Category Archives: Travels

Exploring Batu Cave

Family Adventures in KL – Day 3
Exploring Batu Cave
By Danny Tariman

My family had been roaming around Kuala Lumpur. We have been enjoying the beautiful sights of the city. I love its environment: cleaner air, less traffic, efficient and dependable mass transport system.

Our first day in the city was highlighted by our visit to two iconic structures: the KL Tower – a slim high tower with viewing deck at the top, and the Petronas Twin Towers, with a connecting bridge between the two 88-storey towers at its 41st level.

The city of Kuala Lumpur as seen from KL Tower

For the second day, I like the experience of the Night Street Market. An awesome place where I had tasted authentic Asian food from among the varieties of food available in many stalls lining both sides of the street.

We continue our tour of Kuala Lumpur.

Our third day in Kuala Lumpur was the culminating day for our family’s short visit to the city. We had planned and is booked to a bus trip to the state-city of Singapore at 1pm. So we have practically about 2-3 hours left of our family tour of Malaysia’s capital.

As planned, we should visit Batu Cave early in the morning so as to have time to prepare for our Singapore trip, and also to check-out of our accommodation.

The entrance gate to the Batu Cave complex

We arrived the Batu Cave complex at about 7:30 in the morning. Only few tourists were there when we arrived. We had time for some photo at the foreground, feeding tourist-friendly pigeons. Oh! it was really fun feeding those birds.

At the foot of the cave is a Hindu Temple. We are quite hesitant to enter. I observed how to go inside, and noticed that we just have to go – no questions asked. We passed by a narrow door and entered a very colorful interiors of the temple. Aside from the usual permanent setup, we noticed some newly decorated areas. Few minutes later there was a pre-nuptial shoot!

The stairs leading to Batu Cave

While inside the temple, of course we were very silent and had to speak in hush as a number of worshippers were inside. We had some good shots inside too.
But the most amazing experience of the day was climbing the 272-step hill leading to a series of caves with Hindu temples inside. From the level ground, the stairs are appealing because of its multi-colored steps in gradient colors. The iconic gigantic golden statue of a Hindu god stands tall at the foot of the stairs.
We had to stop several times to take our breath as the climb was truly a challenge.

Inside the Hindu temple

But once we reached the cave, I was awed by its size! It was the size of a big cathedral. And there were a number of Hindu temples in each of the chambers. If I remember correctly, I think I saw 3 small temples with worshippers doing their service.

We explored the inner chambers, with additional stairs as we go inside. But eventually, we retreated for shortness of time. We have to be back to our accommodation to prepare for our check-out.

Inside the Batu Cave

Back to the ground, we had a good rest at one of its shops offering traditional Malaysian and Indian souvenir items, and also food.

After refreshing ourselves, we traveled back to the city, and prepare for our afternoon trip to Singapore.

The inner chambers of the cave, with a Hindu temple at the left side.

Land Trip to Singapore

Our trip to Singapore was an experience in itself. I saw the countryside of Malaysia which I believe is generally cleaner than most of the Asian countries we had visited so far. Even the village houses we passed along the way show well-planned communities.

At the far end of the highway and just before crossing the border, was the immigration counter. It was easy, although there was queuing and generally good. No hassle.

Inside the temple at the foot of the stairs

Our next stop was the immigration of Singapore. I told myself “Singapore, here we come!”

It was truly an amazing experience in Kuala Lumpur. Truly fun and fully enjoyed. Thank You LORD!

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More photos

Another area inside the temple
Inside the temple
Inside the cave
Another view inside the huge cave
At the foot of the cave showing a gigantic Hindu statue
The entrance of the Batu Cave complex

Markets and Malls of Kuala Lumpur

Family Adventures in KL – Day 2
Markets and Malls of Kuala Lumpur
By Danny Tariman

My family had an amazing day touring Malaysia’s capital, the city of Kuala Lumpur. Our day-1 was highlighted by our visit to two of the magnificent icons of the city: the KL Tower and the Petronas Towers. It seems you haven’t been to KL if you hadn’t set foot on these two iconic tourist destinations.

It is our second day, and we haven’t finished yet visiting the many exciting places in the city. Join me, as I continue to tell our second day story.

Central Market

KL’s Central Market is where we got the best price for local items – food and souvenir items. It looks like an old building that was spruced-up and air-conditioned lately. It offers various kinds of souvenir items, shirts with Malaysia or Kuala Lumpur prints, local chocolates (you have to taste this!) food items, and many more. The local chocolates are a must-taste: with various filling of local fruits such as durian, strawberry, and a lot more.

A stall inside the Central Market

We had a good time looking around what to buy, and buying some items in this retail shopping market. We were surprised to note that a few of the stalls were manned by Filipinos! And one of these, if I remember it right, is managed by a Filipino.

River of Life

This river is few hundred meters away from the Central Market. We just had a perhaps 15-minute leisure walk to this tourist spot. This is actually a convergence of river systems that was rehabilitated by the government in an attempt to bring back to life polluted rivers. It is a nice attempt to clean the river.

The River of Life

At the background is the oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur, the Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad. I read from some materials that this place is better visited at night as there are some elaborate lighting effects at this river complex. We happen to visit the place in broad daylight, and so we were not able to see the “dancing lights”.

Textile Museum

This museum stands out as an iconic Islamic-style building within the bounds of Merdeka Square. It showcases the different processes and techniques – starting from ancient times – of textile making. It also has a display of the process in making batik!

A diorama featuring Batik-making

There are 4 main galleries or sections inside the museum, showing many beautiful collections of traditional apparel, accessories, and textiles.

It was an educational visit for me as I had been fascinated by elaborate design of batik. It was in this place I learned how this was made. Really interesting!

Merdeka Square

This huge patch of greenery in the middle of the city is one of the famous landmarks of KL. There are many Islamic-style buildings surrounding this expansive tract of land, and one of these is the Textile Museum. A very tall pole hoists the Malaysian flag. I can’t resist comparing this place to Luneta (or Rizal Park) in Manila. Indeed, a beautiful place to take some good pictures.

The Merdeka Square

On the other side from where we were standing, we can see a church – which happens to be St Mary’s Cathedral. I thought it was a Catholic Church, it turns out to be an Anglican Church. I remember in Hong Kong, we mistakenly attended a church service (Mass) in a Catholic-like church, which happened to be, you guess it, an Anglican church. It was ok though – similar service, similar readings.

The well-manicured greens, I understand, used to be a playing field for a sport called cricket.

Chinatown

This place is bustling with commercial activities. Not only the sidewalks but the whole streets were filled with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. My son was able to buy a camera lens which you clip onto a phone to get a wider view.

Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown

From all angles, it is really a Chinatown. We tasted a very familiar food for us family – soy curd (taho in Manila). We also tried other street food which we are not familiar, just to taste the native culture of Chinese-Malay. All really taste good!

To taste a more authentic Sino-Malay meal for lunch, we entered this food market inside the Chinatown. Wow! The food – the noodles, and others we ordered – were really good! And the price was very, very reasonable. On our way out of the food market, we saw this looking familiar street food – chakoy, as we call in Tagalog – we tasted it, and yes, tastes very much familiar!

From Chinatown we took LRT to MyTown Mall, our next destination to check what we can buy from Ikea.

Our LRT ride to MyTown

Malls

MyTown Mall was quite far from the city center. But with a very efficient railway system, the travel time was short and very comfortable. The train coaches were clean, and arrival & departures were prompt.

Strolling at MyTown

We first explored MyTown to see Ikea – this Swedish store chain that offers good quality household furnishing and accents. My son was looking for a kind of jar he couldn’t find in Manila, and so we tried Ikea Kuala Lumpur. It was a good experience. The mall is big but far from city central, which is good urban planning so as to decongest the city proper. It got a lot of shops and boutiques with familiar foreign-brand names.

After touring MyTown, it was about 5pm, we went back to the city to meet up with our daughter who went to work that day.

We met our daughter at Pavilion Mall, another upscale mall in the city. We again roamed around, and finally went to the supermarket at the first basement to buy some food and grocery. Although it was a basement, the place is totally refreshing and looking good.

My family, complete this time with our daughter, at Pavillon Mall

From the basement we went straight to another mall across the street passing through an underground tunnel – with stores – you would never thought you have crossed a street.

And again, we roamed around and we found this familiar store brand in Manila – “DIY Store”. It happened that this store started operations in KL.

Night Street Market

This is one of my most memorable experiences in Kuala Lumpur. An entire street, seemingly an ordinary street during the day, but bustling with people in the night.

The Street Night Market: an awesome experience

At night, both sides of the streets have all sorts of food – Malay, Indian, Thai, Singaporean, and many others. And its full of people from different cultures. You would see whites, Asians, Chinese-looking people enjoy the meals, and the drinks in the middle of the street.

That particular night, I was awestruck on what cuisine I would want for dinner as there was literally a *lot* of choices. But finally, after making rounds to the different stalls, we finally settled for some Malay and Thai food. We had my favorite Thai soup dish – tom yang. Oh… it was so incredibly tasty, I had to ask for extra soup.

Our dish for the night

At daytime, cars can pass by the streets, but at night, the middle of the street is literally filled with tables and chairs full of people. It is truly very lively, and a truly different kind of experience!

It was indeed a fun-filled second day in KL. And we capped the day with this awesome Night Street Market. A truly memorable adventure! Thank You LORD!

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More photos

At the downtown of Kuala Lumpur
A Turkish store inside the Central Market
One of the exhibit sections of the Textile Museum
At Merdeka Square in front of the Textile Museum
A fountain at the Merdeka Square

Touring the City of Kuala Lumpur

Family Adventures in KL – Day 1
Touring the City of Kuala Lumpur
By Danny Tariman

My family is so excited to explore this Asian neighbor-country – Malaysia – particularly the City of Kuala Lumpur. After all, it was long interval since our last family foreign travel.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia, and is about 4 hours travel by plane. Leaving Manila almost 11 o’clock in the evening, we arrived KL at about 2:30am. Manila and KL are in the same time zones. Since it was wee hours of the night, I do not have much time to look around and appreciate its airport. My immediate concern then was to find a car to take us to our accommodation.

Finding our way to the airport’s arrival/exit gate was a bit of a challenge. But we found our way after speaking to a man – who looks like an airline pilot – for directions. We finally got a Grab car which took us to the city. It was a long drive passing through expressways.

My family having some chit-chat upon arrival at our accommodation very early in the morning,

At last, we arrived the condo unit where we will stay. Our daughter who moved to the unit earlier in the day, was waiting for us. It was a happy reunion of sorts, after about 2 months of being away.

City Tour

Our daughter bought this Hop-On-Hop-Off city tour ticket for the three of us, weeks before our arrival. Yes, it was only the 3 of us since she is working in KL. She would later join us after her office.

Ready for the City tour on a Hop-In-Hop-Off tourist bus.

And so, the first order of the day was to get to the bus terminal of the Hop-On-Hop-Off. I had noticed that the buses are double-decker with half of the upper deck in the open air. It felt it was good to be in the open-air section so it will be easy for me to take photos. I eventually went to the air-conditioned section because it is quite hot outside.

One of the places we passed by near Central Market

It was a beautiful ride touring the city in a double-deck bus. I was able to see the unobstructed view of the city sights and sceneries as we crisscross the different parts of the city. What I have noted during the city tour is that the streets are less crowded as the place we live in.

Little India

We first alighted from the bus at a place called “Little India”. As the name suggests, the streets are lined with Indian stores selling various items from food, to clothes, to jewelry, to flowers, and many more.

The Little India of Kuala Lumpur

People tending the stores are Malaysians of Indian decent, and really, it feels like an Indian town.

We explored the place, took some photos as other tourists do, and yes – had a taste of Indian-Malaysian food too.

After roaming around the place, we hopped-on to the next bus again and rode to our next destination.

Malaysia National Museum

Our next stop was the National Museum better known as “Muzium Negara”. We toured around the ethnic origins of Malaysia. We went inside the Istana Satu which is the royal residence of a past Sultan. It had intricate wood carvings which is evident of Malaysian craftmanship.

My family in front of the National Museum

The interiors of the house are reminiscent of a royal occupant: the bed, the furniture, furnishings. An elaborate golden cloth hangs as a ceiling.

Outside of the Istana Satu are burial poles made of big tree trunks, with artistic wood carvings from top to bottom. Many artifacts of the past are displayed just outside: locomotives, military canons, and others.

Within the museum compound, there was this handicapped man who was making wire handicrafts – various items such as miniature bikes, saxophones, pianos, drum sets, etc. His hands were so dexterous, he can make any item with just one single twisted wire!

The Palace

This palace – Istana Negara — is really grand! From all angles, it looks very royal. The wide entrance gate is all we can reach, and all tourists for that matter. The entire palace compound is restricted. We can view from afar the palace which is quite a distance from the gate.

The Palace of the Sultan

The entrance is well guarded by palace guards on horse, which are in itself, a good subject for photograph. It was a brief stopover at this tourist stop – just about 25 minutes – and we have to quickly hop-on to the bus.

Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden – Taman Botani Pergana – is a big track of land planted with thousands of species of vegetation. At this point, I was very tired. We just checked its amphitheater, and a few other attractions. Over-all, it is a good place to visit that has various collections of plants – tree collection, bamboo collection, orchid garden, edible garden, among others.

The amphitheater inside the Botanical Garden

One can actually rent a battery-operated cart, just like the golf carts, to tour you around the entire park.

National Mosque

This is huge mosque which is open to tourists at certain times during the day. Make sure to plan your visit as it is closed to non-Muslim during prayer time, which is from 1-3pm. We arrived in this place past 1 o’clock in the afternoon, hence we were not able to go inside.

The National Mosque

There was no restaurant in the surrounding area. But we had a good experience of eating street food. It was nice and clean, and it serves freshly cooked sandwiches.

We had an afternoon of rest after this, as we prepared to an evening tour of the city with our daughter.

KL Tower

KL Tower is one of the tallest structures is Malaysia, which stands over 400 meters. We just reached the 300 meters – the Sky Deck. This viewing deck is an equivalent of about 75 story building! This is very tall, and considering that it stands on a very thin pillar structure, it is quite scary.

The iconic KL Tower, with its slim pillar, and a viewing deck at the top.
My family at the viewing deck of KL Tower.

The view on top is breathtaking: it gives us a 360-degree view of the City of Kuala Lumpur! From the viewing deck, you can see from a distance another iconic building in Kuala Lumpur – the Petronas Towers.

There is this viewing deck with glass floor! It sends chills to my spine as it appears that I am standing on air!

We stayed a bit here until the city lights went on – that was about past 6:30pm – and it was really awesome to see the city at night from this height. Really one of the most awesome experiences in the City of KL!

Petronas Tower

This iconic building – the tallest in Malaysia – with the Skybridge connecting the 2 towers in the middle portion of the tower. The podium floors of the 88-story tower contain a big shopping mall called the KLCC. It is an upscale shopping mall offering many of the popular foreign-brand boutiques.

In front of the iconic Petronas Towers

My family had a good photo-op outside of the building where a good-hearted vendor who was offering fish-eye lenses for mobile phone cameras, took a good family photo for us, using the items he sells. After some friendly conversations, he said his mother is a Filipino, and he know a little bit of Tagalog. Haha! What a blessing for us!

After our picture taking, we went inside the shopping mall. Oh! It was cool relief after walking in a tropical weather early in the evening. We had an enjoyable and satisfying dinner in one of the good restaurants inside the mall. It was really good. We capped the evening in this restaurant.

An awesome day-1 in KL with full adventure! Thank You LORD!

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More photos

At the Little Indian Village
In front of royal residence of a past sultan
At the Grand Palace gate
Inside the Botanical Garden
Some of the local delicacies we passed by and tasted, of course!
At KL Tower’s viewing deck in an all-glass cubicle.
A hearty dinner at KLCC after a whole day of roaming around.

A Family Weekend at Planet Dive

A Family Weekend at Planet Dive
by Danny Tariman

The town of Mabini in Batangas has been one of my family’s most frequent travel destination. And for a lot of reasons: the entire Mabini peninsula is literally lined with choices of resorts — mostly diving resorts. This is because the municipality of Mabini is blessed with many good diving spots.

Planet Dive’s boardwalk fronting the beach.

This weekend, my family booked at Planet Dive. A good place to be: clean air-conditioned rooms, restaurant overlooking the sea — not to mention its flowing coffee and tea, an infinity pool, a beachfront boardwalk, accommodating and smiling staff.

We were in this resort for a dive! I actually don’t dive; the most I can do is snorkeling near the beach. The sea is endowed with good diving sites. Not too far from the beach is a diving spot where professional divers go for a dive.

Mabini’s golden sunset as seen from the resort.

We came here with my entire household, including our 2 dogs! Ha-ha! Becoming part of the family huh. The resort is pet-friendly. We had seen big dog — a Golden Retriever — who loves to swim with his master. On the master’s signal he would swim even to the deep. Of course, he got a dog-vest strapped to his body. It appears that the dog enjoys the swim.

Our family with the dogs enjoying the beautiful and refreshing view.

During our stay, there was a team of divers from a diving group/organization. I can observe that this place is indeed for diving. I felt kind-of out-of-place, but who cares! I am here to enjoy sea breeze and see my children enjoying their dive.

At dinner time, we decided to eat outside of the resort. We checked-in to this garden restaurant, the OMG Grill. It was a good almost 7km drive from the resort. And oh… it is full of people — mostly tourists like us — enjoying moments in this al-fresco type of garden resto. The food is good, not to mention that it is reasonably priced.

OMG Grill, a very nice place to hang-out for the night.

We returned to Planet Dive Resort quite late night. We arrived with our 2 dogs asleep. Hehe. We had a good night rest in the comfortable family room that we had.

The following morning, I woke up to the quietness of the sea and tamed wind. I love those moments that I can commune with nature. I had a good prayer time at the boardwalk beside the beach. Really awesome moments with the Lord!

Thank You, Lord, for this another weekend with the family!

The resort as seen from the hill top view at our accommodation.
My family from another perspective of the beachfront. Note the infinity pool at the back.
My children who most enjoy swimming and diving together
Me and my wife enjoying the moments.
Our daughter at the edge of the the infinity pool
Inside the resort’s restaurant where flowing coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are available all day.
My family just in front of our room, overlooking the beach.

A Relaxing Day in Sunrise Cove

A Relaxing Day in Sunrise Cove
By Danny Tariman

We love to discover places. My family had been to a number of beaches in Calatagan, Batangas but it seems we haven’t explored them all. This particular weekend, we were led to go to the tip of Calatagan peninsula – the Sunrise Cove.

The beach during low tide

We drove a bit of a distance. I initially thought it was near Calatagan town proper but it was not. I had to drive more distance and curves before we finally reached the beach.

The place was indeed beautiful for relaxation: a good view of the sea where Pagapas Bay and Isla Verde Passage meets, very refreshing sea breeze, comfortable cottages and beach benches. It was a perfect place for us family wanting to just have a good relaxing day. We thought we would be able to swim; unfortunately, it was a low tide – perhaps lowest for that period – so that we were not able to swim. My children wanted to have a free-dive in one of its spots to see the submarine gardens but they were not able to make it.

The rafts as the tide was slowly rising

We had enjoyed the place, nevertheless. While my son tried to scour the almost flat seabed, trying to find creatures for his salt-water aquarium, our daughter walked our dog on the almost dry seabed. My wife and I just rested our backs on the cottage and had a nice very relaxing moment.

For our lunch, we decided to eat our prepared packed food at the raft tied a few meters away from the shore. It was supposed to be floating, but the low tide didn’t allow it to float. Haha! Just the same, we just loved the sea breeze and the company of each other as we ate our lunch together on a raft.

The rafts during a low tide. It was an easy walk with water just above our ankles

After we enjoyed our meal aboard a raft, we went back to the beach and had more relaxing moments. With the salty wind blowing on our faces, it was really good moments to rest and take a nap.

We drove back home by mid-afternoon. And the cool mountain air of Tagaytay City was irresistible not to stop a while and take a stroll in one of its new lake-facing malls – the Twinlakes. We spent some more moments here before we headed back home, finally.

The line of beach bench and our cabana

We thank the LORD for another family bonding moments… a relaxing day at the beach, and an afternoon stroll in Tagaytay.

Another view of the beach at low tide
Our children enjoying the company of our dog
My family upon our arrival
Our daughter playing with our dog while we were on a raft
A family photo on a different angle
Our after-the-beach stroll in Tagaytay City

Family Snorkeling and Diving in Mabini

Family Snorkeling and Diving in Mabini
by Danny Tariman

It was a long weekend. My family usually looks forward to extended weekends so that we can go for our outdoor activities. We really love outdoors!

This particular weekend, we decided to just go for a day trip to one of Batangas’ famous shores for diving and snorkeling — the shorelines of the municipality of Mabini. Popular in this place is Anilao, the spot where the best underwater marine gardens are.

The view of Mabini snorkelling and diving area

While I and my wife were just lounging at the resort’s balcony which offers a good vantage view of Balayan Bay, our grown-up children were enjoying their free-diving. We later joined them in the dive area, but since I don’t know how to dive, I just enjoy seeing them go down to the deep and explore the beauty of corals and reef fishes.

My wife and I enjoyed our snorkeling, viewing the colorful corals under the sea. I was glad that my wife finally conquered her fear of the deep as we were really in the “deep”. Haha! She didn’t notice we can no longer step on the rocks; we were just floating with our life-vests.

Beautiful and colorful: coral formations in Balayan Bay

Come lunchtime, we prepared grilled tuna and pork chops. I did the cooking — on bare charcoal. This too, is an experience as I have to set it on fire with just match sticks and old newspaper. This is something that I seldom do in the city.

It was an enjoyable lunch for the family, as always! We always have fun and enjoy meals on banana leaves and use our bare hands to eat. And with the shore and the sea in front of us, wow, truly an appetizing ambiance for lunch.

My daughter going for the free dive.

We were told by local folks that there is a cave at the far right-end of the cove. And so in the afternoon, we trekked to the place, passing through pebble shoreline, and climbing rock formations. After about 15 minutes slow trek, we finally reached the “cave”. It was not really a cave but an arch — a rock, which by the pounding of waves through the years, had a huge hole punched through it. And so for me it was not a cave because we can pass through it from the front (facing the sea) to the back of the rock.

My family in front of the “cave”

We continued our snorkeling, while our children had their free-diving. It was a full-day of just enjoying the seas and the company of the family.

We drove back to the city, leaving the resort at about 4:30 in the afternoon. It was a surprisingly less-traffic drive. We reached the city in just about one-and-a-half hour drive. And just before we reached home, we dropped by Starbucks for a good sip of its famous coffee concoctions.

Really a great way to spend a weekend!

Capping the day with espresso coffee at Starbucks
The sunset view of Balayan Bay
Photo of our children taken from the top balcony of the resort
A rock formation at the right-end of the bay
Our son taking his free-dive
A coral formation at the snorkelling area

Family Adventure in Isla Verde

Family Adventure in Isla Verde
by Danny Tariman

Vista Verde is an island off Batangas province. For this particular weekend, my family planned to explore this off-beaten beach-island destination.

The creamy sand beach of Isla Verde

We left the city at about 5:30 in the morning. Passing through the entire stretch of South Luzon Expressway and of Star Tollway, it was as easy and fast drive reaching Batangas City at 7am. After a quick breakfast stop at a popular food chain, we proceeded to Tabangao Port, where a boat to Vista Verde was anchored.

We reached the island in about an hour. I was awestruck by its crystal clear small waves pounding the shoreline. With powdery white sand, the place is just perfect for this weekend family adventure.

A good vantage view of the beachfront from the top of a hill.

We checked-in at Surface Interval Resort. It is a decent quiet place, perhaps because we were just few guests. The surroundings are clean, and the staff were so friendly and accommodating.

My children had their swimming soon after our arrival, although it was almost noon. While they had their time at the beach, I & my wife prepared our lunch. Really, a nice bonding moment for the family.

It was a very relaxing afternoon. I had never had a long nap in a beach, until this time. With the strong sea breeze comforting me to sleep, the pounding waves seems music to my ears.

My family enjoying the beach

My family had happy moments swimming in the afternoon. With big waves splashing to the shore, we truly had some fun time in a playful swim riding the waves as it nears the beach.

As the sun was going down, the skies slowly turned to orange-red. It was a glorious, scenic view of the sunset. I love this part of the day when I have to capture the sun hiding into the horizon.

The color of sunset at the beach. Truly awesome!

The following day, we went to a dive site for an early morning dive and snorkelling. Wow! It was so beautiful swimming experience! Colorful coral formations with lots of fishes of various colors.

The entrance of Surface Interval Resort.

After the dive, we were treated to a rock formation at Punta, by Rowel, the resort owner who went with us to the dive. The place is good vantage point to develop: it has a snorkeling area and a 10-feet cliff diving spot.

When we were just about to leave Punta, Mother Nature gave us an amazing show. A school of dolphins danced their way, from a good distance from the boat. That really made our day!

I and my kids just loving the afternoon moments

We would like to thank the owners of Surface Interval Resort — Rowel & Jojo, and its friendly staff.

We really had many wonderful, happy moments and experiences in Isla Vista. Thank you Lord!

The beautiful beach of Isla Verde
More bonding moments: my wife and my son
Nighttime at our cottage, while preparing for dinner
The sunset colors as captured in the background
Another view of the beach

A Relaxing Family Weekend at Abe’s Farm

A Relaxing Family Weekend at Abe’s Farm
by Danny Tariman

It was a trip we all look forward to: a weekend at a farm-resort. It has been a while that my family haven’t visited a farm or garden resort. I think our last trip was years ago in Cintai Corrito, a Balinese-themed garden resort in Batangas.

The refreshing landscape of the farm.

It has rained in the city for a couple of days before our scheduled out of town trip. And so, we stormed the heavens with prayers for a good weather that weekend. Indeed, the LORD is good, He answered our prayers. It was a rainless weekend.

Leaving the city at 6:45 in the morning, we arrived at Abe’s Farm in Magalang, Pampanga just before 10. We had a breakfast at a pit stop along the North Luzon Expressway.

I was awed by the refreshing greens that welcomed us at the resort. The guard ushered us to the reception, which serves as the lobby to a very nice, nature-inspired restaurant. The place is so good, we had taken many photos from various angles inside the restaurant.

The lush greens of the farm

Native furniture made of bamboo, raw wooden planks, and all sorts of natural materials literally fills the interiors of the place. I was telling myself: this is the kind of furnishings I want for my farm house!

Myself enjoying the native interiors of the restaurant

Right behind the restaurant is a good-sized swimming pool which is just right for relaxing moments for my family. An Ifugao hut stands on one end of the pool, and at the other is an open cottage, a nice nook for family interaction.

The resort’s swimming pool with an Ifugao hut in the background

Further down the farm is a well-manicured garden surrounded by shrubs of all kinds. My daughter and my wife had a time of playing at a swing hanging from a tree.

And oh! The lunch! It was so good! Big shrimps in guava soup, sautéed chicken in soy sauce with lemon grass, “morcon” cooked the Pampanga-way… we were burping to the very satisfying lunch at the resort.

My family enjoying the satisfying, delectable lunch at Abe’s Farm

After a good after-lunch rest in an air-conditioned Ifugao hut, my family had a good swim at the resort’s swimming pool. It was like exclusive to us family! Haha!

After the swim, our children had a relaxing massage at the spa! I am not a fan of massage and so I didn’t join them.

We had attended an anticipated Mass at San Bartolome Parish. While I can’t understand the local dialect, I can sense that the priest was able to deliver a good homily, and that he was able to “connect” with the church-goers.

The San Bartolome Church in Magalang, Pampanga

Immediately after the Mass, we had a good, satisfying dinner at Bembi’s Kitchen. An awesome place to eat in Magalang, Pampanga. Not only the food was awesomely delicious, the service was excellent – with Dennis (the business owner) himself serving my family!

A delightful dinner at Bembi’s: a new kind of experience

The following morning we woke up to a fresh new day in a lush garden environment. After we had a nice breakfast at the farm-resort’s restaurant, we took another dip at the farm’s pool.

What a very relaxing weekend treat for our family! Thank You LORD for this blessing of a wonderful weekend!

My wife and daughter in their bonding moments
Our son and daughter near the entrance of the farm
My wife and me for a photo shoot in the resort
Really beautiful moments with my family
An air-conditioned Ifugao hut where stayed for the night.

Sailing in Taal Lake

Sailing in Taal Lake
by Danny Tariman

It was raining throughout the week. But my family prayed for a rainless weekend for this particular week. We wanted to try this sailing adventure in Taal Lake where the famous Taal Volcano is.

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The rows of sailboats parked at the lakeshore

Our prayers were answered! The weather forecast was partly sunny. And so we drove to Tagaytay then down to Talisay town where Taal Yatch Club is.

At first I was a bit nervous, as I saw photos of this Hobie catamaran sail boat sailing at its side. Haha! It was good, but just seeing the photos gave me a feeling that I may fall.

After an hour long lecture-orientation on sailing, I and my family were excited to hit the waters. We learned the parts of the boat, how to navigate through various wind directions, and many more, including how to raise the sail onto the boat.

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Trying it out as “skipper”

My children took turns being the skipper — the one who controls the sail and the boat — and being an assistant, the one who loosens or tightens the ropes per instructions from the skipper. It was a teamwork at the sailboat.

We traversed the lake many times, from different directions, to try sailing under various wind directions. It was really both fun and educational.

I also tried once as a skipper. Really nice feeling, a one-of-a-kind adventure.

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My family traversing the wide, wide Taal Lake in many directions

As we go back to the wharf, we were met by the Yatch Club’s Commodore, an Italian-American who had stayed for most of his life in the Philippines. He speaks fluently in Pilipino!

We were planning to sleep in tent that weekend, to complete the outdoor experience, but it rained so heavy late in the afternoon. And so instead of putting up our tents, we drove back to the city.

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Me and my wife enjoying the sailing

Even our camping plan was cancelled, my family enjoyed the moments, just the same. We are so thankful to the LORD for that awesome adventure. Truly a different kind of experience!

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My family just before sailing. At the background is the Hobbie sailboat we took.
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A small wharf for speed boats at the Yatch Club.
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A portion of the lawn where we were supposed to pitch tents for overnight camping
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Another interesting nook at the Yatch Club

La Mesa Eco-Park: A Forest In The City

La Mesa Eco-Park: A Forest In The City
by Danny Tariman

I never imagined there could be a forest right in the middle of the city. I was very surprised that as we cross that short bridge in a village in Quezon City, we were quickly transported to another world!

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My family at the entrance to the park

From a jungle of cement walls and iron roofs, it was a refreshing respite to be welcomed by tropical rain forest in just few meters of driving. Indeed! Tall trees, shrubs, and vines of every kind welcomed us as we enter La Mesa Nature Park.

A nice reception hall awaits visitors to this forest-in-a-city, with comfortable lounging area and clean rest rooms. Parking is spacious too but quite limited.

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The park’s reception hall

After finding a good slot to park our car, we started our short trek into the forest park.

We passed by an extra-large swimming pool with lots of people! The crowd was so big that we just decided not to take a dip in the pool.

Farther in our trek, the park is lined with food stalls offering various kinds of food. The road too has a lot of people walking around the nature park.

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One of the park’s many picnic grounds where groups and families enjoy their moments

It is quite surprising that so many visitors are walking around. Perhaps they too, like us, wanted to find some respite to the usual city living.

We had a good taste too of the various food being sold in the park. There are plenty of choices.

There are also a lot of areas to have some rest, or just to have a good chat with family and friends. We saw some groups pitch tents in the lawn; some kids just playing around with fellow kids or with parents. Really a nice and inexpensive place for bonding.

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The area where visitors can pitch their tents.

At the far end of the park is a stair leading to the wall of La Mesa Dam, the water reservoir that supplies water to households of Metro-Manila.

We walked up the stairs. It was quite tiresome, I must admit. But the view is beautiful. The steps are lined with ornamental plants and as we go higher, we can see a good view of the large pond or artificial lake within the park. The scene was very refreshing: trees, grass, shrubs, and the emerald-colored pond complement each other to give a nice green view.

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The steps to the rim of the dam.

Indeed, it was a refreshing experience of a forest within the city!

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A family photo near the man-made lagoon
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A view of the Eco-Park from the top. Note the lagoon at the middle
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Another view of the park with ornamental plants in the foreground, and trees at the background

Talisoy Cove: A Rock With Jesus’ Face

Talisoy Cove: A Rock With Jesus’ Face
by Danny Tariman

The city of Virac in Catanduanes never runs out of places to go. I had lived in this island during my childhood years, but never had the chance to explore the places.

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The rock with Jesus’ face

My only sister and her family organized this outing one beautiful summer. Gay, Lilet with their siblings and children planned to have bonding moments with the bigger, extended family. After all, it’s been a couple of years we hadn’t had any family gathering as we live in different places, some are living overseas.

We had this gathering one day in Talisoy beach. It is just a 20-minute drive from the town proper. It is a tiny cove, a good swimming beachfront but has quite big waves which may not be good for unattended children.

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The little cove called “Talisoy”

This place is open to public, and is usually crowded during summer. The huts are very affordable to rent, and beach water is clean. Really a good place for those looking for a nice place for family bonding moments, at an easy-on-the-pocket budget.

One of the attractions of this cove is the rock formation that looks like the face of Jesus. It’s amazing, some people sees 2 faces, some can only see one. Whichever or whatever you can see, one thing is sure: one looks like the face of the LORD.

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The Talisoy beach with Jesus’s face at the right side

We had good sumptuous late lunch at the beach, as my family drove down to this place all the way from another resort: the Puraran Surf.

Indeed, another wonderful time spent with my extended family. Praise be to God!

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The stretch of the cream-colored sandy beach
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My family pic
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The extended family pic

Surfing in Puraran

Surfing in Puraran
By Danny Tariman

It was raining hard when we reached this surfing destination of Catanduanes. We had been in this place in the past, but its fresh salty-wind, fine-sand shores, and barrel waves in the seas are irresistible for us not to come back. I like this place — rather I love this place. After all, I grew up in the town where this resort is located.

The iconic islets fronting the Puraran shoreline

Despite the impending storm, we braved the rains. It was good, because somehow the storm induced bigger waves. Something that my daughter liked because she wanted to ride the surf again.

My daughter in her surfing form

She wasn’t disappointed: she enjoyed the surfing. While she was riding the surf, her equally adventurous father was taking videos or photos of her surfing.

The beach with just us strolling.

And while she was surfing, my son who owns a salt water aquarium, was busy searching the seabed for sea creatures he can put live in his aquarium.

Me and my wife had wonderful moments too in the beach: just gazing the horizon, sharing stories and experiences… Really good moments.

My family at the resort’s accommodation

My family had a good accommodation too. The beach resort we checked-in is a family-run simple resort, the Pacific Surf. It has just a few native huts lining the putting greens. But we got an aircon room for just 1,500 pesos!

Indeed, it was another beautiful day in Puraran! Thank You LORD!

I and my daughter before she rode the surf board
Another view of the Puraran beach