We spent our Thanksgiving week in Iceland. Our wish for going around this time was to see the northern lights. But the nights turned out cloudy and rainy, except for one when the sky cleared up briefly and we had a glimpse of the celestial wonder – faintly. We were not disappointed though. Iceland was so beautiful and had so much to offer that we almost forgot the main reason why we traveled there during the cold winter days in the first place. For one, Iceland has a dramatic and diverse natural landscape that would take anybody’s breath away. Continue reading
On our Day 4 in Bhutan, we were once again treated to another colorful religious festival. Like the festival we attended in Thimphu, this one was also not part of our planned itinerary. It happened that the 3-day Tsechu festival was starting as we were passing by the town of Wangdue on our way from the valley of Punakha to the high mountains of Trongsa. Continue reading
MY HEART IS BROKEN in the wake of the incredible devastation in my home country, the Philippines, caused by monstrous typhoon Haiyan. I’m deeply anguished every time I see the news coverage and photos of the devastation on TV, newspaper and the internet. I feel helpless witnessing it from afar, wishing that there’s something I can physically do to help and to ease the victims’ pain. For now all I can do is send financial help and prayers. One thing I’m extremely thankful for is that my family back home is okay.
I’m deeply moved by the overwhelming support that the Philippines is receiving from the international community. For those of you who have sent help and prayers, please know that we Filipinos are very thankful from the bottom of our hearts. Continue reading
On the same day we visited the majestic Punakha Dzong, we also got to visit another highlight in Punakha Valley – the Chimi Lakhang. It is a temple dedicated to one of Bhutan’s revered saint and cultural hero, Drukpa Kunley.
It was a fun and interesting visit. Firstly, we got to enjoy a beautiful short hike in the spectacular valley to reach the temple on a hillock. Secondly, we finally got to understand the hype about this legendary figure and the ubiquitous phallic symbols that are associated with him.
Whenever I travel to the countries in the Himalayas where Tibetan/ Mahayana Buddhism thrives, I’m always enchanted with the ubiquitous sights of fluttering prayer flags and spinning prayer wheels. They’re such blissful and mystical sights to behold, even if you don’t know exactly what they stand for. But just what exactly do they mean to the Buddhists? Continue reading
After the wonderful surprise visit to the colorful Dromchoe Festival and Buddha Point during our first day in Thimphu, our guide once again thrilled us with another unexpected treat before the day was over - an archery competition! Archery is Bhutan’s national sport and passion. We were really wishing to see a match as we read that it is a great way to witness the fun-loving nature of the Bhutanese. Continue reading
We finally set foot in the top destination of our dreams. But not after enduring 25 hours of flying time on four series of flights with layovers at three different airports in three countries over a period of three days. Traveling from bustling New York to remote and pristine Bhutan was a long, long trek indeed. Was it worth it? Absolutely and we’ll do it again in a heartbeat!
Why Bhutan? From everything that we had heard and read, Bhutan is no ordinary place. It sounded so magical, so mystical — like a Shangri-la.
Who wouldn’t be charmed by an idea of a small Buddhist Kingdom perched high in the Himalayas whose core philosophy is the enrichment of Gross National Happiness rather than gross national product?
Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a country so isolated that it didn’t formally open its door to tourism until 1974 and didn’t have televisions until the 1990′s? Continue reading