A Penny for my thoughts and a legion of Kois

Hungry Koi Fishes waiting for feeding time in Nuvali Park, Santa Rosa, Laguna

From time to time, I love to share about some fascinating places I´ve been whenever I visited the Philippines. I think I´ve been away for too long and sometimes I couldn´t even recognized the same streets that I´ve walked into. Funny and feeling odd, I get a mental block.I laugh when I heard our native language and it seems like a stranger´s voice to me whenever I hear the diction and the local accent. The buildings have been renovated and more infrastructures have been built, and yes, commercialization is always there. There has been lots of shops that opened for business, mostly unfamiliar brands that I never heard of, but some still thrive and lasts up until now.Familiar sights brimmed in my eyes were the line of tricycles, pedicabs , shuttle buses, jeepneys, and stand shops. The streets is always full of people walking around.As usual,the weather is hot and humid and as expected,I am always sweating .It´s an old habit of mine to go inside the shops to cool down since it´s the only place with air conditioning.

Here in Germany, it´s very seldom that I´ve been to places with air conditioning. Only at work, in the car, or I can´t even recall…!

Anyway,some places still looked familiar, and whenever I remember the fond memories, I couldn´t help but to smile.One of them is a nature park called Nuvali. It is one of my family´s favourite place to go. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, play areas and picnic areas nearby so it´s a one stop place for everyone.Nuvali´s amenities includes a lake with lush nature surrounding it. I personally enjoyed the scenery and the quiet walks in the park.Within the vicinity, a unique attraction is the KOI fish feeding area.

Koi feeding in Santa Rosa, Nuvali Park

When I first saw photos of it, I got really curious to see it with my own eyes.To tell you the truth, there were Lots of Kois! I have no idea how many Koi fishes were cultivated here.

The whole sight was really overwhelming in number that it looks scary. Kois are jumping, swirling with their mouths open, gaping, and waiting for fish food. There´s a legion of carp fishes that swarmed into the lake and looking at them is quite exhilarating especially the sound they make.I am just not used to see them in herd like that. Pre Covid, people flock to this place every single day, especially on holidays and weekends just to feed the fishes. It´s really a magnet for kids, and also for adults! It is forbidden to feed the fishes with other types of food, only the one being sold at the ticket entrance.There is a shop that sells fish food so everyone can really enjoy the experience of feeding the hungry Kois.

Santa Rosa became quite famous because of these Koi Fishes. The location is ideal , it is very near to exressway so its a popular stop over for those who are travelling south-bound.I´ve heard Nuvali even become the Koi capital of the Philippines.I´ve seen quite a number of Koi ponds in many gardens here and in the Netherlands but nothing compares to the Kois in Santa Rosa.I brought my daughter here but I guess she´s too young to remember all these.

Koi Fish feeding in Nuvali, Santa Rosa, Laguna

Koi fishes are omnivorous, which means they feed both on plants and animals including insects, crustaceans, and meat proteins.One positive thing about it that despite it´s commercial purposes in this place, these Fishes help to make the lake waters clean.This whole experience of Koi feeding have taught me that these fishes can actually detect if someone wants to feed them!You can really see their eyes , and wide open mouth as if they really recognize the arrival of food.

There are countless laughs heard at the background plus the amazing sound which the Kois made. The shops are full of hungry guests, each one trying to sample the day´s offer. Filipinos are always been hospitable and costumer service is always on top.

These Kois would never learn to do social distancing!

Feed me, Feed me..!

Koi fishes are really special, no wonder they are one of the beloved aquarium pet in south east Asia, especially in Japan.Having a pond in a zen garden is perfect for little Kois to swim around. In Feng shui, a spiritual form of organization and placement of objects, says that having the spirit of the koi near you will attract good luck, fortune, and spiritual benefits. Aesthetically speaking, they are really beautiful.

Tropical Garden with Kois

Excuse the nostalgia, but it was a great day to remember.

Until then, Tschüss!

Last day of Magic, Tschüss 2020

Year end reflections and slowly saying Tschüss to 2020

For the past months, the ony highlight in my days were my runs, and long nature walks. I am already happy when I am out from the house and did my usual rounds.These are the only things that helped me ( a lot!) to survived each day.I am not complaining, but then it is just the plain truth since there´s nowhere else to go.At least we have this luxury, in some places you either don´t have nature, or you are not allowed to get out, at least without restrictions.At the end of the day, I scroll down in my phone for my photo gallery, looking for scenic nature views I have seen, wondering if I have caught a nice one. I am sure the nice ones landed in this Blog, if not in social media, or sent to encourage a friend.

You see, nowadays, my destinations are quite limited to errands.Short trips to random supermarkets and Drogerie become a norm.Here in Germany, we call a shop for Toiletries and stuff Drogerie, die Drogerie, a place to get toothpaste, bio products, vitamins and other stuff.Well I can get them as well from Supermarkets, but as I said, a little side trip to the shop already makes our day.They are one of the few chosen shops allowed to stay open against the 2nd Lockdown here which will probably lasts until the 10, January. Aside from Bakeries, Pharmacies, Tankstelle ( or Gas Stations), we spend lots of outdoors in small forests, sometimes to parks, and more and morrrreeee walking. We´ve got to use our hiking shoes anyway…

In few hours, this year ends with silence and I guess most of us wants it to end, or we are still in denial that it happened? Hard to believed it, but yes, it´s all coming to an end. It will be a silent goodbye to 2020, more like a long overdue wish.No party celebrations, no fireworks, we could at least settle with few sparklers and a sip of wine, and of course, a bite into one of those Berliners—a beloved, tasty German tradition during New Year.Berliners are also known as Krapfen, or doughnuts.Most of them are stuffed with sweet marmalade inside. I usually prefer the one without, I find it too sweet.Sometimes I really missed some Crispy creme glazed doughnuts or even simple Silvanas. Too bad they don´t exist here in our place.

The last day of magic this year

Talking about supertitious traditions in New Year, back home , we always make sure that we have several round fruits in the table on New Years. Putting some apples, oranges, melons, pears, grapes and more in a round plate is seen in most household. They say it is a sign of good luck, as well as hanging some grapes in the door.We also wear something with dots, or polka dots.Doesn´nt matter even if its your underwear or so…as long as you´re wearing something with dots then you are bound to attract good fortune.

” Es ist nie zu spät, das Gesicht zur Sonne zu heben, Das darf man nie vergessen…”

( It is never too late to raise your face to the sun…you must never forget that…)

Here´s the last sunset that we´ve watch today in Silvester, the day before New Year here in Germany. My neighborhood becomes alive when the weather is good,minus side but sunny, it´s two days in a row now that we have amazing weather which means perfect day to take long walks.So we did that, and most people here did as well.The streets are full of families, runners, walkers, cyclists,passer-bys, and yes, children.Everone is out to enjoy some fresh air, for us, it´s the only thing that we looked forward before staying in to wait for the New Year.

One fine Silvester walk in 2020

I suddenly remember that my mother always told us to put some coins in our pockets and scatter coins in the floor. It should be that our pockets should have some money before the year changes.I really dont know if it works, I just kind of go through with the flow.Also, I never ever imagined that in my life, watching and feeding ducks could be such a therapeutic activity during lockdown.It was really beautiful watching the ducks and doves fight for food, for survival, in a cold winter morning.They both want the same thing,again,nature does its magic.

Just like most of us fighting to stay fit and healthy everyday, trying not to be sick this year was the constant battle we have fought all throughout the year.I think we have managed to surpass big hurdles and moving on and now, we are finally saying Goodbye to this year.It´s just right time to say Tschüss to 2020 now.

I don´t make New Year´s Resolutions but I am keen on making goals, little goals that I believe could make a big difference in my life as I grow older.I think my fellow friend nailed it with her snappy careful moves, wanting 21 Things to look forward in 2021.This made me eager for fresh starts and joyful beginnings.It never hurts to add excitement for every fresh start,don´t you think as well?

It really doens´t matter, a new book to read, a new hobby to start, or even a new painting, or old painting to finish….maybe a new language or sport to learn for next year…I guess its all in the attitude.

People that I´ve met here in my Blog are precious gems that made this journey worthwhile.People who took their time to read and leave their comments, people who were with me through months of no activity and hibernation but then the moment that I write again, they were still there,with a warm welcome.

I am grateful for the nostalgic, joyful family stories from the Rabbitpatch, the soulful,simple yet carefree living with one beautiful soul in snowmeltssomewhere,or travel more like the humble spirit of travelling in two wheels into theaters and Operas, or just enjoying more pretty skies and landscapes!

Those are the moments of the last day of Magic for year 2020…I would be lucky if I see the skies lit and fireworks glam the skies…Happy New Year everyone!

Take care and see you all in 2021…:-)

Wetland wildlife watching

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Ever tried Duck-face?

Well Hello March!

Couldn’t believe we’re already on the final stretch of  winter. German winter is surely  long, freezing cold and grey, but it’s definitely a beautiful season, especially here in Bavaria. I love snow, not the cold, but there’s so much more to the whiteness all around. I saw some spring buds sprouting already in our garden and looking closely at the trees, I know that Spring is just around the corner. One of the things that I am enjoying nowadays are the wild sounds of the birds and wild life animals. Who needs music while running? It’s amazing! Walking in the woods, the silence is golden, with only the twigs crackling beneath my steps  and the crazy hooting, chirping, and orchestra of wild birds enough to make me hum.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed this winter was wetland wildlife watching. If you live near a wetland natural areas, such as lakes, rivers, wildparks and reservoir dam, these are really great for spotting ducks, geese and swans in winter. I remember on  sunny days in January and February many wildfowl are displaying with drakes flashing their bright colours, bobbing their heads and calling noisily. A great winter wildlife spectacle.

Our favorite is when we bring a pack of stale breads and just tossed on them and it’s a crazy frenzy party there in the water.

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White swan

I am so grateful that I live in a place where nature is close by. A 25- minute walk, then I am into a different world where I have close encounter with wetlands, forest, wood park, lakes, river and wild life animals. I love this since walking outdoors with my toddler on weekends are more enjoyable especially during Sundays where most shops are all closed. What a great way to show to her in real life the animations she love to look  millions times already  in her favorite book “Alle Meine Lieblingstiere ” ( All my favorite animals) and Gonnie gaat varen.

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Survival of the fittest

I have learned that most of the wildlife cannot deal with the harshness of high-altitude winter conditions. The snow also makes it easy to spot animal tracks as well as the animals themselves. In summer, these creatures spread out to graze grassy mountainsides, munch leaves in the woods, or hunt for prey in the hills. But in winter the animals mass in the lower elevations.

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Walking in grace

Winter is tough for wildlife – food is in short supply and the days are short. But as leaves fall from hedges and trees, birds suddenly become much easier to spot and winter can be a good time to look for tracks and signs left by animals. One of my favorite sight was watching how the ducks waddle and float while the swans are  fierce, proud and flipping its wings. When it flies to catch something, it’s a time I normally just watched in silence.

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Wild ducks and birds

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Birds of the same feather…

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Flirting in the frozen waters

You see, the best things in life are free, and on the sidenote, have you ever wondered why bird’s feet and those of the ducks don’t freeze?

 

Any thoughts? Have you ever tried bird-watching in winter?

 

Coron , a fantasy island that actually exists.

I am not a savvy traveler, but my love for natural, virgin beaches and lakes brought me to a fantasy island that actually exists– it’s in Coron, Palawan!

Just look at these photos I am going to share with you, no filters, all exuding in beauty that left me in awe that I revisited this place not only once, but twice in a row. I am already looking forward for our next trip to this tropical paradise. If there is a place I wanted to bring my foreign friends, then it would be here.

Coron has a distinctive charm, it has a rich cultural history that it’s no wonder it’s on the Tentative list in Unesco World Heritage Centre.  It’s the best kept jewel for  beach enthusiasts and nature lover like me . It won my heart , and I’m sure it will capture yours. It already captivated millions of tourists .Well why not , Coron is simply wonderful !

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Approaching Busuanga island, Palawan

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No words…

Coron is just one of the beautiful travel destinations in the island of Palawan .What makes it quite unique from others is its virgin beauty and part of the cultural heritage of the Calamian group of Islands.  Coron covers half of the Southern part of Busuanga. It is the Island of Tagbanuas , natives or the local tribe inhabiting the vicinity , they are descendants of some of the oldest people in the Philippines . Coron has  steep limestone cliffs ,our friendly guide told us that every year, these mountain grows an inch . As your boat cruise around , you see breathtaking rock formations , crystal clear & white sand beaches , green virgin forests , and 7 mountain lakes. This place is so diverse .

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Tropical Paradise Banol Beach

The best way to explore this place is by Island hopping  and explore the Islands of your choice . To get into the famous Kayangan Lake , you need to do a short  by trek  uphill into the wilderness in order to gaze  the amazing views .This can be done with a guide. While boating , you can  also see magnificent views of the steep mountains and the bird’s eye view of the sanctuaries which are protected by the local tribe . It is an Untouched Paradise .

The Twin Lagoon is one of the many beautiful lagoons in Coron. This masterpiece of nature has two lagoons, one where boats dock and another where tourists swim in.To get to the other lagoon, you need to either swim under an opening or climb up makeshift stairs and jump into the lagoon.Just like what you see in the movies. The lagoons are embraced by towering limestone formations. The mix of warm and cold waters of the lagoon adds to its mystique. Totally amazing experience!

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Twin Lagoons

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The majority of Coron Island is still off limits to tourists  who do not have permits to be there. In 2003,  Coron Island and its surrounding waters was declared ancestral domain for the Tagbanua and they now restrict where people can visit on the island . We are told that many of the most beautiful lakes on Coron Island are sacred burial grounds for the Tagbanua and only those Tagbanua who own land on the island can visit them. A photographer and traveller Jacob Maentz , wrote a very nice article about  Coron , as well as Up close & Personal with the Tagbanuas  and their way of life. To view the full article and his amazing photography , See it Here .

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Azure blue , crystal clear waters surrounded by mountains

It’s serene and away from the crowds . A perfect setting for slowing down and just do some reflection. It’s just between you and nature . Isn’t it one of the reasons why we are taking a vacation or a breather? To have a moment of peace . Here , you can  just swim to your heart’s delight , snorkel ,kayak and paddle yourself while gazing to the beauty around you while you hear the birds chirping. If you are interested in wildlife safari and game reserve,you can visit the Calauit island . It is home to various species of exotic African and endemic Palawan flora and fauna where hundreds of giraffes, elans, waterbucks, Calamian deer, monkeys, fresh water crocodiles, zebras, bear cats, bushbuck and a variety of birds roam freely.

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Little fishes in Siete Pecados

For years  now , Coron has also been  a popular destination among diving enthusiast and it has been listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine`s as one of the 10 best scuba diving sites in the world. It boast its unique underwater topography . With clear water as this, you have the best view underwaters!!! It’s like peeking into another world to see the colorful colors and fishes. Snorkeling here is absolutely the best.

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Barracuda Lake

Ever dreamed of owning an island for a day? that you can have the whole island by yourself?In Coron , you can have an island by yourself  for a day… and the options are priceless. I am so grateful that through traveling, I’ve got to experience this.

You can arrange with your guide and  if the island is free , then you can have the whole island for yourself .We were so lucky to experience the exotic Malcapuya Island to ourselves! This beach , with its rugged beauty is really a paradise. One word to describe it is ,WOW! Our guide arranged for us a packed picnic , barbecue , tons of tropical fruits & drinks and the whole beach front as our threat . We retreated in the hammock while sipping fresh coconut juice  while we watch our guide climbing and picking it fresh from the tree. We  also had a huge fresh catch fish .

For me, this is a perfect island getaway and  I had a beach overdose on this trip. The horizon is so beautiful, endless like a painting larger than life where the beach touches the blue skies in infinite contrast. My mind wanders off and my eyes never get tired of this beauty.

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Malcapuya Island with its pristine powder sand beach

Visiting Coron would not be complete without  climbing Mt.Tapyas and having a wonderful Sunset experience . Here you can have a panoramic view of the Coron and just enjoy each moment  while you see painting in the sky.With 700 concrete steps ,this requires endurance & patience .Mt.Tapyas is the 2nd tallest mountain in  Busuanga .

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Chasing the Sunset on top of Mt.Tapyas in Coron

Coron is a wonderful place . Life is taken in a slow pace and it seems that simple living makes the people here appreciate life more. If you spend some time exploring the markets , small native houses along the fields ,the quaint shops ,the neighborhood , the delicious food and the warm friendly locals ,then you would appreciate them more .

Waking up each morning with a view like this from your window is priceless .

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My morning view  from the window  in Coron

Travel Tips !

  • Coron is accessible all year round but its best to visit on the months of March to June where you can enjoy the most of good weather especially on your Island-Hopping trip. At the start of rainy season , and typhoon seasons , Flights are often cancelled.
  • Wear sensible clothing and water shoes.The treks could be slippery and you need to protect your feet from the sharp limestone rocks.
  • Watch the big waves during your Island Hopping .You can even watch a local fisherman get his catch of the day .
  • Experience diving in the sunken ships and diving spots and just enjoy the beauty of  underwater topography .

Where is your next tropical island destination ? How was the experience ?

Thank you for reading , my friends.