I’m so bad at promising myself to have a sense of urgency in coming up with this follow up. Here’s it. I have convinced myself that I should get this Part 2 done because it’s been over a week since I have completed Part 1 (check it out), January is ending and I’ll be off to my first out of town trip for 2019 this weekend.
I’ll edit the stuff as I read them later today, maybe? I just wanna get this one published.
45 | Bastakiya Quarter
Al Hamriya, Dubai
Narrow alleys flanked by traditional Persian and Emirati buildings form a maze in Dubai’s Al Bastakiya Quarter. Located within Al Fahidi District, this labyrinthine Bur Dubai neighborhood ranked really high on my list of must-visit places when I planned my trip to Dubai.
See, I’m a big fan of old streets and old towns, and the restorations in Al Shindagha and inspired recreations in Al Seef or Souk Madinat do not hold a candle to the Al Bastakiya’s authenticity.
I chanced upon one workshop that specializes in woodwork and and the craftsmanship on display there – from the doors to the furniture are some of the most exquisite. It was kind of a let down, however, as there wasn’t much else to see apart from beautiful rugs for sale and many establishments that are closed.
44 | MEZ
Ayala Highway, Lipa, Batangas
Beautiful pilgrimage sites are things I already expect to see when I decided to research my trip to Lipa. I also learned that it’s a wonderful place to go on a food trip. What I didn’t expect was a food park-type place for drinking and drunk singing. I had an awesome time here despite the rainy weather. Berns and Andrian are excellent singers + beer is reasonably priced. I highly recommend this place to anyone spending a night in Lipa.
43 | Al Ain National Museum
1st Street, Al Ain
Part of the Al Ain Oasis tour is a visit to Al Ain National Museum, which lies on the eastern end of the UNESCO World Heritage-inscribed oasis.
As the oldest museum in the United Arab Emirates, the physical building that houses the collections is just not very impressive. The displays are themselves are top-notch. I especially love the weapons on display. The different types of daggers remind me of the ones used by Filipino Moros.
There is also information about archaeological findings throughout the UAE, most notably the cultural sites of Hafeet. I didn’t have those sites in my itinerary because they were in more remote areas of Al Ain so I appreciate the scale models a lot.
Also located in the museum complex is a building called Sultan Fort. I don’t have any information about it, but it’s similar in structure to the much more impressive Al Jahili Fort.
42 | Mines View Park | Outlook Drive | Mansion | Wright Park
The scenery from the view deck of Mines View Park is breathtaking, but heartbreaking too. Jhon pointed out to me that the brown patch of land on the surface of one of the nearer mountains is a part of the areas affected by the landslides brought about by a typhoon last September.
Apart from the views, Mines View Park is also a magnet for all things touristy. It’s a place to enjoy Baguio street food, mount a pink horse or don a traditional Igorot costume.
Outloook Drive is, as the its name suggests, a scenic road you can take from Mines View Park on your way to the Mansion and Wright Park. The views from Mines View Park from Outlook Drive are nearly identical, so I suggest you head here instead if throngs of people are a turn off.
I felt safe walking on this well-paved road, even when there aren’t designated sidewalks. The pine trees that line it provide ample shade even at noon.
Built in 1909 by the Americans as the official residence of the colonial Governnor General, the Mansion is one of the most historic points of interest in Baguio. Although the structure that currently stands on its lot is a replica built immediately after WWII in 1947, it is a faithful model to the original.
As a history nut, it is a bit of a let down to me that a tour of its interiors is not available.
Wright Park is a more tranquil, beautifully landscaped park in this part of Baguio. I love, love, love Wright Park, and mostly because I remember having a photo of a 5 year old me taken in this park on a family trip.
Because there weren’t that many people, I opted to pose here in a bahag, well, to kind of be in touch with my Cordilleran roots. I love how we’re not all PC on this one in general. I think that in general, we take pride in sharing our culture to interested people. Nonetheless, I’m still puzzled by the proliferation of obviously Amerindian headdresses in Baguio parks.
At the end of quieter part of a park there are stairs that lead down to more park grounds! The scene here is very different. The foul smell of horse manure permeates the air. I think the horses are not as healthy as they should be.
41 | Dubai Mall | Dubai Aquarium | Souk al Bahar | Dubai Dancing Fountain | Dubai Opera | Books Kinokuniya | Huawei Experience Store | Garrett Popcorn | German Donner Kebab
Financial Center Road, Downtown Dubai, Dubai
Big malls normally do not impress me. I don’t like huuge crowds and going on a shopping spree is something I don’t think I have ever done. I am impressed by Dubai Mall, however. It’s big and family-friendly but its design has touches of classiness that’s not in your face.
Apart from the premium retail spaces one can expect to see in a premium mall, there are stores worth checking out. They have affordable options for dining (and a big food court). It’s free to look at the aquarium, the indoor Human Waterfalls, and the Dubai Dancing Fountain – which is, while super pretty, is only a must-see if you’re there anyway.
But Downtown Dubai is so much more than the fountain. There’s the pretty Souk al Bahar (which I didn’t see because I don’t need more retail therapy), the beautiful Dubai Opera, and a slew of very tall skyscrapers surrounding the open grounds, including Burj Khalifa.
Call it a man-made whatever, but I enjoyed the energy of this place and I have visited this place thrice in my short stay in Dubai.
40 | Taipei 101
Xinyi District, Taipei
I didn’t do much in Taipei 101. Mimi and I simply walked around it and entered the mall. It gets as high as #40 on my list because I just love tall buildings and this one is soooo beautiful and it had been in my bucket list ever since it became the tallest building in the world.
39 | Marcela Agoncillo Museum
Calle Marcela M. Agoncillo, Taal, Batangas
The picturesque town center of Taal, Batangas is teeming with pretty ancestral houses and the Agoncillo Ancestral House, which houses Marcela Agoncillo Museum, is one of its most beautiful.
Learning about the lives and patriotism of Marcela Agoncillo, most known for sewing the first iteration of the current Philippine flag, and her husband, Felipe Agoncillo, an outstanding diplomant, through the displays is one of the highlights of my Taal day trip.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines did a good job in presenting not only the involvement of the proud Batangueno couple but also the history of the revolutionary flags, and the struggle for independence of the Philippines from American occupation.
NHCP also did a great job in restoring portions of the house. It’s a must-visit for fans of Philippine ancestral houses.
38 | Deira Clocktower | Al Rigga Mosque | Al Bassam Center | The Laugh Factory at Sun and Sands Downtown Hotel | Al Ghurair Centre | Starbucks Al Ghurair Centre
Al Muraqqabat, Dubai
I spent one of my mornings in Dubai just aimlessly walking through random streets in Deira. The challenge I gave myself was to navigate its streets from Deira City Center to Union Station. The sights and sounds I have encountered did not disappoint.
People watching at Starbucks Al Ghurair Centre is also very enjoyable. I have done this on two nights.
37 | Renfel Fastfood Center
Kapitan Simeon Luz Street, Lipa, Batangas
I like lomi. I don’t love it, but I’ll never say no to a warm bowl of freshly prepared lomi. But what everyone’s been saying about Batangas lomi is true: theirs are by far the best.
I happened to have my lomi fix at Renfel Fastfood Center in downtown Lipa. It’s an ample-sized eatery in a less busier street within the market area. It’s always full, and it is very evident that every guest is satisfied with the food.
36 | Madinat Jumeirah Tour | Souk Madinat | Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Al Naseem, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Jumeirah Al Qasr
One of the activities I looked forward to doing the most in the Dubai intinerary I have prepared is the reserved Bab Al Yam brunch with Daniel. Naturally, that will rank higher than #36. What I’ll be talking about here is what we did after we ate like there’s no tomorrow.
Originally, we planned to drop by Souk Madinat and enjoy views from there. Since both Burj Al Arab and the mall are part of a complex of hotels operated by Jumeirah group, shuttle services from one location to another is free. We happened to take a ride from a kababayan.
She didn’t need to but she toured us to every drop off point in the complex. At each point are pretty views, so I had the chance to take many, many pictures.
Souk Madinat is nothing special really – imagine Greenhills items in an Arabic-inspired version of Greenbelt. I guess people go because, like in Greenbelt, the food choices and al fresco dining are the main attractions.
It’s the hop on-hop off impromptu tour we were treated to that made this activity special to me, and it didn’t hurt to be able to have a glimpse of the hotels and villas I will never be able to afford renting.
35 | Balayan Heritage Buildings | Immaculate Conception Church | Leo Martinez House | Jose Rizal Roundabout | Ermita House | Sixto Lopez House | Casa de Cacao Filipina
Like many towns in the Calabarzon region, Balayan had played several important roles in the past. It is also the hometown of many prominent personalities in Philippine history, including Galicano Apacible and Sixto Lopez.
What entitles Balayan to be among an elite group of notable Calabarzon towns is its built heritage. One fine example of its architectural gems is the beautiful Immaculate Conception Church. Built in 1795, it is one of the Spanish Period Catholic churches inscribed by the National Commission on Culture and Arts as National Treasure.
Apart from the church, there are ancestral houses. Fe, Union, and Antorcha Streets have grand residences that reminds the people of Balayan of their town’s prosperous past. Not all of these homes are well maintained and more samples of adaptive reuse could reinvigorate Balayan’s poblacion.
34 | Al Ain Palace Museum
The Palace of Sheikh Zayed, now a museum, is Al Ain’s most prominent landmark – and for good reason. The man is the first president of the UAE and this 1937 palace is where he and his family resided.
The palace is architecturally impressive. There’s a certain grandness in its simplicity and despite its ample open spaces there’s a sense of intimacy within its premises. Information about the sheikh and his lineage are displayed here, and while very interesting, I think that what I liked the most in this place is the geometric patterns on the buildings that make up the palace complex.
33 | Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
Zhongzheng District, Taipei
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial in Taipei is as grand as it gets, I think. It’s no Forbidden City, but I get the same air of grandeur in its open grounds, loftily named Liberty Square. Mimi enjoyed a stroll in its manicured gardens until she got hungry.
The main gate is my favorite. Its arches seem to dance while the shape of its roofs give an impression that the gate is about to take flight. I also really love the porcelain white and blue combination.
32 | San Martin de Tours Basilica | Taal Park
Calle San Martin, Taal, Batangas
San Martin de Tours Basilica is the largest church in Asia. Many sources say this so I looked it up on the internet and I was able to confirm that no other religious building that’s called a church on this side of the world is bigger than Taal Basilica.
From Taal Park, it looks big, but not any bigger than any other big Philippine church. It’s the beautiful columns that adorn its facade (some sources say it’s patterned after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome) that captures my attention first before its sheer size. Inside though, I could tell that it’s really big. It’s very spacious and a recent renovation makes it feel airier and brighter.
I have visited before on a Visita Iglesia and it’s as beautiful as I remember. I should also mention that during my visit, I wasn’t granted access to the views from the belfry. I was so looking forward to it.
31 | Al Awir Desert Safari
Al Awir, Dubai
I didn’t know I was going to be a fan of deserts until I have visited the Mojave Desert in 2013, so when the opportunity to see the Arabian Desert presented itself, I grabbed the chance. Technically, even the built-up area of Dubai is part of the Arabian Desert. I think that’s obvious. But it’s also obvious that it’s hard to appreciate the natural features of this desert if I don’t venture into the sandy, emptier parts.
Al Awir Desert Safari is also about dune bashing, camel riding and Bedouin-style dining and entertainment. I truly enjoyed the cultural aspects of the safari but no activity could compare to just standing there and simply taking in the awe-inspiring landscape of the desert itself.
Part 3, a week-ish from the latest post again?