The Flying Gerbil

I’ve been approached on numerous occasions by random, lovely people in random, lovely places from Rockwell, Cebu to Cagayan de Oro..all asking about my little adventures. I can’t even begin to describe how flattering it feels to know that people actually care about my blog and the things I write here. I am not a traveler by profession (nakkks, professional traveler! I WISH.) nor am I an expert in the industry of tourism. I’m just a little girl with a big dream..and that dream is to see the WORLD!!! *pasok Philharmonic orchestra* Hehehe, somehow that moment was much cooler in my mind. Sa totoo lang, I think Ive received more compliments about my budget traveling skills than my actual physical appearance..teka lang, does that mean..hmmm…tsk,tsk.

For those of you who are not familiar with my little life plan..I’ve been trying to match my current age to the countries I’ve visited. Sofa, so gooood. I have 27 on my list as of my last count. I just turned 28 this April, so I have roughly 11 months to visit my 28th destination. Pending, pending. Naku, kailangan ko na naman mag-ipon! Dear barkada, if you dont see me in the next few months..alam niyo na kung bakit! Lutong bahay everyday at mukhang DVD night nalang ang gimik ko..AGAIN. :) Of course, when I finally get married and have kids..I would have to start rethinking my travel plans and start setting aside my moolah for more important things (you know, my children’s education plan LANG naman,hehe).. but for now this is what makes me happy :)

So here is a mash up travelogue with snippets of my old posts and some new posts injected in between. It’s a chopseuy of my travels with my family, friends, and also trips I took alone. There’s a whole chunk of travels (mostly throughout middle school-high school) that are not included here..those days were just bad, let’s just say I wasn’t a very good looking adolescent. I had poor fashion sense and I was sporting a boy cut. Those photos are not for public consumption. Hahaha.

It’s not as organized as I would have wanted it to be, but I hope this will do for now. I must admit, I feel like giving myself a pat on the shoulder..a pat by a pat..for a job well done. Especially since I’ve always been traveling with a very tight budget. It took me years to master the art of kuripotness! Ang hirap kaya maging budget traveler, it takes a lot of creativity! When you have limited funds, you must have an unlimited imagination to make things work!:)

My first trip on an airplane was when I was 3 months old. I spent my first few years as a Yale Baby.


An excerpt from a blog entry, March 2007.
“Hey, not bad. 22 countries in my 23 years! When we were younger, I never really understood it. Because my folks were always saving up for our travels, we were somewhat deprived of all the luxuries. My friends would have the latest Barbie dolls, tapos ako all i had was scratch paper and some markers to doodle on. I’d be invited to all these fancy schmancy children’s parties but come April, I would celebrate with just a cupcake with a lone candle. All my classmates had Giordano Blues while I was comfy in my SM Tweenets. We even had this family expression “WE WERE SO POOR…” that we would add to every sentence. Daniela and I were these two cranky kids my parents had to lug around the world. We would constantly complain, “Why cant we watch cartoons?!?! Why cant we read comic books?!” whenever my dad would drag us to all these museums and temples. You can imagine for grade schoolers it was painfully boring to travel! (It’s so funny because in every country, for sure may picture si Dan na nakasimangot with her arms folded over her chest!hehe) But now, I get it. I understand why my parents placed such a premium on TRAVEL. Some people dont understand it. Why be a slave for months, save and save, then blow it all off on a trip. I’ve emptied my bank account numerous times for trips, but I tell you it’s so fulfilling! My travels have shaped me into the person I am today. Aside from being immersed in different cultures, reliving history, enjoying art and food…the best thing traveling has taught me is HUMILITY. You realize that you are but a small entity in this big,big universe. It’s just so wonderful to be a witness to God’s creation! Ang tendency kasi kapag dito ka lang sa Pilipinas, you become complacent. You know your environment so well, you feel you can go through life blindfolded. you stop asking questions, you stop trying new things, you stick to the cycle. But when you’re in a new place, every person is a stranger and everyday is a new adventure. Travel is the best life teacher.”

USA

ASIA

 





ENGLAND

An excerpt from a blog entry, July 2010.

The thing about growing up is that you never really become a complete “grown up”. Even in my late 20s I still feel so young and inexperienced, with so much I still need to achieve..but when I feel like drowning, I stop myself and take a moment to recall a childhood memory. And then in an instant I realize, hey, the person I am today is the person I’ve always wanted to be. I’m actually here! It ain’t so bad after all!
When I was in the seventh grade, I graduated Salutatorian of our batch and was rewarded by my folks with a trip of a lifetime! I was sent to a little town called Lowestoft in England at age 12 on a foreign exchange program. Coming from a working class family, this was not a luxury but a true blessing!

I know this sounds strange but instead of feeling insecure that I wasn’t as wealthy as the other children in the program, I actually grew even more proud of myself and of my parents! Biro mo, my mom was just a teacher and my dad was just a humble employee and law professor..pero nakayanan nilang mag-ipon para sa programang ‘to! I felt so lucky to be where I was and that made me truly appreciate the hard work and sacrifice of my parents at such a young age.

To this day, I always look back at the many life skills and values I picked up early on and credit this one summer I spent in Lowestoft.

1) I learned to be a global thinker with a Filipino heart.

Prior to this trip to England, I was always traveling with my family. And although we were fortunate to be exposed to different cultures through our travels..iba pa rin yung buhay turista sa buhay ng isang “local”. This was my first trip alone and my first trip to Europe..a whole new continent!

I met so many wonderful people from different backgrounds. I learned how to be more tolerant of other people’s opinions and world views, I became sensitive to global issues, and became more curious about other countries. And because I was being exposed to other nationalities, this made me more aware of my own PINOY-ness. I found myself researching more about my country and our history, finding little tidbits and links to other cultures, anything na pwede kong ibanggit sa mga small talk moments ko with the other kids.

2) I learned how to deal with boys!

I was 12 and was just starting to grow a set of boobs. I was transitioning from sando to sando-bra to bra. Hehehe! I was awkwardly chubby with braces and weird hair. Boys used to crush on me when I was a kid but in a very innocent “Please be my valentine” kind of way..yung tipong habulan sa playground level lang. Then all of a sudden, summer came and the boys were literally wooing me. Some wrote me letters and carried my books,some bought me kitkats, and two boys even fought over me! I was so excited about my pag-dadalaga and enjoyed all the attention. This made me cocky and at some point I had so much fun being a heartbreaker.(Akala ko naman ang ganda-ganda ko..buchug naman! Haha!) But I learned the hard way, nobody likes a mean girl. So I changed my behavior, I became more considerate of others, I learned to humble myself more. And so at age 12 I vowed to be fair to all the boys I would encounter. “Dont wanna be a playah no more!!!” Yuck ang feeling feeling ko talaga nun! Hahahaha! Of course, if you ask my high school friends..they’ll completely disagree with you. I was voted as “The Girl who will make the most boys cry” in my Senior Year. This is something I am not proud of! But trust me, I’ve changed!!! I’m a good girl now and promise not to break anyone’s heart!:)

3) I got lost and found my way–several times.

I lived with the True Family in Lowestoft: my host mom was a Supermarket clerk, my host dad was a Security Guard and my host sister was two years younger than me. On the first day, Mrs. True handed me a map and a bus pass. She marked an X on the map to mark our home and another X to mark the school. That’s it. I had to learn how to get from point A to B on my own. So everyday was trial and error for me. At first it took me an hour and a half to commute, then after a few days it would be cut down to an hour and eventually on my third week, it took me just 30 minutes since I knew my route so well already. I even discovered little shortcuts, I passed meadows with wild hares frolicking around, I cut through stables, and even stopped by the local market for some snacks. Because of that experience, I have always been cool and calm about getting lost in a new place. In fact, if I dont get lost..it means the place is no longer new or interesting to me anymore.

4) I learned the value of money!

While the other children were swiping their Platinum cards at Bally for 25,000 peso shoes, I found myself counting each and every pound in my wallet. It took me a good 5 minutes to contemplate whether or not I could actually afford a scoop of Haagen Dazs ice cream. (At that time, wala pang Haagen Dazs sa Pilipinas so this was really a huge thing for me!)

I even remember my mom sternly warning me about the use of the credit card. She held the card firmly and told me repeatedly, “This is for emergency use only. You can only swipe this card if you’re already in the hospital and about to die!”. So the entire month, I didn’t even look at the credit card out of fear! But one day,a boy who was twice my size stepped on the edge of my shoes which caused the entire sole to rip out. (galing sa SM lang kasi sapatos ko nun..kaya “high” quality talaga,hehe) I felt totally embarrassed because my toes were sticking out and I had to limp my way to watch Starlight Express on Broadway..not exactly the place where you want to start looking like a little pauper. The other kids told me “Just buy a new pair of shoes!” but it wasn’t that easy for me having limited funds. It was time to finally use the credit card..after all this was an emergency, a FASHION emergency! But because I was too scared to even whip it out of my wallet, I decided to head to the nearest payphone to call my mom in Manila and officially ask for permission! My mom just laughed it off and said “Hay Patty! You silly girl! Mas mahal pa yung long distance call mo sa akin kaysa sa bagong sapatos noh! Go and use the card,anak!”

5) Instead of spending your time and money on things, spend it on experiences.

Life experiences are priceless. You can never ever put a price tag on these precious moments. Whether it’s a mid-afternoon conversation about unconditional love with your lola, the most amazing chocolate cake with hot caramel sauce baked by your tita, or seeing Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night up close and personal..kung ang pinag-uusapan ay experience,something that involves the five senses… GO! DO IT! Taste it, feel it, see it, listen to it, smell it! Do not stop yourself from trying something new or from rediscovering something old. Ang kotse nabubulok, ang IPAD nalalaos. But memories will live forever!Oh yeah, sounds very Hallmarky!:)

INDONESIA 2001


EUROPA. April-May 2004.
Spain.Italy.France.Germany.Switzerland.Leichstenstein.Monaco.Belgium.Austria.

When I graduated from “THEEEEE AREENEO” My buddy Muffin and I decided to join a Student Travel Program to Europe. It was a bus filled with crazy Asian teenagers traveling all across the continent. Although half of the time we were busy pulling pranks on each other, overall it was a very interesting cultural experience. :)

Nice.Monaco.Paris.Grasse.







 
Venice, Florence, and TUSCANYYYY, mahhh peborits!!!




Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Belgium


Netherlands and Germany

  



TOKYO 2005.







CAMBODIA 2006.





PORTUGAL 2006.


BELGIUM 2007. 



DENMARK 2007. 

 

ESPANA 2007. 



NETHERLANDS 2007.



JAPAN
An excerpt from a blog entry, December 2008.

Ahhh..JAPAN! How can you not love this country and its amazing people???

KYOTO– I absolutely fell in love with the still and grace of old Japan.

Time warp in Gion (Geisha District)

Livin’ La Vida LOCAL– our daily subway route via Kyoto station

Nishiki Fresh Food Market
There are a million things that I love about the Japanese people..but what amazes me most is their Cleanliness. Mukhang sineryoso talaga nila yung “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. This is the perfect example..ito yung palengke nila! Walang langsa, walang putik! Kainis, take a look at those crabs..so perfectly aligned! I look even more disheveled..and they’re the DEAD ones!

Our private cooking experience with sensei EMI. She welcomed the three of us into her lovely home and we cooked right in her little kitchen!

NARA

Sing it with me: “I like DEER BUTTS and I cannot lie! Those other butts can’t deny! With that ass so furry, and a tail so fluffy..DEER got BACK!”

At the Ishihara Ryokan where we slept on the tatami mats. This is actually a historical inn as film legend Akira Kurosawa was one of it’s main patrons for 15 years…he wrote all his great screenplays here!!!

Ninja Kick na sumablay

The Gentle Crane of Serenity or “SHI-RA U’RO”
Takoyaki balls, Katsucurry, Fresh Strawberries and Persimon, Mochi with Red Beans, Gyudon, Sukiyaki, Tamago sashimi and the list goes on and on….The best part about traveling is that you’re free to pull the “I want to try something new” card…you can always pretend that you’re eating to be cultured. Just add a snooty line like ” Oh yes, I believe Mirin is a kind of sweetening liquid used in traditional Kyoto cuisine..but it would be misleading to call it a form of sweet cooking sake. Could you please pass the sea bass?” Ayun! Hindi mahahalata na matakaw ka lang!

I’m a very honest person–when it comes to being honest with others. But with myself, naku–that’s another story. I always try to open this dialogue with my stomach.

Patty: “Ok, Bundat..this is my last bite! We have to start living healthy. New year na,noh!”

Bundat (with sheepish look): “Aww, c’mon..just two more…masarap siya…and besides, what’s the point of being sexy and miserable when you can be FAT and HAPPY!”

Patty: “Sige, last na talaga! RARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!”

And just like that, another box of royce chocolates gone in a flash.

I know I’ll look back at this post when I’m 40 and curse the monitor “Damn you, metabolism! You fooled me! Curse you to heck!”. But in the meantime… ten ten tenen tenen ten…Sige lang, LAMON pa!!!

BACK TO THE NEW JAPAN–OSAKA
My dad loves Katsucurry more than Me, My Mom and Daniela combined! He was so happy to see this sign only to be disappointed upon entering the restaurant dahil sold out na yung Katsu-Curry!
“Kala ko ba CURRY FAIR?? More like—CURRY UN-FAIR!!!!!!!!! Palitan niyo na yung sign, you wretched deceivers!!!”

Quick Question?

When you greet Hello Kitty…do you say, “Hello, KITTY!” or “Hello, HELLO KITTY”??? Because her name is Hello Kitty, right??? Why Lord, Why must you make my life so complicated?

As a family we’ve been traveling since the 80s, back in the day di pa uso yung internet, fancy travel magazines or guide books..we had to do our research the old fashioned way. Watching world news, reading history books, even just talking to my Dad about a particular country’s political system made us set up our battle plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a fan of Lonely Planet and rely greatly on their website for travel inspiration. But I feel that travel guide books should serve as mere inspirations. It should never, ever be your template.

I find it silly when I see tourists holding guidebooks while crossing the street…or taking artsy fartsy photos of their guidebooks on a train seat. It shouts “Ooh, I’m a cool tourist..look at me!” It’s so contrived. It’s naive to think that because you’re following the exact same itinerary the author took that you automatically are as cultured as he/she is. That author’s experience was authentic because prior to that they had no one to pattern their travel plans to..thus, causing them to write the book.

My dad’s eternal line when we travel is: “ADVENTURE!”. It’s that line that gives us that “you better be ready for anything” attitude. Kailangan mo talaga gumawa ng sarili mong adventure! You have to make your OWN mistakes to learn. You have to get lost, you have to embarrass yourself, you have to go through the hassle of miscommunication. The disconnection will cause you to work harder to blend in with the locals. If you just follow the guide book, then you just limit yourself to having only 150 pages of fun and culture when you could have so much more if you just let yourself go!!!

Chat with the locals, stalk a group of old ladies and follow them to their favorite restaurant, ditch the taxi and WALK! Be an open-minded and respectful guest in the country you’re visiting and you won’t have any problems :) You always have to remember that this place is their HOME and they have welcomed you into it with open arms, you must be appreciative of their culture..no matter how different (or even at times, conflicting) it may be to yours. You are the guest, be a good one.

THAILAND
An excerpt from a blog entry, March 2008.

Thanks to another PROMO (che-cheng! That’s music to my kuripot ears!), we were able to plan our dream “girls only” getaway! God was so good to us..we barely had any money but somehow we not only survived, we even squeezed in a few luxuries here and there!

50% of the time we were just laughing and laughing..well, more like ale and muffin laughing AT me for being such a loser! Yung tipong pinagtatawanan lang nila ako kahit hindi ako nagpapatawa!

for ironing all the clothes first thing in the morning…
for my tour guide re-enactments…
for being CRANKY when I’m not fed…
for feeling like a local and trying to mimic the Thai accent…


Living together for a week helped us discover each other’s quirks. Each one of us had a favorite question…
Muffin: “Where can I sit down?”
Patty: “When can we eat????”
Ale: “Can we shop some more???”
Looks like someone’s really EXCITED…
Going wild at the airport. I look like a little freak who just escaped from the asylum!
East meets West: Loving the fine architecture and interiors of Jim Thompson’s house.
Learning how to cook authentic thai food at Angsana’s home
I’m a PAD THAI master!
Welcome to the good life!
Poor kids living like gazillionaires at Sirocco, The Dome!
From cocktails back to our good ‘ol tetra packs…
The ancient ruins of Ayutthaya




USA May 2008


New York



My Little NYC pockets of happiness:

AVENUE Q on Broadway
Gin Blossoms concert at B.B.King
Cold Stone Ice Cream
Crif Dogs
Small talk with strangers
H&M
Zen Palate taro fries
Taking the PATH, the subway, and minibus alone and NOT GETTING LOST
Dunkin Donuts free Iced coffee
Mochi
Whole Foods
AT&T free minutes
My Urban Outfitters Rain Boots
The Met, MOMA, and Central Park
Marc by Marc Jacobs on Bleecker


Napa Valley 
From the gritty and busy streets of New York, it was so wonderful to see the sun again in Napa Valley! And to witness acres and acres of vineyards stretching as far as my chinky eyes could see..no billion dollar infrastructure can beat that! Nature kasi yun pare, NATUUUUUURE!! You can’t beat God. Jesus is mah homeboy! I’m trying to be Jersey cool here, people!

I’m no wine connoisseur, I’m still trying to develop my sniffing and whiffing skills. But i can do a mean swirl and I have mastered the sophisticated nose dip.

I’ve tried desperately to appreciate the Cabarnet and Pinot (especially since in Napa, CAB is KING!) but they all taste like boiled leather shoes to me!(which is actually considered “good” along with cat’s piss and cedar bark). I guess I’m more of a dessert wine person, and in wine drinker terms that’s “sissus pantus” (sissy pants). I remember when we were at the Summers’ Winery, they served the Rose’ and Muscat which triggered some sighs of disappointment…I was the only idiot smiling and asking for a bottle to go! Hahaha! Basta matamis, that’s my kind of wine! Maybe I should just settle for Franzia’s wine in a box then..it tastes just like HI-C! Yeah, now that’s what i call C-L-A-S-S-Y!





CHINA
An excerpt from a blog entry, March 2009.

I can die now that I’ve conquered the Great Wall of China!!!

I certainly underestimated this climb! The steps were so steep and never ending. The ultimate workout, let’s call it the STAIRMASTER Infinity!They say you can see the Great Wall of China from outer space so I flashed my biggest smile up to the heavens while I was up on the wall..you never know, baka bumenta ako sa isang hot astronaut! Or a gorgeous Martian?! Mapapa-“Greetings Pretty Earthling” siya! :)


The Summer Palace

Lost in the massive Forbidden City





Dad: “People…I come to you as your great leader..”
Patty: “Ummm…ok, Dad who are you again?”
Dad: “The Last, Last, Last Emperor!”
Patty:”Oh okay..I thought you were Evita Peron singing Don’t Cry for me Argentina”
Dad: “We’re in CHINA, not Argentina!”
Patty: “Fine,fine. Now quit your acting and let’s go! The tour guide’s been waving her flag at us! Bilis!”


Dragon Lady
We were fortunate enough to catch a real Chinese Acrobatic show…these kids, I tell you, have no spinal chords! It was a nerve-wracking experience..parang kabadong-kabado ka para sa kanila. My jaw dropped for the entire hour! I felt like a back seat driver lola– “Ay Hija, ingat! ingat! ay ay ay!”



My Father’s Special Request: PEKING DUCK. We had the Signature Lean Duck (sexy!) at the Multi-Awarded Da Dong Restaurant.

Could I interest you in some scorpions on a stick? Too exotic for your taste?
How about a crispy little seahorse??

The shop owner doesn’t seem too happy either…Mister POKER, PO-PO-PO-POKER FACE, nanananananah!

BeiHai Park



The Peking Opera

Ho-Hi
Sugar coated Hawthorn/ Strawberries














EGYPT
An excerpt from a blog entry, April 2009. 
Things to do before Patty dies…

__ Wave hello to a random astronaut from the Great Wall of China
__ Visit the Great Pyramids
__ Kiss Le Sphinx
__ Go camping in the Sahara
__ Go diving in the Red Sea
__ Flirt with King Tut
Check, check, check, check!!!
Wait, now that I’ve fulfilled all that..Papa Jesus..does this mean you’d like to take me home now??? But before I leave my earthly dwellings..can I just blog one last time? Are you sure it’s ok? You don’t mind waiting..I mean, I know you’ve got a bajillion things on your to do list..Oh, ok great! Thanks Papa Jesus, you’re the best! I’ll be quick, I promise.. 10- 15 minutes tops!
Alright people, let’s make this FAST! We don’t want to keep HIM waiting, now do we?! Remember Jonah? He pissed the BIG GUY off and got swallowed by a huge ass fish..or whale..or whale fish! Do I look like fish bait to you? Na-ah.
Ahhhhhhh. I could go on and on about my Giza experience but I’m afraid I’ll just ruin it for you..so let’s just sigh together,shall we? Ahhhhh…the PYRAMIDS.
I’m a tiny girl but the pyramids made me feel like I was Polly Pocket! These photos do no justice to the actual magnitude and glory of the Great Pyramids. We made it a point to celebrate my birthday at the Pyramids..but as soon as I got there, I was blehblehbleh@$%#@^&!..birthday??! huh?! what’s my name again??!
One more time, AHHHHHHHH…the Pyramid. (isa nalang sa pic na ‘to eh)
Again, AHHHHHH…si Patty. (O bakit, why’d you quit sighing?!)
Camping in the White Desert. SAHARA woman!!!
 

Kissing the Sphinx!

Conquering the Nile River
 The beautiful chaos of Cairo
Diving in the freezing Red Sea. (and being sexy, too)






ITALY
An excerpt from a blog entry, December 2009.
My first visit to Rome was back in college with my bestie Muffin. We were there in the middle of Spring of 2004, the rain was pouring non-stop which made me terribly sick with the sniffles. And to make matters worse, we were staying in an actual convent outside the Vatican and were given linen sheets (like back in the time of Jesus!) instead of real towels. Because I couldn’t dry up properly, this made me even more sick! *and everyone knows gerbils can’t stay wet!* But my foul condition, the gloomy weather, and other “unholy” creatures we encountered were not enough to hold me down..i still fell madly in love with the Eternal City and vowed to come back again and again!

Here are some pictures from my first trip. You have to remember that back in 2004, I was a jeans and Tshirt kid..and my concept of cool was Oakley. mwahahaha!






Fast forward to December 2009, with me looking more decent and Rome-worthy…(or at least trying to look better than ’04)


Ahhhh, Rome. The most beautiful city in the world!!!! I say this with confidence and finality! I’ve been everywhere, but nothing compares to you..mi amore!:) There’s something for everyone in Rome, it’s the capital of EVERYTHING! Fashion, Food, Culture, History, Architecture, I could go on and on. There’s THE Vatican, THE Roman Forum, THE Parthenon, THE Colosseum..and all the other “THE’s”. Notice that everything in Rome has to be “THE”, heck, even gelato is THE Gelato, THE Stoplight, THE Taxi. It’s because they’re THE SHIZZ! Hahaha! Even the damn pigeons in the park have this sophisticated birdie strut..”We aint no ordinary pigeons, we’re ROMAN pigeons! Pigeons of the Gods!”. I’m sure these birds won’t settle for your table scraps unless it’s drizzled with truflle oil! Hahaha.




When it comes to shopping, Rome is the mecca of high fashion. All the flagship stores of designer greats such as Versace, Armani, Furla, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, and Gucci are in Via Veneto. Since I didn’t have the moolah for an impulsive splurge, all i could do was window shop! A lot of people are sure to criticize me for saying this, but I really do believe that designers are the modern day Michaelangelos and Da Vincis! What they do is ART. It’s a shame though that their ART is not accessible to the majority. But thanks to big chains like Topshop, Zara, H&M, fashion is something that can be distributed all the way down to the regular folk like me. You dont have to be a bajillionaire to look great these days! It’s all in the confidence! Kahit SM girl lang ako, mukha pa rin akong big time dahil nasa pagdadala lang yan diba?! (please agree with me…it would be so embarrassing if you didn’t!) Kaya ok lang kung wala akong nabili sa Gucci! I don’t need those fancy clothes to feel good about myself! Who cares if I’m poor and that I couldn’t even buy myself a keychain..a darn keychain?! huhuhuhuhu… (spoken like a true bitter pobre!)







For the romantics out there, ROME is where ROMANCE was born. Literally. It’s really a toss up between Paris and Rome for me. I’m equally obsessed with Paris, every time I’m in Paris I feel so in love with love! It’s as if the city government filled their parks with special flowers that excrete love pollen all over..at sa bawat haching mo ay may love na kasama! But Rome wins over Paris based on a minor technicality–the root word! hahaha! Rome is like a LOVE ZOO! The couples are so animalistic- kissing, groping and holding each other like crazy. In the middle of the street,in a crowded park filled with children, even the subway is an extension of their bedroom! The PDA is just insane. It’s the “I must have you now or I’ll die” kind of PDA that makes tourists (from conservative nations) like me feel somewhat embarrassed. I was actually blushing “Hihihi, naghahalikan sila!”. I always thought I was quite liberal and open minded about these things, but after catching myself staring at a couple for 30 seconds..naisip ko, hindi pa pala ako ganun ka modern. I’m still very conservative when it comes to expressing myself. I guess at the end of the day, there are things you still want to keep private and special. :)






Next to Egypt, Rome is second on my list when it comes to HISTORY. Each and every street corner has a story to tell. And because we’re predominantly Christian in the Philippines, a lot of the history you’ll learn in Rome has so much relevance to us. If you grew up like me, reading all these Bible stories, about St. Paul and St. Peter…you’ll find yourself so amazed seeing where everything started. Even the architecture will show you how Romans transitioned from being pagans to strong Christians.

I especially love how Constantine (the first Christian emperor) closed down the Colosseum because he wanted the violent entertainment (gladiators killing each other) to stop..what a nice, sweet guy this Constantine. I can imagine how he would have said it “Hey gladiator boys..tama na yan..why kill each other, when we can LOVE each other instead???? GROUP HUGGGG!!! Now let’s get all the marble from this place and build ourselves a church! Yeahhh!”.









This year, we flew to Italy to spend the holidays with my sister’s in-laws: the lovely Fois Family and Chloe, the cutest little dog (and my new BFF). I’ve been to Italy a couple of times in the past, from Venice to Verona to Tuscany…but never had the chance to visit the Northern region. The Piedmont scenery is absolutely spectacular! The Fois family lives just outside Turin, in a charming little town called Castiliogne. The view from their house is postcard worthy as they are surrounded by the Alps! Ang swerte nga nila that they’re able to wake up each day to witness the glory of these snowy mountains!



It was negative 10 degrees when we arrived so you can imagine how cold we felt–coming from the 30 degree weather in Manila. (Tropicanas, represent!)But it was such a treat to have an actual White Christmas!



Laura and Daniele (my sister’s in laws) were such gracious hosts and made us feel so at home! Laura prepared the most DELICIOUS dishes! I gained 5 pounds on my first day! I couldn’t even wear my skinny jeans anymore! Sarap!:)





HONG KONG. Snippets from different trips. 

 


 




MALTA
An excerpt from a blog entry, March 2010. 
“Where on earth is Malta?” That was the first thought that came to mind when my folks mentioned it to me. It’s a tiny country just below Italy, a ferry ride away from Sicily. I grabbed this image from the net to give you a better idea.

What used to be a sleepy fishing village, Malta is now a famous playground for rich Europeans to “park” their expensive yachts and ships. Since it is conveniently located on the Mediterranean, this allows easy sailing access to Italy, Greece, Tunisia and other countries in the area. Rumor has it that the Maltese Falcon, one of the most beautiful ships on the harbor, was sold for 120 million DOLLARS! not pesos, DOLLARS!!! Sige aaminin ko na, I tried keeping a low profile..mahirap na, baka ma-kidnap! The Falcon was mine.. I just had to sell it, lumang model na kasi siya..gusto ko yung 2011 edition na yacht. Umm, Patty I think your boat is sinking?? Hindi, hindi, pinasadya ko sa talyer yan! Gusto ko medyo lowered para fast and the furious yung dating diba?:)The boat is sinking..group yourselves into 3! hahaha!
The country’s population is roughly at 400,000–that’s just Muntinlupa! Hahaha!:) Native Maltese make up about 90% of the population and the rest are mostly British oldies who have chosen to retire here. With a crime rate that’s close to zero and quaint little vacation houses, this is a Senior Citizen’s dream!

I visited my folks as they are now officially “Maltesed” having been stationed here for a few months. My dad has been sent to Malta to finish a Marine Law course so at age 55 he feels like a 20-something university kid, walking to school everyday with his school bag (which is sadly a red shoe bag from SM that he insists on using everyday despite my desperate pleas to change it..magastos daw kung bibili pa siya ng bagong bag. He actually has 2 shoe bags, one red for school and one black for “special occasions”. nyek! ) And how could I forget his favorite Petron Treats jacket (which he got for free last Christmas– he doesn’t want to change his jacket either! King Kuripot!). He has memorized all the local bus routes and keeps his daily allowance in check like a little school boy.

Since my Dad’s busy with school most of the time, my mom and I have gone on little walking adventures around Malta and Gozo on our own. The whole country is frozen in sepia mode, sometimes I feel like even my face has turned yellow here! (Ok, fine..I have 1/16 Chinese blood so technically my skin may actually have a yellow tint) But I’m serious about the sepia-ness of this place, it’s like stepping into a living Polaroid print!

The best cheap thrill in Mdina= the noon time concerts! We were so lucky to catch Ramona Formosa playing the Clavichord. The clavichord is possibly the sweetest sounding instrument I’ve ever encountered. It’s played like a piano but sounds more like a guitar and a harp combined. :) Here’s a picture with George as well, the cool Brit dude who actually built this amazing instrument..an exact replica of a 300 year old clavichord from Edinburgh! The clavichord’s volume is extremely light and plays on pianissimo.


PATTY’S NERDY INTERMISSION!!!
The great George Frideric Handel used a clavichord in his early years of composing. As the story goes, his father wanted him to take up Civil Law and did not allow him to pursue his musical career. Handel was able to sneak in a clavichord and he would play it late at night at the attic of his house while everyone was asleep. Go Handel, Gooo!:) I can totally relate to Handel, I used to hide under my comforter late at night so I could listen to Oasis and Alanis!


Before flying to Malta, I spent a few days with my little sis who now lives in Clooney’s Italian Playground (Lake Como). I regret to inform you that there was NO GEORGE CLOONEY sighting. Ok lang, di ko naman siya type eh! Hmph! (Bitter!) We spent most of the time indoors in Dan’s warm flat because it was snowing like crazy. We couldn’t even take photos because our fingers were too frozen which explains why I only have 4 pictures! hehe.
We crossed the border like fugitives and ended up in Switzerland with no passport! Smiled my way through customs and didn’t get booked by the Interpol. *phew* All this effort for one little Prada bag (which is the reason why I can no longer shop FOREVER)! My sister is a master manipulator especially when it comes to shopping..initally the plan was to buy a small clutch but I ended up buying a bag which wiped out my entire pocket!! Nadala kasi ako sa whole speech ni Daniela– “Pat, you deserve a grown up bag..a bag that you can pass on to your children, which they can pass on to their children..” My sister is quite the sophisticated shopper, she only wears Burberry and refuses to shop in H&M. She has great taste and impossibly high standards when it comes to things…our close friends say we’re complete opposites, so does that mean I have bad taste and low standards, then?? Aww man! I hope that only translates to my taste in clothes..and not in men!Hahaha!




GREECE 
An excerpt from a blog entry, March 2010. 
France, United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, United States of America, Monaco, Australia, Mexico, Leichstenstein, Indonesia, Malaysia,China, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Cambodia, Portugal, Denmark, Egypt, Malta and GREECE!!! I made it, 26 countries at age 26! Well I’m just a month shy of my 27th, but still..I was able to accomplish my secret goal!:) Ok, so this is where 99% of you will probably say “Umm..ok. Woopee for you. But what’s the big deal?”. Only 2 of you will get why this is actually a BIG deal for me, one of the BIGGEST deals in the history of ALL BIG DEALS THAT WERE EVER WORTH MAKING A BIG DEAL OVER! So give me a moment to feel this moment because in a moment this moment will be gone!!! Got it?! Ahhhhhhh!
Alright folks, back to regular programming.
To celebrate our joint birthdays and their 28th year anniversary, we planned this little side trip to Greece from Malta before heading back to the P.I. :)
It felt so awkward seeing my parents being all cheesy throughout the trip (most of the photos did not make it to the final cut because they were too mushy for public viewing). My dad kept joking that they were having a crazy whirlwind love affair at ako daw yung “excess baggage”. Hahaha! It was fun spending time with the oldie b’goldies in a new country! We rented a car and just spent hours driving to nowhere every day :)
The Lonely Planet guide was right! “Fantastic, fabulous Santorini deserves all the superlatives. Even the most jaded traveller succumbs to the awesome drama of this surreal landscape…”
I have to admit, I have my travel snob moments..but this place.. hayyyy…the charm of this tiny little island is just too sweet to deny! It’s like seeing cute little puppies playing in the snow, even the most critical person will have no choice but to say “Awwwwwww….”. This is one of the few places that looks ten times better in reality than in the photos. I used my crappy point and shoot camera for this trip and without any effort I was able to shoot some awesome photos!

Santorini has been a lifetime dream and I just can’t stop thanking the Lord for this opportunity!!!! The only reason my folks and I were able to visit this place was because I stumbled across great off peak promos…our entire stay here cost cheaper than a trip to Boracay!:)





My 27th country at age 27, NEPAL. 
An excerpt from a blog entry, November 2010.
HIMALAYAN. HIMALA-YAN. In English “Wow! It’s a miracle!”

So that’s how I decided to begin this highly anticipated post on NEPAL..with a joke, and a lame ass one at that. (and by highly anticipated, i mean by ME and my two imaginary friends) I guess I’m just nervous. Nepal is a HUGE subject to tackle. It’s more than just another country. I feel so ill equipped to write about NEPAL and I was this close to abandoning this post all together because I feared I wouldn’t be able to write a decent post about this amazing country.

It’s like talking about Monica Bellucci and not having enough synonyms for “beautiful”. It’s like calling this goddess “cute”..what a slap in the face, what an insult! I can imagine her going ballistic in her thick Italian accent, “CUTE?!?How dare you call me CUTE!?! Have you seen my perfectly formed breasteses?!John Mayer must have dreamt of me while writing Your Body is a Wonderland and not that Jennifer Love girl..now she’s CUTE! NOT MEEEE!!”
I’ve been agonizing for days, thinking of a grand opening statement that will hit you like KABLAAMM! Something so brilliant, so clever, something so Hemingway meets Faulkner meets The Bible..it’ll make you want to marry my blog and have adorable little babies that are half human-half blog! But once again, I have failed you my dear friends of the Philippine Islands. Photos are great storytellers and for such a photogenic country like Nepal, the best way to share my little Himalayan experience with all of you is by sharing our favorite snapshots from our trip!So let’s do this…1-2-3…


 
ENGLAND, Again. Photos from March 2011.
An excerpt from a blog entry, December 2008. 




So this has been my obsession all week long–learning how to speak Brit, but not the proper Margaret Thatcher or Winston Churchill Brit.. I want to decipher the code of STREET BRIT! Obnoxious, blunt, and gritty linggo!
Just in case I stumble into a dodgy downtown pub in Liverpool one day, I’ll be able to blend in with the locals with ease! (although, my chinky eyes will be a dead giveaway that i’m not exactly a “local”)
Of course there are the popular expressions like “Bloody”, “Saucy Minx”, “Hanky Panky”, “Bugger” and Austin Power’s “Oh, Behave!”. But here are some new terms I learned…
BLIMEY – “Another exclamation of surprise. It is all a corruption of the oath God Blind Me.”
Pinoy Context: “Susmaryosep!”
FRY UP- “Fast food”
Pinoy Context: “Jollibee!”
BLINKERED – “Someone who is blinkered is narrow minded or narrow sighted – they only see one view on a subject. It comes from when horses that pulled carriages wore blinkers to stop them seeing to the side or behind them which stopped them from being startled and only let them see where they were going.”
Pinoy Context: “Traditional Politicians”
CRUSTY DRAGON – “A booger. One of the really crispy ones.”
Pinoy Context:”Cool-langot”
BOB’S YOUR UNCLE – “This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that’s it! For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the condensed milk for three hours, spread it onto a basic cheesecake base, slice bananas on top, add some whipped double cream, another layer of banana and Bob’s your uncle!”
Pinoy Context: “Yun lang!”
CODSWALLOP – “talking a load of codswallop. American kids might be talking baloney under the same circumstances.”
Pinoy Context: “Woooshoo..Stirero ka naman!”
ADAM AND EVE- “Believe. Cockney rhyming slang. E.g.”I don’t Adam and Eve it, it’s not true!”
Pinoy Context: “Bilib” (hahaha, I just changed the spelling)
RAT ARSED – “Yet another term for drunk, sloshed or plastered.”
Pinoy Context: “Wasak”
PAVEMENT PIZZA – “Well here the pavement is the sidewalk and a pavement pizza is a descriptive way of saying vomit. Often found outside Indian restaurants early on a Sunday morning.”
Pinoy Context: “Wasak na wasak na wasak”
BEER O’CLOCK – “The time one feels is most appropriate for some alcoholic refreshment , such as beer. Often used specifically to mean the end of the working day.”
Pinoy Context: “San Mig time”
BELL ON EVERY TOOTH- “When applied to a person, noisy, loud.”
Pinoy Context: I know someone and I’m sure you know who I’m talking about! Hahahaha!
BIG GIRL’S BLOUSE- A feeble and ineffectual person. Derog.
Pinoy Context: “Yung blockmate ko sa Physics— or Philo— or Theo…ah basta, kilala ko siya pero di ko maalala kung saan ko siya nakilala!”
BIT OF ALL RIGHT- “Something excellent. Often heard used with reference to a sexually attractive person. E.g.”She’s a bit of alright! I’m going to ask her for a date.”
Pinoy Context: “PATTY LAUREL!!!!!!!” (hahahahahahaha!)
BEASTLY- “You would call something or somebody beastly if they were really nasty or unpleasant. “
Pinoy Context:”PATTY LAUREL!!!!!!!!” (ouch!)
AIR BISCUIT-An expulsion of air from the anus, a fart. See ‘float an air biscuit’.
Pinoy Context: “Pooooooooorrrrrooooooootttttt”
HOP THE WAG – “To play truant. E.g.”You see far too many school kids hopping the wag.”
Pinoy Context: “Self imposed free cut!”
POET’s DAY- “Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday! Drink up!”
Pinoy Context: TGIF!
and my absolute favorite…
ABSOBLOODYLUTELY!!!!! (absolutely!)
Expect me to use this on ALL my future posts!!!
Do you love chocolates?
ABSOBLOODYLUTELY!
Do you love Fridays?
ABSOBLOODYLUTELY!
Wait, absobloodylutely ng absobloodylutely ka diyan! Are you even British???
NOT-SO-BLOODY-LUTELY!!!!!!

11 Responses to The Flying Gerbil

  1. Hi Patty! I love to travel as well and your post was just moving! Hee! :) I swear to put aside a little more to future travel adventures! :) I’m loving your new blog as well! Happy writing!

  2. nice to see your back to blogging! i actually have 2 questions. haha (1) what site did you go to for the great greece promos? im going there this sept and would love all the help. (2) you have nice photos! what camera do you use?

    thanks for sharing your stories. it’s always entertaining to read your posts. good vibes!

  3. hi patty! it’s nice to see your new blog! i’m glad it’s up already… i love all your travel posts… i love your blogsite. hehehe… keep inspiring us with your travels… can’t wait for your 28th country!

  4. Hi, I chanced to see your blog and all I could say is a big “WOW!”. I could tell that this is one of the most interesting travel blog I ever had read in the entire Internet. Hehe. I really envy your travel experiences. I almost thought that you were a stewardess, are you not? I wish I could travel as much as you did. But that is too impossible. That is a real big budget. Wew! I am really looking forward for your 28th country. I’ll be following. =)

  5. i envy u! :) hayy, for now,i’d be content reading about ur adventures. i have my own liitle travels but they’re not as grand as yours.please keep on writing about them! i just luv how funny and witty ur blog is.

  6. hi Patty, i am amazed at how you are able to chance upon crazy deals like that. What are your sources if i may ask? I’ve been meaning to travel to Europe for the longest time and deals like that would make my dream a reality! :)

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