Sunday, October 25, 2020

Strolling at the Garden of Dreams

A Garden in the city makes life more balanced and achieves a healthier lifestyle. It's a breath of fresher air amidst the toxicity.

And with an urban garden in the city center, I was fortunate to have an afternoon stroll in the fully restored Garden of Dreams in Kathmandu, Nepal, in August 2013. It reopened to the public six years after several decades of closure.

Kathmandu's lifestyle may be less lavish than in big cosmopolitan cities. But it has the best culture and its people. 

The entire city of Kathmandu blends cultural heritage and a modern society due to its preserved structures like monuments and temples and the restoration of public places like the Garden of Dreams and other modern infrastructures.

As I strolled inside the walled garden, I suddenly experienced serenity due to the absence of noise surrounding the bustling city. It was 5 minutes from the hotel where I stayed, so I got to visit and unwind.

The Walled Urban Garden

What's noticeable about the garden is its European-style architecture since its restoration with the help of the Austrian Government. It has features like six pavilions representing the '6 seasons of Nepal' and where the place got its second name, the "Garden of the Six Seasons." 

The garden has a veranda, fountains, and a pergola, giving it a European vibe. Also, the Amphitheater is where visitors can sit or lie down to chat or read a book. Such a relaxing scene.

The Amphitheater

European-inspired pergola

The flowers, shrubs, and trees make it greener. And it's beautiful since well maintained by several caretakers. It's clean, green, and rejuvenating.

I appreciate art, so I spent time at the gallery and conversed with the locals. That was a meaningful encounter as I learned more about their culture. 

Café by the garden

That was a delightful afternoon stroll at the Garden of Dreams, and before leaving, I had a cup of cappuccino as I reflected and planned for my next journey around Kathmandu.

The Garden of Dreams is true to its name. It's a sophisticated garden of its time and became more beautiful after its restoration. Urban dwellers need green space for leisure, and hopefully, more cities will adapt to this kind of garden that offers respite to the people from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Garden of Dreams. The Garden of the Six Seasons. A garden for the soul.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Gaddi Tribe of Naddi Village

When I step foot in Dharamshala, I'll have a pleasant vacation with its friendly vibe. That was a long 12 hours bus ride from New Delhi, India, and I promised my stay would be worth it, like a lifetime vacation.

The emotion is still alive whenever it flashes back to my soulful journey in the lower Himalayan foothill of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. Seven years have passed, but the memories still live on.

A little rain greeted me at the bus station in McLeod Ganj as I looked for a taxi heading to the hotel in Naddi Village -- the home of the Gaddi Tribe.            

That was a cold and shivering early morning check-in at around 7 a.m., so I unpacked my things, had a little rest, enjoyed a cold shower, had my first breakfast, and got ready for my first day of tour and adventure in the land of the Tibetans-in-exile in McLeod Ganj.

I spent four days exploring McLeod Ganj and saw and heard from The Dalai Lama when he talked about his place in the Tsuglagkhang temple.

McLeod Ganj was the town center, but it was in Naddi Village where I enjoyed the serenity. That was a blissful experience.

Just a few steps away from the hotel where I stayed in the home of the sweet and gentle Naddi tribe. I've met several Gaddi people, including children and adults, and learned about their culture, livelihood, and living conditions. A little interaction but a meaningful observation.

An effortless yet joyful and soulful living in the mountains. When I met them downhill, the Gaddi people, mostly shepherds, took care of their flocks and did their morning activities.

Little kids are courteous with their rosy cheeks and smiling faces. They are now grown up to be a refined young lady and gentleman. 

In Naddi View Point, near the hotel, I finally had a closer view of the Dhauladhar range. I had never seen such a beautiful mountain. A solemn moment, so peaceful, and the snow-capped peak is just incredible.

Even when I'm back at the hotel, I can't get over that experience. I've been to some of the mountains in the Philippines, but seeing the Dhauladhar range is purely captivating

I was finally in the Middle Himalayas. A dream turned into a reality.

A heaven and earth experience that I'll cherish and reminisce about for a lifetime. From then, I promised I'll be back in the future, and I just hope it will come true.

The hotel's roof deck restaurant is where I get the most beautiful view of the Dhauladhar as I have breakfast. It's a picturesque view as if heaven is real. India is genuinely the Home of the Gods, and I felt the Divinity of the place. A soulful solitude in a paradise closer to heaven.

I will never forget Dharamshala. A wondrous place in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. I will always remember the beautiful and natural scenery and never forget the Naddi people of Naddi Village.

India has a prominent place in my heart. I have learned much about the places and met soulful and endearing people like the Gaddi of the Naddi Village. When the Kingdom of heaven is on earth, it would have been there in the Dhauladhar, and I've met God there and live forever here in my heart.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sweet Smiles of the Negrense

The Negros Island in the Philippines. Home of the sweet smiling people, or we call them Negrense or Negrosanon.

In December 2014, after my Journey in the city of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, I took almost 7 hours of land travel going to Bacolod, the capital city of Negros Occidental. 

From the Eastern to Western Negros, I had a journey after a fulfilled short visit to the "City of Gentle People" in Dumaguete.

I was undoubtedly in the land of the 'sweet and charming' people since I was at the sugar center of the Philippines... The Negros Island. 

From Dumaguete to Bacolod, you'll see the massive plantations of sugarcane on both sides of the road, passing by several cities.

Yes, Negros Occidental is the province of the Philippines with the most cities, primarily due to its prosperous sugar industry

The sugar industry is so huge that they supply the entire Philippines and even exports it to other countries.

Arriving in Bacolod after a long journey on a bus, I was greeted with a Negrense brand of hospitality, a sweet smile, and a pleasant melodious voice.

I'm in Bacolod! The City of Smile and the home of the famous "Maskara Festival."

That was my 5th time visiting Bacolod, and I love returning to one of the most highly urbanized cities and one of the most livable cities in the Philippines.

In Bacolod and the entire Negros, people live a good life no matter what challenges they may be going through; they still keep on surviving and never forget to smile.

My highlight of the visit to Negros Island was a day tour of "The Ruins," which is an Italian-inspired architectural mansion built in the early 1900s and was burned during world war 2.

Garden by the ruins

A mansion built with the love of a wealthy Sugar baron to his Portuguese wife. The love story is just as romantic as the heritage of "the ruins." 

Sweet as the Negrense, they produce sweet products, most of which are my favorite. Muscovado sugar is the healthiest of its kind and an ingredient in making sweet delicacy like "Piaya and Pinasugbo," which is two of the most popular and a-must try delicacy if you visit Bacolod and Negros Island. 

After the pandemic, I hope to try the sweet smiles again. When the world loses its smiles, the Negrense will always give their most adorable smiles to anyone. During this time, that's all we need -- a sweet smile.

The people of Negros Island are some of the most refined and kind people I've met. Beyond their sweet smiles, they deserve a precious life. A life that is full of hope, meaning, and inspiration.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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👉Campus Tour at the Silliman University

👉The Ruins and the Love Story

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Campus Tour at the Silliman University

In Eastern Negros Island is where you can find the "City of gentle people" and it's the city of Dumaguete in the province of Negros Oriental, Philippines.

In December 2014, I fulfilled my desire to visit Dumaguete and see the first American learning Institution in the Philippines and Asia- Silliman University.

Upon the invitation of the student government organization, I delivered a talk about "Balancing Life Strategies" and "Stress Management" to their officers and select staff.

That was a memorable talk with full attention and the desire to learn from the student leaders. If I had more time, I could have given another speech to some faculty and staff members. 

But a day visit to Silliman University is only complete with a campus tour. The different departments, historical and iconic buildings, chapel, open grounds, and library are from the entrance to the exit gates. The campus is truly an ideal and conducive place for higher learning.

At the Silliman University Library

At the Silliman Hall

I was impressed with the clean green campus. The tree-lined Acacia provides cool shade plus the windy breeze from the sea; indeed, they have the best campus in town and one of the best in the country.

Silliman University faces the sea. You can stroll the baywalk along Rizal Boulevard with just a few minute walks. That windy breeze makes a good place for walking along the boulevard. That's the place where I reminisced about the time when I was a student in college. Those times when I had full of hope and dreams, just like any student would.

I hope to revisit Dumaguete and enter the famous Silliman University. To experience the politeness and friendliness of the students and their genuine hospitality.

As I remember, in higher learning, we aspire for growth and have the burning desire to achieve our most cherished hopes and dreams. Those times when we have enough energy and passion for learning.

Those student leaders I've met may now achieve excellence in their chosen fields. They may now be living their dreams and unleashing their untapped potential. They may now live their most extraordinary life and follow their ultimate heart's desire.

Learning continues after stepping out of College or University. It's a continuous process and a lifelong journey. We continue to learn along the way as we embark on challenges and achieve new career and life milestones.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay