Chasing the Desert Mist? /LAPC-Along back country roads

Driving along in the Desert outskirts

One Friday we decided to take a drive along the desert outskirts in Kuwait. There´s nothing much there to see actually. Of course there´s less to expect from an almost barren desert fields. Aside from dust, dust and arid landscape,you might end up thinking like you are in the middle of nowhere.But for a foreigner like me, the sight of a caravan of camels, Bedouin tents (nomads) and the long range of power transmission lines to name a few sounds interesting for me.Kuwait is a very small country and you can absolutely explore the whole country in one day. The best way to explore the outskirts?—of course driving along because you can´t do it by walking or cycling since it´s almost 48+ degrees outside.The roads are well paved and camera-monitored.

And this is why this roadtrip became memorable for me.

I recalled asking myself, have I ever really experienced a real foggy misty day in Kuwait?

Look at the photo below, is it foggy , misty or dusty? could you tell the difference?

Is it Foggy, misty or dusty?

Probably not, since oftentimes, I have mistaken mist as dust, because the blurred visions made me felt like it´s all the same. It is scorching hot, humid, and uncomfortable that my eyes hurt.

Anyway, one time while admiring the herd of camels in the Camel farm in Wafra, my iPhone had suddenly shuts down due to long exposures to heat and I received an impromptu message ” Wait until this iPhone cools down..”! So at least that can give you an idea what to expect if you decide to go on a roadtrip in Kuwait and make a pit stop in the desert.

Imaginary trees in the deserts of Kuwait?

Looking back,in Kuwait, these power lines symbolizes it´s power resources.With it´s high crude reserves, still, it has it´s high´s and low´s. There, water is more expensive than oil.Due to heavy use of air conditioning, reliance on desalination for water, and highly subsidized electricity prices, Kuwait’s per capita electricity consumption is among the highest in the world, at roughly 14 000 kWh.We lived with air conditioning almost all throughout the year and we never paid any electrical bills and you pay peanuts for petrol.

The beauty of sunsets seen from a power lines

On a clear day, it means no duststorms, one can appreciate the simple beauty of the desert with these power transmissions lines as background. Time flies fast as we venture on appreciating the local scenery.Further on we made many quick stop- overs to admire the dunes, looking for wild desert flowers and breathing fresch air in the secluded beaches.I totally enjoyed killing time there, just watching the desert sun sets and paint the skies with beautiful palletes of purple, and burnt oranges.

A quick pit stop in the beach nearby
Bakala, the 711 of the desert

Along the way, a small roadside “Bakala” ( or convenient store) , or the 711 of the desert can be seen just like the photo above. They sell almost everything, from cigarettes, drinks, ice cream, toys, I don´t know exactly what are those sacks, but for sure they have something to quench your thirst. Sometimes they sell some vegetables and fruits coming from the nearby farms.

You´ll feel lucky to see some ” infamous war- torn ” walls like this. There hasn´t been Graffiti or public art in Kuwait, only barren walls, a reminder of its painful past.

Abandoned walls

I can´t say that´s it´s a county side thing, but in the outskirts, these sand dunes are quite pretty sight. People loved to drive around here and just have a breather, camping and BBQ; and of course, enjoy the beach.There are no rivers to amuse us, only rough beaches and coastlines.

The local dunes in Kuwait

Of course, our road trip won´t be complete without a sight of the local desert trees . They looked fragile, and yet very resilient which I really find so unique.Sometimes I thought that this landscape made me think if I am in the middle of nowhere but then a sight of a single tree, swayed by the shy desert winds can be reassuring.

In the middle of nowhere…

If allowed, one can further explore the roads leading to Kuwait´s neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia and Iraq as long as you obtained entry permits.Crossing these borders illegally is really a big hassle and without Arabic, you might really get in trouble.The road distance from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia is approximately 796 kms. Saudi is located on the south side of Kuwait so if you travel at the consistent speed of 50 KM per hour you can reach Saudi Arabia in 15 hours and 46 minutes.

I ´ve definitely not seen a mist in the roads of Kuwait but yes, I wished I have gathered a pocket of sand in a bottle, because somehow, I´ve been there.

This post is inspired by Wandering Dawgs, for Lens -Artist -Along back country roads.

Until then, Salam and Tschüss!

Guten Appetit, the flavours of Bavaria

Warning spoilers:

This is not a Foodie Blog. I am not a Foodie but I do love a good, warm meal. This post is all about what I have been tasting around while living here in the southern part of Germany, Bayern, or locally known as Bavaria. Sometimes I think that Bavaria is another land, because it is so much different from different parts of Germany, in many aspects.

Anyway,from an expat view, here´s what you can expect to taste if you happen to visit Bavaria, either for business or pleasure. Of course, food comes along always from many different reasons. From navigating and exploring all the nature wonders, lakes and German castles and palaces—people would eventually take a break, and sit together to enjoy a meal. What is a typical Bavarian meal?

In German, we call Food as “Essen“. We say ” Mahlzeit, or “ Guten Appetit ” before eating, it means like “enjoy your meal” or simply enjoy eating .Germans eat normally 3 meals a day, plus there´s something in between small meals like Brotzeit, ( Bread) and ” Kaffee und Kuchen” -or Coffee and Cake.

Beer is unanimously enjoyed while eating traditional Bavarian dishes in restaurant or in Beer gardens.

Major meals during the day are ” Frühstuck“, (Breakfast), Mittagessen ( or Lunch) and Abendessen or (Dinner, also called as Abendbrot).Here in Bavaria, there´s also a famous delicacy for breakfast. It´s the Weißwürst with Breze, a white sausage eaten with freshly baked Pretzel and with sweet mustard. It´s being served only until 11 o´clock and can be eaten in weekend food stalls or in restaurants. Others enjoyed it with Beer as well.I have never tried it myself since I am not really a big fan of sausages.

Germans are bread lovers . They do eat LOTs of Bread.

They dont mind too much carbs.They adore their hard crusted buns, croissants, and dark loafs or Dinkel.

Eating bread almost every day was really a shock to me. I am used to eat rice 3x a day before, but coming here, my taste buds were altered. At first I find their buns so hard, sturdy and I can even throw it like a stone. I grew up having soft breads and toasts so I can´t believed it that now, I got used to eating bread as well for lunch or dinner. There are so many different kinds of bread here, almost more than a thousand varieties!

I try other kinds once in a while when I´m in the bakery to discover new flavors. In every kilometer is a nearby Bakery (or Bäckerei) which sells different kinds of rolls, dark breads with lots of seeds, and even gluten -frei ones and they are open everyday as early as 7 o´clock up to 6 o´clock in the evening.

If you´re in Bavaria, you will definitely see a lot of Beer garden culture. People loved to meet in here, with friends and family, special occasions, watch football or just leisurely idle away on Silent sundays. Yesterday I was in a Beergarden and there´s a special dish from Yugoslavia. We tried the “Pola-Pola” which made of meat in skewers,Cevapcici, fresh salads and rice with sauce. It totally delicious!

Below is a typical huge platter here in Bavaria. For bigger groups and families, they prefer a big servings consisting of sliced hams, bacon ( or Schinken), breads, slices of fresh salads, tomatoes, radishes and fruits cuts like melons. This is very tasty and I specially loved the spreads and Ementaler cheese.

Of course, Bavarian dish is not complete without Sausages. Just like Breads, there are thousands variants of Sausages. I am not so fond of eating them. Only some occasional Bratwürst when we do BBQ´s and the curry wurst that my daughter love.So when you come to Bavaria or anywhere in Germany, you will definitely see some Sausages in the menu. To fully experience Bavarian food, you´ve gotta try eating Wursts at least!

A 800+ old sausage tradition in Nürnberg

Other famous Bavarian dishes are Schnitzel, Gulasch, a pork or beef stew with dark sauce ,Rouladen (rolled meat) Knödel or a ball made up of some kind of noodle and their Spätzle. Bavarian food is commonly paired with potatoes, (fried or cooked), and side dishes of Sauerkraut and fresh Salad mixes.

Schnitzel, a mainstay in Bavarian menus

I was introduced to Spätzle and we loved it. Our favourite local restaurant to go is the Weißbrauhaus zum Herrenbrau and they really served delicious dishes. Spätzle taste like noodles or pasta, only that the form is smaller and either it is fried or cooked with mushrooms and onions,we loved them both.

Bavarians loved to enjoy sitting in restaurants and eating out. Over here, there are lots of restaurants and some Asian restaurants as well, but not really arabic ones.Young people loved to snack on Döner Kebabs and sausages with a bun.

My plate is full !

Most of Bavarian sweet desserts are made of traditional cakes and pastries. A local version of Kaisersmarrn is always a good choice served with apple sauce, vanilla ice cream or berries.Over here, we love trying their different fruit cakes ( or Blechkuchen) and Apfel strudel with vanilla ice cream.German desserts is also notorious for using many heavy creams and mascarpone with their Bayerische creme top with pistashios and fruit slices.

I noticed that Germans ( or rather Bavarians) loved their cakes to have almonds and always fruity and not so much icing. Some other variants are Mohnkuchen ( Poppy seeds) cakes, Quarkbällchen, Schwartzwald Torte ( Black Forest ), Marmor Kuchen and many types of Pudding.I find their version of cheesecake made with sour cream also better than oversweetened ones.

The undisputed taste of Kaisersmarrn

Aside from frequenting to sit in Cafés and restaurants to enjoy Coffe and Cake, people around here also loved baking at home. Honestly,I have learned to baked many goodies since I came here. In Supermarkets, you can find different kinds of baking inspirations to make your own dessert or something for birthdays.I have learned the value of homemade cakes .This is so different from the culture that I´ve grown up where everything about cakes and pastries can easily be bought in store.

Then there´s this thing we called “Abendbrot”. When we don´t have a big appetite for dinner, we opt to eat soup and bread, or simply bread slices with some fresh cheese, ham or bacon slices, or with tomatoes. It is a light meal at night.

A piece of Abendbrot
Life of a third culture Kid growing up with German Breads

One thing worth of mentioning is all about customer service in Germany.They don´t have it. I have the impression that service is quite dull and very cold. They are not the ones who would greet you gladly and cater to you in the most approriate way. They are very direct and I guess, it´s just the way they are. Most restaurants accepts payments by card ( esp. during Corona times ) or less contact, but then in many areas, paying with cash is always preffered.

I have discovered new dishes since I came here and I eventually have learned to cooked them. I must say that I have finally got a taste of German Culture, both gastronomically, and culturally.I haven´t actually tried any unique street food here since street food vendors are not so common here.

Have you ever tasted German or Bavarian dishes? How was your experience?

How to say Hello in Bavaria

Is the grass really greener in Bavaria?

Prost, how I learned to drink Beer in Germany

Germany, more than Dirndls and Lederhosen

Until then on my next expat adventure! Tschüss!

Knitfiti :The mystery of Yarn Bombing

I first saw these trees wrapped in yarn from last year´s Winter. We did a lot of walking and stroll during lockdown so we actually discovered many nooks and crooks of our neighborhood. One thing caught our attention : Trees behind the Museum für Konkrete Kunst (Museum of Concrete Art) and in the area facing the Viktualienmark are covered with colorful and intricate knittings!As I was running early this morning, these trees caught my attention once again and gave me an idea–Hey, this can make it to Becky´s #TreeSquares, after all, they are trees!

Whenever I see something with art, colorful and unique, I need to check it out.I thought, how unique, creative and beautiful is this idea. It was a wonderful idea to display the creativity of the knitters of Ingolstadt.

But then, are there any other reasons or good cause behind it?

My daughter said ” Mama, maybe the trees get cold too, so they need to cover up when it´s cold..” I nodded and agree.

But what is actually Yarn Bombing?

Yarn bombing in Ingolstadt

yarn bombings main motivation is to bring life, warmth, and a feeling of belonging and community”

Yarn bombing or Knitfiti is actually the practice of using knitted or crochet yarn to cover (typically public) objects – is just one example of a range of new and creative forms of activism.It´s also called as Guerilla knitting, Urban Knitting or yarn storming.It can be anything, like bike stands, or anything of public use and property. This agenda is attributed to Magda Sayeg,who on 2005 covered her door shop handle with a custom-made cozy.Joann Matvichuk of  Lethbridge, Alberta, founded the International yarn Bombing Day, which was first observed on 11 of June,2011

Over here in Bavaria,the initiative of Tree yarn bombing in my city was presented by the Free Voters organization and local community to express their form of protest against clearing of the trees, preservation of the small city park and building of a Kammerspiele.The focus of the consideration is something to do with the renovation of the City Theater and better consideration for the artists.

So I guess, yarn bombing is actually have to do something about a cause–a reason or something to protect on.At present , there are total of 13 trees that are already “wrapped” with these artistically knitted yarns .The yarn used is approx. 60 kgs .Most of the Knitters are done by women so I guess this is a showcase of how many talented knitters we have here .I even have a colleague who happened to learned knitting during Corona Lockdown only through watching You tube tutorials…what a talent!

The thing is, it is not clear until when these trees will be wrapped in yarn. Nowadays, we have more rainy days than sunny days , it is summer and it´s really crazy weather.So I was thinking that the longer that these trees will be clothed with yarn, then it might start to create molds–which means, pests can nest in and eventually cause damage on the trees.

Do you think Yarn bombing is purely for aesthetics purposes only or not?

“properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn´t hurt the untroubled spirit either….

-Elizabeth Zimmerman,´Knitting without Tears´

I grew up seeing one of my Aunt doing ridiculously good knitting and this was captured by her daughter. I think knitting is a passionate hobby. It can even turn into a source of income. But knitting for a cause–is yet another mystery.

What do you think?

Happy weekend, until then, Tschüss!

The beauty of Wheat Fields in Bavaria /FOTD

Exploring my neighborhood is always a joy to me. Everyday I found something unique about it. From where we lived right now, we can experience the best of city life and rural indulgence such as sights of different fields and the modern amenities of the city.For me, fields here in Bavaria is a normal sight. In Spring, we enjoy the vast fields of wild flowers, the endless Yellow Rasp Fields, and in Summer, we are lucky to cycle around the Red Poppies stunning fields, Sunflower fields and the Wheatfields. Of course, our summer won´t be complete if we don´t visit to the Spargel (Mushroom) and Strawberry fields! Another top field to explore is the green paradise of the Hop Fields—the green gold in Bavaria where the key ingredient for Beer is from.

So you see, we have a LOT of fields over here. Every season, it´s different except in Winter where fields become a place for sledding!

I decided to compile all my Wheat Fields nature photos and share it here in my Blog so here are some of my favourite photos.I realized that Wheat as well produce flowers, which is called “Florets“. . Florets in wheat are very small , inconspicuous and green. They are arranged in an inflorescence called spike of spikelets.It can make it to Cee´s FOTD-Flower of the Day Challenge, though not in the garden but at least it´s in fields!

As a foreigner living here in Germany, a sight of Wheat crops is quite a surprise to me. I grew up seeing only fields of corn and rice fields but here, I was acquainted with Wheat .No wonder that Wheat ( 20,2 million tons/year-2018 data) belongs to the top 3 agricultural crops that Germany produces, making it to 10th place as world producer.

While Wheat is the largest crop followed by Barley and Rye, some fields are also planted with beans, potatoes and other agricultural crops.For me, It´s a joy seeing them while I am running and cycling through them while they are still green from late Spring to mid Summer.

By late Summer, these Wheat fields turns into “Gold ones”.They exude an exclusive natural beauty in the morning mist, on a foggy day, after the rain, and even covered with spider webs!

A single Poppy flower among the green wheat crops and a lovely sight of Wheat Florets. (Wheat fields in Bavaria/Justbluedutch)

I found this great video below explaining about the Beauty in Cultivating Wheat in Bavaria. Quite not a surprise since “Weizen” (Wheat in German) is essential here for making bread.Bread is a stable product here ,I mean we even eat Bread for lunch & Dinner! Germany is actually a Bread country and (Brot-German word for bread) consuming carbs is a significant part of German cuisine. Living here made me eat so many bread for the past 5 years. It´s quite shocking when I found out that we have about 600 main types of breads and 1,200 different types of pastries and rolls are produced in about 17,000 dedicated bakeries and another 10,000 in-shop bakeries.

So you see, Wheat fields explains the beloved German culture of “Kaffee und Kuchen” ( Coffee and Cake).

They even study and do constant researches to make Wheat “fit” to climate change!

Today, I did my morning run and I stopped for a while to admire them again, wet from today´s rain. I just realized that in every 1 square kilometer area of this wheat field, out of the 18grams of seeds planted, it produces 800grams of grain, and eventually roughly around 500 grams of Flour (weizen mehl) which can make 23 yummy German buns! Every sunday, I cycled to the bakery and buy 4-5 buns to enjoy in our Sunday breakfast!

What´s your favourite type of Fields?

Until then, I´ll be writing more about my life here in Bavaria in my next Posts.

Danke und Tschüss!

A Day in the Life in the market (Souk) in Kuwait

Do you know the name of this giant Fish?

It´s Friday, a day of rest in the Middle East.No work for almost everyone. It´s a free day for us so normally it´s a rest day.Either we sleep in,grocery shopping, or meet with some friends in Avenues,but sometimes, we opt for another unique expat experience.A trip to the Market or we called it in Arabic,” Souk should be experience by everyone who visits Kuwait.I frequenty visits the Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait City and Souk Sharq in Sharq.There is also one good souk in Fahaheel but it´s far from where I lived .

This time, let me take you to a short tour about a day in the life inside the Fish Market and in the Mubarakiya. I decided to make a post about this because I certainly love going there. My husband doesnt. He does´nt like the smell of fish and walking to crowded markets. But I do. I love the cultural mixture, the smorgasbord around there, the diversity, and the raw mid-eastern and arabic food culture. I grew up in a tropical country where fish and seafoods are also abundant. At a young age, I have learned how to clean a fish and I am happy about it.

Salam Walaikom” is the universal greetings in Kuwait and is typically responded with ” Walaikom a Salam” .

I always see people over here in Ingolstadt who loved to catch fish in the Danube river, they spent hours and hours to catch something. I guess they really find solitude in their hobby whatsoever!

The Fish market in Kuwait City is big, it´s a very crowded place adjacent to the “Mubarakiya“.You can find all sort of stuff there. From rugged carpets, pots, clothing, arabic spices, meat shops, cafe´s and gold shops and so much more. In this area, there´s a nearby Mosque, so on Friday, this place can be very busy. You will see all the nationalities of expats and locals . Just walking through the pedestrian makes me really dizzy…It is really an overwhelming experience. The smell, the noises, the chaos and yes, the sound of the buzzling city.

Abundant fresh crabs in the Fish Market

Inside the Fish market there´s also so much going on. I practiced my haggling talent here. With the Arabic that I have learned, I try to blend in the culture. The fresh catch is really awesome. I love having fresh seafoods from time to time. I had the experience of digging some clams when it is lowtide in the beach, but seeing other fish varieties is also something.In Kuwait, I also experience picking my own fish (my favourite was the Red Snapper!) and have it cooked to my preference.

The prices were quite competitive and since Fishing is one of the traditional source of income by the locals, you won´t be dissapointed with the daily offers in the market.

“Kam hada?” (How much?)

It is okay to haggle for the price but it is always good to do it politely. Most vendors are speaking in Arabic so if they saw that you are a foreigner then they might not understand you. So it´s better to come here with someone who speaks the native language and let them help you, especially if asking about the quality of the catch.

Look what I´ve found? the Dutch famous “Kissing Couple”, a plagiarized copy sold in the Mubarakiya in Kuwait

There´s something so endearing about Kuwaiti local specialties and food. Meat are cooked tenderly with arabic sices, lots of Cummin and Garam Masala. We love the authentic grilled Kuwaiti foods and this nice restaurant in the heart of the city called ” Leila”. I believed it´s Lebanese and it serves this yummy buns.

A taste of Lebanon in Kuwait

On the other side of the Fish market, there´s the dry goods section where you can find local produces like dates, spices, vegetables and fruits. Kuwait has limited agriculture so ost of the products that are grown locally like dates are quite cheap. It is very hard for me to find here in Germany for a good Dates, most of them are so expensive and not so delicious as what I´ve got to eat there. I am missing it now actually, and the native Kuwaiti sweets…they are super decadent!

Street Art in Kuwait

Walking around the city made me realized just how nationalistic Kuwait is. Kuwait colors is always displayed and they really loved displaying their Flag.During the “Hala Hala Festival ” in February, the whole country is actually dressing up in White, green, black and Red.

A typical shop design in Kuwait with national colors!

Welcome to Kuwait
A day in the life in the markets of Kuwait

In here you can find as well so many local produce from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. It´s like a mixture of the Arabic food centre .It´s no wonder because there are so many Arabic expats living and working there as well.Outside the market are line of restaurants and shops that serves the local dishes. I love sitting there and enjoy some freshly made Iranian bread and some grilled chicken and meat. The side dishes and Hummus are really good.

A taste of Kuwaiti Culture

Do you have a market experience in other countries? If so, how was it?

Until then, Tschüss!

CBWC : Black and White Trees from Kuwait

Kuwait has very little nature, it is a desert country and you cannot find a lush green field. When we drive along the desert, it is so barren. Nothing to see except the power lines, camels, and dust.

I can count with my fingers the trees that survive the natural hazards like Dust storms and intense heat.Date Palm trees are the most common tree that I have seen during the entire time I was living there.I remember that when date trees starts to bear fruits, the owner would wrapped the fruits with a plastic bag to protect them. We had a supply of the ripen dates ( or T´mar), especially during the months of Holy Ramadan. It´s the same culture where friends would give me pears and apples during harvest time in Fall here in Germany.

Leaning tree in Salmiya Park, Kuwait

This leaning tree in the photo above is quite special. I dunno its name but I find it really nice, with its fine foliage and bended branches.I wonder how it had branches like that? Stretched by life or trying to show it´s tenacity and flexibility through harsh weather. I guess probably I am the only one who notices it since I this impression that many people there just don´t care about gardens, nature or environment.

On the other hand, I remembered this leaning tree very well. My daughter was 1 year old and she plays under it. Now she is a master of climbing trees . I really wonder if this tree is still alive and thriving.It is one of the few trees adoring this playground aside from the hedges surrounding the park.

I see trees from Kuwait as a symbol of tenacity and not for aesthetic purposes. What survives there is really because they have managed to survived and passed the natural hurdles, and not because they were cultivated and cared for. Sadly many plants as well face extinction.With almost zero chance of rainfall every year, what can you expect? How can you expect a natural growth of trees with almost zero irrigation and less water?

Another barren, fruitless tree in the Green Island, Kuwait which survives 50+ degrees temperatures and humidity in Kuwait

But then something amazing happened. The great initiative of Kuwait Oasis, started the project ” Great Green Wall of Kuwait.” The enormous tree planting begun using Groasis ´s Waterboxx® plant cocoon and the results are really more than you could imagine.Ghaf trees were planted and you can see the updates and photo gallery showing the gradual growth of the trees planted in the challenging southern part of kuwait deserts.

Someone believe that doing something as simple as “trying” could actually made a big difference. It all started with a great initiative and now serves as an inspiration to the world. Of course you can´t make a desert into full lush green fields and because it´s a desert by nature, but doing something for the environment has long term effects.

There are over 400 plant species in Kuwait, but there is only 1 native Tree that is native to Kuwait and that is the tree known as “Talha“.It´s a kind of Acacia (acacia pachyceras) and normally found in the Sabah Al Ahmed nature reserve .I took a shot of this while visiting the Wafra Farms in Kuwait and it shows radically how barren the surrounding environment is. Powerlines are actually more than the trees itself.
Rows of Date Palm Trees in the grounds of Scientific Center in Salmiya, Kuwait

In the end, I have seen the great side of it, the sunsets and sunrise beneath these rows of palm trees are quite special. And that´s one thing why I would always remember the “Trees of Kuwait”.

This post is inspired by Cee´s Black & White Trees Challenge and also timely for this month´s theme for the Squares, TreeSquares hosted by the charming Becky.

One question, have you ever planted a tree?

Until then, I can almost smell the weekend. Tschüss.

All for the Love of Coconuts , TreeSquares-July 2

Coconut Trees in Coco Beach Resort, Puerto Galera, Philippines

Native from my home country is the Coconut tree, or Cocos Nucifera, it is a national pride that Filipinos called it ” the tree of Life” .We called it locally “Niyog” and it´s grown 70% there.Living far away from home made me appreciate this wonderful tree as ever. I love dishes with coconut milk, and not just Curry but only the yummy desserts made out of pure creamy coconut milk. Coconut macarons? or our famous “Halo Halo” with fresh coconut pieces, or better it´s nutritious juice.

I grew up seeing it every single day. I see them lined up in our backyards and in planted in almost everywhere. I even thought before that it´s the national tree of the Philippines because it´s practically everywhere. This tree became somewhat special to me because living as an expat, I truly miss seeing and eating (the real) coconut. Just look at its unique features—long stemmed, lanky and tall, high, exuding a freedom spirit with its outgoing leaves, and yet the surprisingly abundant produce it can have. From its roots up to its single leaf, something is always made out of it.Others may see Coconut tree as only part of a summer vacation memory , “yes, a tropical tree, growing only in the islands in south east Asia…or in Carribean, “or how do you really get to eat the coconut fruit?” ” or ” Should I drink a fresh coconut juice from the coconut fruit itself..?!”

A tropical beach destination?—It´s got to have lots and lots of coconut trees there…or maybe others mistaken it as Palm trees.These type of palm trees always give away that it´s Asian.

I remembered an old neighbour of ours before ( v. long time ago…!) , I think I was 8 or 10 years old.He used to climb a cocunut tree to get some coconuts and we would wait there on the ground with a spoon in our hands.We love drinking it´s fresh juice, it´s yummy and cooling.

Coco water is regarded as “a natural isotonic beverage” that has “the same level of electrolytic balance that we have in our blood.” “It’s the fluid of life, so to speak,”.

If you would looked at the trunk of the Coconut photo below, you would notice the gaps made by a big & long sharp knife , in our local dialect, we called this knife with a wooden base “Sundang“. In Tagalog we called this “Itak“. These gaps are made for practical reasons, for anyone to enable them to climb that steep height. So when you see a coconut without these knife gaps, they haven´t been climbed probably! There is even a crazy game popularized in Philippines called ” Coconut Climbing”. As the name says, it´s an under time pressure, whoever climbs it faster, he/she wins.

The tree of life, Cocos Nucifera, or Coconut Trees

The famous legend about coconut is that they say it originates from the story of a man who was despised and cursed by the parents of the woman he loved. They don´t want him to marry their daughter so they cursed him.He was cursed to become an Earthworm. One time during a heavy flood, he was found by the woman he loved and although she was totally shocked what happened to him, he asked her to bury him in the ground. He wanted to watch over her for the rest of his life and be there for her although he is not a man anymore.After the woman buried him under the ground, the coconut tree sprouted. That´s how they say how it got its long, lanky trunk and wide leaves that provides endless shades. Coconut tree also symbolizes resilience, tenacity and faithfulness. To think that Philippines is always frequented by typhoons and storms and huge amount of Monsoon rains, coconut tree withstand all these natural challenges and standing tall and proud.

Two lovely mature Coconuts I have seen in Coco Beach, a beach resort in the southern Luzon where the main motif of the Resort is all about Coconut. Vacation huts made by coconut leaves and trunks, and of course, they offer dishes with coconut as an ingredient.

Living here in Germany, I see many plant lovers creating their own Urban Green Jungle. My dream is to have a coconut tree or plant but I know it´s not going to happen. I would just settle for pots made out of coconuts and probably lie on mats made out of coconut leaves.

Have you ever tasted a real coconut meat? or drink from the coconut fruit itself?

This post is inspired by “Trees” & part of this Month´s themed “TreeSquares” hosted by Becky of the Life of B., .I would be sharing more tropical trees in the coming days that I have in my Archives so I hope you keep on reading them. It´s a pleasure sharing about them.

Until then, Happy Weekend. Tschüss!

I bet you won´t even wanna try that

I bet you won´t eat it : Balut, a famous delicacy for the strong-hearted

Are you a Foodie?

Are you not afraid to try local food from places you´ve visited?

It´s been such a long time and I haven´t eaten a decent typical “filipino food” for a while. Especially the homecooked ones and some traditional specialties. Yes I have tried some while living in Kuwait and some I´ve got here in the Asian stores in Germany but then, the taste of home is really missing.

Anyway, here I wanna share some of the exotic street foods you can find if happened that you visit Philippines. I was talking to my daughter and asking her if she wanna try eating “Balut”, crazy as it sounds but it´s only a boiled egg , where you will actually eat a cooked chicken embryo… with some feathers.Some enjoyed it being dipped it in vinegar with chillies or paired with a glass of beer . They say it´s nutritious, after all, it´s egg.If you´ve eaten or tried balut, then you have tasted Filipino culture. You are brave enough!

Balut is found throughout all of the Philippines and usually stored in small styrofoam boxes. Prices range from Php15 ($0.30) to Php25 ($0.50) depending on size and incubation time. My fond memories of Balut is that during late afternoons, just after dusk , the Balut vendor circles our neighborhood and shouts “Baluuuttttt! followed by “Penoy” , a normal hard boiled egg.I kinda remembered that it is sold by the vendor carrying it in a wooden basket and sold covered with newspaper, totally Filipino style.

My daughter answered and began shouting ” Neeeiiiiiinnnnn!

Do not missed these Must´-try Filipino Street Foods.Thank you Chef Denise for an honest review of Philippine´s street foods!

I got a definite answer. When something is unfamiliar, she won´t let it enter her mouth. If I put too much herbs on the meat and pasta, she would tell me.. “Mama, I want my meat and pasta to be clean, please not dirty“…so herbs are dirty now…” Lol!

So that reminds me of the “Kwek -KwekFish balls, Kikiam and Fried Calamari. Kwek-Kwek are quail eggs or normal eggs dipped in a golden yellow Batter and deep fried, while Fish balls,Kikiam and Calamaris are frozen processed seafoods that are fried.Their smell in the street is so fragrant and I can almost tell when a nearby Food stall is within reach. I remember in my college days where we often stopped by to the Fish ball stand and indulge for a few pesos before heading to class!

While most of the street food in Philippines is based on meat and chicken, which are quite very basic there are also more vegetarian type, like the Vegetable Lumpia and my favourite Turon and Banana-Q! Just like the roasted chicken which is almost the same as the grilled chicken dishes served in Beer gardens, Volksfests and BBQ Parties, in Philippines, we have another version.

Palamig or cool street drinks in Philippines , my photo credit to Quatyyy for this awesome photo.

How about grilling the inner parts like the intestines and liver parts of chicken and pig, roasted in an open charcoal grill until charred. It is best enjoyed dipped in a sweet and sour sauce, vinegar with chillies or without! A local drink we called “palamig” or fruit punch with gelatin or “Sago” is the perfect combo for this simple meal.The huge colorful containers filled with yummy drinks with different flavours will surely quench your thirst. Be aware though that what is unique about palamig is that it´s served in a plastic with a straw, and not in a normal plastic cup. Again, Filipino way.

They called them “Adidas” .. chicken feet without the shoes of course.

We have crazy names for street foods, the crazier, the better. And all of them are really authentic, just like another famous Pinoy Street food called “Adidas” ( grilled chicken feet) !?Nothing is waste, even the chicken feets are used.

Some might raise their eyebrows and says What is that??” or even shrieks at the sight or smell of it, but hey, it´s what makes this place unique, and so does its taste! My daughter rolled her eyes when I show her a photo of our infamous “Betamax” …BBq-ued blood!

Meet the “Betamax”. The sizzling street food in the Philippines made up of coagulated chicken/pig´s blood and formed into squares. My photo credit to Cielo Fernando of Zenrooms for these appetizing Pinoy foods that I truly missed!

Or what about eating some spicy, crunchy, and edgy “Betamax“? It´s called Betamax because it resembled like the old style of Betamax tape.Altough it´s made up of blood, it doesn´t taste blood at all. Again, perfect to eat it while dipping in a spicy sweet vinegar sauce.

Weeks ago, I have watched some Foodie series in Netflix like Street Food, Salt,fat, Acid , Heat, and I actually loved it. I got so fascinated by different food cultures and I began to rekindled what have I ´ve been eating for the last 10 years of my life??

A Boodle Fight , wash your hands and eat your heart out!

Living in Germany have taught me how to eat using knives and forks, seldom spoon. I grew up eating and using only spoon and fork. We are not so particular with using knives. With us, everything can be sliced with forks and yes, use your teeth. In a “Boodle Food Fight” like the photo above, we used our hands, clean hands of course.

As I observed here in Germany where most fishes are already cleaned, scaled and washed, you cannot even see other parts, only the meat or flesh of the fish matters. Most of the time, or young children only knows Lachs, (salmon) or Fischstäbchen ( fish sticks). Very clean and appetizing.

I could imagine the Horror in my husband´s face when I ask him to eat a “Tilapia” fish, roasted and fried, with tails and head. He doesn´t even know where to began. In a Boodle Food Fight, the whole table is full of different food ,set up in big banana leaves, with different side dishes like fishes, seafoods, fruits, and meat. Of course, a pile of rice should be plenty.The more, the merrier.

Would you even dare to eat with a Boodle Fight?

Or what about the Lechon, the infamous Roasted Pig, the king of every occasion ?

Lechon, the roasted Pig delicacy and food tradition

In every occasion, when a big Lechon is on the Table, it would be awesome. Sometimes I think its the national dish of the Philippines while here in Germany it´s their Sausages (Würst). It´s actually the star of every occasion. The word Lechon came from Spanish and actually means a “suckling pig”. There are also other dish variants such as “lechon kawali.

When a baby turns 1, roasted pig, or a smaller part Pork Belly or Pig´s head should be present on the table.In rural provinces, rearing a pig early and preparing to butcher it for a child´s birthday is very common.I don´t know exactly how this tradition originated but I grew up seeing this in every family gathering. It´s part of Filipino culture. On the downside, when you don´t have Lechon, it seemed like your Budget cannot afford it, or you just don´t want to splurge, or simply, avoid “Fatty” foods.

But when there´s Lechon, the fun begins. It´s dressed up with an apple stucked in his mouth, and it doesn´t stay that long in the table because it will be devoured easily.

If you´re more into seafood, in Philippines there are plenty of clams and oysters. I am not so much of a fan of them but theres the black version I have tried when we are still living in the province of Albay, we called it “Tabagwang“. it is cooked with coconut milk and it´s quite tasty.

Fresh Oysters for some seafood lovers

I grew up in a culture where food really is a great part of our everyday lives. Imagine, eating 3 meals a day, and most of them with a cup of rice. Merienda, or “snack” is composed of other foods made up of glutinous rice, our local versions of noodles like Pancit and Bihon, and some bread.

Eating out in restaurants, there´s a traditional preference for Filipinos. A lot of well done cooked meat, either beef or pork, rich with vegetables and delicious soup, all in one pot. It´s called “Bulalo“.

I bet you won´t even have a left over from this bowl of “Bulalo”.

Bulalo is a very rich and warm dish and oftenly enjoyed during family gatherings. I remember eating it on weekends and with plenty of rice and fish sauce on the side. It has fresh greens like beans, cabbage, corn and lots of onion. The beef is so tender and the meat is actually falling out from the bones. It is super tasty. Even with teh soup itself, it´s already a complete meal.

So, which of the food above would you love to try? or you bet you won´t dare to try?

What have yo´ve been eating for the last 5 years of your life?

Until then, stay safe and wishing you a happy week!

Tschüss!

What I saw in Regensburg, Bavaria

Watching the boats pass by in the Danube river in Regensburg

So here´s another post for “What I have seen..” This time I´ll take you to Regensburg.

Regensburg is such a fascinating city here in Bavaria. I find it quite nice and totally enjoyable for a family day outing.I have a kid so when we visit a new city, we always consider things for kids and something for her to enjoy as well, and Regesnburg has it all.My Blog is mostly about my wandering here in Germany with my little family and how I see this place as an expat.

We visited Regensburg on a fine summer day and we had fun. We decided to take it slow and enjoy exploring the city without a rush. We had a weekend stay in the hotel because we wanted to take a boat ride the morning after to Walhalla.

There were colorful houses along the banks of the Danube River

We took the early train and arrived at Regensburg in time. Deutsch Bahn has constant train connections to Regensburg and the train ride was super smooth, this was pre-Corona so we don´t have any worries about the virus and naturally we don´t need to wear masks all through out the day especially on a hot summer day.

We began strolling the old city, with its beautiful harbor lined up with quaint colorful houses. The view reminds me so much of Innsbruck. On the same location, we had a great view of the famous Regensburger Dom ( Cathedral of Regensburg) with its two 105 meter-spires. This church was really magnificent.The other side was being renovated on the time of our visit but this church was really beautiful.No wonder it was labelled as the finest gothic Church in Bavaria.It was actually very impressive!

There was the finest Gothic Church in Bavaria

Then we moved on and walked further through the city harbor with the view of Danube river.We spent some time admiring the views of the old Stone Bridge ( which was also under renovation on the other side) and yes, the views of the Danube from this side is actually nice, with all the old wooden boats passing by is quite a sight to marvel. I looked back that the view of the river is totally different from what I´have seen in Ingolstadt, Kelheim, and Riedenburg.

I mean I don´t see them everyday so I find it really interesting.There´s the Bridge Tower Museum adjacent to the Brückturm, the last of the remaining towers of the Bridge where we saw some of the city´s worthwhile piece of history, and bridge construction works . Here we had one of the amazing view of the city as well.In the museum, there is an interactive learn materials for children so my daughter had actually great time exploring there.

There´s always so much going on in the Regensburg Harbour

As we entered the old city, we were surprised to see some traces of the Roman times…quite interesting! In the streets of Regensburg we found the town´s oldest tower, Porta Praetoria, which dated back as early as 179 AD.I realized that Roman influences is found in many parts of Bavaria as well, and not just in Trier. Actually, just like the other walls and gates,the Romans built this gate conncting to the other walls of the city and it´s quite cool to see it. I posted in my other post about another interesting street local sight here is the David fighting Goliath mural. It´s such a great mural and my daughter loves to reiterate the story between the two.

Great details of the old town City Hall ( Rathaus)

Regensburg has a UNESCO World Heritage City Hall and Square, the locals refer it as Rathaus, or Alte stadt. It really made me wonder why it was a UNESCO-World-Heritage, then we began to explore and found out why. Regensburg´s Old Town, the Alter Kornmarkt, or also known as Old Cornmarket as they called it.I´ve heardi it’s here you’ll see the oldest surviving part of the town, the Roman Tower dating from the 2nd century, and the Herzogshof, a residence of the Dukes of Bavaria first mentioned in AD 988.

Yes here in Bavaria, there are many traces of Dukes, Kings, and many Royalties!

Take me back to the Roman times in Regensburg

I am not a history buff, but sometimes a guided tour of a city is quite boring for me, plus it can be expensive. But knowing the facts of history is also another thing. So on some occasion, I love taking a decent tour. Traveling gave these options to me. I could get to know the city by it´s landmarks, at the same time, through dates and rightful events of history, same time I could have a sense of the place´s personality. I mean, I have a toddler tagged along with me so I cannot dig into history for 2 hours. But given these glimpses and important landmarks, I can now understand why people took their time to explore this city.It really worth to visit.

It does something to offer…

After passing through countless shops and colorful houses, we got back to the harbor and enjoyed some quiet time watching people and the boats.We found a playground near the VHS School so it was really a plus! In this area, you can do a lot of things as well.I´ve heard that Regensburg has the Oldest Sausage Kitchen in Bavaria (Würstkuchl) so of course we head on to this kitchen and try some local delicacy. They offer many kinds of Bavarian traditional dishes but their sausage has also a lot of history.Typical Bavarian scene for weekends is that people flocked in the Beer gardens and drink some beer after cycling or meet with friends and families.

More than 800 years old tradition of Sausage making!

Of course, another typical sight in Bavarian towns is some local musicians playing their tunes to entertain the passers-by. We found it very entertaining and the atmosphere is so lovely!

Pre Corona, the atmosphere is so much different!

Some random street musician having a selfie in the alley of the Old Stone Bridge.

Our visit to Regensburg won´t be complete without the boat ride or Schifffahrt. It is really such a great thing to do with kids to ride in the ship that cruise over the calm waters of the Danube, offering us so much needed lush green sights of Regensburg. I love cruising the Danube and I can recall wonderful memories when we did it as well in Weltenburg in Kelheim and in the most beautiful lake in Bavaria, the Königsee in Berchtesgaden.I can´t explain it but I find peace sailing in a ship, especially with a view like these.

This time, our ship took us to the majestic Walhalla, the famous German Hall of Fame. Its like the Greek Parthenon, only the German version. Its located along the Donaustauf, approximately 11km east of Regensburg. Perched high up in the hills, mighty and tall. It´s really one of the tourist magnets over here in Bavaria.

Look at that view…

Crusing through the Danube was so peaceful.We have enough space in our seat, by the window side on the right, far from large groups, so we are doing okay.The ship has great amenities and very kid-friendly. There was an audio guide tour inside and very informative but we are actually busy entertaining the kid. Our stroller has a place to stay until we embark so that was actually a plus.The price as well is very reasonable and there is an on board restaurant just in case we got hungry .I would definitely recommend this trip if you have elderly and active kids with you.

Visiting Walhalla with a child and a stroller was quite a challenge at first but we managed to make it. After embarking from the ship, there´s a small pathwalk which leads us to a main road going to Walhalla. We decided to take the short hike and it was doable. The path was a bit steep but our stroller made it. I observed that there are more families with children doing the hike so I think it´s actually good to burn some energy.

Walhalla temple is huge. Just look at how majestic it looks. When I saw it, with its giant pylons and colums, Oh men I thought I am in the old times of the Greek mythology.

Really crazy wide temple with long collonades. You need to do 358 steps in order to climb up this temple.The views above here are breathtaking. This place was built under the inspiration of King Ludwig II; the Märchenkönig, or the fairytale King of Bavaria. He is really so busy building great temples, castles and palaces during his time. I can´t imagine Bavaria now without his ludicrous yet extravagant ideas. After seeing the Neuschwanstein Castle in Füssen, I realized he had so much in his mind about building memorable temples such as the Walhalla.

Walhalla is designed by neo-classical architect Leo von Klenze, and is actually a place to honor people, persons who have done a great job in whatever field they´ve excelled. Poets, mussicians, politicians, warriors etc. It´s a huge Bust-hall of Fame. Inside, I have met some very very prominent people in German history… I think by this time it will be 130 busts and 65 memorial tablets, in total, and at least I have seen how they actually looked like.

But of course, in the center of the great hall is King Ludwig II himself.

Back to the outskirts of Regensburg, I saw many facets of the local neighbourhood as well such as great street art.this one I saw while we took a walk near the hotel and watching people cycling along the banks of Danube.

Souvenirs from Regensburg

I haven´t seen enough but at least I have a glimpse of this beautiful Bavarian city. We had so much fun and definitely loved to go back there once again.

Also,when I think about Regensburg, I would definitely remember that red Vespa parked right in front of the stone bridge, that sight is really funny for me because it was facing the main traffic and whoever parked his Vespa there, He probably had his reasons for sure.

So what have you´ve explored lately?

Until then, stay safe everyone!Tschüss!

LAPC : One Photo, Two Ways

Here´s my entry for this week´s Lens- Artist Challenge, One Photo, Two Ways where our dear clever and artistic Tina of Travels and Trifles asks us to share and interpret this theme ,a photograph ( or subject) in two ways.

“We’d like you to think about the various ways you create your images. Show us the same subject captured using multiple, different approaches.”

Well I thought about this theme, photo in two ways? Hmm, I simplified my thought and just narrowed it down to angles, perspectives and scope. I am not a professional photographer, and I am not really into technical details while taking photos. On normal days, I just love using my iphone to take snaps and my gallery is actually filled with photos of my daughter and our daily Wandertags and outings. I normally used my decent Canon camera on travels and when I really wanted to do good photos.Like sieze it and capture it, anytime!

But then I realized, I also took many nice photos using my Iphone so definitely it´s not just the gadget. A lot more. Anyway, we see beauty based on our perceptions so for me, sometimes I prefer trusting photos, and not words…but photos can also be photoshopped, or edited..so basically, anything is possible.

So enough of my babbling, Here´s an example how I see my subjects with two different interpretations.

St. Bartholomä in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria

I´ve seen hundreds of photos of this beautiful chapel in internet while I was researching for our trip to Berchtesgaden.Most of them are taken with the angle where it settled with the whole landscape surrounded with Königsee, the Watzmann mountains and the harbor. But I realized why not take an “up close” shot where the two cupolas are actually kissing each other and looked like sausages bundled to each other.

Oh Yes, my architecture views are sometimes twisted.

But then, here´s another perspective of the church, the one that I actually envisioned in my mind. In this shot, the whole view shows the 3 onion like cupolas, very imminent, plus the tower behind it and I was actually pleased with the result.I tooked this shot while I was still in the boat and approaching the harbor. Here, the geometric forms are much emphasized while the other photo shows the ” strength” of the boulder-like structure of the chapel.In here also, the fine details of the mountains, the lake and the lush surroundings complement the aesthetic composition of the photo, and not therefore completely blending with the subject.

St. Bartholomä in Schönau, Berchtesgaden, Bavaria

“Photography helps people to see ” – Berenice Abbott

Another example to show my photo in two ways is actually just using some common sense. As a viewer, I tend to quickly notice the “grand”, “big” or “flashy” side of the subjects. We are born to be easily attracted to these objects where our senses immediately detected. Just like in this photo, I clicked my camera because I love the view of these Virginia creepers creeeping to the walls of Botanical Institute in Münich .I just noticed the greens because it´s so immense and having the look of nature.I guess this photo helped me to see more than the climbers itself and also took notice of the stonework, the facade and the detail of the stone work in the Iris Garden.

That´s why I am actually glad that I took another shot, but this time focusing my level shot on the stone work. I still noticed the green nature surrounding it but my attention was shifted to the expression of the stone work. I guess the saying above is true, taking pictures really helped me to see more..to search more, and to perceive more.

Iris garden in the Botanical garden in Münich, Germany

“The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”
– William Thackeray

Iris Garden in Botanischer garten -Nymphenburg in Münich, Germany

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”
– Alfred Stieglitz

And lastly, my favourite element to play while taking photos is how Light ( natural light) makes different versions of my photos. Light here is so vital that I have taken lots of photos with the Yellow Raspöl Fields but I always get different versions.But I love all of them.

Here´s one taken with two different phases. Same fields, different angle, same skies, a little bit of time lapse and switching the direction.

Which one do you like?

Light here played an important factor to create the “drama” effect, or something like ” Oh it looks like rain!” but still, the fields are beaming with beauty. The landscape is very catchy… On the other photo below, light was reduced, and the silhoutte of the trees creates a borderline of different tones and mood.

Is it dusk, or dawn?

“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.”
– Joan Miro

In the end, when I looked at these last two photos of Yellow fields, I am actually reminded of the many times I have seen them and different weather of my time of visit. I was reminded the first time I saw it, for the very first time in Spring, and when I am deeply in need of inspiration. I have seen it actually in many different ways.

What do you think of these photos? Did I ever make sense in here (Lol!)

Thank you so much Tina for the inspiration and for the chance of little photo reflection.Its a pleasure to take part in this fun-engaging Challenge.

if you have more time to kill, please do check her amazing photography, lovely stories and bright lessons through her wanderings.

Until then, stay safe everyone, Tschüss!