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July 4th fireworks 2021 after a long break

It’s my first time celebrating 4th of July in USA and I had So much fun at Disneyland for the stars and stripes like never before inspirational fireworks show—all to the sound of patriotic music made my eyes wild Open was just so much fun shearing this video bellow for you to see

Best fireworks ever 2021
Laser lights
Walking around Disneyland

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Miami My Second Home

I spent an amazing week in Miami, Florida, and literally enjoyed every minute of it.

Miami South Beach, bringing the heat, Party in the city where the heat is on hands down, haha one of the most perfect places I’ve ever been to. The first step is checking in at W Hotel Miami. The service is impeccable and they have world-class amenities as is usual with the Marriot hotel chain. I even got a very nice surprise when they sent balloons and champagne to celebrate My 31st birthday.

The hot weather Five-hundred degrees really suited the carefree party vibe that I feel everywhere that I went to. The whole of Miami doesn’t seem to sleep at all! Party in the city where the heat is on
All night. I was riding the ca with the ruff down listening to will smith I just loved it it was during corona but well it was still poping out doors..

Nature’s Bounty

Miami is also a paradise for the adventure lover’s heart. There are literally tons of activities that you can do and places that you can visit to get one in nature.

There are state parks all around and it ranges from geological marvels, historical and cultural sites, spectacular gardens, and beach habitats. Whether you want to stroll the magnificent floral architecture of the Maclay Gardens or swim with the manatees at Blue Spring State Park, you will have endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. In addition, explore the awesome stalactites and stalagmites at the Florida Caverns State Park.  Enjoy boating at the Biscayne National Park which is almost completely covered in water and can only be reached by boat.

Of course, you cannot talk about Florida without mentioning The Everglades. Aptly called “the legendary river of grass”, it is comprised of millions of acres and is home to hundreds of bird species, alligators, crocodiles, and the Miami panther. I am truly amazed at this World Heritage Site, which also happens to be an International Biosphere Reserve and a wetland of international importance.  If you’re ever in there, try air boating to experience the wonder of the Everglades in the fastest and safest way to travel.

Adrenalin Rush

For those who are really craving to get their heart rate up, go to The Canyon’s Zip Line & Adventure Park in Ocala. They have a zipline between 15-story cliffs as their main attraction. Yes, that’s not a typo – zipline. Between. 15-story cliffs. Amazing! I don’t think there’s any other place in the world like that! Imagine the incomparable view with only the sound of the whistling wind and probably, your scream when you go over 40mph. Surely, your adrenalin will be at an all-time high even hours after that unforgettable experience!

Closer to my heart is diving at Key Largo. Self-proclaimed as the diving capital of the world, it is home to the largest artificial reef in the world. The best-known site is the John Pennekamp Coral State Park and it is dubbed Miami’s Grand Canyon with its wide clear water that’s home to fish, lobsters, and all kinds of colorful marine life.

Lost in Space travel

I’m sure you’ll all agree on one thing when it comes to travel – space is the ultimate travel destination. But since we still don’t have the means to go there right now, Miami’s Kennedy Space Center is the next best thing.

The center has endless activities for everyone! From the impressive Rocket Garden to the US Astronaut Hall of Fame to the Ad Astra Per Aspera where they paid tribute to Apollo 1, there is still so much more to enjoy. Grab the opportunity to be inside the actual Apollo 8 Firing Room and experience the thrill of a launch. Everything will just make you wide-eyed in wonder.

You can even have a chance to join the astronaut training simulator inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis. And as a treat, you can experience a simulation of the space shuttle’s ascent into orbit! Even veteran astronauts say that it is the next best thing to an actual launch, can you imagine?

If an adrenalin high is not in the cards for you, immerse yourself in the experience via the Hubble Space Telescope Theater. You’ll learn how this immense structure orbiting over 300 miles above the Earth has helped us answer a lot of questions pertaining to the vast universe. You can also watch space-themed movies in their own IMAX Theater or explore a full-scale replica of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The Red Planet

Space news wouldn’t be complete without hearing about the leaps and bounds that happened with the exploration of the planet Mars. Explore the Red Planet with an interactive multi-media exhibit detailing what’s happening in the exploration right now. As an awesome treat, you can get up close to the Mars Rover Vehicle Navigator. The replica was commissioned by the Space Center to show this high-tech mobile laboratory that was built to withstand travel over the dunes, rocks, and other terrains of our next-door neighbor planet.

I will not be surprised if a visit here would inspire someone to be the one to eventually find life on Mars and other planets someday!

You’ll also have your fill of the sand and sea in South Florida with kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and exploring marine life by scuba diving. There are endless resorts and hotels that can accommodate all your requirements. Certainly, websites are overflowing with choices that can suit your budgets, dates, family members, and any special needs for the differently-abled.

The next day’s highlight was dining at the posh Villa Casuarina at the former Versace Mansion. Every fashion-conscious person in the world knows the flamboyant style of Versace and it is so evident here. Everyone was wearing Versace outfits, of course! Colors are everywhere and I absolutely love the mosaic walls and the lush greenery everywhere. I had the ‘Cacio e Pepe’, a tasty spaghetti served with pecorino cheese wheel for dinner. It is simply the best spaghetti I’ve had eaten so far.

The Villa Casa Casuarina At The Former Versace Mansion

Seafood is the heat food

It is not a surprise that Miami is the fishing capital of the world. Of course, when there’s an ocean on your doorstep, you have got to have a ton of seafood restaurants to showcase your bounty.

I had a wonderful time eating at Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant. Wonderfully located at Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, this iconic restaurant has been operating since the 1920s – that’s a hundred years of operations! So, you can imagine how they’ve succeeded even with the different changes and trends in the gastronomic world. I read that the original Joe was a New Yorker who was suffering from asthma and came to Miami for its fantastic climate.

Curiously, the original menu featured fish and not really the crabs that it’s famous for. The crabs came after he was asked what can be done with the bountiful stone crabs in the area. The rest, as they say, is history. 2019 saw them being lauded as the highest-grossing independent restaurant in the US. 

What I love most is that the restaurant features sustainable methods to help the environment. Apparently, the popular crabs’ legs are the only ones cooked and the main body of the crab is placed back in the ocean for them to regrow their limbs. That will surely help to keep the crabs from being depleted. Way to go!

By the way, there are other seafood choices other than crabs. They have yummy clam chowder, lobster tails, and crab cakes. Add on sides like the fried green tomatoes, coleslaw, and hash browns to make your meals complete. To round it off, have the Key Lime Pie for that perfect tart dessert to cleanse your palate after all the seafood goodness.

In addition to crabs, Miami boasts a healthy supply of grouper, shrimps, squid, oysters, clams, mussels, prawns, and of course, you can always have various grilled fish fresh from the sea. A lot of restaurants have their own fresh seafood markets where you can buy your own stock to cook at home if dining out is not in your itinerary.

Travel tips

The best time to travel to Miami is during the Spring – that’s from mid-February to May. You’ll have warm weather and not the merciless hot summer sun by then so it’s going to be perfect to go around.

Be aware though that there are still some travel and safety measures being enforced in a lot of places. So check out your destinations first before you book tickets to make sure they’re open or if they still have restrictions.

Safe travels everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miami My Second Home on coved

I spent an amazing week in Miami, Florida, and literally enjoyed every minute of it.

Miami South Beach, bringing the heat, Party in the city where the heat is on hands down, haha one of the most perfect places I’ve ever been to. The first step is checking in at W Hotel Miami. The service is impeccable and they have world-class amenities as is usual with the Marriot hotel chain. I even got a very nice surprise when they sent balloons and champagne to celebrate My 31st birthday.

The hot weather Five-hundred degrees really suited the carefree party vibe that I feel everywhere that I went to. The whole of Miami doesn’t seem to sleep at all! Party in the city where the heat is on
All night. I was riding the ca with the ruff down listening to will smith I just loved it it was during corona but well it was still poping out doors..

Nature’s Bounty

Miami is also a paradise for the adventure lover’s heart. There are literally tons of activities that you can do and places that you can visit to get one in nature.

There are state parks all around and it ranges from geological marvels, historical and cultural sites, spectacular gardens, and beach habitats. Whether you want to stroll the magnificent floral architecture of the Maclay Gardens or swim with the manatees at Blue Spring State Park, you will have endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. In addition, explore the awesome stalactites and stalagmites at the Florida Caverns State Park.  Enjoy boating at the Biscayne National Park which is almost completely covered in water and can only be reached by boat.

Of course, you cannot talk about Florida without mentioning The Everglades. Aptly called “the legendary river of grass”, it is comprised of millions of acres and is home to hundreds of bird species, alligators, crocodiles, and the Miami panther. I am truly amazed at this World Heritage Site, which also happens to be an International Biosphere Reserve and a wetland of international importance.  If you’re ever in there, try air boating to experience the wonder of the Everglades in the fastest and safest way to travel.

Adrenalin Rush

For those who are really craving to get their heart rate up, go to The Canyon’s Zip Line & Adventure Park in Ocala. They have a zipline between 15-story cliffs as their main attraction. Yes, that’s not a typo – zipline. Between. 15-story cliffs. Amazing! I don’t think there’s any other place in the world like that! Imagine the incomparable view with only the sound of the whistling wind and probably, your scream when you go over 40mph. Surely, your adrenalin will be at an all-time high even hours after that unforgettable experience!

Closer to my heart is diving at Key Largo. Self-proclaimed as the diving capital of the world, it is home to the largest artificial reef in the world. The best-known site is the John Pennekamp Coral State Park and it is dubbed Miami’s Grand Canyon with its wide clear water that’s home to fish, lobsters, and all kinds of colorful marine life.

Lost in Space travel

I’m sure you’ll all agree on one thing when it comes to travel – space is the ultimate travel destination. But since we still don’t have the means to go there right now, Miami’s Kennedy Space Center is the next best thing.

The center has endless activities for everyone! From the impressive Rocket Garden to the US Astronaut Hall of Fame to the Ad Astra Per Aspera where they paid tribute to Apollo 1, there is still so much more to enjoy. Grab the opportunity to be inside the actual Apollo 8 Firing Room and experience the thrill of a launch. Everything will just make you wide-eyed in wonder.

You can even have a chance to join the astronaut training simulator inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis. And as a treat, you can experience a simulation of the space shuttle’s ascent into orbit! Even veteran astronauts say that it is the next best thing to an actual launch, can you imagine?

If an adrenalin high is not in the cards for you, immerse yourself in the experience via the Hubble Space Telescope Theater. You’ll learn how this immense structure orbiting over 300 miles above the Earth has helped us answer a lot of questions pertaining to the vast universe. You can also watch space-themed movies in their own IMAX Theater or explore a full-scale replica of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The Red Planet

Space news wouldn’t be complete without hearing about the leaps and bounds that happened with the exploration of the planet Mars. Explore the Red Planet with an interactive multi-media exhibit detailing what’s happening in the exploration right now. As an awesome treat, you can get up close to the Mars Rover Vehicle Navigator. The replica was commissioned by the Space Center to show this high-tech mobile laboratory that was built to withstand travel over the dunes, rocks, and other terrains of our next-door neighbor planet.

I will not be surprised if a visit here would inspire someone to be the one to eventually find life on Mars and other planets someday!

You’ll also have your fill of the sand and sea in South Florida with kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and exploring marine life by scuba diving. There are endless resorts and hotels that can accommodate all your requirements. Certainly, websites are overflowing with choices that can suit your budgets, dates, family members, and any special needs for the differently-abled.

The next day’s highlight was dining at the posh Villa Casuarina at the former Versace Mansion. Every fashion-conscious person in the world knows the flamboyant style of Versace and it is so evident here. Everyone was wearing Versace outfits, of course! Colors are everywhere and I absolutely love the mosaic walls and the lush greenery everywhere. I had the ‘Cacio e Pepe’, a tasty spaghetti served with pecorino cheese wheel for dinner. It is simply the best spaghetti I’ve had eaten so far.

The Villa Casa Casuarina At The Former Versace Mansion

Seafood is the heat food

It is not a surprise that Miami is the fishing capital of the world. Of course, when there’s an ocean on your doorstep, you have got to have a ton of seafood restaurants to showcase your bounty.

I had a wonderful time eating at Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant. Wonderfully located at Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, this iconic restaurant has been operating since the 1920s – that’s a hundred years of operations! So, you can imagine how they’ve succeeded even with the different changes and trends in the gastronomic world. I read that the original Joe was a New Yorker who was suffering from asthma and came to Miami for its fantastic climate.

Curiously, the original menu featured fish and not really the crabs that it’s famous for. The crabs came after he was asked what can be done with the bountiful stone crabs in the area. The rest, as they say, is history. 2019 saw them being lauded as the highest-grossing independent restaurant in the US. 

What I love most is that the restaurant features sustainable methods to help the environment. Apparently, the popular crabs’ legs are the only ones cooked and the main body of the crab is placed back in the ocean for them to regrow their limbs. That will surely help to keep the crabs from being depleted. Way to go!

By the way, there are other seafood choices other than crabs. They have yummy clam chowder, lobster tails, and crab cakes. Add on sides like the fried green tomatoes, coleslaw, and hash browns to make your meals complete. To round it off, have the Key Lime Pie for that perfect tart dessert to cleanse your palate after all the seafood goodness.

In addition to crabs, Miami boasts a healthy supply of grouper, shrimps, squid, oysters, clams, mussels, prawns, and of course, you can always have various grilled fish fresh from the sea. A lot of restaurants have their own fresh seafood markets where you can buy your own stock to cook at home if dining out is not in your itinerary.

Travel tips

The best time to travel to Miami is during the Spring – that’s from mid-February to May. You’ll have warm weather and not the merciless hot summer sun by then so it’s going to be perfect to go around.

Be aware though that there are still some travel and safety measures being enforced in a lot of places. So check out your destinations first before you book tickets to make sure they’re open or if they still have restrictions.

Safe travels everyone!

Golden Bright Las Vegas 2020

The Entertainment state of Nevada

Las Vegas is my next stop going around the USA. The flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas took over an hour. I actually laughed when I noticed the slot machines in the airport. This is the only airport that I’ve ever traveled to that is actively promoting gambling, to say the least! The Cosmopolitan Hotel was my home during this trip. The view from the top floor is the fantastic Las Vegas strip and the beautiful Bellagio fountain. I can’t help but compare it to the fountains in the Dubai Mall which I’ve had the privilege of visiting last year. The Dubai Mall Fountain is the “world’s largest choreographed fountain system in the world so I might be a bit biased in choosing that as the best that I’ve seen. It is simply amazing!

Knowing Las Vegas

Officially known as the City of Las Vegas, the city is a wide 135 square miles sitting in a basin in the Mojave Desert. Typically, it has a subtropical climate – lots of hot summer sun and short winters.  It ranks 28th as the most populous city in the USA and is currently home to more than two million people. Las Vegas prides itself in being a leader in the hospitality industry with it being one of the world’s best tourist destinations.

The Las Vegas Strip

Hotels and casinos are, of course, the major stars in drawing people to Las Vegas. And you can get them all just walking along the famous Las Vegas Strip. The bright lights are still there even with the pandemic. The casinos, restaurants, and bars are open but with strict policies in place. Patrons are limited to 50% capacity only and face masks are mandatory everywhere. Social distancing is the new normal so no dancing for everyone and concerts are still not allowed. Fremont Street is famous as the home of most of the casinos in the downtown area. The Stratosphere or more commonly known now as The Strat, is the exception though, as it is located on Las Vegas Boulevard. It’s tower boasts of a gorgeous view of the Strip.
Stratosphere Observation Deck Ticket + VIP Access Las Vegas, USA - Klook UK
The view from The Strat
It is guaranteed that you can find a hotel here whatever budget or style or preference you want. I cannot wait to come back here when the world is back to normal! I’m planning to watch the shows especially Cirque du Soleil and to dance in clubs like XS nightclub at the Wynn hotel.

Food and Shopping

Restaurants are all around the Strip and you can find any kind of cuisine. We dined at several restaurants around and I can’t help but marvel at how cosmopolitan everything is. The Golden Steer Steakhouse is the most memorable in our food trip. I simply like their steak! Will definitely be back to eat at the famous Mon Ami Gabi, Gordon Ramsay Fish and Chips, and Cucina by Wolfgang Puck someday. The Forum Shops at Caesars is a must-see to a shopaholic like me. I am a huge fan of high-end stores and The Forum does not disappoint. With it’s almost 700 thousand square foot space, everything that I can think of is housed in this elegant space. I read that it is the highest-grossing mall in the US in terms of sales per square foot. How’s that for good news? I can probably spend a couple of days exploring this and still feel like I haven’t bought anything. LOL!

Trip to The Hoover Dam

Since we’re already in Nevada, we took a side trip to a big destination – The Hoover Dam.  For movie fans like me, this dam is heavily featured in the 2007 movie The Transformers. Remember where they kept Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons? The dam is where the government kept him in “cryostasis suspension since 1935” according to the movie. I would have loved to go underneath and see for myself if somethings from the movie are still there! But seriously, the dam is a mighty power generator on its own. It is a hydroelectric power plant that generates more than 2,000 megawatts in its generators. Hooray for clean energy!
white and brown bridge over river

Other things to do

Like all the other places I’ve visited before, Las Vegas has activities outside of the casinos. There are hiking trails in the Valley of Fire State Park where you can go walking and picnic in the splendor of the great outdoors.  If you’re all about speed, Las Vegas has three unique ways to get your pedal to metal dream come true. There’s Exotics Racing, Speed Vegas, and Dream Racing which will get your heart a glorious workout. Can you imagine going around the track in the sports car of your dreams? You bet I’ll be trying this on next time!
That’s it for my Las Vegas trip this year. I am so looking forward to going around again without the Covid threat. I can’t wait to get the full Las Vegas experience next time!
Until then, keep safe everyone!

California love

San Francisco

After so many hours of travel, I finally reached San Francisco, California. I was so tired that I just have to sleep off the jetlag! But I got a wonderful treat when I finally got my body balanced on land again.

California is bustling with places to go. For my first stop, we went out to see the iconic and breathtaking San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. Almost 2 miles in length, this suspension bridge connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County. The bridge is an enduring legacy that has stood for over eighty years. It is one of the most photographed sites in the world. So thrilled to finally see it! I mean, I’ve only seen it in movies and TV for so long. I can’t help but remember this unforgettable scene in X-men: The Last Stand from 2006, where Magneto magnificently displayed his awesome power by moving the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz Island. Wasn’t that fantastic?

Next to the Golden Gate, I had the most fun riding the awesome cable cars. These are open-air cars resembling a train wagon that tours around the city’s historic neighborhoods. With a little research, I found out that these cable cars have been part of San Francisco since 1873. Andrew Hallidie invented it after he witnessed a tragic accident when a horse-drawn carriage slipped on a steep incline after a rainy day. He sought ways to help navigate the hilly city safely to avoid any more accidents like that. These cable cars are now so intrinsically connected to what makes San Francisco unique.

There are so many sites to see in San Francisco like Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Twin Peaks, the San Francisco City Hall, and Chinatown. I can’t wait to experience the annual festivals like the Chinese New Year parade, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the San Diego Comic-con, and the most epic, Coachella Music Festival.

The best time to visit San Francisco is from April to November as the weather is fantastic. From June to September is the peak season for tourists so be prepared for higher rates in hotels and flights.

Los Angeles

Hollywood sign on top of the hill flanked by trees

Los Angeles! The city of angels where one’s dream of seeing yourself on the silver screen is almost at your fingertips. The iconic Hollywood sign draws everyone who wants to be a star someday. Touring this fabulous city is really so memorable!

First, a little trivia about Los Angeles or more commonly known for its initials – LA. This wonderful city in California is the second-most populous city in the whole of the United States. The first one is, of course, New York. LA boasts of a great climate, a vibrant multi-cultural diversity, and an economy that can rival a lot of the countries in the world! Add on the very glamourous image due to the prevalence of both the film and television industries plus being the home of the Lakers basketball team and you’ll have an idea of how awesome this mega-city is!

A visit to Los Angeles won’t be complete if you don’t get to go around two of the most famous parks in the world – Disneyland and Universal Studios Theme Park Hollywood. Both of them are family-friendly and a total destination by itself. They are huge!

Disneyland has 34 hectares filled with rides and stores. Universal Studios sits on 415 acres of movie theme rides and activities as well. Even with all the ways to go around them, the area is not for the health-challenged.  It would really take you a weekend to fully get around! Book the hotels within the theme parks to get the most out of the experience. That goes double if you’re traveling with your kids or when you’re in a large group.

Around Hollywood

Around Hollywood, you can tour the Chinese Theater, Hollywood Boulevard, and the Walk of Fame where you can take pictures of the bronze stars with the names of your favorite artists.  You should totally plan a whole weekend or more just to go around here.

Next to the Hollywood sign, what makes a girl’s heart thud happily? Shopping, of course! So off I go to one of the most famous shopping districts in the world — Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills! Do you remember that Julia Roberts’ movie “Pretty Woman“? There was a memorable scene there where she was walking around loaded with shopping bags in Rodeo Drive, right? Well, that was me for a day. I get to be Julia Roberts for a while and it was great!

Santa Monica Pier is another iconic California landmark. Blockbuster movies, such as the award-winning movie Forrest Gump from 1994, showed this famous pier. The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant was established here after the movie’s release and they are serving food-related to all things Forrest Gump, of course.

Iron Man from 2008 had an unforgettable scene with the flyby on top of the Santa Monica Pier that Tony Stark did. It was the very first time that Iron Man tested the flying capabilities of the Mark II suit. He specifically zoomed in on the children eating ice cream while on the Ferris Wheel. Who knew Tony Stark lived in California?

Another movie that featured Santa Monica is so close to every girl’s heart: Father of the Bride from 1991. This heart-tugging romantic comedy movie featured the Trinity Church of Santa Monica on the wedding scene. George Banks’ internal monologue in that wedding ranks as one of the best scenes ever made. And that wonderful song, “The Way You Look Tonight” sang by Steve Tyrell is so memorable!  The movie makes me laugh and cry buckets of tears every time.

Here’s a bit of a souvenir. I love how picture-perfect my pose here is! That hand sign is just perfect, right.

Lady making the letters L and A with her fingers with the Santa Monica Pier in the background
Santa Monica Pier

Go to Los Angeles between March to May and between September and November. The temperature will be from the 50s to 80s and will make walking around the different attractions easier.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe view of the lake and trees
Lake Tahoe

Visiting Lake Tahoe was another fun trip for this newly-planted Californian. This lake is inarguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. Just imagine the pristine crisp air and that gorgeous scenery! I can’t wait to experience all of them here!

Summer

Lake Tahoe is an outdoor destination place year-round. During the summer months, kayaking, swimming, hiking, biking, and whitewater rafting are some of the activities that everyone enjoys. There’s also water-skiing, para-sailing. boating, and rafting for all the water babies as well. Tour around the towns and enjoy the local culture when you want to relax. They have art festivals and theaters and even a golf course! You will never run out of things to do here.

June to August is the best time to visit Lake Tahoe to get your summer vacation fun. But be ready for the mass of people converging there as it really is one of California’s go-to spot for summer.

Winter

The cold paints a glorious picture in this magnificent place. The snow alone comes straight out of a greeting card and the whole place becomes a winter wonderland. Winter activities include Skiing, snowboarding, sledding and so many more! The different resorts offer lessons in everything here if you’re a beginner so no need to get worried if you’ve never skied before. The ski hills are also catering to everyone — from beginners to Olympian-level competitors.

Having lived most of my life in a tropical country, this would be a totally different experience for me. I can’t wait to experience my first ever winter in the US!

If you want to see Lake Tahoe in winter, come here at the end of November. The months of December to February is the height of winter. You can expect lots of tourists around this time as well. I was told that the snow will be packed nicely and the place will be perfect. I’ll be sure to blog about my experience soon.

My hope

Living in a new place is a major adjustment for anyone. But transferring to such a multi-cultural city such as California made it easier. I immediately felt at home seeing people of varied nationalities living nearby. It is true what they say – the world is getting smaller every day.

Here’s hoping that Covid-19 will get a vaccine soon so that the world will go back to normal. We’ll all get to enjoy not only group activities again but traveling to different parts of the world will be easier once again.

Stay safe and happy travels everyone!

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and one of the most popular destinations in this part of the world. Showing a country rich not only financially but in its deep culture, it boasts of a grand museum called the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the historical building Fort Qasr Al-Hosn. A megacity like this will also have exciting places to go and they have the ultimate adrenalin venue in Ferrari World.

A trip to Dubai is also a family visit for me as I spent some precious time with my sister and my adorable niece. Here we are in our traditional hijab while in the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. As we are Muslims, we show respect and wear a hijab when we worship. It is very important for me to get in touch with my culture and to share it with everyone who means a lot to me.

 

So, on to more adventures! Stay safe everyone and happy travels!

Beijing – China

Beijing – China’s grand capital

We took the fast speed train to Beijing from Shanghai and stayed at the luxurious The Peninsula Beijing. The same with all the Peninsula hotels worldwide, this branch is ultra-extravagant and well worth its five-star ranking.

Beijing is, of course, China’s center of politics, economics, and culture. The capital has a history that stretched for over 3,000 years. You can see their history is when you see the old structures like the Great Wall. Remember that it was built long before some countries were founded.

One experience I would forever remember is enjoying eating street food like small crabs on HouHai Bar Street which are surprisingly really good. First-time visitors should really try these. I also admired all the people painting art on this street and really wish I could also paint them too.

Screen-Shot-2019-11-12-at-3.00.59-PM

Day 4: 1 day Tour of Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum, Tiananmen Square – Forbidden City, The Great Wall

A visit to the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao Zedong

There was a long line of people who still want to visit the mausoleum of their former leader, Chairman Mao Zedong. We did not line up so we were unable to see the grave itself but you can see from the pictures below how long the line was. He was really a very influential part of their most recent history as their Chairman from 1945 to his death in 1976. The Chairman was a very good ruler and one who had been part of their lives for so long.

Another must-see in China is a visit to the Forbidden City. I found out that this place is home to the Ming and Qing Emperors of ancient Chinese dynasties. It is huge and reputed to be the biggest royal compound in the whole world. The royal museum inside showcases the Imperial family’s awesome collection of ancient Chinese art.

Lastly, we managed to see the famous Tiananmen Square. Surprisingly, “Tiananmen” means The Gate of Heavenly Peace and was built in the 1400s. The flat dimension is perfect for meetings and announcements that still happen even now.

Seeing the amazing Great Wall of China

Long before I can travel extensively, I learned that the Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World from school books, and seeing it for the first time is really like going back in time. It is really amazing and I love how the government did their best to maintain this ancient structure that we can still marvel at even now.

This wall is so long at over 5,000 kilometers and it would take almost two years to walk it from one end but to be exact 18 months. History lessons said that the Chinese built the wall to protect them from invaders. I saw restored guard posts for the soldiers who used to patrol these walls. And I managed to take pictures of what would have been their view. I imagine that this has not changed from all those centuries ago.

The Great Wall

Temple of Heaven Park

Our last day of the tour was in the Temple of Heaven. As in most places in China, the whole area is sprawling! In my picture below is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. There were a lot of tourists and the view of the massive temples are the most perfect backdrop.

This site is where the annual Worship of Heaven ceremony took place. This very important ceremony has a lot of special rules for its preparation including a precise place, time, steps, music, and even the dance that needs to be performed. This ancient ceremony comes a part of the divine right of an emperor. It is a huge part of the religious beliefs of the ancient Chinese.

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Ancient trees

One other lovely spot here is the spectacular trees. It is home to a famous tree called “the grandfather tree” which is said to be several centuries old and aptly named Nine-Dragon Cypress as it has branches like nine dragons winding with each other. The trees are a restful spot and locals use it to perform very graceful morning exercises.

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BORACAY – Philippines

BORACAY

For over a decade now, Boracay has been the crown jewel of the best of the best places in the Philippines to go to. It was named the best island in the world for several consecutive years starting from 2012.

Clear blue seas and white sand beaches drove tourists – local and foreign alike – to bask in its glory. I have always loved the sea and the beaches here are perfect. The local government catered to the needs of the tourists and made sure that there are enough restaurants, hotels, and other accommodation to make Boracay a prime destination for everyone.

Paradise Lost

Sadly, the rampant progress of all the tourism businesses made the once-pristine paradise a cesspool of humanity’s refuse and neglect. The clear water became green with algae and other debris. The beaches got ruined with trash and the noise levels became pollution. The devastation was gradual but it quickly became so much worst. Boracay was almost destroyed.

The current Philippine government put its foot down and closed Boracay for rehabilitation. A lot of people disagreed and there was so much hatred for this move that it was front-page news everywhere. Even with all that, the Philippine’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources pushed through and got the job underway.

The clean up of the beaches from debris and trash was the easiest to be done. Next was to file charges to hotels and other establishments which are dumping their waste directly to the water. It took precious time to do all this! After everyone complied, the seas were scoured for other debris and constantly tested for a safe PH level.

Paradise Return

Finally, after almost a year of rehabilitation, Boracay is once again back to its natural beauty. The government imposed strict rules to ensure that the environment is protected at all times. I am just so proud that the Philippines was able to get Boracay to its glory.

The number of tourists allowed to come to Boracay is now heavily controlled. Plastic is banned — and so are its variations, like straws and bags. All corporate conventions and events are also strictly monitored and heavily discouraged. So for party animals who love the famous May 1 weekend all-night dance event here called “La Boracay“, it morphed to “#LoveBoracay”. The move aims to keep this paradise from denigrating again. Cleaning up and making sure that people comply with the environmental rules on the beach like no smoking on the beach, no drinking liquor, no pets etc..

 

 

PALAWAN – Philippines

PALAWAN

I finally had the chance to visit the world-renown Palawan! It is even more gorgeous in reality than what I’ve read about. Voted as one of the best islands in Asia by CNN Traveller and boasting an honest to goodness UNESCO World Heritage site with the Puerto Princesa Underground River, Palawan is truly one of the best places to go to in the Philippines.

These group of islands angling away to form a modified slash pointing to the main country’s landmass is spectacular. Anywhere you look in Palawan is picture-perfect and no wonder it was named one of the most Instagram-able places when you think of nature.

The whole place is included in the world’s Coral Triangle that covers The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor Leste, and the Solomon Islands. This marine sanctuary is home to 600 different corals, the majority of the marine turtles’ species, and thousands of reef fish. It also boasts of having whales, dolphins and whale sharks in its population.

I found a fun fact for tuna lovers here — this place is one of their most bountiful breeding ground. So technically, we have the Coral Triangle to thank for all those delectable fish.

Puerto Princesa Underground River

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The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in Palawan was declared a UNESCO Heritage site in 1999 as it has “some of the most important forests in Asia” and is a “significant habitat for biodiversity conservation”.
The Underground River is more than eight kilometers of winding ways with a spectacular backdrop of limestone walls and awesome formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Navigating slowly, you will see a spectacular view of an eco-system that’s literally not found elsewhere. The water flows directly under the St Paul Mountain Range and this river system was created millions of years ago. Water flowed its way through the rock creating a vast series of chambers underneath.
Monkeys and monitor lizards are freely roaming around the cave entrance. Inside are bats hanging around the caves so you have to be prepared for the smell of bat “guano”. Naturally, all of those poop causes the area’s pungent smell.

We were ferried by accredited tour guides inside the tunnels of the Underground River. The government strictly monitors all the accredited tour companies to comply with environmental rules. For that reason, an ordinary traveler cannot just go and travel on his own. The tour guides might be an added expense to some but believe me, it will be worth it.

Paradise conservation

At all times, we were reminded that the safety of the ecological sanctuaries is of utmost importance. Simple things like not throwing trash around and taking care not to hurt any of the marine life is already a big help to conserve this paradise.

The whole island of Palawan is an ecological wonderland. Without a doubt, I agree that it truly is one of the best places in the Philippines. Since I love the sea so much, the best part of Palawan is, of course, touring El Nido and Coron.

El Nido

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I was fortunate enough to stay at the gorgeous Miniloc Island Resort for a week and went to different tours every day. The views and the tours that they helped arrange really showcased the best tourist spots in El Nido. Truly worth every peso spent!

There are several tour packages around that you can choose; depending on what time you want to start. I highly recommend going out for the whole experience which starts super early at 5:30 in the morning. Believe me, the sunrise cruise is just unforgettable!
There’s the Small and Big Lagoon tour and Shimizu Island tour where you can swim on the small beaches to your heart’s content. Craving for more adventure? The Dibuluan Beach Club, Lagen Island Tour, or Entalula Beach Club Tours will give you that. They include kayaking, trekking, rock climbing, snorkeling, mangrove kayaking, windsurfing, and Hobie cat sailing. They’re guaranteed to give you an adrenalin rush like no other!

Sunbathing and dive sites

El Nido has clear blue waters all around. Limestone rock formations rise around some of the calmest waters in the world. The most gorgeous small white sand beaches will take your breath away. You can even opt to stay at one of the beaches, sunbathe and enjoy the solitude. Obviously, you shouldn’t swim on your own even if you’re a strong swimmer. Remember, safety in numbers at all times!

For the dive enthusiasts around, there’s nary a spot here where you won’t get your heart’s desire. Newbies or experienced divers can definitely find a site to explore here because of the diversity of the dive sites. The whole place boasts a palette of colorful corals, fish, rays, turtles and an occasional reef shark or two.
One thing is for certain, El Nido will make you appreciate Mother Nature more.

Coron

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Included in the Calamian group of islands in Northern Palawan which separates the Philippine Sea (formerly known as the South China Sea) from the Sulu Sea, is another beautiful tourist spot in Palawan known as Coron island.

The island is considered one of the most famous shipwreck dive sites in the Philippines. Coron is famous for its Japanese era shipwrecks which can be found in the area. Some of the wrecks are just at 10 to 30 feet below the sea level and some are over 120 feet. Divers enjoy going under to see these once-mighty ships now coated in rock formations and seaweed.

The Cleanest River in the Philippines

A trip to Coron will not be complete if you don’t visit Kayangan Lake. Locals dubbed it the cleanest river in the Philippines and I couldn’t agree more. The water is so clear that you can practically see almost all the way to the bottom! The crystal clear water is 70% freshwater and 30% seawater. You can spend the day swimming, snorkeling, or just plain floating in the gentle water.

Vacations wouldn’t be complete without pictures and Kayangan Lake has a convenient view deck to satisfy all your photo memories. Undoubtedly, the view everywhere is spectacular.

Island hopping

There are other islands worthy of a visit when you’re in Coron so take the Island hopping tours. Most of the 80 islands are unpopulated. The gorgeous white beaches are definitely a must for serious sun worshippers and beach campers.

Tourists can also visit the Maquinit Hot Springs. This hot spring is known as the only saltwater hot spring in the Philippines and in Asia as well. Going around the islands can be tiring so a dip into the 40 degrees hot water is a soothing balm to your tired body. The scenery around the springs is also gorgeous with its sapphire blue water and thick mangroves surrounding the area.

Calauit Island

It was in the 1970s when the Calauit Island Wildlife Animal Sanctuary was established. By 1997, the whole island became a sanctuary to protect the animals imported from far Africa from poachers and hunters. Nowadays, giraffes, antelopes, and other wild animals enjoy the safety of the sanctuary. Reports say that they are all thriving and living safely on their own.

Tourists can visit a part of the island and see these animals in their habitat. The sanctuary is popular with families most especially if they have young kids with them.