding ceremony on July 6, 2013. At stake along with recognition, prizes and freebies is a fully sponsored trip to Northern Territories, Australia! I want to win! I want to win!!! However, as 30 % of the judging criteria will be coming from public votes, will you support and vote for my blog if and when it gets in the finalists’ list?  *crossed fingers* :)

singapore blog awards

  • Nomination in 2013 Tatt Awards, Globe Tattoo, Philippines (Best Photo Blog or Microblog).  List of finalists to be announced mid-June. At stake is recognition and PhP 50,000 cash prize for the Regular Blog Category. Just like in 2013 Singapore Blog Awards, I’m very thankful for the nomination and I’m hoping for the best to be in the finalists’ roll. Once in, your votes will be needed for this blog to win.  I want to win! I want to win!!! :) But if it’s not for me, I’ll still take pride in being nominated this year. To God be the Glory!

tatt awards 2013

  • Invitation for Tina, Gabby and I to a sponsored 3D2N accomodation at one of the five 123sqm-Corner Suites at the newest Victory Annexe Wing of the luxury-5-star-hotel, E&O Hotel Penang for hotel review and blog feature, May 2013

e&0

  • Invitation for Tina, Gabby and I to a sponsored dinner at 1885 fine dining restaurant in E&O Hotel Penang for restaurant review & blog feature, May 2013

1885

  • Invitation for Tina, Gabby and I to a sponsored 3D2N accomodation in Hotel Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen, Singaprore, May 2013

ibis on bencoolen

  • Invitation for Tina, Gabby and I to a sponsored 2 day-access to theme parks of choice by iVenture Card, Singapore, May 2013

iventure card

  • Last year, one of my photos landed on the pages of Postcards on Lonely Planet Asia magazine…

July 2012 LP

  • And for this year, the Associate Editor of Lonely Planet Asia emailed me recently that one of my photos of the Long Neck Women from Padaung Tribe in Myanmar who are currently refugees in Chiang Mai (blog post HERE!will grace one of the Postcard pages of Lonely Planet Asia on its July/August issue. Big deal enough for the non-pro/amateur photo-enthusiast in me! :)
  • And of course, I am still euphoric for winning the 2013 and 2012 Best Expat Blog Award from Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and all that happened concerning this blog last year (blog post HERE!)

2013 best expat blog awards docgelo

Thank you so much to those people who are happy when we are happy!

My greatest appreciation goes out to those who nominated this site to those blog awards, to our few but very generous sponsors, to those who tirelessly recommend me and my family to our sponsors and of course, to those who continously express love and support, I cannot thank you enough. God bless all of us more!  Mabuhay po kayo! Maraming salamat! :)

14
Sep
12

LEGO LOVE

Here are some of Gabby’s treasures…
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He got most of them as gifts. Those Lego Star Wars came from his maternal grandfather and that Buzz Light Year Lego watch was given by a generous travel buddy in Hong Kong, February of this year while some pieces were bought by his loving parents. :)
lego 4

Lego reminds me of childhood; I grew up with those colored bricks. And now that my son’s also into it, the fascination continues!

lego 2

Apparently, Lego toys nowadays are more fancy and edgy. They don’t come inexpensive too. From only simple building bricks of my wonder years, Lego has creatively evolved into various themed pieces, mostly from movies and TV series. Talking of which, Gabby’s into Ninjago Lego, Master of Spinjitsu. Have you heard of it? He watches the series chronologically per season both online and on cable TV every Friday night! He began collecting toys from Lego Ninjago; the toys that he has now are the villains from that computer game and animated series; he still has to look  for and collect those good Ninja-go.
lego 1
lego 6
lego 5
Imagine my excitement when I received this from Legoland Malaysia via facebook and yahoo mail.
legoland sept 1

Gabby, Tina and I became extremely thrilled when they graciously included my name in the list of media and bloggers to be invited to attend the Legoland Malaysia Media and Family day last September 1st, 2012. We’re all psyched up to troop to Johor Bahru to experience Legoland Malaysia weeks prior to its official public opening.
legoland invitation

But our attendance to the said event never happened due to unforseen and unfortunate circumstances. Nonetheless, Legoland Malaysia’s PR managers have been continuously emailing me of updates about the opening. They even invited me again for the exclusive Media event on Sept 14, Friday and to witness the public opening the following day. However, due to work commitments, I had to deny my attendance again.

Tina and I saw some maturity in our soon-to-be-8-year old son. Gabby didn’t show tantrums nor obvious upset when we had to cancel our trip to Legoland in Johor Bahru. Despite everything, he remained hopeful. He constantly says his wish outloud in  his prayers nightly, for our visit to this newest kiddie paradise-theme park that’s a first in Asia to push through.

Will Gabby’s wish be granted?

ABANGAN. ;)

07
Jun
12

KAPANAPANABIK!

Can I just shout out that this email made me so thrilled to look forward to the next issue of Lonely Planet ASIA magazine July/August issue? (click screen capture to enlarge)

I am one of the avid readers of Lonely Planet Asia magazine; in fact, I was just reading their May/June issue that features London, NYC and other best spots in the globe yesterday when I received this email and it certainly put an ear-to-ear smile on my face!  And to have one of my non-professional photos to be published soon and to be invited to contribute something to this esteemed travel magazine is such overwhelming!

*My photo that I called, The Floating Duo taken from Hat Yai, Southern Thailand was first posted in this blog entry : http://docgelo.com/2011/08/04/discovering-hat-yai-thailand-crossing-borders-floating-market-more/

01
Jun
12

RANDOM THOUGHTS : FIRST OF JUNE

En route to one part of the island, I captured this advertisement mounted on grab handles in a commuter bus that Tina and I ride daily, the Rapid Penang Bus. It says EAT. PLAY. LOVE. For a moment, it made me wonder whatever happend to PRAY? I answered my own query in thinking that Straits Quay is one of those premiere residences in Penang with luxurious restaurants fronting the sea and not a place of worship. Although, for most of us, we can pray regardless where we are, still it’s a mall and hangout place. We’ve been there once; savored coffee and pastries at Charlie Brown Cafe and we wish to go back whenever we find a chance. I digress.  The tagline of the ad (as well as the title of the movie-novel where it was inspired) made me think if anyone could still complain of a routinary life when all you do is EAT PLAY PRAY LOVE?  One must be so content with life with such limited verbs to do and must be so happy to forget about WORK, PAY BILLS, WORK.

As a young family man in the middle of his 30s, I want to devote more quality time with my family, I still need to do more things, I aspire to go to places I’ve never been to, I need to find a more fertile ground where I and my family could grow best and where better opportunity awaits.

When I’m not satisfied with how things are, it doesn’t follow that I am ungrateful to whatever blessings I receive. It only means I yearn for better things.

When I don’t want to settle for something mediocre, it doesn’t follow that I am arrogant and hard to please. It only means I understand that quality should never be compromised at all times.

Whenever I am anticipating something that’s life-changing and the opposite happens, I remind myself not to dwell in despair.

Now that there are chances to improve life again, I’m constantly keeping my spirit up and hopes high.

My family and I lift everything to the Lord! He knows best for all of us.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” ~Romans 5:5.

I deserve need something greater.

And I know best things happen in His time.

“For I know the plans   I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper   you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11.

07
Mar
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : GLORIOUS DAY 2

18 February 2012, Saturday.  Tina, Gabby and I woke up early from one of our restful sleeps in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and excitedly prepared for our Day 2 in the Happiest Place on Earth! 

It turned out to be  glorious! :)

From Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, we hopped on the resort’s shuttle bus and headed to Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. We had a table reserved under our names at Enchanted Garden Restaurant for our breakfast buffet and Meet and Greet with the Disney characters! Everything seemed so thrilling particularly for Gabby!

As we went down directly to the  basement of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel where the Enchanted Garden Restaurant is housed, this beautiful space greeted us…

Enchanting, indeed!

We came in too early at 8AM (read : apparently excited!) and found from the Cast Member at the door of the restaurant that our table would be ready at around 9:30AM (so that’s the time that was reserved to us!). Without a hint of worry, we went out the door from the restaurant and spent time almost unnoticed in this perfectly manicured garden at the back of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

The gazebo looks inviting as a perfect venue for couples to exchange “I dos”.  Imagine a wedding with all your favorite Disney characters led by no less than Mickey Mouse! Amazing!

A more interesting part of the garden is the hedge maze that Gabby, Tina and I tried finishing…

This is called, “Mickey Maze!” :)

Our kid totally enjoyed every second inside the maze…

Spot us in the Mickey Maze…

Let’s play “Hide and Seek!”

More cheesy but priceless bonding moments in Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel…

Must be so happy? You bet!

After almost an hour at the garden, it’s time to freshen up and hit the tables and the spread. On way to Enchanted Garden Restaurant, we spotted super cool and nice things.

Exhibit #1 : Wooden high chairs for kiddos. They made me smile.

Exhibit # 2 : A room near the Enchanted Garden Restaurant will surely entice parents and their little daughters…

In “My Little Princess”, little ladies may be transformed into a Disney Princess of their choice.

This was just a “one proud daddy scene.”  The moment reminded me of our wish (I and Tina’s) to give Gabby a little sister. (read :If it will come, it will in His time.) :)

Exhibit # 3 : Spotted Cinderella at the lobby of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel with Alyanna and Mika (the beautiful daughters of Dennis and Thammie who were with our group in this HKDL trip).

Finally, a walk under those trellis! Splendid!

Being ushered to our reserved tables and seats felt surreal! Not that we’re excited to binge eat, hehe! but the ambiance exceeded our expectations!

The spread had Asian and Continental breakfast favorites. Everything looked tasteful and a must-try. There was more than enough for us to savor and be energized for another whole day at the park!

And then a thought popped out…

You don’t go to Hong Kong without sampling good bowl of noodles

and some tasteful dim sum and dumplings.

You just dont.

I just wished they had toyomansi (soy sauce + lime/calamansi) for the dim sums.

And because it’s Disneyland, Enchanted Garden boasts of Mickey Mouse figures in their waffles and pancakes! These made me stare at my plate for several minutes before I dunk my fork and knife at them. :)  I had some of the goodies in pair, yum, yum!!! :D  One of my plates had waffles, pancakes, hash browns and french toasts. Appreciate if you won’t calculate the calories! This is when my weakness in Math comes to be most useful! hehe!

The next set was mostly Tina’s and my plates. I had no chance to take photos of Gabby’s because he’s preoccuppied with excitement and huge appetite. ;)

Known in local Filipino TV series, “My Binondo Girl as”Amethyst” that Tina religiously followed online (Malaysia has no TFC!) and more popular as a fashion blogger-celebrity and sister to Liz Uy, we met the charming and beautiful, Laureen Uy.

One Stellar Moment

More stunning episodes happened as some of the best loved Disney characters went to our table for us to take photo-ops! Diners of Enchanted Garden need not to queue to have memorable pictures with Mickey, Pluto and Goofy (and other characters). It’s another VIP treatment that we enjoyed in Hong Kong Disneyland!

Widest and sweetest smiles from my family as we posed with Pluto and Mickey…

Must have one more shot with Pluto…

After that one-of-a-kind-breakfast experience at Disneyland Hotel’s Enchanted Garden, it was time to explore and enjoy Hong Kong Disneyland Park again!

To those who are planning to experience HKDL for the very first time and have doubts if you can enjoy it in one whole day, actually, you can! But would you not wish to double the fun if you can be there on 2 consecutive days?

Weather forecast checked : 14 to 16 degree Celcius. We loved the climate; we didn’t have a downpour! God is truly great!

We wore various hats : A Cast Member volunteered to take our family pic just before a quaint door in one of the pastel-colored structures at Main Street, U.S.A..

Hot. Fresh. Delicious!

Then our feet brought us to Tomorrowland!

As Tomorrowland intends to give park goers a creative experience of being in the future, the moments became nostalgic to us. :)

Here’s how we looked five years ago…I guess only pounds and kilos of happiness were added! ;)

Inside the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride, we have been warned. :)

We had FAST PASSES to this awesome ride!  It was so cool when Buzz Lightyear himself introduced us to Astro Blasters!

Emperor Zurg! :P

Shooting robots. robots and more robots! We liked it here!

After that exhilarating Astro Blaster ride, we trooped to the largest restaurant in the theme park with over 800 seats, the Starliner Diner and grabbed a lip-smackingly good fried chicken and fries for lunch!

Over and beyond the food, what Tina and I liked was the fact that Hong Kong Disneyland’s Starliner Diner prioritizes sanitation and cleanliness by providing plastic gloves given inclusive of the food tray. You’ll find them folded and pack neatly with your tray. So eating chicken with hands was no-worries at all!

One more time on this car, Gabby! :D

2007 on the left ; 2012 on the right –Take a look at Gabby’s Then and Now photos and appreciate what 5 years have done!

Another ride within Tomorrowland available with Fast Passes is Space Mountain. We gave our Fast Passes to Laureen and her friends as we’re not fond of rollercoaster rides (read : Tina has Vertigo, Gabby’s still uncomfortable and cannot ride alone and I might throw up!). But if you’re adventurous and somewhat fearless, by all means, Space Mountain will surely give you the thrill!

We bid goodbye to Tomorrowland and strolled our way in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle to watch the Flights of Fantasy Parade for the second time! That 30 minute Hong Kong Disneyland parade really left us in awe!

Just before the parade started, Tina thought of a clever strategy. Since we didn’t have priority pass to the musical, The Festival of the Lion King, she suggested that together with Gabby while I am still drowned capturing the parade on photos, they will head to Adventureland just before the parade ends. In that way, while people are still busy watching the parade, they’ll be the first on the queue to that another must-see-musical..And true enough, it was a wise move.

The Festival of The Lion King at Adventureland

The scene became more fascinating after the stage lights were turned off. Let the show begin!

“It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle,

The Circle of Life….”

It’s visually stunning! The songs and their voices are overwhelming too. We have seen this musical at HKDL more than a couple of times already and performance gets better and better! My particular favorite was the gorgeous air stunt of this lady-bird character; the act was so graceful; almost breathtaking!

These live musical shows (The Golden Mickeys and The Festival of the Lion King) make Hong Kong Disneyland specially different from the other Disney Theme Parks!

Then, it’s Gabby’s time for some Mickey Mouse ice cream! Sarap!

Few more steps, we found oursleves in Liki Tiki…
These “leaky” tiki jungle poles squirts water like fountains; look how our little one enjoys the drizzling effects…

Playing with tribal percussion instruments entertained Gabby to the fullest!

Tina and I are the happiest when he’s happy.

OK, so we left Adventureland with a smile and moved on to Fantasyland with even wider smiles!

This Pixie Dust area where Tinker Bell usually drop by for photo-ops wasn’t existing yet way back in 2007 (Gabby’s first trip to HKDL).

Time for some Mickey’s PhilharMagic! This colorful 3D movie adventure about how Mickey Mouse lost his wizard hat and what Donald Duck has to do with it never fails to amuse us. You never get tired of great attractions in Hong Kong Disneyland!

3D glasses on!

Our last Fast Passes on our hands were for the The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh...Gabby was only 2 years old when he first rode the track to the story of Winnie.

Cinderella’s Carousel has 60 graceful, prancing horses!

I learned that last year’s celebration of the 5th Anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland, Tink had showered Sleeping Beauty Castle with her pixie dust… The effect is even more magical at dusk!

After Winter Must Come Spring… Is it Spring yet? :)

Smiles and blooms perfectly blend…

Ahhhhh… another stupendous day at Hong Kong Disneyland is about to end…

Thank You, Lord for another magical day!

We made sure we remember this trip not only through photos and video but mementos and souvenirs from HKDL shops itself. Other than the Disney character-hats that we bought, Gabby got himself a rubber Mickey Mouse wrist watch (When we got into the hotel room, he received a gift from one of our new friends in our group–a lego writs watch with Buzz Lightyear design! Thank You, Ms. Elizabeth for such generous gift!).

Before exiting the shop, Gabby called my attention, “Daddy, picture!” hence, this…

Before 7PM, we left Hong Kong Disneyland Park with almost a heavy heart. It’s our last day in the park and surely we’ll miss all the fun!

Thank you for the memories, HKDL!

We had our last dinner in Hong Kong at Disneyland Hotel’s WALT’S CAFE. I’m almost lost for superlatives to describe how great the overall gastronomic experience we had. First thing came to mind : The dinner was EXCELLENT!

I think diners of Walt’s Cafe can opt to enjoy their meals at the lobby…

I checked the reservation and we’re instantly led toward the end of the restaurant where everything seemed perfect.

This is the beautiful corner reserved to our group. Isn’t it divine?

Looking at my photos after the trip made me wish I have sampled a bottle of their wine…

The view from our table… The ambiance and the look of that by-gone era was almost ethereal!

The smiles to live for….

Now, let’s get down to business. We loved everything we chowed down; starting with this crusty bread that looked like a hot air balloon when you work your imagination; it’s baked to perfection and can be enjoyed sans butter.

Gabby favored one of Mickey’s Kid’s Meal -Oven Baked Ham and Cheese Macaroni with carrots and green peas, fresh fruit salad and a choice of drink; our kiddo got himself a hot chocolate.

For Tina, she savored, Grilled US Beef Tenderloin and Simmered Beef Short Ribs with Mushroom and Pinot Noir Sauce, HK$ 268.

Let me tell you, I had a great time from browsing the menu to having a taste of everything my family had. Here’s my preferences and recommendations from Walt’s Cafe..

Chicken Breast Fillet with Poached Crab Meat with Papaya and Mango Salad served with Honey Lime Scented Dressing, HK$ 128.

My palate was satisfied with its texture and flavors. The fusion of  freshest and sweetest fruits complemented well the crunchiness of the greens. And the Chicken Breast Fillet? Heavenly!

I requested the wait staff to provide extra small plates so I can share my order with Tina and Gabby. I also sampled one Walt’s Cafe’s soups -

Double Boiled Black Mushroom with Kam Ha Wam Soup, HK$ 78.

The soup’s tasteful. I like the flavor of the Chinese ham and the black mushroom. Beautiful combo! The mushroom was shaped into Mickey Mouse’s head too! Amazing!

Then for my main entree, a huge plate was served first with one of the prettiest veggie side dishes I ever had…

To people who think amusement parks and their resorts only offer fast food junkies, think again!  Hong Kong Disneyland’s Corner Cafe and Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel’s Walt’s Cafe proved it otherwise. Their menus are beyond sumptuous! The ambience, sublime!

Seafood Platter for Two. (Grilled or Poached. I wanted it grilled). Lobster, Scallops, King Crab Legs, Squid, Salmon, and Cod Fish with Lemon Dill “Beurreblanc” and Crustacean Sauce, Assorted Garden Vegetables, and Boiled Potatoes. HK$ 538.

One word : Outstanding!

Just take a look at that lime gorgeously wrapped with golden tulle and ribbon; wonderful!

The entree, Tina, Gabby and I shared….

We cannot be grateful enough! :)

Moving on to desserts…

My choice : Penny’s Bay Mango Pudding with Mango Puree.

Tina’s sweet preference : White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

Gabby’s dessert plate was the most divine!

Oreo Cheesecake never tasted this great! :D

It’s one FUNtastic dinner to end one glorious day of everything that this blog gives reverence for :

FAMILY. FOOD. and FUN!

———————

I cannot help but marvel at the immense scale of blissful experiences we had in Hong Kong Disneyland! That 3-day-2-night vacation extremely gave us unforgettable memories that Tina, Gabby and I will cherish forever.

Hong Kong Disneyland spells H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S! :D

Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!

*Up Next : The concluding post of this Hong Kong Disneyland Series! Stay Tuned!

———————————

This Blog Series Includes :

 




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