Category: Must-See Places

Liverpool, The Port City

Liverpool, The Port City

It was our first time to visit the city of Liverpool last week and I have to say, we totally fell in love with the place. It has so much to offer.

Prior to our mini trip, when we told friends and acquaintances our plan for the trip, they would say “Why Liverpool of all places. It is run down”

Peter would say, “too late now, we booked our hotel and the train tickets.”

I am so pleased that we did not listen. Because Liverpool is a very vibrant city, a lot to do and see. One can take away plenty of experiences and new knowledge.

For a Scouse city, I think it is very English.

Old and new buildings married splendidly, giving birth to a wondrous skyline, beautifully scenic especially when spied from a ferry across the Mersey.

Liverpool is of course the birth place of the ultra iconic The Beatles, of John, George, Paul and Ringo.

We visited the famous underground Cavern Club, where the The Beatles played during their early days.

Liverpool is also known for its majestic churches.  The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, is an architectural phenomena in its modernity and simplicity in a vast area. It is a Roman Catholic Church, a must see crypt underneath has a gravity defying ceiling made from bricks!!!

On the other hand, the huge Church of England, Liverpool Cathedral is equally awesome.  It has a very spiritual ambiance.  We thought St Albans was so beautiful but Liverpool Cathedral can give it a run for their money.

While we were in Liverpool, the sun tried to break out from the clouds and Peter was quite happy to go on top of the Radio City, which allows anyone to see miles on end in a 360 degrees.  Apparently you can see the Blackpool Tower clearly if the sun was brighter.  I opted out of the privilege to climb the tower because I felt rather queezy after having an enormous Full English breakfast at the Shiraz Palace near the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, where we stayed.

Another thing about Liverpool is the presence of publican houses everywhere, unlike in London.  I think pubs longevity in Liverpool has to do with the prices.  One can get a pint of beer for a couple of quids (pounds). 🙂  The students who board nearby our hotel patronise the many pubs at all hours.

The famed Chinatown in Liverpool was smaller that what I expected compared to Chinatown in London.  Chinatown Liverpool is the first one in the UK.  Some 1500 Chinese were living in Liverpool as far back as the 1600 and some Filipinos in the 1800.  This is because Liverpool is a port, where seafaring immigrants took advantage of.

They have the most fantastic library building in Liverpool Lime Street.  It was modern and huge in four or five floors, very airy.  It makes you wanna sit down with a book, which I did.  I quickly skimmed Jilly Cooper’s Mount, which is the return of Rupert Campbell-Black and Taggie.

Queen Victoria must have loved Liverpool.  Her beloved husband, Prince Albert’s statue is everywhere and places and buildings are named after him.

St George’s Hall along Lime Street is another must see place.  It has an underground Victorian jail which you can tour.  There was a room with drawings and posters by children which is rather unsettling.  Another prison cubicle has a collage of photos of the prisoners, who were murderers, rapists, debtors, fraudsters.  That was really macabre.  What what spooked me was an empty room at first sight but suddenly you feel a presence which was of a statue of a Victorian woman breastfeeding her baby partly hidden next to the doorway.  Spooky.

All in way, I highly recommend a tour of Liverpool.  Add it to your bucket list!

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower and the Parliament Bldg, photo by PH Morton

Elizabeth Tower, photo by PH Morton

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower was formerly known as the Clock Tower.  It is part of the imposing, one of the most famous landmark of London, the Palace of Westminster.

The tower is often identified by a  misnomer, Big Ben.  In actuality, Big Ben is the huge 13 tonnes Great Bell located at the top of the 360 feet high tower.  The four-face clock became operational on 7 September, 1859.

The Clock Tower has been renamed as Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

 

British Museum

British Museum

British Museum, Photo by JMorton

British Museum

Did you Know?

The British Museum is the first public museum in the whole world.  It first open its doors in 1759, free to visit for the studious and the curious.

The museum has some of the most important and relevant exhibits in the whole world.

 

 

 

Malacañang Palace, Philippine President’s Official Residence

Malacañang Palace, the residence of the Philippine president

Malacañang Palace, Philippine President’s Official Residence

This very grand palace by the rather stinky Pasig River is the Malacanang Palace, which is the official residence of the incumbent president of the Philippines.

The newly elected president is the popular Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who was unanimously chosen by the people during last month’s election.

Now, for 6 years, he will be Malacanang Palace’s official tenant.

Duterte sold himself to his Filipino constituents as being very modest and with simple taste.  He is not one for grandeur and excess.  In fact, he does not want to be called president but would prefer to be known by the humbler title of Mayor.  ( He was a mayor in Davao for more than 20 years).

Duterte had been commuting to Davao city, after a day’s work from 1pm to 12 midnight each day rather than sleep at Malacanang Palace.

Before, we say our ahhhs and awws in admiration for his modesty, simplicity, no fuss and total lack of delusions about grandeur, 😉 apparently the reason Duterte would not sleep at Malacanang Palace was because he is afraid of ghosts. Allegedly Imee Marcos, the former First Child of Malacanang Palace during Ferdinand Marcos Regime, scared Duterte shitless by confirming the existence of at least five ghosts of former presidents at the palace.

hahaha

I bet Duterte was just in a jovial joking mood. He is not afraid of no ghost! 🙂  One thing, though, Duterte should stay at the Malacanang rather than commute to Davao City for at least three reasons (in my opinion).

First, he is putting himself into unnecessary danger of flying everyday.

Second, he is causing airspace traffic. As it is, flying in Manila is a frustrating experience due to monumental delays.

Third, as a president of the Philippines, he should be an example to the people; flying every day creates high level of carbon footprints, which is a danger to the ozone layer. Air pollution is no laughing business, just look towards Beijing!

If he really that scared, get a cavalry of priests for thorough exorcism.

Sunflowers at the Glorious Burnham Park

Sunflower of Burnham Park, photo by PH Morton

Sunflower of Burnham Park, photo by PH Morton

Sunflowers at the Glorious Burnham Park

The sunflowers were in full bloom when we were in Burham Park in Baguio City, Philippines in February 2016.

It seems we were not the only admirers of the flowers; there were busy, buzzy bees hard at work gathering nectars.

The flowers were so beautiful to look at as it built a fragrant fence from one corner of the park into the next.  Though the park was busy, the tall flowers exude a haven of tranquility and serenity, thus promoting well-being.

It made me think that yellow must be the colour of happiness and peace.

Sunflower has the scientific name of helianthus, which comes from a combination of two Greek words, helios, meaning sun and anthos is of course, flower.

Sunflowers are annuals, which means they die down each year and new ones needed to be planted annually.  There are species of perennial ones but they are not too popular with gardeners as they tend to spread rapidly and can overwhelm a garden.

Galapagos Tortoises

Zoo 2012 571

Astride a statue tortoise, photo by PH Morton

Zoo 2012 572

Galapagos Tortoise at ZSL London Zoo, photo by PH Morton

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Galapagos Tortoise at ZSL London Zoo, photo by PH Morton

Galapagos tortoises are the largest in the world and they can outlive me very easily as their life span is up to  150 years.

These galapagos tortoises played a major role in Charles Darwin’s revolutionary theory of Natural Selection theory when he visited Galapagos Island in 1835.

Bogya Hot Spring – Banaue

Bogyo Salt Spring, photo by JMorton

Bogya Hot Spring, photo by JMorton

Bogya Hot Spring – Banaue

During our trip to the north of the Philippines, we visited many wonderful places and one of these places was the Bogya Hot Spring in Banaue.

This is not for the faint hearted as discovered by my darling husband, who had decided to have an attack of vertigo. 🙁

Peter, dicing with fate, photo by JMorton

Peter, dicing with fate, photo by JMorton

It was not really an ideal day to visit the hot spring as it was drizzling a bit and the road was wet and can be very slippery.  But our tour guide, the lovely and kind Arlene, did not give us much information about how we will be going there terrain-wise, if there was any hazard or whatever.  All she said was that we would be walking for 45 minutes on a fairly steady pace.

All I can say is OMG!!!

It was death defying to reach the water source.  To start with it was a fairly steep climb. We were still out of breath when we discovered that we had to navigate some parts of the terraces, which one side is a shallow rice planted paddy, while the other side from a foot-wide only footpath was a deepening ravine/cliff.  It was mind-numbingly scary.

This trip does not have any nod whatsoever to health and safety; no wonder Peter decided he was having one of his vertigo episodes.  He was screaming like a girl!  Actually that was really not the case as we were a party of 4 women/girl including, our guide, and Peter.  None of us female were screaming. LOL  All we wanted was to get to the end of a very long winding rice terraces footpath.  Peter was crawling on all fours, at some point, with shear panic written all over his face .  I did tell him to go back but he would not have it.  To distract him I was mentioning names of great English navigators, explorers and travellers.

Of course now and again we would stop and admire the most glorious view and take photos, (I had my mini camera with me which has been so useful).

After the eventful long trek, we got to the hot spring, which we thought was really just a small hot bog.  It was a tiny pool which did not really look that amazing.

Though we did not plan to go swimming as we did not bring our swimsuit. we thought we do a bit of paddling only.  But the moment we got into the water it was so inviting we threw caution to the wind and we had a soak in our clothes, we thought the weather was so hot it would dry our clothes as we were walking back.  The water was hot; hot bubbles were rising from beneath the rocks.  It was quite wonderful.

It was just the thing to calm our challenged nerves and weary feet.

We stayed for a while and had our ham and cheese sandwiches among crops of rocks by the spring. It can’t get any better than this, I thought.  Until some German tourist ruined my self-satisfied reverie as she joined a growing number of other Europeans enjoying the spring as well.

This particular woman made my blood boil.  Not a care in the world she was.  She went into the pool with a lit cigarette.  Obviously she knew, being bloody German/European that even when there was no visible sign of No Smoking, one just consciously not smoke in a very public place.

I went mental. I loudly said that she was disrespecting the Philippines.  She should not smoke.  But the stupid woman just did not care and after smoking she made a point of stubbing her cigarette butt just above the water.  That did it for me.  I think I mentioned Holocaust and the murder of 6 million jews during  WWII.

Peter had to tell me to calm down.

I can see that my compatriots agreed with my no smoking policy but they were just too polite to complain especially to foreigners!

At least I had my say as the other foreigners/tourists gave me sympathetic looks.

Anyway, going back  was a trek I would not want to try again in a hurry but we did not have a choice.  So we went.  I supposed we were more aware, which somehow lessen the scare factor a little bit.  We were more careful and it felt that the walk was much shorter and not as shockingly more frightening compared to before.  We were also going downhill.

Peter was ok, more confident.  However, that did not mean we did not have an almost heinous accident.  Our youngest member of the group, Leah, decided to take a selfie but almost lose a footing.  We were in shock. We felt 50 per cent hilarity and and 50 per cent horror from the incongruity of taking a selfie near a cliff.

We made it alive with pegs and digits intact back to our hired people’s carrier.

We agreed that if we only knew beforehand that the Bogya Hot Spring was that small, about 3m² only, we would not have gone but then we immediately had a change of heart; despite the sheer fright we went through, walking through the rice terraces was a gift – a privilege.  We had an adventure of a lifetime!  Something we can cross out from our bucket list.

I am sure the same thought would go through the mind of those elderly Chinese tourists, in their walking sticks, we met in the narrow rice terraces on their way to Bogya Hot Spring.

Munting Buhangin, Nasugbu Batangas

IMG_2039 IMG_2040 Munting Buhangin, Nasugbu Batangas

As one of the last activities to be enjoyed with the whole family before my sister and Bert go back to LA and Peter and I to London, we went for a whole day swimming.

The venue was Munting Buhangin (Little Sand) in Nasugbu, Batangas.

It was quite a trek getting to this resort from Manila.  It took 4 hours with little instruction.  We had fun deducing when we are going to get their.  We thought its name says it all – little sand – would mean just a bucket of sand over a paddling pool of water.

But we were actually very pleasantly surprised.  The resort is lovely and clean with good facilities, i.e., CR (comfort room/toilet) shower rooms, restaurants, etc.

The beach was very easy to walk on as the sand is very fine and white, not as white as Boracay but more than good enough.  It was a comfortable to frolic and swim on.  However, one must be aware that there are jelly fish around that could sting, though not in great numbers.

At the beach, there are choices, of accommodation that would satisfy various taste and needs.  There are tree houses that could house 8-10 people good for overnight swimming.  There are nipa huts farther down the beach and many gazebos near the water.

The beach also allows for food and drink to be brought in.  Just remember, going to the beach is literally going DOWN the beach.  To get to the site would mean climbing down a very long steep set of steps.  Going up is a real downer.  Be prepared to stop and catch your breath every now and then.  Just send one member of your party to the information centre to ask for help of the manpower kind.  Usually they would just ask for merienda or about P50 (pesos).

 

Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave, Nature’s Miracle

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Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave, Nature’s Miracle


We were really really pleased to have found this cave as we were rather thwarted from seeing the iconic Underground River of Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

This cave was amazing. And the thing that really stood out for me was how clean it was.

No dank smell despite some stagnant water here and there. Probably it has something to do with the air circulation. The name of the cave says it all. Hoyop-Hoyopan is apparently a gust of wind that occurs naturally throughout the cave.

The cave is slightly different now. An entrance was created for visitors. Apparently during the Second World War, when the Japanese army took control of the Philippines, Filipino guerillas, foot soldiers, hid in the cave. There was a little whole on the top of the cave that they would jump into and which they would then camouflage with greenery.

In the 70s, European (might be Germans or Belgians) archeologists and anthropologists discovered a huge earthenware full of human bones, which were ancient forefathers of Filipinos. Some bones were also found embedded amongst the mineral- rich cave walls.

Our tour guide said that to fully visit every nook and cranny of the cave, it would take 11 to 16 hours. There are three levels to the cave.  We opted for a very short visit.

During the Marcos era, the cave was used as a meeting area, not sure whether to discuss the martial law and politics during that time as a wide platform was built to be used for disco dancing. Our guide said that live band would play inside the cave. The acoustic might have been something!!!  He also said that the cave no longer function as a dancing hall as of today.  It stopped in the 90s.

This cave is really interesting.  It is now a dwelling for fruit bats and birds, whose nests are harvested for making bird nest soup.

As we were leaving the cave our guide said he saw a two-foot long alligator, who feeds on bats.  So thankful, he did not mention the the alligator to us at that time. 🙂