Travel Tuesday: BELGIUM

Hi friends! Sorry for the delay, I was out of town for the long weekend with no internet access. Now I'm back in Manila and ready to post for another Travel Tuesday (on a Wednesday??? Well, it's still Tuesday in the other parts of the world...so technically, pasok pa rin! Aha!!!) Today, my kiddies, I shall take you to the land of Chocolates!!! BELGIUM!!!:) For chocoholics like me, there are only 3 places to go to: Belgium, Switzerland, and surprisingly Japan (they have the cleanest, creamiest chocolates there!)! But the Belgians take their chocolate industry more seriously, it's like a medieval Willy Wonka town with chocolate shops EVERYWHERE. And don't forget their yummy belgian waffles!!! Hahahahahayyy :) Of course, Belgium is much more than a foodie's paradise, it's a charming little country with it's own culture and flair :) My last first 2 visits to Belgium as a young gerbil were all in transit, so my third trip in '07  was much more meaningful because we really explored Antwerp and Brussels on our own.

OVERVIEW OF ANTWERP FROM THE LONELY PLANET:
Even the New York Times agrees – Antwerp (Antwerpen in Flemish, Anvers in French) is Europe’s place to be. Appreciated by mode moguls, club queens, art lovers and diamond dealers, Belgium’s capital of cool and the country’s second-biggest city once again revels in fame and fortune.

Antwerp has a rollcall of drawing cards. Start with its manageable size and timeless quality. The old city centre, built around the country’s most impressive cathedral, is as beautiful and intimate as it was centuries ago. Tucked away in cobbled lanes and backstreets are thousands of restaurants and bars, antique shops, art galleries, exclusive chocolate out­lets, designer boutiques and diamond shops where Antwerpenaars enjoy spending money.

The whole city is something of an architectural museum, from the medieval riverside fortress to modern waterfront creations and the famous Cogels-Osylei, where architects ran riot. Most distinctive is its Gothic and Flemish baroque architecture; it was the home of Pieter Paul Rubens, northern Europe’s greatest baroque artist. A visit to his home and studio in the city centre gives fabulous insight into the painter’s personal life, after which you can track down some of his most acclaimed works in churches and museums dotted around the city.
Antwerp’s role as a celebrated fashion hub means it’s a magnet for shoppers. For a city of its size, it boasts an astonishing number of world-acclaimed fashion designers and many have set up boutiques here. Designer-led stores buzz with shoppers looking for the latest in hip clothing and accessories.


www.brusselsattractions.com

OVERVIEW OF BRUSSELS FROM THE LONELY PLANET:
Brussels is a city of fine food,café culture, Art Nouveau architecture and the surreal. Pull up a chair and join laissez-faire locals who value the city’s casual atmosphere. Watch money go down on swish Ave Louise or buy dried caterpillars just blocks away in Matonge, the capital’s African quarter. Some of the world’s most enduring images of surrealist art were created in the nondescript northern suburb of Jette. And the architecture ranges from monumental edifices such as the Grand Place to organic Art Nouveau façades and the EU’s real-life Gotham City. 

Constant among all this is the quality of everyday life – the shopping’s great, the restaurants fab, the chocolate shops sublime and the pub scene extraordinary. For a long time Brussels didn’t go out of its way to impress, but its stint as Cultural Capital of Europe in 2000 saw the city dusted and polished in a flurry that brought renewed life to historic buildings and decaying streets. A new spirit, just short of cockiness, emerged, flaming outside interest and inner-city regeneration. Nearly a decade on, Brussels is looking better than ever.


Trip Duration: You can easily explore Antwerp and Belgium in 3-4 days. But you can always choose to extend for a week if you'd like to immerse yourself further and explore the rest of Belgium.
When to go: Belgium is actually very pretty in the winter. You can always buy some hot choco in the street to keep you warm!
How to get there: Belgium is a small country right in the middle of Germany, France and the Netherlands. It's usually a "transit country" for people who go on European tours, the tiny country is easily accessible by bus or car from any of these three countries. From Amsterdam, it's easy to book a day tour to Brussels or Antwerp. Tours by Viator cost less than 3,000 pesos with transfers and a tour guide.
Visa required: YEP YEP. Again, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa from the Embassy. Allot at least 3-4 weeks to process your tourist visa. You must set your appointment beforehand. 
9th floor - 6805 Ayala Avenue
Makati City - Manila
Republic of the Philippines
Tel:+ (63) (2) 845 18 69 to 73
Fax:+ (63) (2) 845.20.76
manila@diplobel.fed.be

What to Wear: If I had more money to shop, I'd definitely spruce up my winter wardrobe. My winter clothes are all pretty dull, I usually stick to the heavy duty bomber jacket and plain winter boots. But given the chance to revamp my snowflake worthy look, I'd definitely go for something more chic like these celebs! 

A Girl's Guide to Surviving a Buffet

So I stumbled across this site and discovered that I'm M2N2= MINDLESS MUNCHER+NIGHT TIME NIBBLER. Sounds like two villains fighting against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. "And the Mindless Muncher wreaks havoc in the city, munching on innocent women and children left and right!!! Then out from the shadows comes the Night Time Nibbler, nibbling on lamp posts, stoplights, and anything that casts light upon the dark and eerie night!" Hahahahaha!:) Anyway, back to my sane self...this chart actually best describes our eating personalities. What type of eater are you???


Since I'm a mindless muncher, you can imagine how buffets can be such a test of my mettle. (I love the word mettle! It just rolls off the tongue so well! Try saying it 10 times: mettle, mettle, mettle, mettle...) When they used the word "Mindless", they couldn't have been more apt!  Mindless is exactly what happens to me when I'm at a buffet. I get overwhelmed by the different colors, the smells, heck, even the "usok usok from the palayok" (hahaha, ang arte!) sends me into a sensory frenzy! I always end up over-eating and over-indulging, feeling blehblah and vowing to never eat there again. Then after a month, andun na naman ako! Hahaha! So after years of intense struggle, through many buffet battles...I have finally come up with my ULTIMATE BUFFET SURVIVAL GUIDE! 

1. Look pretty for your buffet date.
     Just because you're going to pig out, doesn't mean you have to look like a pig. You could at least look like a pretty pig. Put some blush-on, maybe a little mascara. A true lady knows how to look good even while eating :) At least kahit isipin ng date mo "Ano ba yan, ang takaw-takaw naman niya.." with one killer kindat from you, pwede niyang sabihin "...Buti nalang maganda siya!" O diba, may pambawi agad! So make the extra effort! You should also have full disclosure about your eating habits with your date. Honesty is the best policy. And Liars go to hell. Hahahaha, labo. So if you want to eat a lot, be open about it! Tell your date beforehand so he doesn't get shocked by your gluttonous ways! I always give my boyfriend "food preps" to let him know what I'm in the mood for and how much I intend to consume but I have to admit, I still surprise him with my intake from time to time..lalo na sa sweets, patay!:(

2. Wear stretchy clothes
Wear something that you can "expand" gracefully in during your buffet. But please, DO NOT, I repeat..do not wear your batik daster!!! It will never ever be cool in this year and in the years to come. That batik daster should remain at home, locked in a vault with an impossible security code..in the basement..with a tiger guarding it. I like wearing loose flowy tops and leggings or maxi dresses when I know I'm going to eat a lot. You have to be kind to your tummy and give her room to grow! Be free, tiyan, be free!!! :) Unless you want to just keep the button of your jeans open..hmm..that could work. Also, it's good to wear a sling bag..there are a lot of people who lose their things while at a buffet (restaurants are perfect for pickpockets who prey on those eggheads that are easily distracted by all the food) so it's best to keep your valuables close to you at all times.

3. Eat a heavy brunch.
Why brunch? Because if you eat a heavy breakfast and a heavy lunch, you'll lose your vigor for the buffet at night. Go for a heavy brunch instead that's enough to satisfy you for the rest of the day but will make you hungry by 5pm! Another tip, try to make it to the restaurant early! I always head to the buffet as soon as it opens, just to make sure that the food's still hot and fresh, newly cooked and still nicely presented.






4. Survey the area.
Prepare yourself for the battle ahead. Strategize! I like taking a little tour around the whole buffet before getting a plate. It's nice to just get familiar with the different stations and plot out your game plan!
5. Say goodbye to the WEAKEST LINKS
Weakest Links are the things on the buffet table that only cause you to bloat..making you fuller! Sayang ang buffet!!! Iced tea, fruit shakes, and other sugar heavy drinks are weakest links! Just go for the usual house water, libre pa! It's also good to ask for a cup of hot water with lemon, this will help you digest much faster. The kick of lemon will also wash your palette in between plates, reviving your tastebuds and making them ready for another round! And the weakest link family: Cheap Carbs! Rice, Noodles, Bread, Corn, Muffins. Sure, they all taste good and I love these carbs...but these are instant stomach fillers! Don't waste your tummy space on these treats because it'll make you feel heavy instantly, cutting your buffet extravaganza shorter than expected. Besides you can always have your extra rice at home! So keep your carbs in moderation.
6. Take your TIME.
First in, last out. Come to the buffet early and be one of the last ones to leave..wait til the waiter literally kicks you out. Savor each bite, enjoy each dish. Allow the food to digest properly before moving on to the next station. Bring a date or dine with friends, it's going to look creepy consuming all that food all by your lonesome self. Hahaha. Have a good chit chat while eating. That's why it's important to be with someone/ people you really like to talk to, people who are worth the company. Conversations during mealtime are sometimes the most memorable ones!
7. Don't lose your FOCUS! 
So you spent 600-2,000 pesos just for this big buffet. What do you do now? It's tempting to go for Quantity and just stuff your face til you hurl but I say, go for Quality!:) Mga kabataan, ang buffet ay parang buhay lang...you have all these choices laid right in front of you, just waiting for you. Do you get greedy and take more than you can handle in one hurrah OR do you pace yourself, explore your options, weigh the pros and cons, try a little of this and a little of that? See, there's a philosophical twist to all this! So FOCUS, maintain your composure. Eat GOOD FOOD, be a little bit more discriminating. What I do is I like to sort of compute in my head how much each thing costs just to somehow justify the buffet charge. I always like to raid the cheese table and drizzle lots and lots of truffle honey..dahil alam kong on an average day, it would just be too expensive for me to get some decent manchego or camembert with truffle oil!  So pile on the expensive stuff, the foie gras, the roast beef, the steaks!! Sulitin ang bayad!
8. Organize your plate and your palette 
Ok, this step is for the OC like me. This may sound a bit too strict for the rest of you. But I love eating with a theme. Japanese theme, Appetizers theme, Pasta and Pizza theme, and so on. Patrick on the other hand, was the complete opposite..walang theme yung plato nya! He had sukiyaki, fried rice, salami, bread, dilis, kropek and roast beef all crammed together in one plate. If you're in a birthday party, I might just forgive you. It's understandable to put the hotdog with marshmallows, pancit, buko pandan, spaghetti, and kaldereta all in one plate..may theme naman sila eh, "Potluck". Hahaha. But when you're buffet-ing like a veteran eater (like ahem,ahem, someone I know..itago nalang natin siya sa pangalang "Patricia") you should segregate and compartmentalize your food just so you're able to enjoy each station better. Ok, i just realized that this seems a bit too much to impose..so, scrap this tip! It's a buffet, you paid for it, just go wild!!! Mix the kropek with the roast beef, it's a free country! hahahaha :)
9. Save Room for Dessert
Alam niyo ang buffet, ay parang relationship...there's a start and then there's an end. And when it ends, kailangan ng closure.Tipong, it was good while it lasted but it just had to come to an end.  Parang dessert, matamis na ending! I'm loving all these nonsensical analogies! hahahahaha! :) I love, love the desserts station. From chocolate fountains to sapin-sapin, from ice cream sundaes to fruity crepes...I could eat desserts all day long! Well, I've actually done that, many times. Not very proud of that though.
10. Don't overeat and drive
After a big buffet, beware...you might suffer from Food Coma. This state of busogness makes you an unfit driver. I would advice you to assign someone to become your designated driver before entering the restaurant, but who are we kidding?? You know that he's probably gonna eat twice as much as you! I once had a gold fish, he was a nice and friendly gold fish. Bibong bibo, masigla at masaya. Then my cousin decided to throw a handful of fish flakes into the tank, a forced buffet for my little fishy friend. The next day, I found my darling Goldie...floating, belly up!!!! It was a sad, sad day. True Story. So after eating, take a walk..let the food trickle done a bit for a good 30 minutes or so before driving! Trust me, you wouldn't want to be on the front page looking like this...



Travel Tuesday: PORTUGAL

Today we travel to Pareng Ferdinand Magellan's home, PORTUGAL. I visited Portugal about 5 years ago with my family. We spent a few days in Lisbon then enjoyed the rest of our stay in the sleepy fishing town of Peniche which is slowly becoming a surf spot. This trip was a super blessing, we got our airfares for free (it pays to be patient with your miles!) and we got free accommodations as well! We were fortunate enough to crash at my tita's summer house in Peniche which was beautifully set just by the sea. :) So for this post, I'm sorry if I can't give you tips on budget because we practically had no big budget..we survived on home cooked meals and we rented a small car and managed discovering Portugal on our own. 

OVERVIEW FROM THE LONELY PLANET:

While it's true that Portugal is no longer the Iberian Peninsula's best-kept secret, it's fairly easy to escape the crowds. Even at the busiest resorts in the Algarve, it only takes a short bus ride or a walk across countryside to reveal rarely visited places that still offer the feeling of discovery - a sentiment close to the Portuguese soul. Portugal has an old-fashioned charm, with medieval castles and picture-perfect villages scattered over meandering coastlines and flower-covered hillsides. From the ancient university town of Coimbra to Lord Byron's favourite Portuguese haunt, Sintra, the country's proud history can be felt everywhere.

Sun-kissed beaches like Cascais and Sagres offer enticements of a more hedonistic sort. Indeed, the dramatic, end-of-the-world cliffs, wild dune-covered beaches, protected coves and long, sandy islands of Portugal's coastline have long enchanted visitors and locals alike. Meanwhile, the country's capital, Lisbon, and its northern rival,Porto, are magical places for the wanderer, with riverside views, cobblestone streets and rattling trams framed by looming cathedrals.




Trip duration:  If you plan on visiting Lisbon alone, a 4 day trip will do. However, if you wish to explore the outskirts, you can allot about a week or two to really soak in the Portugese culture. Renting a car is very simple and with all the cars equipped with GPS, it's fairly easy to navigate through the highways and go on a road trip!

When to go: Just like the rest of Europe, Portugal enjoys 4 seasons. Ideally, it's best to visit during the summer if you'd like to hit the beaches and bathe in the glorious Portugese sun. But this is also the time when the hoards of British senior citizens come in as Portugal is their favorite vacation spot. We were there in November, it was very cool and calm with very few tourists..also a nice time to visit! 

How to get there: There are many commercial flights to Lisbon. You can always opt to fly to Amsterdam first via KLM or take a Middle Eastern carrier and connect to Lisbon from Abu Dhabi or Dubai. There are many budget flights from neighboring cities like Paris, Madrid, and Milan that fly into Lisbon for less than 30 euros!

Visa required: YES. You will need to apply for a Schengen visa from the Embassy. As long as you get the proper documents in place, you should be able to get your tourist visa in 3 weeks.  
17th floor, Trafalgar Plaza, Dela Costa Street
Salcedo Village - Makati City
(02) 848.3789
                                                                                                                                                       Top Ten Places to Visit: 
                                                                                                                     (www.golisbon.com)
Ed Alcock for The New York Times

  1. The seductive capital       
  2. SINTRA - 
    Enchanting fairytale town
  3. EVORA - 
    A museum-town
  4. OBIDOS - 
    A medieval storybook
  5. PORTO - 
    A majestic port city
  6. BATALHA and ALCOBAÇA - 
    World Heritage architecture
  7. TOMAR - 
    Home of the knights
  8. LAGOS to SAGRES - 
    The waters at end of the world
  9. MARVÃO - 
    A spectacular site, a spectacular sight
  10. BRAGA - 
    The Baroque City
What to Eat: Portugese food is similar to Spanish cuisine (of course, my Spanish friends will strongly oppose this! Hahaha!). They have lots of olive oil and garlic-based dishes. Very succulent, bathing in rich sauces. Pinoys will find comfort in Portugese food because it's very similar to our regular home cooked dishes! Of course, it's best to pair your meal with a bottle of Port. Real port wine (locally known as Vino di Porto) comes from Porto, Portugal...just like Authentic champagne comes from Champagne, France.


What to wear: For the summer months, you can wear the clothes you usually wear back home. But for autumn, you can choose to layer up a bit more. I like going for a more polished look when I travel in the cooler months, adding a hint of color to your fall wardrobe is always a good idea too!
Images from J Crew





Audrey is One!

You all know that I'm such a sucker for kiddie parties, especially when there's a theme! I live for themes!!! My bff Alessa and I are Martha Stewart wannabes! Well, take away the jail time of course. Hahaha :) When we're bored, we send each other party pegs and ideas..just for kicks! So when Cecil told me she was throwing a barnyard bash for her little one..I was so excited to be a part of it. Cecil is such a creative and resourceful mom, she made everything from scratch from the table place cards, giveaways, banners, she even made the cardboard barn house! I loved the fact that it was a D.I.Y. party,I really felt that each little detail was indeed made with love by Cecil and Jonsy.

I enlisted the help of our friend Marge, also a fellow preschool teacher, to join me at the arts &crafts+ cupcake decorating station. We made cute little farm animal paper bags and decorated some ooey gooey cupcakes with sinful treats like marshmallows, gummy bears, and candy sprinkles!:) Hay, ang saya maging bata!!! Overall, it was such a pretty-pretty party for one pretty-pretty baby!:) HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUDREY!!!


Happy Kiddie Photos by Sheila and Jorem of 


Photos in this box are by Lemarc Limosnero


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For You.

Image from Etsy

Old movies spliced and diced to make 2 awesome videos!:)

Loco over Coco


Meet my friend, Michelle Teves. Many of you remember her pretty face which graced countless magazine covers and commercials. All my guy friends from DLSU would literally stalk her while she ate her lunch at the cafeteria! (Ibubuking ko na sana by mentioning their names but they might "unfriend" me on Facebook. And you know nowadays, unfriending in FB is more painful than unfriending in real life. Haha!) Fresh-faced Michelle is now a busy mom to her 3 kids Lucas, Andres and her mini me, Natalia. She has also taken the role of Baking Guru with her 4th baby, Coco..as in Coco Cakes! I've been seeing all her yummy treats all over my news feed for months, I knew I just had to share the Coco Madness with my readers!
"I've been baking for a long time, but it was really more for family and friends since it was just a hobby. About three years ago, I made a cake for my daughter Natalia’s birthday - a stacking teacups cake - and after that requests for cakes seemed to increase. Late last year, I put up my BLOG, and that’s pretty much when my hobby transformed into a business. The orders haven’t stopped since and people have even asked me to put up a shop!"- Michelle
Michelle's love for baking started when she was just a young girl, acting as her Mommy's little helper in the kitchen. She has passed on this Mother-Daughter Kitchen tradition and now enjoys bonding and baking with her adorable, Tali. She gets all her cute and whimsical ideas from her little ones. Michelle shares, "I get my inspiration from a lot of things. I pretty much see beautiful things in everything around me, especially when I see my kids. I incorporate these inspirations in my work."

I love giving and receiving cakes as gifts..it's always such a sweet and thoughtful gift to give! So if you have a special occasion coming up or if you just want to surprise someone randomly, I highly recommend Coco Cakes. For orders, all you have to do is send an email to ilovecococakes@gmail.com at least 3-4 days in advance for simple cakes, cookies and cupcakes. For more elaborate designs, you can give her an allowance of 7-8 days. Michelle works closely with her clients and loves to create customized treats that suit each client's taste and personality. Her beautiful cakes are yummy too and come in butter, lemon, chocolate and chocolate chip flavors. For the cupcakes, there’s vanilla, chocolate, lemon, chocolate chip, banana chocolate chip, carrot and red velvet. Hayayayayayay. I'm drooling as I type. I think I should apply as Coco Cake's official taste tester! :) Michelle, where do I send in my resume??
 I'm giving away Customized Coco Cakes to 
3 Lucky Blog Readers!
 Simply answer this question:
"If you could give a cake to someone special,
who would it be and WHY?"


1. Click LIKE on the Facebook button below this post. 
2. Click LIKE on the Coco Cakes FB Page
3. Send your entries along with your home address to pattylaurelblog@gmail.com on or before August 26, 2011.
If you are chosen, Michelle will make a personalized cake for that special someone in your life. The perfect gift for your hardworking mom, your adorable boyfriend, or even your favorite coworker! So get creative with your answers!:) Winners will be notified via email. 

Special thanks to Krissy Rodriguez of
 Little People Lifestyle Photography for all the lovely photos
Watch out for my special photography feature soon!

Things I FANCY: My Current Wishlist!

If you've been wasting your time with me on my blog..Well, I've been wasting my time on THE FANCY and APARTMENT THERAPY. Patrick discovered the Fancy and A.T. iPad apps a few months ago and we've been hooked on them since then. One of our favorite things to do is to sit on a couch and "fancy" random things: from odd shaped sofas to eccentric wallpaper.

Here are a couple of things that I've added to my wish list:
Christmas is still a few months away, so this gives you ample time to shop for me (ahem,ahem..pakapalan na ng mukha ito!). So do you have your pen and paper ready, guys?? Better list this down! Hahahaha!

I'm loving all these travel inspired accents for the home. I'm obsessed with flags and maps and I'm starting a little collection. Last month I was in Madrid and stayed with my cousin Inigo, his pad was filled with maps (both new and old) and I told him as soon as I get my own flat, I'd decorate it with maps all over too! :) If you have any maps lying around the house...please do send them my way! :)
Images from The Fancy


I'm a fan of rough, raw, vintage-meets-modern furniture and home fixtures. I'm not really a fan of the overly polished and glossy furniture that screams "I have so much moneeeeyyyy!!!" hahaha :) Well, maybe Im just bitter because I don't have the money to flaunt :) Im sure if I were ten times richer, I'd be ten times tackier too! Hahaha. I like things that feel organic but well designed, functional yet still aesthetically appealing. 

Images from The Fancy and Apartment Therapy

Images from The Fancy
I love going on picnics! If only we had more parks in Manila (and a much cooler climate), I'd be picnicking every single day :) Check out this awesome backpack..equipped with everything you'll need for a nice, romantic picnic at the park! Kulang nalang yung gwapong "ka-picnic"..I'm sure there's a compartment in this backpack for that too, just cram in some cute fella in one of the pockets along with your iPod. hahaha :)


One day, Someday..when my sister and I are already bajillionaires...we will head back to our lolo's lovely beach in Mati, Davao Oriental and build a beautiful beach house for our parents. We'll have a sea shell themed bathroom like this :) And also a clear kayak too, you know, so that the fishies can check out my bootylicious ba-dunk-a-dunk dunks! Hahahaha!!!
Apartment Therapy


The Fancy
A chocolate bed?! A bed that looks like a chocolate bar? A chocolate bar that doubles as a bed?! Chocolate?! @#$$%^&! Homaygoodness!

The Fancy
And of course, my DREAM kitchen should have 1) An ice cream sundae maker 2) An ice cream sandwich maker 3) Mini Donut Factory 4) A Chocolate Fountain (not in photo)!!!! I'd be happy with any one of these items..but if you wish to give me all 4, then that would be MUCH BETTER!!! Medyo mahilig kasi ako sa matamis..medyo lang naman..hahaha :)
Images from The Fancy

Travel Tuesday: NEPAL

I've decided to dedicate Tuesdays for all my travel related posts :) A disclaimer from the Traveling Gerbil: I am not much of a luxury traveler but I do like to pamper myself with a few treats here and there..generally, I'm more of an independent traveler on a BUDGET. The suggestions I'll be giving are based on my personal experiences as a regular traveler so please don't expect swanky digs, Moet and Chandon, and high rollers on my posts, hehehe :)

Today, we travel to the HIMALAYANS! Ladies and gents, meet my pal, NEPAL. 

If you're looking for a break from the bright lights and skyscrapers, then Nepal is the destination for you. This place is for the adventure seeker, the nature lover, the exotic foodie. Aside from being the home of the great Everest, Nepal offers more than just mountain climbing. Culturally, you can't go wrong. They have centuries worth of traditions and religious practices plus lots of ancient structures and relics that are carefully preserved by the locals. Although this is a popular tourist spot, one must remember that it is still a very poor country and people live very simply here. There are a handful of western hotels but only a few are really of the 5 star caliber, so expect spartan quarters throughout your trip. The streets of Kathmandu are chaotic with bikes, cars, cows and even monkeys (na-uunggoy ba ang mga unggoy?!?) darting from all directions..but it's a beautiful mess to witness especially as an outsider. The countryside will show you a more laid back Nepal..people there are generally more timid, very trusting and wide eyed. Kahit yung mga baka sa probinsya napaka-steady ng disposisyon! Chill..Mooo..Chill. And since they're mostly Buddhists, they live harmoniously with their animals..they sleep next to their cows, dogs, goats! And you know what, they're surprisingly CLEAN! There was no foul smell of livestock at all! It's because the Nepali people are very tidy, they just sweep and sweep all day long! Galit sila sa walis ting-ting...sweep,sweep,sweep!!! Since they value their animals and environment so highly (one with nature!), they always make sure that their surroundings are clean. Kakatuwa talaga sila :) We could learn a thing or two from the Nepali people :)


OVERVIEW FROM THE LONELY PLANET:
Draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, Nepal is where the ice-cold of the mountains meets the steamy heat of the Indian plains. It's a land of yaks and yetis, stupas and Sherpas and some of the best trekking on earth. The Himalaya's most sophisticated urban cultures took shape here, in the three great minikingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley - KathmanduPatan and Bhaktapur - home to a world-class artistic and architectural heritage.

Behind the Vishnu shrine of Ichangu Narayan, northwest of Swayambhunath in the Kathmandu Valley, rises the 'Abode of Snows' (Himalaya in Sanskrit), a magnet for trekkers and mountaineers the world over. Only in Nepal can you trek for weeks without the need even for a tent. No longer does your name have to be Tenzing or Hillary to set foot in Everest Base Camp. Out of the mountains, get your adrenaline kick from world-class white-water rafting, kayaking and mountain biking, or from the spine-tingling sight of your first tiger or rhino in Chitwan National Park.

Nepal is not just a bungee-jumping, apple-pie eating Shangri-la. It's also one of the poorest countries on earth. However, many visitors, drawn to Nepal by the promise of adventure, leave equally enchanted by the friendliness and openness of the Nepali people.

From the natural rhythm you ease into on a trek to the rhythm of a tabla drum at one of Kathmandu's palace restaurants, Nepal is an amazingly diverse country that offers something for everyone. One journey through this land is rarely enough. The first thing many people do after a visit is start planning the next one.
Trip duration:  A 5 day trip is more than enough to explore Kathmandu alone. But I suggest you spend 10-12 days to explore Kathmandu and the rest of Nepal. You should also allot at least 3-4 days for trekking up in the mountains, maybe an entire week if you're more hardcore and really into mountaineering.

When to go: I was there late October which they say is the best time to visit Nepal. This is when the mountains are most visible and the temperature is rather nippy but bearable still. Winter time might be a bit too much for the average traveler. In the Kathmandu valley, the climate is much more pleasant at around 15-19 degrees.

How to get there: There are still no direct flights from Manila to Kathmandu. Your best bet is to fly to Bangkok or Delhi and take a connecting flight to Kathmandu via Thai Airways and Jet Airways.

Religion: Hindu and Buddhist. This is why it's such a peaceful country! People live so simply here and their lifestyle is very organic: one with nature :)

Visa required: YES. As long as you get the proper documents in place, you should be able to get your tourist visa in 2-3 working days.  Contact the Nepal Consulate to get the current list of requirements needed.


5th Floor, The Athenaeum Building, 160 Alfaro Street, Salcedo Village, Makati
+63-2-816-2466 

Favorite Hotel: The Sapana Lodge in Chitwan

The Sapana Lodge
 

Images from Shopbop

What to Wear:

1. Loose track pants, leggings 

2. Hoodies with tank tops

3. All weather, heavy duty jacket 

4. Trekking shoes

5. Long sleeved tops, tanks with cardigans and comfortable pants for city tours




Suggested Itinerary:  

Day 01: Your arrival in Kathmandu
Day 02: Sightseeing in the Kathmandu Valley
Day 03: Mountains, pilgrimage sites and 
ancient villages
Day 04-05: Everest, rafting and village life
Day 06: Pokhara
Day 07: Exploring Pokhara
Day 08: South to the jungle
Day 09: Chitwan National Park
Day 10: Return to Kathmandu
Day 11: Depart Kathmandu

You can always have your itinerary customized by a licensed travel agent in Nepal. For this trip, I worked closely with Claire Smith of Himalayan Trails. I gave her a budget, my interests, and duration of stay and we plotted out a personalized itinerary together. 


Costs: Food is very cheap in Nepal, think karinderia/jolly jeep prices. Same goes for hotels, you can get a decent room for 1,000+ pesos. Entrance fees are also very reasonable. The peso stands much stronger than their currency so your wallet can definitely relax here. Your biggest expense will be your airfare. 

The Big Splurge: I spent 100 USD for a short mountain flight across the Himalayan range. It was the most surreal experience to come up close and personal with the majestic Mt. Everest. It was sooo worth every dollar!

Food: Nepali food is very SAUCY. It is very similar to Indian-Arabic cuisine with lots of rice, beans, and vegetable dishes. 
Image from the Web
Another interesting "sight" to see in Kathmandu comes in the form of a little girl, the living goddess. Yes, literally a DIYOSA! Talo si Anne Curtis, hahaha :) I visited her home and caught a glimpse of her for a few seconds as she peeked outside the balcony. Since she is revered as deity in Nepal, they didn't allow us to take any photos of this little girl. I found this link online though just to give you guys an idea :) 
                                   
 

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