Explore, Thoughts, travel

Cruising to Alaska

The day of our long-awaited trip to the land of white-peaked mountains and snowy treasures finally came! Beforehand, we booked the Princess Cruise’s Itinerary to Alaska (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Anchorage), so we flew to the port of call in Vancouver, Canada.


VANCOUVER, CANADA

Feeling woozy and jet-lagged after a long 13-hour flight, we decided to sleep in (and stay in the warm hotel room). We stayed at the Robson Hotel at Robson street. Oh by the way, along this street just a stone’s throw away is THE BEST Japanese Restaurant in Canada. If you happen to crave authentic sushi and Japanese dishes, that’s the place to go. Quite unfortunate though that I was too hungry to remember the name of the restaurant (of all the things, right?)

20170520155314_IMG_1010

Cozy hotel breakfast takeout

The most convenient and economical means to make the most out of the Vancouver trip was the Hop on Hop off bus. They have dozens and dozens of stops around the city where we jumped right on or off at our own time and convenience.

Our bus went through Stanley Park, one of the biggest and well-maintained parks I’ve ever been to! I could almost imagine the appeal of an intimate wedding there.

IMG_20170519_121807

Stanley Park Blooms

Beyond the lush greenery of Stanley Park, was a spectacular view of the Vancouver Skyline. It’s just breathtaking how modern architecture touches the cloudless blue sky.

20170520171712_IMG_1024

A wonderful welcome to Canada’s beautiful views

A quick snap during one of our stop overs, the laughing statues of Canada. Created by an artist from his own image.

20170520175021_IMG_1034

The artist who made a bunch of hilarious laughing sculptures

Oh here’s a thing I (unusually) do during my trips, a “from where I stand” photo collage. These are quite lucky shots as they don’t come around very often. I’ve read from a tourist magazine that the little floor mosaics are actually thirteen different artworks by various artists, scattered around Vancouver.

 


KETCHIKAN, ALASKA

En route to Alaska, we enjoyed a relaxing cruise at sea with Princess Cruises. On our first stop we docked at the commonly-foggy Ketchikan Alaska.

20170522163241_IMG_1048

A foggy morning.

20170522163314_IMG_1052

…but a colorful town.

IMG_20170522_081507We stayed a few hours in the city, half a day is already more than enough to get around the sleepy, little city of Ketchikan, Alaska.

IMG_20170525_164134


JUNEAU, ALASKA

We were welcomed the next day with a bright and beautiful morning at the port of Juneau. We wasted no time to start exploring the capital city of Alaska.

IMG_20170523_193707

The Juneau Rainforest Reserve was run by a lovely couple, to preserve and to educate tourists and locals alike of the native plants found in Alaska. Views like these are certainly well-worth the long journey at sea.

20170523181205_IMG_1110

and into the forest we go!

20170523181451_IMG_112320170523181632_IMG_1126

Just a little side note: Alaska is known for its Black Bears and Mooses to name a few. That’s why most sculptures are based on these wildlife. Mooses aren’t as friendly as they are often thought to be. Contrary to popular belief that they are gentle creatures, they have killed more people especially in small towns like these, especially when they feel threatened.

The narrow paths led to a simple yet lovely little rest-stop. With wildflowers and forget-me-nots (the Alaskan Flower) in full bloom.

20170523181755_IMG_1127

The most beautiful rest stop

20170523182043_IMG_1140

20170523193700_IMG_1223

Menden Hall Glacier

A little of an hour away was the renowned Menden Hall Glacier. I could hardly believe hundreds of years ago, this entire body of water used to be one whole Glacier. Imagine how little would be left once the ice pushes further in.

20170523194256_IMG_123820170523202937_IMG_1249


SKAGWAY, ALASKA

Getting off the boat was easy, trying to keep my fear of heights in check wasn’t so easy. The White Pass & Yukon Railroad was an hour’s ride through the steep mountains of Skagway. Oh I forgot to mention – on (EXTREMELY) narrow trails constructed on the side of the mountain. (Two of the builders died by getting crushed under a huge boulder, to name a few incidents. EEP!)

IMG_20170524_093335A trip to on the Tram was much easier. The highlight of the entire Alaskan adventure, the view 1,800 feet on Mount Roberts. Captured this majestic bald eagle at just the right moment. One of my favorite photos!

20170523225912_IMG_1275

20170523230048_IMG_1281

I never thought that I’d ever see glaciers beyond movies and photographs. But this moment, this exact moment is when it hit me how truly beautiful reality finally becomes beyond our dreams and imaginations.

20170523230122_IMG_1283

From sky to land, we headed down to the musher training camp. As opposed to our common knowledge it seems, sled dogs (Mushers) AREN’T purebred Huskies as we always thought them to be. (No thanks to movie myths!) Alaskan Sled Dogs happen to be Husky mixes that come in all speeds, traits, appearances and colors.

20170525012700_IMG_1399

Those gorgeous Alaskan Mushers.

20170525202549_IMG_1474

On our one-day cruise to Anchorage, we witnessed the rare breaking of the glaciers. We almost slept right through the main event! Thank goodness we’ve made it to that once second of pure power. Hearing the crack and boom of the glacier as it fell apart was one life-altering experience!

IMG_20170604_070947_2


ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

IMG_20170524_124807

Ahhh, Anchorage! Think about a mid-western, Texas style county. Anchorage boasts of its fantastic views and delicious (sinfully good) fudge. If you can try the Alaskan King Crab, Home-Made Ice Creams and Popcorn, do so!

We made it in good time as it was a Saturday when we arrived. The town was bustling with people making their way to the outdoor weekend market.

IMG_20170527_151421

Stopping by an eye-catching coffee shop – KOBUK CAFE

A couple of unique finds at the Anchorage market, colorful shells and vintage glassware.

IMG_20170527_131120IMG_20170524_115601

 


CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE, CANADA

A few days after our brief stay in Anchorage, we flew back to Canada. There was plenty of time left to explore, so we took our pick and headed on to their famous tourist spots.

20170531183551_IMG_151220170531190328_IMG_1536

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is 140 meters long and hangs 70 meters above the river, held together by sturdy metal cables.

20170531182929_IMG_1505


GROUSE MOUNTAIN, CANADA

Okay, it was an unplanned, spontaneous trip up this snowy mountain. I wasn’t able to wear clothes that were thick enough, that’s why there aren’t many photos here. (Ugh).

20170531212114_IMG_1581

If you do happen to go up to Grouse Mountain, (even in summer) don’t ever, ever forget to wear enough clothes to keep yourself from freezing. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Oh, and do go up further to see the bird show. And I thought training a dog was hard, watch how well-behaved the birds are! (Featuring: Owls, Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagles)

20170531210102_IMG_1566


 

I often tell myself there’s no way I could be happy. However, on my recent adventure, I’ve realized many things along the way from Ketchikan, to Juneau, to Skagway to Anchorage. That maybe happiness is relative, maybe it’s not so hard to find once you learn to see how truly blessed you are.

Thank you Alaska for showing me that there is a kind of happiness in finding oneself. Just as every snowflake on the mountain is unique, so are we. Wild, Beautiful, and Free to be. Happiness begins with self-acceptance, personal growth is possible with one’s willingness to embrace change.

20170531005650_IMG_1500

Until our next adventure.

X,

PEARL

Standard
Explore, Sushi Travels

Sushi’s Day Out! – Green Canyon Resort

I’ve been in dire need of a midweek breather, someplace peaceful and wide enough for my mind and body to wander freely. We took a trip to one of the most art-inspired resorts here in the Philippines, Green Canyon Eco Art Resort, Clark. Why? They got me at “Pet-Friendly”!

 

IMG_20170425_102015

My Travel Essentials

(1) My Anello Bag fits EVERYTHING I need!

(2) Nope. Can’t leave home without my Moleskine art journal.

(3) What’s a travel journal without fine liners on the ready?

IMG_20170424_155012

It wasn’t a long drive to Pampanga as we chose to leave on a weekday. Upon arriving we wasted no time and couldn’t wait to explore the place with our little furball, Sushi. We found a nice spot near the hanging bridge to take our first mommy and baby photo (P.S Dadddy did a great job with this photo!)

IMG_0930

The resort was a wide stretch of grass, trees and lush greenery, coupled seamlessly with a man’s beautiful artisan wood works. The pieces are hand-made by a talented Filipino craftsman.

IMG_0953

There is a mini garden bursting with fresh produce, streams and modern log cabins, which houses the art gallery.

IMG_0955

The Art Gallery lies beyond this cabin.

My favorite part, where the beautiful blue sky meets the lush, green mountains.

IMG_0958

IMG_20170425_083729

The poolside was definitely a pet-friendly place, Sushi didn’t fancy swimming though, but it was cool, she decided to lounge around with me as I doodled the morning away.

IMG_0965

IMG_0982.JPG

The food was presentable, but not the best we’ve tried with the meat being tougher than it should be. I recommend a weekend stay to enjoy the buffet breakfast instead of a weekday plated menu. The staff and crew were friendly and very accommodating, their smiles made the experience a one to remember.

It was a lovely day out with the loves of my life, I’m sure Sushi had great fun too. I’m really hoping for more places to be open to pets, they’re becoming more than just pets, they’re now family we all wish to make new memories with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ll be posting more pet friendly travel destinations im my blog, too! Stay tuned for more posts with #SushiTravels! Until next time.

Travel far, experience life to its fullest!

XO,

Pearl

Standard
Explore, Motivational, My Life Story, travel

Albay Adventure

 

This month’s TRAVEL has been quite the experience for me. Unlike many others, this is the first time I’ve booked a ticket less than a week before our scheduled flight. Oh, little did I know this is just the beginning of all the spontaneity I’d be facing this week!

BICOL has long since been my second home, where I spent countless summers shopping at the local mall, cooking for my relatives and yes of course, eating. But I wanted this time around to be different.

Spending too much time in the metropolis just, kills. I wasn’t a shriveled prune yet from all the hustle and bustle of the city, but my soul just wanted to feel alive again. Free of routines, free of rules and free of all the rushing. I sought to find peace, to find – something.

All set and packed with a last minute plane ticket, a pair of rubber shoes, a hand-drawn map of our itinerary and a head full of hopes, we boarded the plane and on to Legazpi we go!

1236

A sketch of our itinerary (not drawn to scale)

 


Quitinday Hills, Camalig Albay

Upon reaching the hills, there was quite a drizzle causing the soil to be quite a challenge to walk on, especially this being an uphill climb. The weather wasn’t ideal (of course, this was expected travelling during low-season), but the view was spectacular nonetheless. The view was most beautiful upon reaching the first hill.

img_0764IMG_0725.JPG

For the brief moments spent atop Quitinday Hills, I breathed more than just fresh air. Within me came an overwhelming sense of awe for all the beauty I didn’t know I’ve been missing out on for so long. Looking at the 360 degree embrace of nature, there was no better feeling but to know that there’s so much more just waiting to be seen.


Sumlang Lake, Camalig, Albay

After a quick lunch at one of the best places for PINANGAT (A native dish made from Gabi Leaves and Coconut Milk), we headed on to Sumlang Lake. Pleased that the rain stopped and Mt. Mayon finally came out to say hello.

I believe it’s just beautiful how the land and the sky meet to form such a sight.

IMG_0781.JPG

Sumlang Lake


Cagsawa Ruins, Albay

We headed on towards the ever-so famous tourist destination in Bicol, the Cagsawa Ruins. Just imagine how much history this site holds!

img_0895

IMG_0804.JPG

From where I stand : CAGSAWA GROUNDS

Okay I guess I have to explain why the photo below was one of my favorites (aside from Mayon photobombing quite nicely).

IMG_0881.JPG

Mayon ATV Experience

I am an introvert, shy, reserved and I often keep my opinions to myself (whether or not I believe it will win the argument). I was brought up that way, and I guess it came to mold the person I am now. I believe time is gold, and would never spare a second to be idle. I work from 7:30am to 8pm these days. Thus, I can be quite the control freak when it comes to planning, wanting everything ironed out, neat, tidy and on-the-dot. Sometimes I can shift from happy to angry in a snap, yes, the little things can unsettle me in ways. I am uptight, never bending my own rules and being an INFJ – I’m a downright walking contradiction. (Read more about personality traits here: INFJ PERSONALITY)

I started out scared as hell as I’ve never been lucky when it comes to vehicles (I crashed a car once, and it’s traumatizing). But ten minutes later, I revved up the engine wanting to go faster! (P.S. I was trying so hard not to overtake our guide).

Kidding aside, this short trip made me find myself. By “finding oneself” I mean to say: to know oneself better, to find one’s strengths and weaknesses and to love oneself a little more. This was the first time in a long time when I actually let loose and go wild.

I knew this trip was definitely unlike any other. With no final schedules of our own, driving on unknown roads, battling the moody weather and facing full uncertainty, it added to the thrill of what the journey brings.


Vera Falls, Malinao, Albay

The journey to Vera Falls was quite an adventure! The road reached a dead end, where the bridges were destroyed by the recent floods in Malinao. The locals were so kind to volunteer to get us to Vera Falls. I felt a rush of excitement as we hitched a ride with them on their motorbike up the lofty hills and through the quiet town.

20170225032038_img_0904

The rapids.

20170225040141_img_0905

It took less than thirty minutes to reach the falls, and behold the roar of the water came to welcome us to one of the hidden gems in Bicol.

20170225040449_img_0920

You know when you’re happy, when it’s not your lips that do the smiling, but your heart. Being happy is rare for me, but that’s what I felt as I sat there. Enjoying a dip in the cool water, smelling the freshness of nature, listening to the joyful chirping of the birds, and watching the violent cascade of the water.

Nature truly holds a cure for the city-living, it heals all the senses and revitalizes the mind. It shows us how simple life should be, and how difficult we all choose to make it.

img_20170228_075324_994

 

In this Bicol adventure, I found a piece of myself. One where I learned to embrace the uncertain, let loose and live one day at a time.

 

 

XO,

Pearl


 


I’ve been reading through “Steal Like an Artist” (Austin Kleon) this February, and came across an enlightening tip for creatives. Here’s an excerpt that inspired me to get up and go.

bicol1

RULE # 8 : GEOGRAPHY IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER

LEAVE HOME.

“At some point when you can do it, you have too leave home… Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings.”

“You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend time in another land, among people that do things different than you.Travel makes the world look new, and when the world look new, our brains work harder.”

“It helps to live around interesting people, and not necessarily people who do what you do. You have to find a place that feeds you – creatively, socially, spiritually and literally.”

“Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.” -Jonah Lehrer

Standard
Explore

I Left my Heart in Madrid

The breathtaking sights of Spain has caught my heart since day one; with its clear blue skies, lush green pastures and its well-preserved architecture. What’s not to love?

20160426_162700-02

I was able to stumble upon by chance, an antique flea market where I was able to score calligraphy nibs from the 1900’s. I admire the value they have on culture, more so on their handicrafts. One such piece I treasure to this day is a pendant, hammered by hand in gold by their master metalsmith.

20160425_194432

The intricate pattern says so much about life, I realized. The process is oftentimes long and painful, but the artist knows exactly the kind of beautiful the final outcome is meant to be.

20160427_134617-01

I fell in love with their keen attention to details, as every figure and design carved atop their stone buildings have a significant story to tell.

20160425_102309

See those details? Aren’t they just stunning?

20160422_104322-02

20160423_110916-0120160424_104556

Not even a hundred photos can truly capture the beauty of Spain.

It is amazing how quickly I felt so at home in this country. Perhaps it’s the similarity of Spanish and Filipino culture. Or maybe because I admire their happiness in living a simple life. Contentment and peacefulness have become so rare these days.

Things like these are priceless.

Perhaps that’s why I believe Spain is a rich country, full of life, love and laughter

(-oh, and Tapas).

20160423_091701-01

Make a wish, may they reach the heavens and grow from where your heart is planted.

XO,

Pearl

Standard