Swim Naked

When you got old, when you got poor.  When you got sick, when you got hungry.  When you got lost, when you got heartbroken.  These are the low moments in our lives when we would know the true people who cares for us. 

Like what Warren Buffet said, “It is only when the tide goes out that you discover who’s been swimming naked”

Lumangoy ng naka-bomba!

Live, Love & Sparkle This Christmas

I was a bit nervous that Christmas might be cancelled.  Reason?  I thought Santa would die of laughter because someone told him that I was no longer naughty and gone nice this year!

christmas tree like tree in queenstown new zealand

christmas tree like tree in queenstown new zealand

the manger in bethlehem where baby jesus was born

the manger in bethlehem where baby jesus was born

merry christmas! (inside a chapel in bethlehem during the recent israel visit)

merry christmas!
(inside a chapel in bethlehem during my recent israel visit)

I hope that your Christmas will be full of fun and laughter and may you live, love and sparkle in the coming New Year!

Mabuhay, Umibig, Kuminang! Meri Krismas…

Winnie’s Gourmet Pizza is the Winner

I thought my best choice of restaurant in Queenstown that me and my friends dined at would be the establishment that will fix my rice-deprived anatomy.  Yeah, unlike the Philippines, rice is not a staple in New Zealand and my few days of stay in that fresh country made me yearn for it.  I know that I get all grumpy and grouchy if I don’t have rice in my meal for a couple of days.

But surprisingly, the best and finest food establishment I encountered in my recent New Zealand adventure was that of Winnie’s Gourmet Pizza Bar.  Located at The Mall in Queenstown, Winnie’s is a relaxed and casual part-bar and part-restaurant kind of a joint. I loved the ambiance because it is not plush, ritzy and intimidating.

What particularly made me love this restaurant was the food.  Their gourmet pizza was really outstandingly delicious!  And with a quick look into their pizza selection, I can tell that their pizzas were not just the classic types but instead seem to embrace various flavors around the world.  I noticed some Thai inspirations, a Moroccan fabrication, a Hawaiian motivation and some Mexican creations.

zucha  & montanara (flavors of heaven)

With limited tummy space, my friend Denton was smart enough to order one large sized pizza in which each half is of a different flavor.  We settled for the Montanara, which I consider to be the sinful half of the pizza and the Zucha for the wholesome and healthier half.  Both are gluten-free by the way.

Zucha according to my happy taste buds got some roasted pumpkin, olives, some feta cheese, capsicum and toasted almonds.  The blending of these flavors above the crunchy pizza crust, pizza sauce, Parmesan cheese and parsley brings magic to ones palette!

Montanara according to our gracious waitress was the most popular among all their pizzas.  That is why we ordered for it.  And from the first bite of this delectable creation, I knew that the waitress knows what she was doing. This is actually the first time that I have eaten a pizza in which you would have to spread pistachio sour cream on it.  A mound of this yummy cream is actually placed at the middle of the pizza!

The Montanara toppings which consists of chicken fillets, brie cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, spring onions and sweet chili sauce, no doubt, was absolutely delicious.  It’s one pizza that gives me a reason to return and revisit Queenstown.  The taste was just marvelously unforgettable!

chicken!

chicken!

a kiwi classic

is this a kiwi classic? we loved it… especially when we dip the mussel meat into the cream sauce!

Aside from the pizza, we also ordered the succulent chicken wings which surprisingly was not oily and so tasty and crunchy.  And to add a Kiwi flavor in our meal, we of course ordered New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels.  Winnie’s freshly steamed NZ mussels in shallots, capsicum, white wine, cream and sweet chili sauce was one of the best in Queenstown.  I can say this because in almost all restaurants that we dined we always seem to order NZ mussels.  And Winnie’s version was always our basis of comparison.

happy tummy!

happy tummy!

With all these superlative thoughts, accounts and narratives about Winnie’s, I guess, I can really say that it is one of the must visits if you happen to be in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Winer ang tami ko sa Wini’s!

My kind of NZ Town is a toss between a Queen and an Arrow

When I have already spent a couple of days in New Zealand, I was starting to realize that this fresh country is giving Japan (my most favorite country) a good run for their money.  Everything seem so fresh, nice and clean in New Zealand.  Crime rate in NZ is basically nil like that of Osaka and even the public toilets were as clean as those found in the Nippon country.

Actually, I have long realized that if I will be given the opportunity to live in Japan, without a batting an eyelash, I would easily choose Osaka.  But in New Zealand, it would be a toss between two awesome towns.  I would like to live either in Queenstown or Arrowtown.

who would not want an afternoon sight like this

who would not want an afternoon sight like this

colors of queenstown

colors of queenstown

seating by the bench...

seating by the bench…

Queenstown is a bit small in terms of size and population for it to be considered a city, but the vibe and energy it displays is sweepingly large in scale.  I particularly loved the cosmopolitan restaurants.  The multi-ethnic offerings of these restaurants to its residence and visitors are impressively wide ranging.

No one should get bored when staying in this modernized town.  From bungy jumping to jumping off a plane or riding a crazy rough speedboat, Queenstown can be considered as adventurer’s haven.  But what I particularly love about this town is that aside from doing adrenaline-filled activities, you can take time to a slow down.  You can simply find a lakeside bench and engross yourself to the beauty of the nature.

early arrowtown spring

early arrowtown spring

colors of arrowtown

colors of arrowtown

taking it easy at arrowtown...

taking it easy at arrowtown…

Arrowtown on the other hand is a quaint little town just minutes away by car from Queenstown.  The tree-lined avenues (which I suspect changes its looks and color depending on the season) as well as the fashionable shops at the main road (Buckingham Street) are two of the nicest areas that this town boasts about.  And like Queenstown it also has a wide array of excellent restaurants.

This historic gold-rush town seem to possess an alluring character that is uniquely of its own.  It is so charming we actually drove twice in this town to further explore the sights and we even walked a short riverside nature trail to breathe some of the freshest air on earth.

Arrowtown has a much slower pace as compared to Queenstown.  Another impressive character of this town is that it is uncrowded. I suppose this is the place that Queenstown locals go to if they wish to have some quiet time for themselves or with their family.

I live at the most densely populated city in the world.  There is never a day in my city that I would not see a human being.  Everywhere I look, everywhere I go and everywhere I smell there is someone near me.  Thus, the uncrowded yet colorful places like Queenstown and Arrowtown for me are true gems of a place.

Samdey… samdey… titira din ako dyan!

Glacial Facial at Milford Sound

Milford Sound has been considered as the most visited tourist place in New Zealand.  It is the crowning jewel and quintessential spot of New Zealand.  Many visitors say that it is the most beautiful place they have ever seen.  It so beautiful, it is usually included in blogs and publications that enumerates the places to go to before an earthling dies.

Milford Sound is a body of water, thus, one has to take a boat ride to really appreciate its beauty.  And that’s exactly me and my friends did.  We took the tour as operated by Southern Discoveries which is inclusive of a sumptuous buffet lunch served right inside the boat.  It was actually a smooth connection between the 5-hour bus ride and that of the ship ride.  No worries, no hustle and surprisingly, no overcrowding!  Everything went smooth and organized.

cruising...

cruising…

And when the boat embarks into the water, further excitement about my NZ experience sets in.  The sights of the Sound were just gorgeous.  Limestone cliffs, snowcapped mountain peaks, amazing waterfalls and the clear water of the fiords were all so stunning.

I particularly loved the part when the boat would get so near the waterfalls throwing water down the sides of the sheer cliffs.  And according to the boat’s tour guide and narrator, water coming from above the cliffs were actually melted glacier from the mountains.  The narrator told all passengers to be ready to get wet and secure a raincoat because the bow of the ship will go right underneath the pounding falls.

The up-close look of the waterfalls were simply spectacular!  Only when the ship maneuvered right at the bottom of the falls did I realize how high, how strong and how massive the waterfalls were.  The sprinkling, the shower, the downpour of the glacial water on my face was something to behold.  I totally agree with the boat narrator’s description that the feeling would be like having a “glacial facial”!

Another add on about the Milford Sound cruise were the animals that tourists got to see.  We were unfortunate that we did not see pods of dolphins or rare penguins.  But what we found were lazy seals sunning themselves on low lying rocks.

getting ready for my glacial facial!

getting ready for my glacial facial!

strike a pose!

strike a pose!

Me and my friends were just too glad to do a 2-hour Milford Sound tour!  We were so happy that such an amazing place with all its natural splendor really does exist!

Kakaibang pasyal na may peyshal!

The One Thing I Dislike About NZ

It’s been a week that I’ve been back in Manila and I have been struggling to identify what I dislike about New Zealand.  Everything seem to be so likable in that country: the people, the culture, the color, the weather, the food, the sights, the fresh air.  And finally I come to realize that at least I dislike something about the country whose slogan is “100% Pure”.

While watching a top ten scariest commercial flights in modern time video on Youtube, I suddenly came to realize that the one thing I hated about New Zealand is this…

Though it’s not bad, its definitely no good!  Yeah Air New Zealand, though they offer really nice airline services and facilities, got a very tacky and seem to be tasteless type of an airline safety video.  Though the video seem to have high production value and definitely thinks out-of-the-box in terms of catching a passenger’s attention, for me, the present NZ safety video is downright corny and at times annoying.  Too bad, my recent Air New Zealand fight featured this safety video.

I was actually looking forward to this epic type of a video when the flight attendant told all passengers to focus our attention to the screen…

If it was this cool and iconic 2014 LOTR-based safety video, it would be the first time that I would clap so hard and shout “Bravo!” over an aircraft’s safety video right inside the airplane.  Hahaha!  I know that the idea of the safety video is to get across the safety information to people but passengers (especially those seated at the economy class like me) I guess also needs to be entertained.

But honestly, I love New Zealand…

100% pure

100% pure

Ang kyut no. Sana ganyan din sa PAL.

 

Ridiculously Stunning Views: The Road to Milford Sound

Referred to as the 8th wonder of the world by Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, I have zero idea on what and where is Milford Sound.  But with my recent visit to New Zealand, I can attest to what Rudyard Kipling has tried to imply.

The journey to Milford Sound from Queenstown (where me and my travel buddies were based) in New Zealand took about 5 hours.  But I can actually consider the 5 hour ride that we took (through a tour group bus) to Milford Sound as one stunning experience.

super cool bus...

super cool bus…

Reaching Milford Sound by land was half the fun of my Milford Sound encounter.  It is because the road to our destination is extremely scenic.  I can’t remember the number of times I uttered “Wow!” in the entire duration of the bus ride.

Part of the rewarding experience of the bus ride are the bus stops.  The modern and transparent ceiling bus would pull over so that passengers can go down, breathe the freshest air, take a short stroll and snap some awesome photos.

Three of the amazing stops that I particularly loved most were:

Egliton Valley

gorgeous! (parang ako)

gorgeous! (parang ako)

Monkey Creek

monkey!

monkey!

Mirror Lake

can't believe that I made this shot!

can’t believe that I made this shot!

picture muna

picture muna

I  definitely agree with most visitors of New Zealand declaring that the road to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic road trip on the planet.  This is particularly true on the super scenic State Road 94 which is the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

Can you just imagine? I am not even talking about my exhilarating experience yet in Milford Sound itself.  I was just talking about the road to this heaven of a place!  If given another opportunity, I would definitely do another bus ride to Milford Sound, may it take 5 or 6 or 10 hours and be amazed again by the beauty of these stunning places.

Mapapa-iyak ka sa wow!