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South Africa Holiday Part 1: 5 Nights in Captivating Cape Town [Aug. 11th, 2010|03:21 pm]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |lazylazy]

Wahhh! It’s because of this 9-day South Africa trip that I’ve almost completely abandoned my blog! It’s just that I always get cross-eyed and dizzy when I have to sort out so many pictures from just one trip/event. We took so many photos in South Africa that it already felt like such a chore even to just browse through them, much more to pick out a few to post here. Really couldn’t get myself to do it these past few months. Couch potato!

I feel weird writing about such old news, but might as well get this over and done with. Because even though I’m too lazy to post about this, I don’t want to have missing entries in my blog either. :p

It was long ago at the end of April that I left for Cape Town, South Africa with my mom and sister Joann. Our mom has always wanted to see Africa, so Joann and I decided to take her around South Africa for our leave. My sister and I have already been to Cape Town before, but we haven’t really explored the place so much since we don’t have a lot of time during layovers. This time, we had 5 nights there to enjoy all the amazing sights. The only downfall was that the place felt unsafe and creepy.

Upon arrival in Cape Town, we went to the V&A Waterfront for dinner. That night, we met Randall, a really nice taxi driver whom we ended up hiring for most of our stay to take us all over the city. We got to see penguins, feed a giraffe, hold owls, and see so many beautiful sceneries, but my favorite of all was when we were on top of Table Mountain with the clouds.

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Captivating view of Table Mountain from the airplane window as we were landing into Cape Town

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Me, Joann, mom at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

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Touring Cape Town with our driver Randall

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African Penguins at Boulders! :)

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False Bay at Boulders – love the colors of the water!

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Beautiful Boulders

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Cape of Good Hope with Joann

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Cape Point Lighthouse

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Cape of Good Hope

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Chapman’s Peak

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At the V&A Waterfront, where the Table Mountain was covered with clouds

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We went to the Tygerberg Zoo Park for the animals, but I was more excited to see a group of very cute “colored” kids! Haha.

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Feeding Gerry the Giraffe with the help of Sampy (Gerry’s handler) at the Giraffe House

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At the Boschendal Manor House

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Boschendal Wine Estate

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The Huguenot Monument

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Super fluffy tiny owls at Spier

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Got to hold an owl, but too bad it didn’t know how to face the camera. :p

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Going up Table Mountain via cable car, with Lion’s Head on the left

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Cute African kids on a field trip to Table Mountain

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View from the top of Table Mountain

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Table Mountain, before the clouds started to cover it

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I absolutely loved it when the clouds started approaching! They looked like cotton candy. :)

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We felt like we were in heaven! This is one of those places where you feel like you can sit there forever.

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Table Mountain almost completely covered in cotton clouds

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At Camps Bay, with the 12 Apostles covered in clouds too!

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The Lion’s Head at Camps Bay

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The Cape Town Stadium, a venue for the World Cup 2010, shaped just like Table Mountain

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Sunset at the cloudy V&A Waterfront

Goodbye, Cape Town! Up next, off to the wild for our African safari! :)
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one extremely overdue post... [May. 26th, 2010|11:11 pm]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |lazylazy]

I’m still alive!:p Feels like it’s been years since I’ve last updated this blog. I just want to post about our recent holiday in South Africa, but first I have to write a really, really outdated entry on what I was up to within those few weeks in between my Jordan leave and South Africa leave.

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After our Jordan trip, I flew to Dusseldorf, Germany and well, did nothing again except go to the supermarket. A week later, I was off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I took my 1 millionth picture with the Petronas Towers. Afterwards, I just went around the KLCC area and took it easy. I badly wanted to go to Bukit Bintang for a cheap massage, but it was too hot and I couldn’t be bothered to go far anymore.

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At the very end of March (yes, that’s how outdated this post is!!), I flew to Beijing, China. It’s been so long since I’ve been to Beijing. I’ve already visited the Great Wall and Forbidden City before, so this time, we went to the Temple of Heaven.

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What was nice about that flight was that I got to fly with Noel and Clyde, 2 Filipinos that I’ve already known since before. Clyde and I were in the same batch when we tried out for Emirates ages ago, and I’ve gone around Hong Kong with Noel when we flew together more than 3 years back.

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I was telling Clyde and Noel about my cool jumping pictures in Jordan, so we also took a lot of jumping pictures at the Temple of Heaven. I’ve a lot more solo jumping pictures, but I’ve taken so many of those recently that I’d seem like some jumping freak if I post any more of them here. Haha.

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This is the front part of the Temple of Heaven. Compare this with the photo below:

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Check out this Temple of Heaven replica, very very similar! This was in Epcot last September 2008, when my sister Joann and I spent 9 days in Disney World Florida.

At the start of April, I swapped my Kuala Lumpur flight for a Bangkok. It’s been almost 2 years since my last Bangkok flight, and I missed going shopping there. But it was quite a bad timing to go there because of all the protests. Our hotel used to be in the city, but for safety, we stayed at a hotel near the airport instead, which was far away from the good shopping malls. That didn’t stop us to go shopping, of course. I still went to Platinum, my favorite mall in Bangkok.

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There’s this other shopping area across the street from Platinum which I also like going to. When I was at the overpass on the way there, the Red Shirt protesters happened to pass by! It was so cool that I got to see them! They looked like they were having a lot of fun, not scary or violent as I would’ve expected.

There were a few significant things that happened to me in Bangkok. The first one was an encounter with a saleslady who actually remembered me from 2 years ago! She went, “I remember you!!! Blah blah blah... air hostess…!!” I was so shocked. I mean, I never even go around mentioning my job to other people, so we must’ve really talked before! Another thing that happened was that when we went back to the hotel, I realized that I misplaced one of my plastic bags! Boohoo. It had 2 dresses that I really liked, plus 1 blouse. I was so crushed. Anyway, life will go on. Haha. One last significant thing that happened was that a passenger actually stole my uniform hat onboard the flight from Bangkok to Dubai! Good thing another passenger saw him and told him to return it to me. I couldn’t believe it. It’s a really funny (albeit very irritating) story. If it weren’t so long ago, then I probably would’ve written about it in detail. Now I’m just too lazy… Plus it’s more fun to tell the story in person. :)

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Back in Dubai, my sister was itching to go out for a drink one night, so I went out with her to sip margaritas and watch a live band. It was nice to actually go out late at night in Dubai for a change. Then I had a flight to London Gatwick a few days later. Wanted to go out to Central London since the last time I ever went there was mid-2007. But I got lazy again and ended up just shopping around the hotel area in Crawley.

I was supposed to have a flight to Shanghai, China in the middle of April, but I swapped it for Bangkok because I wanted to go back to Platinum. Wrong move! The situation with the protesters was already getting bad by that time, and all the other malls were closed except for MBK. I don’t like MBK at all, so for me, it was a complete waste of a good layover. :( Anyway, I was excited to fly back to Dubai because my mom just arrived. It was supposedly an overbooked flight from Manila to Dubai, so it would’ve taken a miracle for her to get on the flight. Surprise, surprise, a miracle did happen! Because of the Iceland volcanic ash cloud situation, a lot of passengers traveling from Manila to the UK via Dubai were not allowed to take the flight, so my mom was able to get on!

My mom has been to Dubai so many times, but she’s never seen the finished Burj Khalifa before. I took her to see the world’s tallest building and watch the fountain show beside it. Then just before my leave, I had one last flight to Lagos, Nigeria, which surprisingly wasn’t so bad. After that, I still had 5 days off to kill in Dubai before we had to leave for South Africa.

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Me and mom at the Burj Khalifa

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Burj Khalifa at sunset

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Me and mom a little closer to the world’s tallest building

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Burj Khalifa from Souk al Bahar

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Joann, me, mom at the Dubai Marina Walk

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Dubai Marina Walk, taken from the beach area across

Now I still have to sort out like a thousand pictures from our April-May South Africa trip! But I’ll try to do that ASAP…Ü
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Jordan Holiday Part 3: Jerash [Apr. 13th, 2010|09:21 pm]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |busybusy]

For Day 4, Katy and I could’ve joined a tour group early in the morning. The daylong tour consisted of visits to other sites before heading to Jerash. But nooo, Katy and I didn’t want to wake up so early anymore. We decided to just wake up later and hire our own driver to bring us to Jerash only. Never mind the other sites we wouldn’t get to see, as long as we saw Jerash. Joining the tour would even be cheaper than hiring our own driver, but it’s just that we really, really needed our sleep after that long day in Petra.

Jerash, one of the most important and best preserved ancient Roman cities, is like “Rome away from Rome.” I felt like I was in Rome, but it also somehow reminded me a little bit of Ephesus, Turkey.

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The Hippodrome, were 15,000 spectators used to watch horse races, etc.

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Me and Katy in front of Hadrian’s Arch

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Me and Katy at the South Gate, the entrance of Jerash

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The City Walls

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The Roman Oval Piazza, or Oval Plaza

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The spacious Oval Plaza

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Me and Katy in the middle of the oval Forum

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Jumped at the Dead Sea, jumped in Petra, so I had to jump in Jerash, too! :p

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The Cardo “Colonnaded Street,” Jerash’s main street

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Me at the Cardo

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Katy and me at an intersection at the Cardo

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Runnin’ ruins :)

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Sitting on the Cathedal Steps

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Intricate ruins just in front of the Nymphaeum

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Katy and me at the North Theater

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Went up to the rows of seats at the North Theater

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Audience view of the North Theater’s stage

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The ruins of the Roman Jerash next to modern-day city Jerash

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Modern Jerash in the background

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The Nymphaeum, an ornamental fountain dedicated to Nymphs

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After Jerash, we headed back to Amman. We stopped by Citadel, where we had a good view of Amman City. Then we had a hearty dinner at a local restaurant for our last night in Jordan.

Day 5, we left Amman in the morning to go back to Dubai. It was a very busy, fun-filled 4 nights for Katy and me. As Katy said, we were literally breathless everyday! Haha. The whole trip was breathtaking, literally and figuratively. The entire trip was so so tiring, but well worth it. It was truly an amazing experience. I feel very blessed to have been able to see the many wonders of Jordan. :)
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Jordan Holiday Part 2: Petra, the Rose-Red Rock City [Apr. 13th, 2010|09:01 pm]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |busybusy]

For Day 3, we traveled 3.5 hours from Amman to go to Petra, a very beautiful historic and archaeological city and Jordan’s most famous tourist destination. It was a very long ride but definitely worth it! Petra is massive! Some tourists even stay 3-4 days there.

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Photo-op just as we were approaching Petra

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Katy and me arriving in Petra

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If I’m not mistaken, this is the Obelisk Tomb.

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The Siq, a narrow passage that leads to Petra

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At the Siq, where the wind was much, much cooler as compared to outside.

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“Petra” means “rock.” How surprising. Haha.

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At the end of the Siq is a dramatic view of the Treasury. The lighting here sucks, but I was able to take better pictures on the way back.

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The Al Khazneh, a.k.a. the Treasury

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What’s with the jumping?! :p

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More tombs

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Petra is amazing!!!

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I don’t know what these are anymore. Maybe more tombs?!

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The Main Theater

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Had to climb the rocks to get all the way up there!

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We also have to climb up there to see the rest of the sights! Groan. I didn’t think I could do it!

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Somehow I managed to get my ass up there! So proud of myself! Haha. Whew!

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I was so exhausted, but the view from up there made me forget how tired I was.

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Urn Tombs/ Royal Tombs

We had to make our way all the way down the rocks again. It was very, very hot and we were worn out already. We were on the way to the Monastery (Petra’s other major attraction aside from the Treasury) when we decided we couldn’t take it anymore. We still had to retrace our steps because there was only one entrance/exit, and if we forced ourselves to go to the Monastery, then we wouldn’t have energy left to go back. An option would be to take a “taxi,” which was a camel or a horse, but that was out of the question since they were way overpriced. Sad we didn’t get to see the Monastery anymore, but oh well.

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Katy and me back at the Treasury

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A better picture (compared to my earlier one) of the Treasury view at the end of the Siq

At the end of the day, we had to drive to Aqaba to drop off Andrea. On the way there, we got to pass by Wadi Rum. Also got a glimpse of the Red Sea in Aqaba.. Cool!

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Me, Katy, Andrea having dinner in Aqaba, a famous site for diving.

It was a 4-hour drive back to Amman. We were sooo tired! What a day! :)
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Jordan Holiday Part 1: Mount Nebo, Jesus’ Baptism Site, Dead Sea [Apr. 13th, 2010|08:38 pm]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |busybusy]

A month ago, I already posted a Multiply and Facebook album for our Jordan trip, which is why for the longest time, I couldn’t really be bothered to write the typical blog entry about it. Too many pictures and I was just too lazy to sort them out for this blog. I considered skipping writing about it, but it would feel like my blog would be incomplete, like a smile missing a tooth. Haha. So here I am a month later, writing about old news. Hehe.

So Katy and I finally made it to Jordan. Despite being granted leave dates that were a few days apart, we still managed to squeeze in a 5-day trip to Jordan on the common days we were free. Jordan was absolutely amazing! Visiting all those historical places made me feel like I was walking back in time, like I was reliving the past. Plus, I am proud to say we were able to see everything we wanted to see with a very limited budget! *clap clap*

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Day 1, we arrived in Amman, Jordan in the afternoon. Katy and I were both exhausted, so we just took it easy that day. We just walked along the hilly streets around the area near our hotel.

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Day 2, we went to Madaba, the “City of Mosaics” in Jordan.

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Inside the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George in Madaba

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The historically significant 6th century Madaba Mosaic Map, preserved on the floor of the basilica, contains 2 million pieces of colored stone.

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Afterwards, Katy and I went to Mount Nebo, where God revealed Himself to Moses.

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Mount Nebo

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The Cristologican Symbol (Brazen Serpent Sculpture), “symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.”

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Pointing to the Promised Land ala Moses :)

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Mount Nebo

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As we were heading towards the Jordan River, we passed by some cute camels on the way!

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Then we had to stop the car because we had some VIP’s crossing the street! :p

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The Jordan River

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This is the exact site where Jesus was baptized!

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Katy and me at the St. John the Baptist Church by the Jordan River

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Jordan River

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St. John the Baptist Church entrance

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Another part of the Jordan River, which actually reminds me of last year’s Typhoon Ondoy in Manila

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This crazy guy probably wanted to relive Jesus’ baptism, so he wore this white robe and submerged himself into the Jordan River!

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Our last stop for the day (and probably my favorite for the entire trip) was the Dead Sea. Posed with these Asians who covered themselves in Dead Sea mud and I couldn’t wait to do it to myself too!

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Me and Katy at the Dead Sea, so excited!

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Me at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

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The water at the Dead Sea has extremely high salt content. It’s soooo salty, you’ll float!

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Katy and me enjoying the effortless floating :p

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Whee! Only in Dead Sea waters can you get away with this! :)

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Even if we wanted to just stay afloat forever, we were also excited to get a full body Dead Sea mask. Here with us is Andrea, an Iraq-based American whom we met at the hotel. Katy and I spent 2 days touring with her.

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Jump!!! This is my favorite picture of me and Katy! :)
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Snorkeling in Mauritius; 5 Days in Manila; Beautiful Rome, etc. [Mar. 8th, 2010|04:11 am]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |happyhappy]

Long time no update. I’ve been either too busy, or too lazy as usual. Anyway, the past few weeks have been good. I managed to swap my Athens turnaround on Valentine’s Day for a Birmingham, England layover. Seems like I keep coming back to Birmingham lately. I don’t really like the flight, but the layover is ok since our hotel is right next to the shopping area. For that trip though, I really wanted to check out Cadbury World, which I think is something like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I only heard of that attraction in Birmingham recently, and I’ve been itching to go ever since. But none of my colleagues wanted to go with meee! :( Argh. I didn’t want to go there alone, so I just ended up at the shopping area. Boohoo. Next time, I really, really want to go. Maybe I’ll go alone if no one really wants to come, because I heard that they might close it down soon.

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Selfridges at the Bullring in Birmingham, England

I had a layover in Manila in the middle of February, and since I just went home on my days off at the beginning of the month, and I was planning to go back to Manila again on my days off at the end of February, I wasn’t exactly excited about the Manila layover. I even tried to swap it away for another nice layover but no one accepted. I didn’t really do much but have dinner with my parents. I didn’t even meet up with any of my friends. But a pleasant surprise was that my dad finally dyed his white hair! Haha!

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With my parents during my layover in Manila (My dad looks much, much younger now that he dyed his white hair!)

Back in Dubai, I had dinner with friends at Ann’s flat. Too bad Trix was away that evening. We haven’t seen Gwynne in ages, so it was really nice to catch up with her. It was like a pre-birthday dinner for Gwynne and a goodbye dinner for Katy since she’s moving to a different accommodation, a building far away from us! Sniff! :(

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Katy, Ellen, me, Ann, Gwynne in Dubai

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Next up was a flight to Mauritius. I love the beach and I love Mauritius! It’s such a relaxing layover. Just like my last visit there, I kept taking pictures around the La Plantation because it’s such a pretty resort. Unfortunately, this time I wasn’t able to meet up with Yash, my friend from Mauritius. Next time!

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La Plantation Resort, Mauritius

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I never got to swim in any of the resort’s pools. Why go to the pool when you can hit the beach?

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Took many pictures around the resort but had to take a nap right after lunch. We were all too tired from the flight. Zzz. If only we could survive without sleep…

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The resort is still pretty even at night. I really had to force myself to wake up later that evening, otherwise if I don’t get up for dinner, then I’d be awake all night. (You really just can’t get any normal sleep with this job…!)

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Early the next morning, we went snorkeling! Yahoo! It’s actually my first time to go snorkeling. When I went to Boracay with college friends years ago, almost everyone went snorkeling, but Trix and I decided not to join because we wanted to have our hair braided instead! Haha!

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Me and my colleagues, all excited to go snorkeling in Mauritius!

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At first, I had a hard time breathing under the water. It took a while before I got the hang of it. I also had a hard time with the flippers because they were a bit too tight. I enjoyed the snorkeling but it probably would’ve been much better if we got to wear a life vest.

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I got really exhausted after snorkeling, but it was fun! Would love to do it again next time. We just hung out by the beach at the resort afterwards and posed for more pictures. Haha.

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Me and a fellow Filipina colleague, Lei, by the beach

After arriving in back in Dubai, I went back to my flat and hurriedly packed my things and rushed back to the airport to catch the flight to Manila. This time, I had 5 days off for the end of February because I managed to swap my Munich flight for days off. So I went home 3 times for the month – 3 days in the beginning, then 1 day for the layover, then 5 days at the end. I’m so happy I got to meet up with a few friends in Manila, but I think it will be quite some time before I get to come back.

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Carlo, me, Angela, and our ice cream cakes – YUM!

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After dinner with the girls – Janis, Justine, Jabi, me

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An ice cream afternoon with Tini and Jabi

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I was back in Dubai by March 1 because I had a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany. I flew with a rare set of crew – more guys than girls! There were 8 guys on our flight, which was way too many. There is usually just 1 or 2, or even none! But our flight was fun because everyone seemed to get along. I didn’t go out in Dusseldorf anymore except for the nearby grocery, because we now stay at an airport hotel and I was too tired to bother to go to the city.

When I came back in Dubai, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that someone took my India turnaround and accepted my swap for a Rome, Italy layover. That is such a miracle! Lucky swaps like that don’t happen very often! Anyway, it was still raining in Rome, just like my last visit there. Rain, rain, go away! But I still had a wonderful time, thanks to Emanuele! He took me around again, and entertained me by telling me all about the many different “legends” in Rome. Hehehe. Really wish I could’ve stayed longer!

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Me and Emanuele at Piazza del Popolo in Rome, Italy

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Me at another side of Piazza del Popolo

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Twin churches at the Piazza del Popolo

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Emanuele brought me to Piazza Cavalieri di Malta high up on Aventino Hill so I could see the “hole of Rome” or “keyhole view.” Take a peek through the keyhole of the gate, and WOW!!! I don’t even know how to describe it! What you can see from the keyhole is a magical view of Rome, with St. Peter’s Basilica in the middle, perfectly framed between 2 rows of trees. Let me steal a better description from a website: Known affectionately by Romans as the "hole of Rome" its abiding attraction draws queues of visitors to this peaceable "out of the way" spot. No key is required: it is sufficient to put an open eye to the keyhole, and focus. With kaleidoscope charm, a vision of St Peter's dome perfectly in perspective, framed by the tops of trees in the foreground, opens up. Often wrapped in a thin mysterious mist, seems to stand at the end of the garden path, just beyond the door.

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We walked to the nearby Parco Savello after, which had such a stunning view of Rome. It was breathtakingly beautiful!

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Zooming in for a better view of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

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Look to the right and the view is just as spectacular!

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Emanuele and me at Parco Savello in Aventino Hill (You can see the tiny dome of St. Peter’s on the left!)

I’ve been on leave since yesterday but I’m still in Dubai. I’m still waiting for Katy to arrive this morning, then we’ll fly to Jordan this afternoon for a 5-day vacation! Whee! I haven’t packed yet, uh-oh. Gotta go pack now and try to catch some sleep! :)
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Rome, Italy; 3 days in Manila, etc. [Feb. 14th, 2010|12:48 am]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Been wanting to post for a long time but I’ve been quite busy lately. It’s been almost 3 weeks since I flew to Rome, Italy. I had such a great time in that wonderful city. I met up with bello Emanuele, who was my personal tour guide in Rome for that day. He was such a funny character, not to mention handsome, smart, and very, very, very cute. (Note: I was PAID to write that about him.) Hehe. But seriously, despite the annoying rain, I really had loads of fun in Rome. Special thanks to the self-proclaimed “most beautiful tour guide in the world” who was forced to walk a thousand miles around the city just to show me around. Hahaha.

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My first stop was at La Bocca della Verita (The Mouth of Truth), which was believed to be a lie detector in the Middle Ages. Apparently, if you told a lie with one hand in the sculpture’s mouth, it would be bitten off. Too bad it doesn’t work anymore today!

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I met up with Emanuele at the Fountain of Trevi. This was my 4th visit to the fountain, but my first time to see it during daytime. I always went there late at night before. This time, I came prepared. I brought with me some Peso coins from the Philippines to toss into the fountain because the value was so much less than the Euros. Wise! Haha!

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Emanuele and I walked to the Spanish Steps, the longest and widest staircase in Europe, just a few minutes away from the Fountain of Trevi. We went up to the very top of the stairs but didn’t go inside the church anymore.

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Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat) in Piazza di Spagna, just below the Spanish Steps.

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At the Pantheon, a temple dedicated to all the gods of Ancient Rome, but was later converted into a church.

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Piazza della Rotonda

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Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in the middle of Piazza Navona (It’s surrounded by scaffolding, so you can’t really see the fountain.)

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Cute picture with Emanuele and the umbrella, near the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune), in one end of the Piazza Navona

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La Fontana del Moro (The Moor Fountain) at the other end of Piazza Navona

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Piazza del Popolo with Emanuele (The raindrops on my camera’s lenses created a nice effect on the picture.)

For dinner, we had pizza and pasta (of course!), and because I am crazy, I made myself eat gelato for dessert even if it was so cold and raining outside. Like I said when I was in Milan recently, I just have to have my gelato when I’m in Italy, even in winter. Sometimes I’m just nuts. Anyway, after my Rome flight, I had 4 days off in Dubai. I could’ve gone home to Manila but I had to stay in Dubai to study for my annual SEP Recurrent Training, 2 days of numerous written exams, practical tests and classroom sessions. It’s so stressful. I hate Training College! But we have to do that every year to renew our flying licenses. Boo.

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This was inside our Training College, at the end of the stressful 2 days of SEP Training. Whew! I’m so glad it’s overrr!

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The following morning right after training, I had to fly to Birmingham, England. I didn’t even have enough time to catch my breath after my SEP! Behind me is the shop Selfridges in Bullring, Birmingham.

I had a few days off after Birmingham, so when I arrived in Dubai, I just went back to my flat to pack my things then headed back to the airport to catch a flight to Manila. I was so eager to go home. I only had 3 full days in Manila, but it’s ok since it was over the weekend and I’d get to see my friends. It’s the first time I ever went home for such a short period. The only time I did something similar was when I went home in August 2008 for like 3 and a half days because I didn’t want to miss Kamille’s 08.08.08 wedding. But at least now, flights to and from Manila are quite empty, so I don’t have to worry about getting bumped off.

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Lunch with high school friends Aimee, Mabel, Angge in Greenhills

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Baby Seth, Mabel, Angge, Aimee, me, Kamille

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Dinner with Angela in Serendra; Migo, Angela, me in BHS

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Migo, Angela, me, Enzo, Meggie, Nikki, Jigs celebrating Angela’s birthday in TGIF

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With college friends for Karinne’s 4th birthday swimming party: Jabi, Pepe, me, Pat, Tini, Marjoe, Kat, JM

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Crabs dinner with family at Claw Daddy right before heading to the airport to go back to Dubai: Dad, Mars, Mom, me

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Back to work for me! Had to do a short turnaround then flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I love the Petronas Towers at night!

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Back in Dubai, I dragged my sister Joann to go to the Dubai Mall. We already have countless pictures with the Burj Khalifa last month, but I took pictures again, just to compare the Burj Khalifa with the Petronas Towers. Petronas may not be the tallest tower anymore, but it’s much more stunning. The two are not even worth comparing. Haha.

I gotta scram. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Ciao! Ü
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Burj Dubai a.k.a. Burj Khalifa: World's Tallest Building [Jan. 24th, 2010|08:24 am]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |hungryhungry]

I didn’t really get to celebrate my birthday 2 weeks ago because I had to spend it resting for a flight to London Gatwick. My pickup was very late at night, so I just spent the afternoon at Ellen’s flat then I had to sleep by early evening. I didn’t really mind not celebrating on the day itself, since I had an upcoming Manila flight a few days after London Gatwick anyway. I was supposed to arrive in Manila by Saturday afternoon and I had plans to meet up with my friends for dinner. My sister Joann also had a Manila flight that same day, arriving in the evening, so we were supposed to have a post-birthday lunch with the whole family the following day, Sunday, since all of us would be in Manila.

I arrived in London Gatwick the morning after my birthday. The whole place was white! Very thick snow covered the ground like icing on a cake. It wasn’t snowing when we arrived, so I went out straightaway to the shopping center in Crawley, just a few minutes walk from our crew hotel. As usual, I just bought lots of groceries from M&S, plus a dozen of my favorite Millie’s Cookies – half for me and half to bring to my friends in Manila. Haha.

The following morning, our wakeup call was delayed because the London Gatwick airport was closed due to the heavy snow. The incoming flight from Dubai that day couldn’t land in Gatwick, so the plane had to divert to the London Heathrow airport. When we finally had our wakeup call, we were told that we had to take a 1.5hour bus ride to Heathrow and operate the flight from Heathrow to Dubai. Because of this mess, we had so much delay. We arrived in Dubai 4++ hours later than scheduled. Since there are certain rules and legalities regarding rest and days off, I was no longer legal to operate on the Manila flight that Saturday because the delay made the flight extend up to the day that should have been my legal day off. To put it simply, I lost my Manila flight because of the delay. So much for the post-birthday celebration with friends and family in Manila. I was so sad! :( :( :(

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Here’s me just outside our hotel in Crawley, England, just a few minutes away from the Gatwick airport, which was closed that morning because of the snow.

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It’s not so obvious in this picture, but my colleague Ulysses from Brazil looks exactly like Ben Stiller in person!!! Such uncanny resemblance that a lot of us just had to take pictures with him! ;p

So anyway, the next day in Dubai, I was so upset that I didn’t have my Manila flight anymore. Instead, I had my legal day off + 2 days of Can Use. To make myself feel better, my sister and I went to check out the Burj Dubai, a.k.a. Burj Khalifa, since it just opened early this month. The Dubai Mall is right next to it. I haven’t been to that mall in months, and I was surprised to see all the shops open now. It used to be a really boring mall before, but now I really like it there!

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Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building (I prefer calling it that than its official name.)

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There’s a fountain show in the evening every 20minutes! It kind of reminded us of the Bellagio in Vegas.

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My sister Joann and I went back the following evening. We just wanted to look around the Dubai Mall some more.

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The Burj Dubai looks like a needle. Joann and I have similar pictures with the Petronas Towers in Malaysia. For me, the Petronas is much more impressive and more imposing. Actually, the whole setup (tall tower + big mall + fountain) reminds me of Malaysia.

Anyway, my 2 days of Can Use turned into a Munich, Germany layover. (There’s actually a story behind this, but I’m too lazy to write about it.) It was also below freezing when we got there, but I still went out to the city. I’m starting to get used to this extreme cold weather… Nah, I’m just kidding. I hate extreme cold. It makes me tired to have to put on (and take off!) so many layers of clothing!!

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My hotel room in Munich was on the first floor and this was on my balcony. This picture is blurry because I was actually behind a glass door. I just put my camera on top of the lamp and set it on timer. :)

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Me in Marienplatz in Munich, Germany

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For the third time in just one week, my sister and I went back to the Burj Dubai and Dubai Mall. I wanted a picture with the Burj Dubai at daytime. :)

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The Address Hotel next to the Dubai Mall

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Let me post more pics from the beautiful fountain show. 1…

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2…

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3…

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4!

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We watched the fountain show again from another angle. Amazing!

The other day I was just in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I didn’t bother to go out anymore. Tomorrow, I’m off to Rome, Italy and I’m looking forward to it. Afterwards, I have 4 days off, then my dreaded annual recurrent SEP Training. Those 2 days back in Training College are my most dreaded, most hated 2 days of the year! Ack!
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Milan, Italy [Jan. 9th, 2010|12:35 pm]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |sleepysleepy]

My very first layover for 2010 is exactly the same as my first layover for 2009 – Milan, Italy. I was rostered for a flight to Beijing but I tried to get rid of it. Luckily, someone swapped it with me for Milan. I remember how unbearable the below freezing weather was in Milan last year, so I layered up more this time. I originally didn’t have any plans for Milan since I’ve already been to the major tourist spots there before, but Italy is one country that I love revisiting. On the flight going to Milan, I was just thinking of where to have my pizza and pasta, and if I could bear eating gelato in the cold. Suddenly, I realized I haven’t been up to the Duomo rooftop yet. Long ago, I saw my sister’s pictures on the Duomo’s roof and I was really impressed, but somehow I just completely forgot about it. The past 2 times I’ve been to Milan, I went to the Duomo but never bothered to go up. Good thing that I remembered! It got me really excited that I actually had something new to check out.

We arrived in Milan in the evening, and I was pondering on whether I should still go to the Piazza Duomo so I could see the Christmas tree all lit up. I decided against it since it was already late and I was already quite tired. Plus it might be too cold at night! Anyway, a lot of the crew mentioned how delicious the room service pizza was in our hotel, so I ordered one before I went to bed. Sad to say, it was a disappointment. Anyway, the next day, I had lunch at the Galleria and the pizza and pasta were quite good. And because a trip to Italy would never be complete without gelato, I still had 2 scoops even though it was already freezing outside. I know it’s crazy, but I really just had to have some. Ü

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Buongiorno, Milano! There are lots of pigeons at the Piazza Duomo, and you can feed them just like in Venice. But I stayed away from those people who try to put seeds on your hand so the birds will flock to you, and then rudely demand for you to pay up. It happened to us last year even though we kept saying no. Next time, I’ll bring my own seeds. Anyway, I love how the pigeons here were caught in the picture.

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The Duomo di Milano from a different angle :)

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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Inside the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)

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Here’s the door to the Cathedral. There must be some superstition about those parts of the door’s carvings that have already discolored due to everyone touching them, but I’ve no idea. I wonder what it means to touch the knees, leg, hands…

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This is the Christmas tree that I wanted to see lit up at night!

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To go up the Duomo rooftop, you can either use the stairs or the elevator, which I think costs a little more. We came across the stairs first, so that’s what we took. It was a long, really narrow and steep walk up and I was already panting midway. Had I known it would be like that, I would’ve preferred to take the elevator. Anyway, when we finally reached the top and I saw the countless spires, I went WOW!! Bellisimo!

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The roof of the Duomo had such amazing design!

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The spires and sculptures were just spectacular! It’s good that they let people go up the Duomo’s roof, otherwise such wonderful, detailed works of art would be unappreciated. From here, you can also see the Galleria and the busy Piazza below.

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On the very top of the Duomo is the Madonnina, a statue of the Virgin Mary.

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The front part of the Duomo’s roof

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We had lunch in one of the restaurants inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. I’ve always loved the glass roof of this arcade. (I look like I’m wearing a Christmas bow on my head here. Hehe.)

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Take 2!

I’ve been up since midnight today, so I have to sleep soon. Ciao!
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December: Birmingham, Munich, Manila, Cebu, etc. [Jan. 1st, 2010|11:02 pm]
Ava Monique *Nikki*
[mood |happyhappy]

I flew to Birmingham, England with Ann in the second week of December. The one and only time we flew together was in 2007 when we did a Manila flight on Ann’s birthday, so we really got excited this time. It was freezing and we were tired when we arrived in Birmingham but we wasted no time. We already had an itinerary: dinner at Nando’s, check out Boots, Primark, Body Shop, New Look, do some major Christmas shopping in Marks and Spencer, then buy a dozen Millie’s Cookies. We had to rush since we didn’t have a lot of time before stores closed, but we managed to accomplish everything. We bought so much Christmas gifts and stuff that everything didn’t even fit inside the cabin suitcases that we brought with us to the mall!


Christmas shopping with Ann in Birmingham, England


No need to be shy since no one was taking our picture. Haha. I just put my camera and tiny tripod on top of our suitcases and set it on timer. :)


St. Martin’s Church in Birmingham, England


Birmingham Bullring Shopping Centre

After Birmingham, I was supposed to have a Manila flight. I had leave afterwards, so I didn’t exactly need Manila before my leave. Instead I swapped it for a flight to Munich, Germany so I can do more Christmas shopping and buy my favorite yogurt. The last German flight I’ve done was Munich last March, because they took me out of my Hamburg last September. Hmph. Anyway, we arrived in the evening in Munich and even though it was below freezing, we still went to the Christmas Market.


Michel (my friend from Munich) and me, putting up with the –2 degrees weather, at the outdoor Christmas Market in Theresienwiese, same place where the annual Oktoberfest is held.


Michel, me, my colleagues Stuart, Cat, Lilita with our delicious German sausages in Munich, Germany

When I arrived back in Dubai, I just went to my flat to hurriedly pack my things then went back to the airport to catch the flight to Manila. Finally going home on leave, yay! But I only had just a little over a week for my leave, boohoo. My mom also wanted me to visit my grandmother in Cebu since I haven’t seen her in ages, so I had to spare a few days of my short leave to go there.


No Manila leave would be complete without the usual bonding session with Angela. Hehe.


Tini, Jabi, me, Cheng met up for dinner in Burgos Circle at The Fort. (Umm, Kat, where were you?!) It was my first time there. It was nice to go someplace new for a change. Had lots of fun with Jabi’s new Polaroid. Haha.


Flew to Cebu to visit Lola, my grandmother from my mom’s side and the only grandparent I have left. It’s been about 7 years since I last saw her. I used to go to Cebu like every 2 years when I was younger.


Had no plans to do anything “touristy” in Cebu since I’ve been there many times before, but Magellan’s Cross was just nearby, so might as well drop by. :)


Outside Magellan’s Cross – and yes I feel like I’m on a layover in Cebu! Haha!


At the Basilica del Santo Niño in Cebu


We accompanied my godmother, Ninang Myrna, to visit this convent in Cebu where less fortunate kids have catechism classes every weekend. She brought Christmas gifts for all of them and gave it to them one by one, then we helped her distribute some snacks for the kids.


As a thank you, some of the kids performed some song and rap numbers for us. They were so lovely! I was really glad that Ninang Myrna brought us along. I wish I was also able to bring gifts for those kids. Their happy expressions when they received Ninang Myrna’s gifts were priceless.


After 2 days in Cebu, I went back to Manila. I must’ve eaten something bad because I got food poisoning when I arrived in Manila. Kept throwing up and couldn’t eat anything!:( Despite this, I still went out with Angela and Janis that night. Haha. I think the culprit was the fresh oyster I ate in Cebu.

The following day, I was still so weak, but I wouldn’t miss Aimee’s wedding for anything! Her wedding was the main reason why I took a leave this December! Just too bad I couldn’t eat much during the reception!


Groom Jose, me, Angge, Prissia, Corinne, Kamille, Bride Aimee, Mabel


At the reception with Aimee, Kamille, Angge


Souvenir photos with Aimee, Jose, Angge, Kamille

On Dec.24, I had to say goodbye to Manila and go back to Dubai! Wahh. My leave ended just before Christmas, but my next work was a Manila flight on Christmas Day, so I was back in Manila by Dec.25 in the afternoon for work. Haha. (Thank God I was able to swap my Moscow, Russia flight into a Manila flight!) At least I was still able to spend Christmas with my family in Manila, even if it was just for a short layover.


Me with my mom in Manila – Merry Christmas!!! I left Manila Dec. 24 and was back in Manila on Dec.25 on a layover. Haha!


Had Christmas dinner with relatives at my uncle’s place that evening of Dec.25. I noticed we hardly take pictures during family gatherings. We don’t have a complete picture with everybody, but here’s one with some of my aunties, uncles and cousins. My bro is in blue and my mom is in green on the left side, while my dad is in the red/white shirt in the middle, and is the only one among his brothers who refuses to dye his white hair. Hehe.


Here’s me at home on Christmas, by the Christmas tree and family portrait. We used to always have 7-foot tall Christmas trees, but my mom got lazy. Haha.

Flew back to Dubai as crew on Dec.26, did a turnaround to Riyadh the next day, then flew to Jakarta, Indonesia. I’ve done a 2-day Jakarta layover long ago, so I didn’t really have to go out anymore this time. Our roster for January just came out, so I spent my time in Jakarta sending swaps instead. I was so happy with my swaps for January! Managed to get a Milan flight for tomorrow, a Manila in the middle of January, then Rome towards the end of the month. The only thing I don’t like is my schedule around my birthday. Never mind. :(


Me and my sister in Dubai on New Year’s Eve – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!:)
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