December was such a busy month that I didn’t notice it passing so quickly. Today is the last day and soon a new year will unfold. And I have almost forgotten to post about my enchanting trip to Kobe Luminarie.
Kobe Luminarie is held every December in which illuminations are built in memory of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which struck Hyogo Prefecture on January 1995. I was still young back then so I didn’t know such a disaster happened in Japan. It must have been very hard during that time in Kobe. But now they have largely recovered and that is very good.
There was a huge crowd of people as expected. Saying it ‘huge’ in this post is actually an understatement. Because it’s so huge and large-scale that they have to slowly direct all these people to the illumination site so there were a lot of walking and detours.
It was really a spectacular sight. Though I must be frank, illuminations are still grander in the Philippines.
And so for the reflections of this past year..
I remember back then, I said during last year’s December that I will definitely have a different Christmas next year. And sure enough it happened. I received many blessings, so many that sometimes I can’t contain my happiness to myself. I am very thankful. I was taking my master’s program from the University of the Philippines during the almost first half of this year, and then I transferred during the second half at Kyoto University.
It was just dream before, going and studying to Kyoto. I didn’t know it could be possible. It’s all thanks to my sensei, he was so kind to accept me in his lab even though my background is different from their research interests. And the lab members are also kind to me, friendly and helpful. And I should note that I am their first and only international student.
I think the most important lesson I learned this year is to believe and to have courage. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here today. I am just so glad. I hope this coming year will also be a blessed one for me. Let’s do our best! 頑張りまあしょう！
Happy New Year! あけましておめでとう！
I was able to participate in a subsidized study tour organized by the Graduate School of Biotudies, Kyoto University targeted for the international students. The tour was destined to Awaji Island by crossing the famous Akashi Kaikyou Bridge connecting the island to the mainland Kobe. We had a fantastic view of the sea, or maybe I was exaggerating it, because it’s been a while since I’ve seen one. I miss the smell and color of the sea!
The main goal of the tour was to learn how to make the Japanese thick chewy noodle “udon”. I actually like udon very much so I was very glad to make our own handmade noodles (although the staff made the dipping broth). The secret for the chewy consistency is kneading the dough several times by stepping on it! Then we cut the dough to 4-mm thick using a cool-looking knife.
After making and eating udon, we went again to the famous bridge and there was a promenade park underneath the structure. I have a bit of fear of heights so I had trouble looking below the glass pane overlooking the sea below. Then we went home after sunset.
That trip was certainly relaxing since I have nothing to do and worry about anything. But one thing I realized is that Kyoto is still more beautiful..
Our dog had a rather comfortable siesta this afternoon while I’m doing some laundry. At least she had a good sleep I just can’t help but sneak a shot.
She’s too adorable!
We went to Baguio City for the second time not really for leisure but because of the project I am currently involved with. Needless to say, we were not able to go to all the scenic spots. Still I enjoyed it very much because I was able to experience its refreshingly chilly air, see the towering pine trees, and visit the public market and buy ridiculously low-priced fresh produce (like lemon!).
It was very rainy (or rather stormy) on the first time we went. We crossed through the Marcos Highway because its safer, but despite that, we were welcomed by a zero-visibility fog and freshly fallen debris. I was only wearing shorts and slippers which was a terrible mistake, and so, I was really shivering due to the cold air enhanced by the storm.
On the second time, we crossed through the Kennon Road because the weather was very fine that day. The scenery is way, way better here than in Marcos Highway! The breathtaking gorges, mountains, rivers are ever-changing while you drove through. My humble camera can’t keep up though with the speed of our travel so I manage to snag only a few decent shots.
The majestic pine trees were also breathtaking. The forests look like a chase scene in Harry Potter and Twilight!
Due to its cold climate, Baguio City is also famous for beautiful flowers that are rarely grown in the lowlands. Like this bright pink hydrangea! It was my first time seeing it with my own eyes, nice.
Though the time was short, I was grateful to spend a relaxing time in Baguio City. I also challenged myself to bear the cold air as I will have to experience even colder temperatures in Japan!
This is a continuation of the previous Camaya post. As I said a while before, spent my time on the beach picking up shells underneath the pebbles, sand grains and waves. I am not too familiar with the seashell terms nor their taxonomy so after gathering, I just grouped them according to their general shape or appearance. They are so pretty to look at! Actually, very few of them still had hermit crabs inside. So the morning after that day, as I laid up the shells under the sun to dry them up and remove the fishy smell, I noticed some dried up hermit crabs upon collecting the shells at noon. Oh well.
Its been my childhood hobby to collect shells. I used to have lots of them before but now they’re all gone because I used them all up in my elementary and high school projects for decorative purposes.
Hooray for beach summer getaway! We went to Camaya beach resort in Mariveles, Bataan just yesterday. Although I am from Bataan, I’ve never been to Mariveles. So it was my first time to experience the steep zigzag roads along the mountains of Mariveles. But we were also welcomed by a beautiful view of rocky mountain formations and terrains. And I could tell that the mountains of Mariveles are teeming with rich flora and fauna. No wonder that researchers conduct regular biodiversity surveys in these areas. During the travel, I saw collared kingfishers, bee eater, some swallows, egret and soaring falcon-liked birds which looked like Brahminy kites.
And here comes the resort experience. Although the beach facilities were generally good, the food was disappointing. The entrance to the resort included an eat-all-you-can lunch buffet, and so since we’re in a beach, I was expecting seafood, dessert, and cold refreshments. However, each guest was only offered rice, pansit and two viands. I was expecting a more lavish menu. And I was not able to pick my own serving (since I eat less than average). The beach wasn’t so great as well. The water was not very crystal clear. There weren’t many intertidal and marine organisms, but of course it was expected since it is a beach resort. But I was still hoping I’d see some sea stars. There were a few jellyfishes though.
I spent all morning and early afternoon under the sun swimming and mostly by collecting sea shells. Collecting sea shells has always been my hobby, however, I’ve been in the beach only a few times. I will make a post soon about the shells I’ve collected.