Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ada and Emmerson at the Manila Polo Club

Polo as in ponies, not the swimming variety. Every once in a while, Ada's class has a play date at the Polo Club. Not sure what the connection but the girls love to go. Nice pool, grounds, pizza, friends, ponies ... what not to love! This was my first time on duty - I pathetically graded essays.

 Pool with a gaggle of ISM girls in the forefront.

Emmerson prepping for her high dive dismount. She's got her basic jump and canon ball down.

Emmerson mid air in Manila!

Porto Galero Trip

A two hour bus ride south and an hour boat ride to Porto Gallero for a weekend jaunt with some fellows from ISM.

Boat on the way over or back - not sure. On many of the islands they have what we would call outrigger boats - outriggers to provide balance as many of the boats themselves are quite sleek. The seas get surprisingly rough for how small many of the channels are between islands.

 Outriggers, typically made of bamboo and lashed together with plastic chords.

From the 2nd floor of the bar/restaurant of our hotel. Great venue to hang out in. Not sure what the hotel was called - this is diving territory so most of the accommodations were SCUBA oriented - there were about 8 on this little stretch of beach, including our place. I did get out for a snorkel and there was some decent corral right off the beach. At one point I came across a floundering little reef fish and dove down to see what was up. It was stuck in a net so I wiggled it free. Then I realized there were lots of riggling fish along this stretch of reef. Someone had dropped a 100 ft long 3 ft high bottom net (weighted to rest on the bottom and then floats up for about three feet from the bottom of the reef - most activity is right around the reef so it takes advantage of the density of this area). I began following the net and wiggling fish free - they were all little reef fish - not big enough to eat, so thought perhaps they were collatoral damage. It was then I heard a clicking sound and looked to see two Filipino guys about five ft away gathering up the net and the riggling fish. They did not appreciate my rescue mission and I then realized they must be catching them for aquarium sales ... a la nemo. 

Posing - proximity to the beach.

These boats are the primary form of transport in the area - people and goods were deposited all day long by these boats onto the beach. Then get scooters and such to parts beyond.

Reminder to myself of the Riley show.

Second selfie of my life .. becoming very Manilian ... and techish!

Porto Gallero is on the northern tip of the island of Mindoro - just south of the island of Luzon where Manila resides. Three hour bus to Batangas in the south of Luzon, hour boat ride across the channel to Mindoro.

From the bus window on the way home - Lechon Jeepney

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rockwell at Night April 2014

I was out on the balcony the other night and the lights of Rockwell and the backdrop of the Manila sky caught my eye.

 The view to the west towards Manila Bay beyond the sky line of Makati City.

Same - view to the west

View to the southwest, towards the Fort and Laguna de Bay. The darker areas are the residential areas - the one in the foreground is Bel-air.

 View out over the residential areas (gated communities) of Bel - air, Forbes, Dumaguette, and Urdanetta

View straight down from our balcony to the elevated drop off area on the 3d floor and the ground floor parking lot (visible thru the oval center of the roundabout) and plaza. 

Friday, May 02, 2014

Hong Kong: Kowloon Mega Walk

I mentioned in the Disney post that the girls are great about participating in my random mega walks while on holiday. They are usually not planned to be this way, actually they are often not really planned at all, then six hours later we are back where we started without really having a solid answer to the question "so where did you go" ..... This was one of those days. I actually did have a plan for this one but it morphed rather drastically once we got going. The plan was to show my mom Victoria Park, a neat area off the beaten path that sits atop a large steep hill with winding trails through the trees. I came across it on my previous trip to Kowloon over Christmas while on a random walk. Alicia opted out in favor of an afternoon relaxing in an establishment on Nathan St, the main thoroughfare in Kowloon. The girls, Nana and I began the walk in the general direction of the park but got sidetracked by an interesting garden just off of Nathan rode after passing by the large Mosque. The garden/park meandered on for a quite a ways and had all sorts of interesting things to walk around and look at. After this park I got my bearings and focused on getting to the other park. The girls soldiered on and Nana kept them hydrated with copious amounts of water from her perpetually somewhat full water bottle. And she had brought along her left over French toast from breakfast in a ziplock that they appreciated about 3 hours into the walk. After achieving the summit, we meandered back down to Nathan St, met Alicia and then continued on to the night market part of town.

This is at the very beginning of the walk while still back on HK island. Visible from our hotel room was a large tree covered parking flowing down the hillside. I went for a run thru it the previous evening and found it to be a lovely botanical garden with a free zoo incorporated into it. Before fueling up on breakfast for the walk, we took a warm-up walk thru the garden. The girls don't even ask any more - they figure the quicker they comply to my random poses with stuff like this, the sooner it will be over and they can be on their way.

Walkway underneath the roads winding it way down the hill to and thru the Botanical Gardens.

A spill way with flash flood warnings. It rains a lot here in the rainy season and because it is so hilly they need to be very aware of soil erosion, landslides and such so lots is done to try and control the water flow and its impact.

 Across the bay to Kowloon on the mainland of China but still part of HK. Emmerson providing scale for the mosque on Nathan St. The stairs next to it beckoned me up and into a park that was not on the original agenda - as is par for the course for the mega walks. Spent about an hour meandering about.

Mosque with the city in the backdrop.

Ada reading up on all the rules and reg's on how to properly enjoy the park. 

Big Chinese banyan tree.

Maze which I and the girls conquered.

Especially for Nana

And of course a McDonalds ... a really small McDonalds.

Roots of a banyan tree cascading down a wall.

Random groups of people enjoying the park - note the massive root structure in the background.

Super tired guy enjoying a nap under the banyan tree.

Coolest hat of the holiday time. No sun going to get this lady.....

No sun at all!

Large swimming pool in the park.

Finally made it out of tangent park and back on track. This is one of the walkways that winds its way up to the summit of the park that we were originally destined. Girls had just refueled with Nana's leftover french toast.

Another water/erosion precaution. All the silver looking things are metal plates driven into the mesh covering to hold it in place while vegetation grows. Difficult to get a sense of how steep this is here  - double black diamond run ...

Park summit.

The aspect the girls were most excited about - the pups at the park. Ada commandeered the camera and snapped these. No dogs allowed in the park but bot times we've been - plenty of them. But a park rules and reg lady did appear and shooed the offending parties away. 

Any guesses??? The girls know!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Hong Kong Disneyland

The girls are great travelers and don't grump much as we (I) drag them on mega walks through random places while on holiday. So we decided to surprise them with a day at Disneyland. I was curious to see how it compared to Disney-world in Florida and watch the girls in their element. We took a taxi to Disney but realized when we got there that the subway/trains option to and from where we were staying was quite cheap and easy - so used it on return. Overall, it was much smaller than Disney-world - basically it was designed after the original part of Disney World, the Magic Kingdom, and did not have all the other parks such as Adventure Land and Epcot and such. So it was very doable in a day. We got there when the park opened and stayed for the fireworks/light-show in the evening, rode most of the rides and saw a few shows. The girls are getting more adventurous with the rides although Ada struggled with the "haunted house" and one of the roller coaster rides - a few tears and tight clutching. The crowds were solid but the workers do a good job of keeping the lines, actual lines and it did seem that the ride time was a bit shorter than at DW. One difference that I thought was a good idea - on certain rides you would be given a number card that corresponded to a particular unit on the ride so there was no mad dash to get to a particular unit and the associated disappointment if someone got to the unit first.

Going into the complex.

It was interesting to see how they dealt with the language situation. Most instructions and such were written in English first and then Cantonese and then Mandarin. We watched the Lion King show, which required some dialogue from the performers and some lines were in English and others in Cantonese - I think the idea was to do enough of both so that the audience knew what was going on, which was not too difficult considering the storyline of the Lion King!

Mickey surfing in the fountain.

Quite a few umbrella's out as the sun was shining bright and it did get a bit warm - mid 70's maybe.

Ada and Emmerson in front of the castle and girls (in the side/background) who came dressed to match and do Disney right - quite a common scene - girls dressed in similar Disney apparel taking pictures of each other - good times!

Emmerson in front of an all star school group of Chinese harp like string's orchestra This is just inside the actual park after giving your entry tickets (which we bought ahead of time at the Peak the day before - good advice - if Disney HK is on your agenda).

Ada with her number tag for the vehicle in the "Space Station".
Keeping things in control - thank you Hong Kong.

Girls on the first ride of the day - the Space Station - round and round and up and down.

Space Mountain! Ada was not a participant - one of two rides she did not go on - Space Mt. and the one where you sit in a "ship" and it rocks back and forth beyond vertical - here it was called the "Race Car". Nana opted to stay with Ada while we went on these rides. 

In the stall to board Space Mountain.

All the lights from people filming the fireworks and lightshow on their handphones.