Only now that I realized that in the past 7 times that I have travelled to Japan, only few times did I went to a public art museum. Reason maybe is because Japan in itself is one whole country of a public museum. Everything you see, touch and feel seem worthy of being preserved, collected and exhibited.
When I go to a foreign country, I often set aside a day to visit either an art, cultural or historical museum. I call it my “cultural day”. A day when my soul is fed with art, history and culture. But being in Japan, everyday seem to be a “cultural day”.
Though it is my 8th journey to Japan, this visit is still something different. It is because I got to go and check on an actual museum. And what is so unique about it is that I myself seem to be part of the museum’s exhibit.
While my nieces and nephews settled to go to Osaka’s Universal Studios, accompanied by one of my nieces, I, my sisters and Nengkoy went to Osaka Museum of Housing & Living.
The whole museum is a replica of an old Japanese town, specifically during Japan’s Edo period. The cool thing about this museum is you got to rent and wear clothes of people during that era. Thus, visitors donned in kimonos and yukatas can interactively feel how it really was 200 years ago in Osaka.
Adding up the modern Japanese technology, the lighting and sound simulations of the whole museum would shift, in which visitors would get to witness how it is to be during early morning dawn, daytime and nighttime period of the Edo era. The awesome feeling was like stepping into the good olden days of Osaka!
The ultimate measure for the most favorite travel destination to a foreign country of a traveler is the number of times that traveler has returned. Intentions for such returns must be for leisure and never to count the reasons due to work, study, business or religion.
Me and Nengkoy’s most recent visit to Japan was our eight time. And Japan, Osaka in particular never ceases to amaze us. Both of us thought that we have basically done everything a tourist must do in Osaka and its nearby cities like Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.
We then decided to further plunged ourselves to the Japanese culture by attending and learning the Way of Tea, otherwise known as the Japanese tea ceremony. My niece booked us at Maikoya Osaka, a Japanese cultural experience center who fortunately holds some of their cultural classes in English.
We got to witness how the tranquil purification process was done along with the very elaborate and refined steps of the ceremony. The Way of Tea for me is like a transcendent ritual that truly demonstrate respect through grace, charm and poise along with the showmanship of how a high level of good etiquette should be carried out.
The Way of Tea ceremony is a total opposite from my being brusque, coarse and unmannered. The beautiful rite was so calm, serene and peaceful. It was so dreamlike, I wanted to lie down, sleep and snore right there at the tatami mat!
I thought my 8th visit in Osaka prefecture would be a bore but our first Way of Tea experience was such a refreshing encounter. It provided me reasons to come back and further explore beautiful Osaka and its nearby cities in the future.
Nengkoy (my mother) is used to check-in a 5-star hotel or resort every time she goes on a domestic vacation. Because of budget constraints and weak Philippine peso, it is the downgraded to 4 or 3-star hotels during international travels. However, in Nengkoy’s recent international trip her accommodation experience was further downgraded from a hotel to a hostel!
I am the culprit. It is because I am the one who booked and reserved a tiny room for three at A Dot Homestay via Booking.com.
Upon clearance from the immigration and retrieval of our luggage at Taoyuan International Airport, I Nengkoy and my sister proceeded to the nearest airport transport service. We booked a return exclusive luxury car service that will drive us to our hostel and pick us up to bring us back to the airport on our last day’s stay. The driver was quite surprised upon finding out that we have to be dropped not to a luxurious hotel but instead to an ordinary building where our hostel was located.
Actually, upon alighting the luxurious car, I never noticed where A Dot Homestay was located for there was no signage. Upon noticing that I seem to look confused, the driver was kind enough to point to us the building and entrance gate were the address of our hostel was. Shockingly, there was no reception desk where to transact our check-in. Instead, we proceeded to the 5th floor of the building, were asked to take off our shoes and was led to a dining table where we settled our payment and where the crew issued us our electronic keys to our room.
Nengkoy and my sister then told me after we have settled inside our room that both of them were already contemplating of pushing me to transfer to a legit hotel. It was obviously their first time to be in such a type of a lodging. They were not used to a guesthouse without a front desk, a concierge and an elegant chandelier in a lobby.
I have no intention of under estimating this hostel. It is because I, my sister and Nengkoy were quite impressed by the facilities, cleanliness and offerings of A Dot Homestay. After our first night, we easily adjusted and came to appreciate this cozy and comfortable establishment.
A Dot Homestay basically grew in us. Maybe it is because it offers remarkable facilities (comfy bed with fresh and spotless linens, clean and big common/shared toilet & shower rooms, a free-to-use washer and dryer, very fast internet connection, hot, warm and cold drinking water, a fridge that all guests can use and even a kitchenette if guests wish to cook their food). They even offer us to eat and try the free snacks placed and made available at the main table.
But aside from all these pleasant and amazing features, there are two things that I like most about A Dot Homestay. First is the warm, gracious and well-mannered staffs. All their staffs whom I encountered can speak English (Sarah, one of the staffs, according to her actually studied English here in the Philippines for 3 months) and everybody were so genial and are so willing to assist so as to make sure that we enjoy our visit to Taipei. They can even give you tips on where to dine and where to go to.
Second is the location. A Dot Homestay is literally just a couple of steps away from Exit 3 of Daan Station. The nearness of the train station is one of my main considerations why I chose and booked A Dot Homestay. I know that Taipei weather is like Manila weather. It is hot, boiling and very humid. Thus, it would be too difficult to walk on the streets so as to reach the station if the hotel would be too far a distance. I was also glad to have chosen this lodging establishment because I am with Nengkoy and my often-complaining sister who hates to walk under a blistering climate. Thus, the location of A Dot Homestay is just perfection!
Thanks to A Dot Homestay! It is because this establishment made Nengkoy’s first hostel experience a very pleasant and remarkable one.
Oh and by the way, on our last day, it was a different driver who picked us up and drove us to the airport for us to catch our flight back to Manila. He was driving a Mercedes Benz. It was so noticeable that the driver was puzzled and bamboozled why we were not picked from a luxurious hotel but instead by the bustling Xinyi Road in front of an ordinary-looking building.
I’m a proud uncle I must say. Up until now I can’t seem to overcome the genial feeling at how the wedding ceremony and after-wedding-party of Alexis & Thatcher has turned out. All elements of a fun party was there. The wedding reception in particular was a well thought-off kind of a revelry.
The set-up was grand, the live music was impeccable and the host was entertaining! Elements of Alexis and Thatcher’s personalities were present in all corners of the venue, from geeky/techy toys and designs to youthful books and journals. I never realized that chic elegance and non-mainstream geeky-ness can jive well and would be such an exciting type of a wedding party concept.
Another impressive aspect of the party were the food and drinks. When I saw the menu, I immediately concluded that the line-up of these exciting dishes were well-scrutinized. The dinner was absolutely lovely!
I am not a wine connoisseur but my having three glasses of the red wine that night would signify how good the wine was. But the most impressive of all in terms of drinks was the serving of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. There was nothing geeky about it, but the serving of this rare Scottish whisky – a freakin’ bottle on every table – was sheer elegance!
But all these were topped by the dance number that Alexis and Thatcher has performed that night. My family knows that the couple (both seem to possess considerable levels of geeky-ness) shall be the last to dance in any of our family’s occasion. Seeing both strutting a swanky and ritzy dance number was such a treasure to behold. Alexis and Thatcher’s romantic dancing made me super cheery, my emotional equilibrium went berserk that it made me cry for joy.
The Wedding Reception Party of my niece Thatcher and new nephew Alexis is one of the coolest parties I’ve attended this year. And in this gathering held at the Marriott Hotel Manila, I was given the task by the couple to render a speech (me being the representative of the family of the bride).
Before you read my speech here’s the cool pre-nup video of the couple…
Here’s what I said during the grand celebration of love…
Hi! I am Neil and I am one of the loving uncles of Thatcher, tonight’s lovely Bride.
Like what everyone knows, it is unfortunate that Thatcher’s dad (my brother) passed away when she was still a little girl. I’m pretty sure that my Kuya Iko, Thatch’s dad, would be so happy now that she has grown up to be a fine woman and has finally tied a knot with a gentleman. Kuya Iko must be smiling and watching up there in Heaven.
Thatcher grew up with her brother Denden who acted as her father figure. It was always her Kuya Denden and at times Ate Erika whom she can count on. Kuya Denden and Ate Erika are Thatcher’s significant human beings that made Thatcher the way she is today. While I, along with my elder brothers Wreigh & Bogis and Ate Raquel’s elder brothers: Larry, Dennis & Nelson were her warriors if need be.
One of the most touching deed that Thatcher has done to me is a note she composed a couple of years back. The note was part of a gift she gave me that Christmas. I was touched when I read that note for it indicates how appreciated my being an uncle to her. That note was one of the best gifts I received that Christmas and up to this day that note is kept in my treasure file.
The first time I met Alexis was in Japan. Prior to meeting him, I have heard a lot about him from the stories of my Nanay Nengkoy, nieces Erika, KrisMae and Mica and nephews Denden, Luis and Miggy. One big conclusion was derived from their stories, Alexis is a rich kid who does not seem to know anything about household chores. Because of this pre-conceived idea, simple tests and challenges were concocted for Alexis during our family’s vacation in Osaka. These challenges were simple household chores that Alexis needs to undertake, i.e. from fixing the bed, to taking the garbage out, to even washing the soiled dishes.
At the end of that vacation, my family all agreed that Alexis passed these simple challenges. Though not with flying colors at least Alexis did his very best to get along with a crazy family like ours. He even passed the test of eating his vegetables as insisted and enforced by his Ninang Gaying. In my own personal analysis, the most impressive trait of Alexis is his being respectful. During our first meeting, he automatically addressed me as Tito Neil.
To you Thatcher & Alexis, now that you are married, let me correlate my unsolicited advice with that of your recent pre-nup video. Your prenup video was shot in Enchanted Kingdom, a theme park with various rides and attractions. Please be advised that life indeed is like a roller coaster ride. At times it may be like a happy ferris wheel or a nerve wrecking space shuttle ride. There would be moments that life’s challenges may seem to be like a trip inside a horror house. But you should always remember that no matter how hard and difficult trials may be, never stop falling in love with each other. I’m pretty sure that life will simply be a breeze when you’re together like that of a gentle ride on a Merry Go Round. I hope that you stay together forever and live an enchanted-kingdom-like life ahead! Congratulations and cheers to Thatcher & Alexis!
One of my monster pamangkins (nephew) recently shared this in his Facebook page…
It may have some good points but I’m sorry because I find this video-message seem to border on egotism, arrogance and conceit. This is my personal stand on this clip after me and Nengkoy had difficulty looking for a greeting card. Hahaha! I felt sadness while inside the National Bookstore (the leading books, stationaries and greeting card store in the country). It is because the availability of greeting cards have dwindled in the stores where it is usually available.
Nengkoy wanted to send a Thank You card to one of her best friends who is based in the United States because this sweet longtime friend sent her a package of American-made presents. Unfortunately, National Bookstore no longer seem to sell Thank You greeting cards and what is so evident is that greeting cards are now positioned at one lonely corner of the store with very limited themes and varieties to choose from. Gone are the days when almost half of National Bookstore is filled with various types of colorful greeting cards.
And I am blaming the millenials for this turn of events. It is because the generation today no longer send greeting cards via post or snail mail. Millenials may love to travel and go on an adventure but gone also are the days when travelers around the planet would get a postcard from a local store of their destination and send it home via postal.
Today’s generation can easily send a recycled, reused and secondhand digital greeting to a friend’s or relative’s social media account, which for me is a little cold, stony and unfeeling. It is unlike receiving a greeting card which is more warm, tender and congenial because you know that it took quite an effort on sending such a tangible greeting.
Yeah millenials are fast, smart and proficient but I just hope that classy and classic Greeting Cards remains available for the likes of Nengkoy and those who were born before this seem-to-be-conceited generation. I hope today’s fast paced generation would acknowledge that the likes of Nengoy and the older folks are the precursors to the development of delightful living for today’s young population to enjoy.