Showing posts with label Travel Inspirations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel Inspirations. Show all posts

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Reaching for Cloud 9 in Antipolo


What a great 360-degree view in Antipolo. The city's highest point is really on a cloud nine; a heaven in the city.

As I waited for the sunset, I am so thankful for the chance to see the panoramic view of Antipolo City and the magnificent skyline of Metro Manila.

The city of Antipolo, province of Rizal is blessed for its higher elevation and proximity from the Philippine National Capital Region, Metro Manila. It can be reached in less than an hour and you'll be greeted with its cool and windy climate.


I like the city vibe of Antipolo. It's cool, clean and peaceful city. The people are friendly and very welcoming to the tourists. No doubt that it's a favorite weekend getaway of people from Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

The cloud 9 hotel and restaurant is my favorite spot in Antipolo. I had a sumptuous lunch after a short day trip around the city. The wide open restaurant in the sky serves delicious Filipino dishes and is a favorite destination of foodies, including returning Filipinos who's in the country for a vacation. Filipinos' best is definitely being served in the sky and the Cloud 9 restaurant never fails to give a lasting impression.

The best 360-degree view is on the hanging bridge and reaching the tower on the other side. A romantic appeal to families, lovers and friends. It's wonderful.
But the place isn't just for romantic couple. It attracts families, group of friends and even solo traveler. Everyone enjoys the scenery. Wait until the dusk and you'll be captivated by the purple hues of the sky; even more romantic if someone is on the side.

The Cloud 9 is a reminiscent of "The peak" in Hong Kong, but the former is truly a Filipino pride. I enjoyed it. I love it and I'll surely come back for more.

Life is good and we're bestowed with Divine grace. As we reached the peak, we pause for a while, close our eyes, hold on with breathing and simply breathe out. And as we open our eyes, we see the magic happens in the cloud nine.

©️ 2021 Del Cusay

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Invigorating Walk at the Lodi Garden


It's a great feeling when ancient architectural wonders are well preserved and restored. Those structures were built to last and tells a tale as old as time.

In New Delhi, India, I was happy to visit a 15th-century tomb that's a combination of a Hindu and Islamic architecture. That was a decade ago on my first visit to India in 2011.

Ancient tombs in India are grand and built with love. It says something about their character, their status and power in the society. 

Lodi Garden was named after Sikander Lodi who was an Afghan Sultan of Delhi Sultanate from the Sayyid dynasty that ruled places in Northern India like Punjab and including modern-day Pakistan. Together with 3 other rulers, their remains are laid on the tomb on this beautiful gardens.

I have a deep admiration with a Hindu and Islamic architectures as it reveal certain charm and character. Its artistic expressions are evident of the detailed carvings and designs.

That was a soulful moment when I strolled in the garden, touch the surfaces of well-preserved structures and feel the vibe back in time.

Lodi garden is a great place for a morning walk and exercise. There were many Delhites who are fitness enthusiasts when I visited. It's a solemn place to unwind, to sit on the grass, do some yoga and meditation. The surrounding is cool and clean and has a beautiful landscape and greeneries. It's truly relaxing and invigorating.

In our modern day world and with the advancement in architecture and technology, people will appreciate and value the history and culture. It's truly valuable and priceless. It deserves recognition and respect. And so I did.

I had meaningful moments at the Lodi garden. The history and culture is what  fascinates me. That's how I deeply appreciate a place of such a very high historical value. It leaves a lasting memories and a pleasant reminisce.

©️ 2021 Del Cusay

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Stairway to the Ruins in Macau

 

The former British colony, Hong Kong brought a wonderful surprise for my parents as we explored the vibrant cosmopolitan in the East. And so, at the end of the 4-day trip, we had one last stop, and that was a-day visit and tour in a neighbor special administrative region, Macau.

Just an hour and a half ferry ride from Hong Kong and we were greeted with "Bienvenido" or welcome in Portuguese language. Macau is a former Portuguese colony and its preserved buildings and other structures are reminiscent of European heritage.

I always love cultural and heritage preservation, and Macau is home to a famous World heritage site, the Ruins of St. Paul.

On the early morning before heading to the airport for our flight back to the Philippines, we had a walking tour from our hotel going to the Ruins. It was just a close proximity of about 15 minutes walk until we've reached the Senado square; just few steps away from the Ruins.

That was in September 2016. A surprise made possible in  celebration of the 64th birthday of my Mother. That was our first travel abroad as a family and so it was truly memorable.


The St. Paul Cathedral in Macau was built in the 17th century and was destroyed by fire in the 19th century, leaving the faรงade as the Ruins.

But even on its ruins state, it's still beautiful and truly a work of art, just like the great churches of European craftsmaship. People of different creed come to visit, and it attracts both local and international tourists eager to see and know the history behind the ruins.


Most of the Churches destroyed by natural and man-made disasters were rebuilt or restored, but the Ruins of St. Paul in Macau had just preserved a piece of the structure. 

With the heritage preservation effort, it was not demolished for the people of the world to see and appreciate the once largest Cathedral in Asia.


Macau may have been transformed into a bustling metropolitan, with the beautiful lights from its mega and ultra modern structures, but it didn't forget it's history and culture.

Macau felt like a cultural city, where its people live in simplicity amidst modernity. In the years to come it may completely transform to be much progressive metropolis, but it will have a unique identity with a blend of cultural influence from the East and the west.



We may not have explored much about other interesting sites in Macau, but we've seen one of the greatest image structures of our faith. 

The stairway to Ruins of St. Paul will always be a memorable travel experience. It leaves an imprint in our hearts and it makes the whole experience worth remembering.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Kathmandu Valley and the lost Kingdom

 

The check-in counter was almost closed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport when I arrived in a hurried mode. That was like an episode of amazing race. The good thing is, I'm able to check-in and board the plane successfully. And my destination was, the old Kingdom of Nepal. 

I got excited upon leaving India to see its neighbor country in the north after my 6 months of stay in India. For almost a week-long stay, I'd imagine how it's like to live in Kathmandu valley surrounded by the wonderful Hilamayan mountains. And that was awesome to have a glimpse from thousand feet high above and upon descending of the plane. 

Kathmandu City was a bit dry and dusty as I took a cab from the airport going to the downtown area for a hotel check-in. I needed to prepare for a walking tour within the vicinity just to see and observe the daily living of the Nepalese people. 

Since I've stayed in the heart of the city, places of interest were almost walking distance. The mall, park, pond, temples, street bazaar and durbar square were nearby and I've started my journey on my first day.

My impression of Kathmandu, is a city of friendly and kind people. From the hotel staff, the sales people in the mall and street bazaar, the kids in durbar squares, the security personnel in tourist sites, the cab drivers and the random people I've met were all friendly and conversant.

I was thinking that it's their character to be congenial since they rely heavily on tourism and they have to give that great impression to every tourist they meet. 

The other cities like Lalitpur and Bhaktapur is what comprises the Kathmandu valley, and it's overlooking on the heritage site on top of a hill. The Swayambhunath offers a breathtaking view of the Kathmandu valley on a bright sunny day and clear blue skies.

Swayambhunath was my first stop among the World heritage sites recommended by my tour guide and I was amazed by the old structures and the presence of monkeys everywhere, hence it's also known as the Monkey temple.

I was happy to have visited one of the oldest heritage sites built in the 5th century, long before the birth of Buddhism in Nepal. But then, I've known that Nepal was an old country just like India, and so they have these heritage structures back in the early days of civilization.

Nepal is great nation, and once ruled by a King when it was still an absolute monarchy. However, it ended in 2008 on a constituent assembly creating a federal democratic republic.

I've learned about the culture, tradition and the way of living of the Nepalese people. It may not be as extravagant and as developed as other world cities, but it has a natural charm and a calming presence to the tourists.

In as much as I'd want to discover more about Nepal, but my almost week-long vacation ended, and time for a re-entry to India.

I've created meaningful memories on a short visit and it has a lasting impression on my heart. Nepal is simply amazing, its charm is everlasting.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay


Related Post:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Strolling at the Garden of Dreams

๐Ÿ‘‰ Kathmandu: The gems and the lost Treasures

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Walking Tour in Mumbai

 

I had a terrible experience in Mumbai and that's something unforgettable. I believe the city is the financial and cultural capital of India and so it's  one of the finest and richest cities. 

But with its glamour comes the downside of a bustling city life for the Mumbaikars. It's the chaos of daily living just like other major world megacities. And with a month-long stay in Mumbai, I couldn't help to stay much longer. I had enough of the good times and the bad times.


From the district of Bandra where I stayed was a busy scene of street commerce, where businesses are laid on the streets mostly of ready to wears, colorful garments and other personal products. I didn't bring much clothes from New Delhi so that I could buy something new from Mumbai, but then I haven't bought a new Kurta, but just few shirts for 150 rupees each and a new pair of shoes in a Nike outlet store in Bandra. That's all I needed for my walking tours around the streets and downtown areas of Mumbai.

In Bandra, I would take a daily walk along the bandstand passing by the mansion of Shah Rukh Khan, one of the famous Bollywood actors. During that time the Bollywood "Walk of Stars" was just newly installed with the name of other stars like Kareena Kapoor whom I've known from the movie "3 Idiots" and other celebrities whose name and body marks are inscribed and moulded-- their version of the Hollywood "Walk of Fame."


On some days, I would travel by cab from Bandra passing through the Bandra-Worli Sea Link; a majestic bridge connecting the 2 most important districts of Mumbai and the gateway to the downtown area where the world heritage sites are located.

I would passed and got intrigued with tower mansion of the Ambanis; India's most prominent and richest family and business tycoon. That's a billion dollar house in the most expensive real estate location in Mumbai.


As I reached the old downtown area, my walking tour started with appreciating the old European structures like the Gateway of India and the the magnificent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, both rich in colonial history built during the British Raj.

I enjoyed the gallery viewing inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. From its construction, the Royal visits, and the terrorist attack, I learned a piece of its glorious as well as gruesome history.


One day, I travelled by train from Bandra going to Christchurch station, and I had a horrible experience with ticketing system on which I got into trouble. Luckily, I survived and continued the journey exploring the cricket field around University of Mumbai and the nearby areas where I made an escape from another trap. Still, I manage to enjoy watching students playing a cricket -- a popular Indian sports similar to baseball.


Most of the days were spent in Bandra and so I explored the streets. There were days I enjoyed a cup of cappuccino in a cafรฉ, and some days I visited the nearby churches to pray, and also I visited a church on a hill top which is a short distance car ride via the Hill Road.

Before I left Mumbai, I haven't found the Bollywood. It's not a place, but it's a film center. I understand, they're the largest producer of films in the world and I've watched some of Shah Rukh Khan and Amir Khan films not in Mumbai, but in the cinema in Delhi. There's more to Bollywood in Mumbai, but unluckily I had enough.

That was a month-long of stay and I've learned not just about the place, but also about the people, culture, food, music, and lifestyle.

Mumbai has a colorful heritage and history and whenever I have a chance to come back in the future, I wish it would be much wonderful and truly memorable.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Bollywood and Mehandi Night in New Delhi


An Indian wedding would last for 3 days. That's a very long celebration, and yes! could also be expensive if it's made to be grandiose event.

In New Delhi, I was invited to attend the mehandi night which is like a pre-wedding celebration a day before the actual wedding ceremony.

Mehandi night is fun and a colorful celebration of love between the couple, together with their families, relatives and friends. 

In a Hindu culture, the bride has to apply a red-orange mehandi or a henna tattoo on her back of hands, palms and  feet. I have witnessed the actual application of mehandi which really takes time. It's an art for the bride and it's beautiful and attractive to the eyes of the groom for sure.


Mehandi night was a joyous moment to everyone present on the event. Dance and Bollywood music all night long with the couple being the center of attention as they made a couple dance and surrounded by family and friends.

I love Bollywood music. It's upbeat and so alive. The live performances from invited Bollywood artists were really fantastic. I had fun. Really an enjoyable and unique wedding experience to remember.


Of course Indian wedding is also about food and delicacy, with the finest cuisine from all over India. The buffet meal was really great while listening to the soulful Bollywood music and get entertained.

Mehandi night has a casual lounge feel with colorful pillows and cloths everywhere. I had a wonderful conversation with other guests and I have learned more about their Indian wedding culture.



Mehandi night is full of vibrant colors, from the traditional Indian clothes to decorations, it's really an extravagant, but a momentous moment.

The wedding venue was decorated with fresh flowers all over. It's like a night of fantasy -- a fairytale.

An awesome and magical night. It was a pure and magical delight.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Living with the Gods in McLeod Ganj


A balanced living where nature meets progress and development. A place that's a blend of culture and faith.

These are the Indians and the Tibetans, living in harmony with the Gods in McLeod Ganj.

Back in February 2013, I've traveled a distance to be with the Gods in McLeod Ganj. They call it "little Lhasa" since it has a large population of Tibetans-in-exile" since 1959 when the Indian Government accepted them and gave them a place to put up their own Government while in exile. 

That's only in India. Accepting refugees in a warm embrace and protecting their rights, safety and security. 

And the greatest love is the Indian Government's support with their expression of faith -- the Tibetan Buddhism.

In McLeod Ganj, I've met The Dalai Lama, the Spiritual leader of the Tibetans-in-exile. I was lucky to have met him on his residence when he gave a talk about "Jataka Tales" to the local and international pilgrims.

I'm a Christian, but I was exposed to the major religions in India for more than a year of stay. I studied and incorporated on the practice of my own faith.

I believe that the world would be a better place if we're not fixated with our religious affiliation. When people would tend to fight for their faith as the best and the only true faith, I would try to learn and understand deeply others' faith.

I befriend people of different background and faith in India. It's about respect and understanding and not about prejudice and religious superiority. 

With the universal God, we're all equal, it just happened that God appeared in different places and time in a completely different images depending on the culture and language unique to each country.

When I was in India, their Gods are my Gods. The Gods and the Goddesses in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity. All are Gods, but also a universal God.

In McLeod Ganj, I felt the Divine Beings; the Gods of the Tibetans and the Indians. It was different images, but I prayed to their Gods on its universal form.

As I entered the Namgyal Monastery, it was a heaven on earth experience of being one with the Divine. It didn't make me less as a Christian, but it helped me strengthen and appreciate my faith even more. 

That's why major religions thrive in India and they learn to live in harmony with reverence to each other's faith.

My visit to Himachal Pradesh was Divinely- inspired. It was a solo travel with my deepest faith to the Divine guides. 

Whether you're a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim and a Christian, we're all brothers and sisters here on earth. We have a common humanity. Your suffering is also my suffering.

And so what we need most during these difficult times is a shared humanity where we pray for each other with no boundaries, no religious affiliations, no prejudice and no discrimination.

Just love...

Because our love to humanity is our love of God. 

So it is.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Strolling at the Garden of Dreams


A Garden in the city makes life more balanced and achieve a healthier lifestyle. 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; just 6 years after it was reopened to the public after several decades of closure.

Kathmandu's lifestyle may not be as lavish as compared to big cosmopolitan cities, but it has the best of culture and its people. 

The entire city of Kathmandu is a blend of a  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 troll inside the walled garden, I was greeted with serenity due to the absence of noise surrounding the bustling city. It was just about 5-minute walking distance from the hotel where I stayed, so I got the chance to visit and unwind.

The walled Urban Garden

What's noticeable about the garden is its European style architecture since it was restored with the help of the Austrian Government. It has features like 6 pavillions which represents the '6 seasons of Nepal' and where the place got its second name, the "Garden of the Six Seasons." 

The garden has a veranda, balustrades, fountains and pergola giving its European vibe. Also, the Ampitheater is where visitors can sit or lay down to have some chat or to read book. Such a relaxing scene.

The Ampitheater

European-inspired pergola

The flowers, shrubs and trees makes it greener and beautiful as it is well maintained by the number of caretakers. It's clean, green and rejuvenating.

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

Cafรฉ 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 reflect and plan for my next journey around Kathmandu.

The Garden of Dreams is true to its name. It's really a sophisticated garden of its time, and became more beautiful when it was fully restored. Urban dwellers need a green space for leisure and hopefully more cities will adopt to this kind of garden offering respite to the people from the hustle and bustle of a city life.

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

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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