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Showing posts from March, 2007

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossoms at Ueno Park It's late March and the temperature is in the low 70's, enough to motivate local residents to get the picnic basket out and sit under the cherry blossom trees in Ueno Park. There's a full week to go before the white blooms turn pink but some trees are already showing a preview of Barbie pink blossoms. It's a wonderful time to enjoy this shortlived phenomena. If you decide to go on the spur of the moment and brought no snacks or provisions for a meal, not to worry. There are food stalls and restaurants nearby. There is also a zoo, rides for children, and the Western Art Museum where Auguste Rodin's Thinker contemplates on what to wear for Spring. * * * Image by Rosario Charie Albar

The Score on Boracay

Yes the beaches of Boracay have fine, white sand and its wonderful to burrow your feet into its warm recesses. The water is clear and cool. The coconut trees sway in the gentle breeze and offer much needed shade and the sunsets are showstoppers.

These things we already know about Boracay. But here’s what we haven’t heard or read about:

1. You take a ferry to Boracay from Caticlan for P30.00, a relatively inexpensive fare. But to this you have to add an environmental fee of P50 which you pay at a separate window and a terminal fee of P20 which is paid to a different cashier. If you travel after 6 p.m., there is a fare surcharge as well.

2. To get into the ferry (usually an outrigger), you have to walk a plank which measures about 1.5 ft. in width. Attendants will help you along but watch your step anyway. It gets tricky when you are carrying a bag or two. One of the passengers in our boat dropped his luggage in the sea. While an attendant dove to retrieve it, his clothes were all wet.

3. I…

On Lantau Island

The cable car ride from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping is a 5.7 km. stretch dangling above a tributary of the South China Sea and over rolling green hills of the North Lantau Country Park. Hiking trails crisscross these hills and there were a few hikers about. Suddenly through light rain and mist, we beheld the Tian Tan Buddha in the distance. It was a magical moment.

We got off at Ngong Ping Village where our first stop was the Tea House. I love to drink tea but have never done so in a tea ceremony. The ritual starts with the cleansing of tiny cups in a bowl of hot water. Then a spoonful of green tea is poured into a small pitcher filled with water heated to a temperature level that brings out the best of the selected tea. The guide transferred the tea to a filtered glass pitcher to remove the tea leaves. She then filled all our cups. Raising the cup to her nose she inhaled the aroma of the tea, just like wine. We followed suit. She took a sip of the tea. The first sip she explained is to q…

The House that Sam Built

Aklan is well known as the jumping off point to the blindingly white sand beaches of Boracay. But it has another jewel worth visiting. This is the house that Sam built.

Sampaguita Gardens Resort and Spa in New Washington is only a few minutes from the center of Kalibo. It is a beachside complex with a non denominational Meditation Chapel, an Asian fusion restaurant, an aquarium, a Christmas cottage, a children’s playground called Sammy’s Circus, a butterfly farm and the house of Samuel J. Butcher, the creator of Precious Moments. Precious Moments is renowned worldwide for its unique figurines and dolls.

You enter Sam’s house through carved doors flanked by two enormous Chinese vases. Inside the cool interior of rich dark wood, is a collection of museum quality furniture and Oriental objets d’art. To the left of the main door, behind a glass panel is the library room with an antique Chinese bed. It has a wooden canopy with intricate carving. It would be difficult to concentrate on readin…