Must Have Food and Beverage in the Holy Land

While visiting the market in the Old City of Jerusalem, you’d notice the pretty strong smell of spices. It is quite the experience.

This experience is similar to entering a public market in the Philippines, except that there are no “wet goods” in the Jerusalem Old City market.

Thanks to our tour guides, we were able to try several food and drinks in the Old City. I recommend at least one must have food and two beverages in the Holy Land.

Knafeh/Kunafa/Kanafeh and Arabic Coffee

This is a dessert made out of fine semolina dough, which is soaked in a sweet, sugar-based syrup. It is layered with cheese! Yum!

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Tel – The Layers of History

People in Israel cannot just excavate to build structures and building–even in their own property. There is so much lying under the ground that the Antiquities Department of Israel should issue permits.

If a property owner digs and uncovers something with archaeological significance, they need to stop digging and the government will have to intervene. That can delay whatever building project they have planned.

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Back to the Holy Land

I am visiting the Holy Land again beginning August 4th. I am co-leading a small group of 13 people–mostly United Methodist young adults. These young people came from around the world.

One thing I noticed is that traffic feels like Manila. Not quite like EDSA but close enough. The taxi that took us from the airport to the hotel earlier today considered lanes as suggestions in the same way that Filipino jeepney and taxi drivers did.

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Rasings Visit Legoland

Coco loves Legos! The first Lego set he ever built was a 3-in-1 Dinosaur set. He can build a T-Rex, a Triceratops, or a Pterodactyl. His collection has expanded in the past year–a Batman set, a Lego Overwatch Bastion, a helicopter, and a Unikitty.

At 6 years, it’s amazing how he can concentrate for hours just to build a complicated set meant for 8-12 years old kid. He asks for help for some aspects of the set that are too difficult for his small hands. But other than that, he has the patience to build it!

To Legoland, Florida

About a year ago–we promised Coco that we will visit Legoland. We designated a coin bank where he can put coins and bills to save up for it.

On Memorial Day holiday weekend, we drove down to Florida from Nashville, TN to have our first vacation as a family of four.

We bought a two-day package, which included access to the park and to the water park, plus one night stay at Hampton Inn Winter Haven. After the Lego Movie 2 came out, we found a discount code included in a McDonald’s Happy Meal order. That was handy.

Driving Down to Florida… with a 6-Month old

Because we had a 6-month old baby, we thought we could fly down to Florida. We checked the flights and… we couldn’t afford it. The only option was to drive down to Florida.

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My Walking Exploration of Lisbon, Portugal

On my way home from Porto, Portugal, I had a 14-hour layover in Lisbon, Portugal. I arrived at the Lisbon airport late in the afternoon. I bought a ticket for the train and went to the downtown area and went to the hostel where I was spending the night.

Stay at a hostel near the city center.

Hotels are expensive, so I stayed at Castilho Lisbon Suites. It was cheaper than most hotels. I had some difficulties finding it, but after calling their number, I found it. I checked in and found a really nice place to spend the night! Here are some photos I took of the hostel.

Read about history.

On my flight to Porto, I downloaded an audiobook about the voyage of Magellan around the world. He was a Portuguese, but he did not really serve Portugal. He went to Spain and declared his allegiance to the rival empire.

As a result of my reading, and my exploration of Lisbon, I was able to write a poem. It’s in Ilokano, of course. So that might not be useful to the readers of this blog.

That is one thing I try to do if I visit a country, I read about their history. It’s a good way to learn and appreciate the country and its past.

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7 Tips for Visiting South Korea in 12 Hours or Less

The land of Korean telenovelas, K-Pop, castles, kimchi and Korean barbecue! I am not really a fan of K-Pop and koreanovelas, but I love the sense of history of the place and the clash or coexistence between contemporary and historical.

You can visit South Korea visa-free!

Yes that is true if you have a US visa or a green card, together with an onward ticket from or back to the USA can enjoy a short visa-free stay in South Korea! I was surprised to learn this, but it was definitely a welcome development.

After my short trip to Mongolia, then to Malaysia, I planned a 12-hour layover at the Incheon airport so I could visit Seoul for just a few minutes. Thankfully, a friend of mine was there at the time. Another friend visiting from Manila joined us.

If you have a 4 to 12-hour layover, make sure to exit the airport through passport control. Don’t go to the gate of your next flight. I was so set on needing to take a shower after my flight from Kuala Lumpur. I explored Kuala Lumpur the day before and I was so sweaty and feeling icky that I felt like I needed a shower first!

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7 Tips for Filipinos Visiting Mongolia

I travel as part of my job. I’m thankful for the opportunity to see different countries and cities. In 2017, I traveled to Mongolia, particularly to Ulaanbaatar City for a consultation visit. It was a short visit, barely three days. Our gracious hosts took us to some tourist spots in the city.

Here are 7 tips when visiting Mongolia.

Filipinos don’t need visa to go to Mongolia.

Thankfully, Mongolia and the Philippines have a bilateral agreement. Their citizens can travel to either country without a visa.

I boarded my flight from Nashville, went through Incheon, South Korea, then landed at the Chinggis Khan International Airport. I lined up at passport control and after about 3 minutes, the immigration officer let me enter the country. They didn’t even ask any question!

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Exploring Porto, Portugal on a Bike

In September 2017, I had a chance to visit Porto, Portugal. It’s a beautiful city–Portugal’s second largest after Lisbon–known for its bridges and port wine. I didn’t sample their wine, but I explored the city and saw all its majestic bridges! I did that while riding on a bike.

Rent a bike in Porto, Portugal

Renting a bike in Porto is easy. I simply opened Google Maps on my phone and searched for bike rental shops. After reading reviews and comparing costs, I decided on going with Biclas & Triclas, which is on the bank of the Douro River. I was able to rent a bike online, specified the pick up time, and showed up there the next day. Sweet and easy!

Get a Map and Ask for the Best Places to Visit

Pablo, a friend who also attended the same meeting I was in decided to join me. It made the exploration doubly fun. Before setting off, the owner of Biclas & Triclas briefed us on the nice places to visit, where to get lunch, and where the bike paths were. We hit the road and went to the general direction of the city. There was no uphill pedaling for us. It was all flat roads as long as you stay on the paths near the river and along the beach.

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Free WiFi and Other Things I Loved about Flying with Jetblue

Most of my travels are usually with Delta. I have accumulated quite a lot of miles on their Sky Club program, which makes my travel more convenient. I am usually one of the first passengers to board and I enjoy an occasional upgrade.

This time, though, the Portugal Embassy in Washington, D.C. did not send my passport back in time to book a flight with Delta. By the time I received it, the airfare shot through the roof at over $2,500. We explored other options and settled on Jetblue and TAP Air Portugal for my trip to Porto. (I was going to attend a meeting of our partner organization there.) By doing this, we saved $1,000 on my airfare! Not bad for a reservation done, 2 days before the flight.

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How to fill your car with gas

I did not know how to fill my car with gas when I first arrived in the United States. In the Philippines, you just pull up next to a gas filling station. You don’t even need to get out of your car, an employee will go to you. Just roll down your window, tell them how much gas you want and they’ll do it for you.

In the United States, that is not the case. Filling your car with gas is a do-it-yourself process.

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