Showing posts with label nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nature. Show all posts

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Maryland 2012: The Perks of Autumn

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Here in the Philippines, where I live, there are only two seasons in a year, the dry and wet seasons.  In my opinion, I think they are the hot and warm seasons.  So imagine my delight when I got sent to mainland United States for the first time (Hawaii was the first State that I visited and shared with you here, but it's so tropical, it felt like being in the Philippines still).  To make this more exciting, I was scheduled to go during autumn, which would be my first cold-weather experience.

As you know, I've covered most of my experience in my New York series in five previous posts.  In those posts, I dressed up in full autumn gear but the surroundings were not that... well, autumn-y.  Here, somewhere near Olney, MD, I saw the countryside and the autumn sights and colors that I was craving for.

The best thing about being here in Maryland is being with my cousins, nieces, and nephew.  We haven't seen each other in years!  They knew I wanted to experience something "American" and so took me to a pick-your-own apple farm.

In this particular farm, you can eat as much apples as you want for free but you have to pay for those you take home.  

This photo below is proof of what I'm saying.  Hyperbolic-ally speaking, there's nothing more satisfying than taking a bite of an apple you picked yourself.

There were many kinds of apples other than the red ones and green ones, so I've been told.  Fuji apples are still the most delicious ones. I should know, I tried them all.  Fuji apples are the reddish ones I took a picture with above.  But I did have a penchant for picking the green ones, or the granny smiths kind, only because my favorite color is green.

This was probably the itty-bitty Braeburn apple.  I finished it in three bites.

To know more about the kinds of apples, I found this page very helpful.

Here we are paying for our "to-go" apples.  Thank you cousins, for this unique American experience!  It made me sort of reminisce our childhood (well, my childhood and your teenhood :)) when we picked Indian mangoes each summer and ate them with soy sauce or bagoong.  Good times.

Marching back, mission accomplished.

But that doesn't end there.  Autumn, after all, is also the Halloween season.

Here I was taking a picture with soon-to-become jack-o-laterns or pies.  Either way, pumpkins represent Halloween as much as candy and ghosts do.

I was having so much fun with all the weirdly shaped and sized pumpkins. Some were cute, some were gargantuan.  And this one was outright peculiar.

Inside the red barn were more fresh market produce.

Rainbow-colored licorice sticks at the check-out counter.

What an amazing autumn experience that was!  I loved that it's not something I can do or try here in the Philippines.  It might not be a typical tourist activity but it was unique and it's like an immersion in the Western culture that we're already so familiar with.

Want to pick your own apples?  Here is the list of farms within Maryland.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

New York City 2012: The Refreshing Green That is Central Park

If downtown Manhattan explodes with electrifying energy, it needs to be balanced by something more serene... Something like Central Park. Whatever sins the city committed to Mother Earth, it made up for it in the form of a refreshing green space that expanded across 50 blocks and 3 avenues. I never fully grasped the vastness of Central Park until I was there walking for a considerable length of time and realized I haven't seen half of it. 

I entered the Park from 5th avenue corner 84th street and cut across to Central Park West Avenue.  Fifth Avenue in itself is a sight to marvel.  I wish I lived in one of the penthouses.

Outside of the Park is the Metropolitan Museum of Art... as in the Met... as in the Met steps... as in the steps where Constance Billard girls would hang out after school.  I forgot if I wore a headband intentionally,just to give tribute to the Queen Bee, Blair Waldorf.

Too bad it was closed early Sunday morning.  Honestly, I'm not an art aficionado so for me, it wasn't the end of the world that I didn't get to go inside.  I can definitely go back next time.

After a few photos on the steps, I proceeded to the park.  I should have done my research on the must-visit spots but in my mind, Central Park = Strawberry Fields... forever.  I'm glad the scenes willingly unraveled themselves to me; all I had to do was walk.

The Loeb Central Park Boathouse

The Lake

The Bow Bridge behind me.

Facing the Boathouse is the Bethesda Fountain.  The whole area is called the Bethesda Terrace, with the fountain being its main feature.  I found out all of these after the trip... because I live life effervescently.  

Since I couldn't wait to rush to Strawberry Fields anyway, I'm rushing my post towards it.  This John Lennon memorial was named after The Beatles' song "Strawberry Fields Forever".  This was dedicated to John Lennon because the entrance to this part of the Park was where he was shot.  

The sign says this is a quiet zone, and I couldn't agree more.  It seemed like the people who visit have a disposition of reverence for the musical genius who long passed away.  And then there's me eating ice cream ... no disrespect intended... just trying to be a "rebel" in a cold fall weather.

The plaque below lists the nations that contributed to the development of the memorial.  I spotted the Philippines! Represent!

In the center is a mosaic of stones with a single word, the title of John Lennon's famous song, Imagine.  Ironically, I can't imagine that I've been here and have seen this.

Across the John Lennon's memorial is a thicket of trees with a small reservoir that I think is still part of The Lake.

Outside of Central Park, I'm back to the metropolitan jungle, with concrete structures, rather than trees, casting shadows over me.  I was trying to look for the Dakota Apartments, John Lennon's home, when the eagerness of going to my next stop was just too much of an urge to ignore.

Columbia University, I'll be seeing you soon...


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Shanghai 2012: The Lion, The Pearl, and The Chocolate World

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Happy new year!  Can you guess what's my main resolution?  Hint: it's staring right at you. 

For 2014, I resolve to blog more often and catch up on my most recent travels.  This is a MUST because the coming year has a lot of travel opportunities for me, including at least two places that I have never been.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

But for now, this post chronicles my first time in Shanghai.  The downside is, I was so overwhelmed by the foreign languange that I was scared to really go anywhere.  The only places I've seen were a blurry haze of malls that I didn't remember and restaurants that I couldn't find again.

One weekend morning, we had breakfast outdoors just near our hotel.  Around the Shanghai area that we were in, there's really no place near to venture aimlessly.

 I had a Chinese-speaking friend with me but of course I can't drag him around.  And so I just followed wherever the group went.

Which is also kinda cool since I got to see the Pearl Tower, which is very visible from the IFC Mall.  As far as trip evidences go, this is it.  You couldn't find it anywhere else in the world.

A few minutes' train ride away (as with everywhere else), our group headed to Hershey's Chocolate World, a tourist destination in itself.  Yeah, I love, love chocolates.

The following day, three of us decided that we should take tourism matters into our own hands.  We will go to Shanghai zoo on our own!

And we did.  We just took a cab from our hotel.  The trick is to have the hotel concierge write down the address of our destination in Chinese characters, and hand it to the cab driver.  Someone told me cabs in Shanghai are pretty safe and reliable.

Here we are.

It is a massive zoo, not that I had any doubts considering it is China after all.  They have a lot of land.

Pink flamingoes!  I thought they only existed as lawn ornaments.  Yes, I am kidding.

I am not sure if this is a man-made or natural lake.  That's the reason for my pensive look.

All my life, I have never wished to have bread crumbs ready as much as I did then.

More birds below!  Our first stop was actually the reptilian area, but snakes give me the biggest creeps!  I think I held on to my companions so tight and they had to drag me while I was closing my eyes.  Most probably, they thought I was overreacting.  But really, I am so freakin' scared of snakes - even on TV and in pictures.

Anyway, that above is one of the main reasons why I have lots of bird photos to compensate for the lack of scaly, slimy, slithering creatures.

Mozilla firefox.  Or just the firefox.  But I prefer to call him Mozilla.  It's actually a kind of panda, not a fox.

And speaking of pandas, why am I in China but I have no rolly-polly panda photo to show for it?  I guess the Kung Fu master is out hiding or sleeping somewhere. Boo.

Here's Simba (or more like Scar) sitting on his throne.

I call this the "Sugar We're Going Down" photo... for obvious reasons.  Oh, it's not obvious?

Thanks to my friend for taking candid photos of me in action.

I think we took more pictures of ourselves than the animals.  It's like we went to a park rather than a zoo.  But the fact that we got around Shanghai on our own speaks a lot already.  We were full-fledged tourists!

Details for the tourists:
Entrace cost is RMB 40 for adults
Address: 2381 Hongqiao Road near Hami Road
How to go here by subway: Line 10 and get off at Shanghai Zoo Station .  Line 10 splits into two different directions after Longxi Road, so be sure you're taking the one going to Hongqiao Railway Station.