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I will always LOVE you!!

 

MOA Eye, vinneve foto

I found this quote and somehow it is true for me.  “A HOME is not a place, it’s a feeling!” which is why I keep coming back to my birth Country, THE PHILIPPINES.

No matter where I go and lived, I keep coming back to my roots and of course, my old friends and remaining family and relatives are mostly living here.  This is where I experienced a very good childhood though we are not rich!  A childhood that was gadget-free but full of real knowledge about the world we lived in.  A warm welcome every time that I keep coming back for more!

Taal Volcano, Tagaytay, vinneve foto

Wind Residences, Tagaytay, vinneve foto

We spent our time in Tagaytay province in Southern Luzon.  Just 2 hours away from Manila depends on traffic.  It’s always my destination for relaxation and family bonding where my father can spend his time with his only grandchild.  Away from the hustle and bustle of the City.  Manila is BIG. Where I grew up PARAÑAQUE (click the link to know more) also a big city that is part of Metro Manila.  Tagaytay weather is cooler than Manila.  Fewer people, less traffic.  I love the feeling of being in the provinces because of their laidback way of life.

Rhapsody Residences, Muntinlupa City, vinneve foto

After 10 months of temporarily living in Muntinlupa City (above and below photos), I felt connected with this City (South of Metro Manila).  So yes, obviously I came back here for the second time. I found new friends in 2017 that make it worthwhile to stay here.

Landmark/Festival mall Alabang, vinneve foto

“HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS…”

S Maison mall, beside MOA, vinneve foto

I recently discovered this mall which is very handy connecting to a Convention Center, Conrad Hotel and SM MOA (one of the biggest malls in the World).  It’s smaller compared to other malls but it is spacious and lots of branded products.  They are hosting 2 tourist attractions which are:  DESSERT MUSEUM and LAKBAY MUSEO (will post next time!)

SkyRanch, Tagaytay, vinneve foto

Aerial view of Manila, vinneve foto

I cannot understand why I feel sad that soon I am leaving again as this is only a quick vacation (with a purpose).  I guess I will always love this country no matter what.  I agree with our national hero JOSE RIZAL quote He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.”  

So for all former FILIPINOS whether legally you are not entitled anymore, surely will agree with me… I will always love you, my Philippines!  We are happy and proud when we hear something good about you and sad when we hear bad words about you.  There is no perfect in this world.  Even to a place where I will come back to after this.

PAALAM, Adios!!

 

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Heydar Aliyev Museum, Azerbaijan

Finally!! I know some fellow bloggers have been waiting for this. Sorry, it took me longer to have time to write as some of you know… I have my own business now to take care of. If you be kind to browse LIKE and share my website I will truly appreciate your support. http://www.evemerchstore.com

Alright, back to blogging 😂.  For some of you know where we’ve been last July school holiday, Azerbaijan was a nice surprise for us and I have 2 posts before this so please check them out if you haven’t done yet.

Heydar Aliyev Museum is a beautiful, very clean and spacious museum with full of things to discover and yes lot’s of photo ops so be ready always with selfies or two-fies with your loved ones. The architect of this building was the famous woman ZAHA HADID who also built the Abu Dhabi famous bridge – Sheikh Zayed Bridge, among other things and places around the World.  As per The Guardian of London, she was the “Queen of the Curve”.  Her biography is also a great thing to read about. Just click the link on these names and it will bring you to another tab to read for later because you have to finish my blog first haha!

You perhaps can now sense why she’s the “Queen of the Curve” isn’t it obvious as shown in the photos above? 

The Museum is fascinating! I guarantee that you will learn a lot! things that you never heard before or known things before this. For example like they have so many dolls there as below.  Some are weird and some are really interesting!  I remember I did recognize a few dolls there that perhaps I have seen either in books or a movie?

Below are the places that we didn’t get the chance to visit in Azerbaijan.  This is just a miniature what more if you see the real-life size of these buildings?!  I cannot put it all here so there are some more in my album that I cannot share here, sorry.

If you are going as per the hop on hop off tour bus better make sure you ask the driver for the arrival schedule at the museum.  Have 2-time options as it can take more than an hour to see it all plus they have a nice garden coffee shop on the ground floor but I don’t recommend if you are really hungry.  Only little snacks and coffee.

It’s best you see this for yourself one day.  They are really worth the trip when you are in Baku, Azerbaijan.  I hope you like this post for all those who love museums like me.  Thanks for your time, like and the comment will be much appreciated. Cheers!

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Surprisingly! Azerbaijan

Not many people know this Country, they called “The Land of Fire”  unless you’re aware or good in history or geography like Mr. Hubby. Anyway, it’s never in our plan but yes surprisingly this place is AMAZING. So many things to discover!  If you for some reason can’t go to Europe, this is an affordable & nearest destination to be coming from the Middle East or Asia and AustralAsia or for us… we ticked all these boxes!

This is one of the best option when it comes to budget and travel time as it’s only 3 hours flight from Abu Dhabi.  Yes we came back just for a visit (school holidays) as hubby still working here.  It didn’t dissapoint us as this is our quick family bonding since March.

Azerbaijan is in Central Asia actually but the feeling when doing sightseeing is like you are in Europe! Amazingly I can see some similarities of every cobbled alleys to Italy and Switzerland. Their strip of boutique stores & hotels are similar to Paris as well as their hilly leafy side roads. Their building structures are both European and Russian influences as this Country used to be part of USSR. There’s more that surprises me is that majority is Muslims but they’re more open as if you are in Europe itself (within reason, no short shorts of course!) Sure, there are some women in their abayas but mostly they come from the neighboring Arab Countries and they also love to visit Baku according to some.  Their money is called Manat while in the UAE is Dirhams. So we always convert whatever we buy into dirhams to differentiate each and we found that some items like foods are a little cheaper in Baku than Abu Dhabi. Taxis are also cheaper but it’s not metered you need to haggle (just like in some parts of Asia!) or better ask the hotel reception or a local how much is the usual fare to and fro and agree with the driver before you enter their quaint cute violet cab or a converted normal car to a taxi. There’s Uber of course but we won’t be staying longer so if within 3-5 days we are ok to go and pay the usual taxis everywhere. They are either stationed outside hotels or tourist spots otherwise you can easily hail them anywhere. If you are planning to stay longer than 10 days asked the hotel or anybody to help you register otherwise you will be banned to come back here. I find that some tourist go Countries hopping because Azerbaijan is in the middle bordering Georgia, Armenia & Kazakhstan.

Baku City is surprisingly beautiful both old & modern architectural design adorned the City. Lot’s of historical sites within the City as well as the developed huge Milli Park where locals and tourist like us enjoyed strolling by day and night as there’s a huge modern mall and some themed Park fun activities for kids to enjoy! They have a very  long stretch of  bayside to stroll.  At night the Park becomes vibrant and lively with full of different colorful lights and landscapes and yes it’s relatively safe as long as you have your wits with you! It is interesting to discover Azerbaijan particularly Baku City. You must come to experience this yourself. Do not be afraid to explore other Countries you never heard before. Besides, there’s a blogger always there to discover it first so better check any information so you’re not totally ignorant about it.  I did, but I’m still surprised about this beautiful place, not to mention the Summer weather is so good. I can tolerate the peak hours heat and when the night falls it’s cooler that you may need a scarf or shawl otherwise it may be too cold for comfort especially strolling along the bay facing the Caspian Sea.  It can get very windy!

Stay tuned for more information on my next posts. I will feature every spots we went to and their significance. Thanks for the likes and comments if you have done so. Please click the FOLLOW button if you want to know more of our adventure Life as an expats, repats & travel addicts!

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Another home away from home!

Going back to Abu Dhabi after being away for more than 3 months makes me realized that I am actually missing my good life here as a mom and as a person. It took me awhile to adjust (not that easy) but I did and I started to be happy! I was busy with lot’s of things going on around me. School events, volunteering, watching my son doing his sports, meet ups with 3 groups of friends, family time, even errands I find it good as it’s my me time to be alone and do some houseworks and I do love cooking, little luxuries in life  (that we cannot do in NZ) like some brunching (in 5*hotels) with friends and family, theme parks, fine dining and more travels.

The lifestyle here that I became adjusted to really makes me wonder why life keeps giving us a crack after I finally settled in.  So yes, we’re back to New Zealand and so many things had happened while we were away for 4 years!! Life is not the same anymore or perhaps I am not the same anymore. (Sigh!)

Coming back here in AD for a quick visit so our family can be together again.  Life sometimes sucks being an expats but it also gives you a lot of opportunities and new perspective in life that we didn’t know before.

So shall we go back for longer period in the land of the desert and opportunity?  I don’t know.  Guess I just leave it for the fate to pick us up and go with the flow. It happened before so I won’t be surprised if it happened again.  So far all I know is… this is another home away from home!

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Destination: Queenstown, Nz

On top QTWN, vinnevefoto

This is one of my fave City here in New Zealand. Even before we left in 2015 to be an expats in Abu Dhabi, we often travel to this awesome City every year since I started flying domestic. It’s stunning sceneries is something special plus there’s a lot of outdoor activities for families & single people too!

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On the way to Queenstown, vinneve

Queenstown is known as the “Adventure capital of the World” there’s a lot of activities here for adrenaline junkies, all types of indoor & outdoor activities & wholesome family adventure too for somebody like us whose not into “too much” thrill coz we have a child to take care of while we’re having fun!

Here are just a few activities that we either partake in or passing by for a snapshot opportunity.  Please note there are some more activities not on this list.

1. Playground just around the hotel.

near Queenstown Park, vinnevefoto

2. Visit Queenstown Park fronting the lake.

Maori carving, vinnevefoto

3. Join the gold diggers literally speaking! 😂 it’s in Arrowtown. If any luck you will get a wee bit of flakes and to let you know this is the same water that Gollum in LOTR had been seen fishing.

Arrowtown river, vinnevefoto

4. Visiting Arrowtown Lake District Museum. It may be smaller than any other museums you are used to but it’s full of “goldmine” history etc. and you can soak up the village history after just a few minutes walk.

ArrowtownMiningtown, vinnevefoto

5. Bungy Jumping actually originated in Vanuatu as part of their ritual perhaps thousands of years ago, but Nz is the Country who made it famous. AJ Hackett established the very first bungy site in Queenstown.

BungeeJumpingNZ, vinnevefoto

6. Gondolas & Luge. Families favorite! Rugged biking as well are held on top of this mountain.

Gondolas&Luge, vinnevefoto

7. Skydiving (indoor & outdoor) & Paragliding. If you’re afraid to do it alone there’s always a tandem guide to help or be with you!

ParaglidingNZ, vinnevefoto

8. Going through the Park showing kiwi birds & other reptiles.

KiwiBirdlifePark, vinnevefoto

9. Jetboat, Million Dollar Cruise and the oldest Steamship are on this waters. 

Jetboattours, vinnevefoto

10. Or if you aren’t tired enough, there’s always this stairs to make a play who comes first on top! Just like what my men did! 🙂

Around townQTWN, vinnevefoto

Be sure to pack yourselves a comfy shoe, a jacket (depends on the season) & water bottle for some fun and long walks as I may not include a waterfall hiking track on this as we don’t have enough time but it is just a walking distance from all these activities.  Just ask the locals where to find it as I just stumbled on it a few years back with my 6yrs old son and a 67-year-old father!  

I hope I give you some tips that you can use when you travel in stunning Queenstown!  Please comment if you have been here already and tell your story!  Cheers, and wait for my another post… Thanks!

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Going back home to Aotearoa

“The thrill of coming home has never change” … by Guy Pearce

Perhaps some of you who is new to my blog are wondering where is this destination?  Is it a Country, a City or a Town?  AOTEAROA is a Maori name for NEW ZEALAND.  Nope NZ is not in Europe!! Some people asked me before where in Europe haha!  It is actually closer to Asia than in Europe hence a part of Oceania. It is a part of Australiasia where Australia is included.  But never ever say we belong to Australia or inside Australia.  There you go!

I have done my research as I heard that being a repats anywhere in the World will never be the same as coming back home after a long absence, rather it is the same feeling as being an expat in your own Country.  Anyway… my experience is so far it’s good the only complain I can say is all my friends are too busy since they are mostly working mom’s (as I used to before).  I miss the rush and being busy as it’s a different life here in NZ compared to the lavish mom’s of leisure that we can afford to in Abu Dhabi.

Here the reality now in Auckland you may be interested to know just in case you are wanting to relocate here or also like me as a repats.  It’s a mix of good and bad.

  1. The housing prices have gone up so high!! More demand less supply, unfortunately from an average $500K before 4-5yrs ago it is now $650- to a million $$$ based on average but good location and yes a brand new car is expensive too because of the taxes.
  2. Strictly zoning for schools as the population is getting bigger thanks to BREXIT and TRUMP.  I am sure you can figure it out.
  3. Schools are very RELAXED here for Primaries compared to other Countries.
  4. You don’t know your neighbors anymore as some are gone or sold their houses and those who stays have a boarder to afford the mortgage payments overcrowding the street now with cars parked off street that cannot fit in their garage or driveway.
  5. Road works everywhere.  When I left it in June 2015 they started to do the road widening and some sort of beautifying if you can call it that.  Then the Waterview TUNNEL to airport came into fruition last July 2017.
  6. The City looked less of a beauty with so much road works and reconstruction of some buildings.  Main train station was already beautiful before but now half closed for reconstruction.  I even got lost 2x walking around because I am looking for the Westfield Mall with a nice bench area outside for people on the go having a quick lunch or a chat with their mates.  It’s all closed for public and looked like a big mess!  Same with my own town, though more improvements and new establishments around.
  7. Speed cameras and from 50kmph for the main roads they are thinking to implement 30kmph in the City Centres and around which is ridiculous! (Motorway 100kmph). You don’t want to be caught up speeding in there haha! It can cost you your day salary.  Coming from the “fast and the furious City of Abu Dhabi”  which is a normal 80kmph for the main roads and from 120-140kmph for the motorway, it is harder to get adjusted to but necessary to learn how to be SLOW around NZ. (BTW… we drive on the left side of the road here, pls take note!).
  8. Some grocery food items gone up and some remain the same or even surprisingly cheaper because of competition.  If you are in the foodcourt BK can cost from $5 and that’s already a combo (didn’t change) to some food stores with rice meals with a drink costing from $16 combo which was $14 before.  BTW… some tourists says that our beef here is so much better and you can taste the difference in BK or McDo.  But you will be happy to find that SUSHI and other Japanese foods are cheaper compared to the UAE.  Thanks to some Japanese immigrants who established their restaurants and food stalls in the mall.
  9. Unfortunately, finding a job won’t be as easy as before.
  10. Some law changes and rubbish collections which we now have to buy a ticket per bin which is cheaper if you don’t have enough rubbish (you can wait to 2 weeks to fill up) and to those with large families, the bin may never be enough.

There you are…  so far this is what I realized coming back home. But hey, anywhere you go you will encounter bad politics, problems and inconveniences… at least here in NZ for sure this is the reality… RELAXED LIFESTYLES!!!

Queenstown, NZ; vinnevefoto

But if you can live simply and try to be content with what you have… NZ is a great place to live especially raising your children.  If you love sports there are some for you and your whole family to join.  Nature is at it’s best here so you will not be dissapointed how beautiful it is here better than a poster card.  Parks are everywhere in every town and Cities and yes it is free.  Hiking or trekking is of minimal fees just be sensible when doing it for the first time as some trails is not that easy especially if it’s damp.

Arrowtown, NZ; vinnevefoto

I live in the WEST so as what they say… West is BEST.  We are just  less than an hour away from the beach or the open sea as well as the Mountains.  We both have it all here.

WesternSpringPark, vinnevefoto

Nevertheless… I won’t discredit my life in Abu Dhabi as it was the most convenient and luxurious life I ever have in my life!  Though it’s a desert and it can get to 50 degree heat plus some limitations, still anywhere you go there is no perfect place.  There’s always something not to your liking.  I say I am happy to have experienced both Worlds.

AucklandZoo, vinnevefoto

I leave you now with Thanks for reading and let me know some thoughts that would be great to read your comments RE your experiences as a repats or as an expats.  Soon (I hope) I will post our brief holiday in QUEENSTOWN.  Please hang on.  Cheers!!

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Destination: Louvre Abu Dhabi, beautiful architectural Museum

 

img_4978.jpgMy son and I went to Louvre in Paris when he was just 5 years old. He’s my travel buddy ever since and we both love the same things except shopping of course haha!  You may wonder what is the meaning of Louvre anyway?  Here as per Google meaning “overlapping strips in a window (to let in air but keep out rain)” first recorded 1550s. The form has been influenced by apparently unrelated FrenchLouvre , the name of the palace in Paris, which is said to be so named because its builder, Philip Augustus, intended it as a wolf kennel”.

Our love for Museum keep us together in every Country we have visited through the years. He is now 10 years old and this time it’s a must to go and see another LOUVRE but here in Abu Dhabi where we currently live as an expatriate and before we go home to NZ.  According to Google, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a beautiful architectural “Museum for arts and civilization”.  See below some beautiful arts and paintings.img_5064

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And some bizarre ones below… 

And that was ME,vinnevefoto

Beautiful scenery outside restaurant and coffee shop. There’s a lot to see actually in and out of the building. We thought we have seen it all but was surprised to enter another side of the building and saw another collections. If you have a kid with you there’s also a Children’s Museum and some extra activities for them to do. If you are an AD residents it’s better to buy an annual pass. They usually change some arts and crafts as well as featuring special arts or paintings from another Country every 3 months or so.  For Museum enthusiasts you can easily spend the whole day here.  Lovely calming scenery outside, to sit down at the stairs /benches with someone or just be by yourself facing the sea or even touching the water below.  Children must be supervised.

Cheers!