Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Intensity That Was 2013

2013: most intense year of my life to date, I would say. It's the year when life had me thrown around (both literally and figuratively).

It started with my grandmother's passing, then an issue with a person I used to date and then a failure to attain that goal which I had worked so hard for. Triple kill during the first month of the year.

I resigned from my teaching job, my first job. I quit graduate studies. I got recruited into a new job in a different industry. I am now a developer for a startup software and web development company.

I went to Baguio, Kuala Lumpur, Nepal, Hong Kong, Macau and Siem Reap.

breakfast with friends at 50's Diner in Baguio

a 10-hour stopover in KL allowed me to visit the Petronas Towers

at Bhaktapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu, Nepal

the Hong Kong skyline

at The Venetian Macau

at a wall near Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia

I went beach camping in Nagsasa Cove in Zambales with three of my co-participants from last year's Summer Course (including Rachel who came all the way from Texas!)

Nagsasa Cove with friends from SC2012

I got hit by a car while crossing C.P. Garcia Street. I was in the hospital for two days. I suffered a concussion, bruises, wounds, a sprain and a nasal fracture which required a surgery. It was my first surgery (if you don't count a wisdom tooth extraction).

First journal publication, co-authored with my SC2012 teammates.

I went to Japan for a summer program hosted by The University of Tokyo, which I initially didn't think I'd be accepted into. There I met a bunch of really smart people from all over the world. I had time to hangout with my American friend Rachel again (in Kamakura, this time). I visited Filipino friends Ma'am Cherry and Kyle. I bought a yukata and learned how to wear one by myself. I did a homestay program in Tono City, Iwate Prefecture (for one night lol). I also went to the public bath not once, not twice but three times! Woot!

I met amazing people at The University of Tokyo's summer program
photo taken from my Indonesian classmate Ita

I had a lot of difficult moments. I cried many times. There were days when I thought I couldn't handle things any more... but I didn't give up. And now, despite everything, I feel that there's a lot to be thankful for.

Dear 2014, please be kind to me. (And please, dental braces be gone this year!)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Siem Reap Last Day Diary

Some photos from my last day in Siem Reap.

I had lunch at Blue Pumpkin

Cambodian fried rice ($5.00)


Blue Pumpkin is pretty neat. Great place to hang out!

I also saw a Batman tuktuk!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cooking Khmer-style

When I was in Siem Reap, I enrolled myself to a Cambodian cooking class at Le Tigre de Papier restaurant in Pub Street. It was only $13.00 for a four-hour class that includes making your choice of appetizer, main entree and dessert. You also get to eat everything you cook after the class. Super worth it!

Before starting, our teacher Sam-An took us to the old market (which is very close to Pub Street). It practically looks the same as the wet markets here in the Philippines so it was not very new to me. It was interesting, though, seeing my American classmate Jen's reactions when she saw certain foodstuffs for the first time.

For the appetizer, I chose to make Cambodian green mango salad.

dressing for the Cambodian green mango salad

For the main entree, I made shrimp amok. Did I ever mention how much I like Cambodian amok? It's basically like curry with coconut milk. The interesting thing about the amok I made in this cooking class is that I did not use curry or amok powder. The spices used (galanggal, finger root, turmeric, etc.) were fresh! The turmeric actually left my fingers with a yellow-orange color for a day lol.

For dessert, we had mango sticky rice. It's basically a Cambodian version of the Filipino biko topped with mango slices.

Top: my classmate Jen made pumpkin soup and chicken curry
Right: the mango sticky rice

Writing this post makes me crave for Cambodian food!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Apsara Dancers in Cambodia

I spent my last night in Siem Reap doing one of the common activities there: watching Apsara Dancers while having dinner in one of the restaurants along Pub Street.

I say, with the show, the dinner was actually worth it.

Wintermelon soup for dinner ($6.25)

After the show, I stuck around Pub Street a bit more and looked for a place to have dessert. I ended up with chocolate mint ice cream and a passionfruit cheesecake (which was too sour for my taste lol).

$3.00 dessert

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Temple Photodump

I spent my third day in Siem Reap visiting the Angkor temples again. This time, aside from my former ICE co-instructor Harold, I also shared the tuktuk with two people we met at the guesthouse: Babke from Amsterdam and Killian from Nova Scotia, Canada. Traveling with new friends is fun, don't you think?

Prea Khan

Neak Pean

Ta Som

Western Mebon

Banteay Samre

Banteay Srei

Pre Roup

Phnom Bakheng, our last stop. We had to trek to the temple. It was tiring but I really enjoyed it especially since it was cloudy so it wasn't very hot.

There are elephants below that can take you up if you don't want to trek (for a hefty price, of course). I kind of don't know how to feel about these elephants, though.

Anyway, if you're gonna trek and you're worried that you'd be walking beside huge elephants, don't-- the elephants use a different trail from humans.

They say Phnom Bakheng is famous for viewing the sunset. Unfortunately, we were there at around 3pm and it wasn't wise to wait there until sunset. There were dark clouds too so thinking that it might rain, we didn't stay long. And we were right, it did rain VERY hard as we headed back to the guesthouse. However, despite not being able to see the sunset, I still enjoyed the great view from Phnom Bakheng.

Another amazing thing about Phnom Bakheng is that you will be able to see Angkor Wat from there!