I left my heart in Toronto [To-ro-no]

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I and my mama had been praying for the trip all year long back in 2012. I remember I had made it as one of my faith goals during MOLE (Mingle, Open up, Laugh and Enjoy? Haha. Eeps. Forgot.) at the beginning of the year.  I wasn’t sure how to get there but I was sure that God will be with me every step of the way. Initially, we had planned to have the trip in March in time for Mama's birthday. But due to lack of resources, we pushed it to June and instead have Mama come over here. Come June, I felt that I wasn't ready financially too. But Mama already submitted her papers and wasn't successful. Then again we pushed it towards November so I could better prepare for the requirements. This time sadly, I knew I was the only who could make it.

Then September came, I had been praying really hard as I really wanted in my heart to visit my sister and nieces there. I wanted to check if they're ok and how's the life going there. I just missed them so much. Then upon seeing the Visa stamp on my passport - I knew it's going to be a blessed trip.

My angels, Mel, Bell, Dengs and Monet sent me to the airport and wished me well. They knew I had been praying and waiting for that day. On my entire time aboard the plane, I can't help myself but be overwhelmed with so much excitement - excited to see my sister; excited to hug and kiss my babies; excited to see and experience Canada; and excited to meet people. Oh one thing though - I was also anxious to go pass the customs with my daing. Que horror! Haha! And just as I prayed for - the officer didn’t even ask me anything about my luggages unlike the guys before me.

And outside while waiting for them, I can just imagine the surprise in the faces of my nieces. "Love!" called my sister while she was approaching me with teary eyes. Hugged her. On the car, I loved the looks on my babies’ faces as they were so happy to see me after almost 2.5 years. We took photos and then I knew I would have my time stop ticking for the next 3 weeks. 

I remember having breakfast with the family before I bring the kids to school. I giggled on the way as I saw a real big Pine tree. I love breathing through my mouth as I see the smoke comes out. I was loving the cold weather and the thought that I was actually able to play with my nieces, reunite with my sister and experience my future home!!! Claiming it then! 

Doing my Tita duties

doing our laundry haha

I had the chance to meet the small Filipino community there where my sister’s family belong to. They were really fun-loving people. One Sunday afternoon they decided to bring me to Niagara Falls. I was so delighted because I not only had the a grand time seeing the MAGNIFICENT NIAGARA FALLS but also had my splurge time at the Coach and Guess Outlets for quite good marked-down prices. In there I got to buy 6 items from Coach for $SGD 400 while I would have to spend $SGD 1,000 for the same items here in Singapore. Really cool!

loved the double rainbow. they were too close that I could almost stand on one end

breath-taking view - one of the proofs that God exists
freezing cold there

with my yati yan2x

Yes, pede na ba pang Canada's Next Top Model

baby you can ride my cycle... hehe

who's more beautiful? haha! the falls said he! 

love the golden crisp leaves

Must-try hotdog bun on the streets of Toronto
I also had the chance to visit yet another streets of outlet stores in Orpus housing 20+ shops selling top brands at almost 50-75% marked down prices. Enjoyed the hotdog buns they sell on the streets, which come with fries. Love that I can actually choose whatever bits and pieces that I want to go along with the bun – bacon strips, Jalapeno, Pickles, etc. I had a chance to chat with the old man vendor who asked me where I am from. I said I am from the Philippines. He said he and his family were from Italy. They migrated to Canada some 10 years ago. He said he was impressed at my accent and enunciation because I didn’t sound Asian. I could imagine how hard it must be for him to bear the cold winter weather to sell those buns. May God bless him and his family, I prayed after I bade goodbye to him. It’s those moments of meeting people and getting to know the life on that side of the world that I love the most when travelling. I bring a piece of them with me. And I feel gratefulness in my heart all the more. 
Canada's famous Tim Horton's Hot Chocolate and Panini

One of the things I loved too with this trip was my chance of seeing my aunt whom I haven’t seen for some 15 years. She and the kids prepared a welcome dinner for me. They even wrote me a welcome note. And yes, I ended up getting all her pre-loved clothes and shoes. I just love being the recipient of someone else’s generosity really! Haha.

On my last day, just how lucky I can get noh as I was called for my personal interview at my company’s branch there. That gave me a sign that it certainly wasn’t my last hurrah! And true enough! Almost a year after the interview, I got the final interview and now as I write this I am just waiting for my working VISA. Indeed, God has been faithful to me. Or was I the one who’s been faithful to God’s promises. Either way, I am just grateful and blessed!

Casa Lomo Castle

One of the car stalls in the business area which sells yummy hotdog buns

CN Tower

Yes, I am standing at a glass above 1200 feet the ground

Striking a pose at the busy streets in the city

When I think of Toronto, I can only remember the Love of my Family and Love of God through each wonderful moment I experienced in that blessed journey.

See you soon Toronto! xoxo

Mother's Day Treat in Vietnam

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yes, she truly is my God's Greatest Gift!

I decided to bring Mama to Vietnam this year for Mother's day. I must say I never expected our trip to be this fun! What's even more amazing is that the people were very nice and hospitable. They are the nicest hosts I have ever met! 

Red Dragon Villa Hotel

With the friendliest hotel staff
Enjoyed the best black coffee so far in Hanoi!

We stayed at Red Dragon Villa, which is within the vicinity of the main city.  The market and the recommended food stalls are within the area so on the evening when we arrived there we went to the famous resto for Vietnam’s known Pho. True enough the soup was really tasteful! In fact we went to eat there twice! Haha. Just don’t mind the place – doesn’t look clean but yeah that’s the adventure!


Mama's ride for 50,000 baht or 20 dollars?

On the second day, we went to do relaxing via cruising along Ha Long Bay. While Hanoi is about cheap buys (and with this, I mean value for money) and tasteful dishes that will truly excite your tastebuds, Ha Long Bay on the other hand, will surely take your stress away with its scenic beauty match it with a cool fresh fruit juice as you sit back and relax at the roof deck. The experience was really fun, especially with equally wacky guests from different counties. I even gained two new friends who inspired me to really travel a lot to enjoy sights, culture, food and new friends like I did with them.

Inside the Marguerite Cruise ship

So we did Island hopping and enjoyed the sceneries. I was so proud of Mama when she was able to climb up the 200 steps up the hill to enjoy the breathtaking view of the island. Mama said “thank You Lord for my eyes to see your creations!” Despite her short breathing in between she’s made it! I also climbed up 200 steps up another hill to take a beautiful view of the other part of the island. Really worth the climb! I love it!

the breath-taking view from the 200 steps high


Mama after the 200 steps climb. Whoa!

Back to the Marguerite ship that night we had a sumptuous dinner and guess what?! I enjoyed the spotlight at the karaoke session especially when there’s a handsome guy cheering for me! Haha. But yeah I guess one of the downside (sorry Ma for the term!) of travelling with a mom is that boys can’t go near you. Well, not all perhaps. Nothing will stop the one who really wants to know me even if it means getting through my mom! Haha!

The next morning we visited an underground river site. That was fun too. After a big lunch that noon we headed back to Hanoi.
We are united nations from Slovenia, Russia, Australia, Burma, Philippines and Singapore

The underground river

The following morning we had our food trip of the local dishes! I was so delighted with the different tastes especially with the fresh veggies and the crispy rice paper to go with it then dip it altogether into a vinaigrette. I also love their version of siopao but theirs is the fried one. Love love the food! Nothing much to see in Hanoi really. Just enjoy the cheap buys, the food and the hospitality of the people!

Fried Siopao

Roll the veggies into this Fried Rice Paper and dip them into the vinaigrette
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At night because Mama and I were so tired I treated her to a facial mask – I did it myself! Mama was so happy to try it the first time. So when she’s done with it. She looked at me silently then I asked her what’s on her mind. She said “Thank you Love. Thank you for making my dreams come true.” Further on she recalls that she used to just hear of different beautiful places from her friends who travel abroad frequently. And now she is enjoying the same privilege. Then we both shed tears of Joy and hugged each other. Thank You dear Lord for all our blessings! 

All these and more, truly made our stay in Vietnam a memorable one. Cám ơn! and thank You po!