First Hike Trip of 2015 : Aduan Falls

Your days are your life in miniature. So as you live your day, you live your life. – Robin Sharma

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One of the intentions I set for myself this year is to spend more time with nature. I was surrounded by it in my previous job. I wake up to the howls of the monkeys. I am greeted by the chirping of the birds. I am gently caressed by the mild, cold wind blowing through my window. I am enveloped by the stillness and beauty of the hills.

When I decided to move back to the Philippines and take on a new direction (aka adventure), the setting changed. I am now surrounded by concrete, paved roads and endless honking of cars and all. I miss my life in the hills. But I was so busy last year settling in and making sense of my new surroundings that I forego seeking what I have been yearning.

This year, I told myself to have no excuse. So last Friday, I broached the idea of hiking with some colleagues at work and I got positive responses.

After asking people where the best place to go for this preliminary excursion is, plans were laid and we were ready to go.

February 7, 2015. Saturday.

I almost backed out. The pull of gravity of my bed was so strong that if my colleagues did not sleep over in my place, I would have declared a pass.

7 AM and we were off. Aduan Falls, that is the destination.

It was not that difficult to find the place. After asking several security guards and locals, we found the location. And off we hiked.

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We have only taken a few steps when we all began reeling that what we are doing is such a great idea. It was a beautiful day. The sky is almost cloudless and the horizon is very clear. It was the perfect day to go to the falls.

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The hike took about 1 and a half hours. The guides said it could be less. But since we were not in a hurry, we took our time to enjoy the landscape, appreciate the flowers and of course adjust to the sudden change of activity of our legs. I am used to wearing heels for the last 15 months of my life and putting on a rubber shoes and walking again on sand, rocks and water needs some getting used to.

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The gentle heat from the sun, the soothing coldness from the water and the finale of seeing Aduan falls made the trip all worth it.

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Will I do this again? Definitely.

We’re now coming up with a list of all the hike trails we have in Clark and excited to cross them off one by one before the year ends.

This year is turning out great. I love it.

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Image Source : All photos are taken by the author except for the last 3 which were courtesy of JM Lorenzo.

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Giada’s Cafe and Kitchen

It was a lazy Sunday.

After spending my whole Saturday nursing an unknown illness, the body has recovered and is ready for anything other than lying down.

I decided to have a lunch out.

I haven’t done it in quite a while as most of my lunches are either at parents’ home when I visit them during weekends or at my place with my measured lunch as I am trying to lose weight.

I found myself in Berthaphil, Clark rounding some restos. I zeroed in on Giada’s Cafe and Kitchen.

A lady opened the door and welcomed me. There were only two persons inside that time plus two new customers who came a little over a few seconds before me.

As I got seated and was handed the menu, I looked up and there was no one to take my order. I have to catch the attention of somebody from the counter (there were a lot of them huddled together) so somebody can attend to me.

I asked for the bestseller. The baby back ribs was mentioned as well as the chicken steak. I was waiting for some nice explanation on why but did not get any. Just curt responses.

I ordered barbecue grilled spare ribs and Italian soda, kiwi fantasy flavor.

While waiting for the food, I noticed that the interior looks nice. There is a great wall paper on the far end of the wall, nice cushioned chairs, decors by the counter and some wall art. Music was also being played adding to the place’s ambiance.

What I find distracting though are the people in the counter. There were just too many. Maybe because it wasn’t so busy yet so they can have time to chit chat before crunch time.

Drink and food came.

The Italian Soda – Kiwi Fantasy, I must say tastes refreshing. The lady who served me said it is made from Sprite and some syrup. I saw the bar man pick up a Torani so I am assuming that is where the flavoring came from.

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Then lunch arrived.

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The mashed potato tastes normal and the gravy tastes like it came from a packaging. Too seasoned, maybe. The barbecue spare ribs looks yum and tastes ok. It was the buttered veggies which I enjoyed the most.

For the value relative to the price paid, I would say it is ok. I have tasted similar food at a better price and service.

Will I come back again? Maybe yes.

Or

Maybe not.

Giada’s Cafe and Kitchen is located at Berthaphil III, Clark Center along Jose Abad Santos Avenue, Clark Freeport Zone , Angeles City, Pampanga.

What Did I Do Last Weekend?

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“Over the course of our lives, we only get a few thousand weekends. The most successful people know better than to squander them by laying around or scrubbing the floors.” – Carolyn Cutrone in How Successful People Make The Most Of Their Weekends (link here)

After reading the book of Laura Vanderkram on “What Successful People Do On Weekends”, I was forced to evaluate how I have been spending mine and I have to say many of my Saturdays and Sundays were used mindlessly which leads me to the all time question come Sunday, “Where did my weekend go?!”

As I was in Indonesia when I encountered that book, I don’t have much liberty to plan mine as almost all weekends (and weekdays!) were spent on working. Now that I have the luxury of time, I am more than excited to implement this newfound knowledge on spending my weekends wisely.

This 2014, we have a total of 52 weekends. That is 104 Saturdays and Sundays combined discounting some bonuses from long holidays. That’s 104 days of doing something we have been planning to do if we only have the time but never get to go around. That’s 104 days of spending it just the way we want them. Bliss.

This year, I will try to post as much mindful things I did on weekends. I plan to make my days off matter and do something worthwhile. I know there will be days when I will just be a total bum and laze around but I hope they would be significantly lesser than before.

My weekends will not be full of trips, getaways or expensive entertainment. But instead I hope my weekend will be full of meaningful experiences which will give justice to these precious days.

Let’s make our Saturdays and Sundays matter.

I hope you’ll join me in this experiment of sucking the best out of life. Let’s see how much we can extract the best out of our Saturdays and Sundays.

For starters, I hope you had a great weekend.

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The Tree Feller

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I am demolished in my bed. I don’t want to get up. I am actually feeling a little bit better than yesterday but I don’t want to take the risk (Read:I just want to be lazy today.)

I knew something was wrong when I woke up yesterday morning. The whole body was in pain. I was silently cursing that lady who massaged me the night before. The expat colleague has been raving about this spa next to the hotel in the city where I always stay when I go down from the hills. He said the price is cheap and the service is good. He got that all wrong.

One, I think the price was exorbitantly high. I paid Rp200,000 for a 2 hour massage. Ok, so maybe that is not so expensive. But I was trying to compare it with the massage I had in a 4-star hotel recently which only costed me Rp70,000. But yeah, that’s an hour. Ok never mind. I just want a massage that time and I will pay whatever it costs. But it has to be good.

Two, the service is horrible.

So the masseuse led me to the room. They have this stainless palanggana to wash my feet. So cheap, I was rolling my eyes as I was telling this to the self. Anyway, I was busy BBMing so I just let the matter go.My BB is alive again! But that’s another story.

Then I was led to a room where 4 massage beds separated by curtains are. And I can hear people talking. What the heck?! So much for a relaxing massage. The masseuse started rattling and my Baby Bahasa Indonesia cannot keep up. I have to say hold on, saya tidak orang Indonesia (I am not Indonesian.) And that made her blabber more wanting to find out where I am from. After 3 failed attempts, she has been repeating three countries again and again like those are the only countries in this world with this kind of face, I gave in and said I am Filipino.

Then the massage started. OMG. The lady must be a tree feller in her past life. Her hands were so strong and tough. Grazing them to my body was torture. But the Asian in me did not speak up. When asked if I was ok, I just gave a grunt hoping she’ll get it. She didn’t. And that’s 2 hours of wincing. Ok, maybe one and a half hours as she tends to go out from the room from time to time for I don’t know reason. I felt like I am being cheated for my hours but it gave me respite from her ax hands.

What I hate the most about people in the service industry is when they blatantly ask for a tip. This one is that kind. I have barely recovered from my self-inflicted punishment and was fumbling down the stairs in a heady state when she said, “Miss, tips.”

I could have been mean right there and then but I did not (which I regret). I fished through my pocket and gave her more than necessary. I just promised the self I will never be back in that spa ever again.

So, long story, when I woke up the following day (that was yesterday), the expected happened. The whole body was aching and the worst part is I have to pack and check out from the hotel. I have to go up to the hills that morning and endure that 4-hour semi-bumpy ride.

I knew something was wrong when I was having breakfast in the hotel resto and the food makes me want to puke. I eat those food all the time. But that time, I only had a few spoonfuls. I thought it will go away when the body realizes it is awake. It didn’t.

The driver picked me up and the pain just worsened with that uphill climb. I was dragging myself to my room when I arrived in the hills.

So yes, I am still in my bed. Today is supposed to be a workday for me. I have tons of things to do. But what the heck. I am going to laze around eating my bubur ayam (porridge) until the sun goes up again tomorrow.

The story of my life.