Time Out At Last

It was supposed to be a family trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary so I felt guilty knowing the hubby and my son couldn’t go after all. On the other hand, I knew it was a break I so much needed. Being the daughter of a pilot, I learned at an early age how travel can heal a tired, beat up and weary soul. I reminded myself that my two daughters and mom were going on this trip and it slowly started to feel like an adventure-specially without the boys.

The time away from work and the usual daily routine did wonders. I got reacquainted with my love for food and allowed myself some indulgences. It was specially fun exploring the different flavors and textures of foreign cuisine once again.

The highlight of the trip was being with my mom and daughters, without having to worry about deadlines and to-do lists. For once they had my undivided attention. It felt wonderful just being in the moment. It was extremely liberating to bask in nothing but the absolute present. I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders and my batteries were recharged. I’m truly grateful for those five days.

Hong Kong Holiday

It’s been ages since I’ve last visited Hong Kong and this is my first trip with my daughters and my mom. So the first order of business, naturally was some shopping and then a day in Disneyland. It was a special treat to have my elder daughter’s best friend join us on this trip!

Because we only had two nights and three days in Hong Kong, I was happy with our decision to stay at The Prince Marco Polo Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui at Kowloon. The hotel has its own access to Harbour City and it was just a few minutes walk from Silvercord Mall. The hotel also provided us with one cellphone per room which we were able to use to call each other and as our pocket wifi, free of charge. The phones helped us out a lot when we were out shopping and during our day at Disneyland, plus we had wifi wherever we went. The hotel was also just a few minutes walk to the ferry terminal and this was so convenient  since we were crossing over to Macau. This made the hotel’s location just superb for us.

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All the walking left us famished!! Thank goodness for this Singaporean vermicelli with seared scallops and veggies.
Loved this clear potato soup with the skins on! This was served with the dish below.
Loved this clear potato soup with the skins on! This was served with the dish below.
Shrimp dumplings on top of silken tofu with the lightest soy sauce ever. Happy we chose to eat at the Silvercord Mall food court.
Shrimp dumplings on top of silken tofu with the lightest soy sauce ever. Happy we chose to eat at the Silvercord Mall food court.
My craving for chocolate was satisfied after this chocolate macaron from Laduree at Harbour City.
My craving for chocolate was satisfied finally after this macaron from Laduree at Harbour City.

Macau in three days

While the three days in Hong Kong was a blur, Macau was more leisurely paced. We had enough time to visit both Senado Square at Macau Peninsula and then Taipa Island. The rest of the time was spent at The Venetian on Cotai Island. It was really interesting to see the mix of Portuguese and Macau culture in the architecture as well as the food.

Three generations at the ruins of St. Paul's Church, Senado Square
Three generations at the ruins of St. Paul’s Church, Senado Square

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More scenes at Senado Square:

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Lots of different kinds of jerky
Lots of different kinds of jerky

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These Portuguese egg tarts quickly became my new addiction – the custard is light, smooth and melt-in-your mouth silky (and it’s not too sweet at all), with a perfectly flaky crust. I made sure to bring some home – even if I had to hand carry them.
Thank goodness for Starbucks! They had wifi - and the English speaking baristas were a big help!
Thank goodness for Starbucks! They had wifi – and the English speaking baristas were a big help!
Funny how shopping found its way back to our itinerary. But we couldn't help it - there was a SALE at Forever 21!
Funny how shopping found its way back to our itinerary. But we couldn’t help it – there was a SALE at Forever 21!

Here’s a look at Taipa Island:

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We came across pretty pastel colored structures all over Taipa which showed the country’s Portuguese influence having been a colony of Portugal for more than 300 years.
This crunchy squid was my fave at Seng Cheong Restaurant in Rua Do Cunha St., Taipa
This crunchy squid was my fave at Seng Cheong Restaurant in Rua Do Cunha St., Taipa

The Venetian Macao Resort and Hotel, Cotai Island:

We stayed at The Venetian Macao for two nights and three days. Due to budget constraints we chose the smallest room, the 70 square meter Bella Suite. With 2 queen size beds and a living room with sofa, chairs, and dining or work table, the suite was more than comfortable for the four of us. I loved that the third level of The Venetian housed The Shoppes, an indoor mall. The food court was also on the third level, so we had a wide array of affordable but delicious food to choose from. It was a challenge trying to decide among so many options – Chinese, Indian, Italian, and of course Portuguese and more.

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We got this naan and hummus from one of the stalls at the food court serving Indian cuisine. The  hummus was so good we asked for an extra order of fresh warm roti to finish off the hummus with!
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The ceiling of the outdoor driveway arrival area
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The third level of The Venetian features The Shoppes mall area. It took me a few minutes to realize the sky wasn’t real. This illusion messed up our body clock, we were still window shopping at 10pm but it felt like it was just early afternoon.
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Also at The Shoppes, guests are able to take a gondola ride under the pleasantly cloudy and blue ‘sky’. We didn’t do this though since we decided to use the time to visit Senado Square and Taipa instead.
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This roasted goose with hoisin sauce, fresh bok choy and a generous serving of white steaming hot rice was good and hearty.
The lobby at The Venetian. Look down. Do you see it? I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
The lobby at The Venetian. Look down. Do you see it? I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
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This very refreshing dessert and drink in one: coconut milk with sago
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Look up at the hotel lobby ceiling and you’ll see this

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I enjoyed this potato and vegetable soup so much I had it twice in two days! It was pretty cool having Portuguese soup using a Chinese spoon and chopsticks. Such an interesting fusion of Macau and Portuguese culture.
See's Candies always brings back pure joyful childhood memories. I'm just happy whenever I'm in a See's store.
See’s Candies always brings back pure joyful childhood memories. I’m just happy whenever I’m in a See’s store. My fave during this trip was the dark chocolate truffle topped with ground nutmeat.
Absolutely divine: Godiva dark and white chocolate soft serve ice cream
Absolutely divine: Godiva dark and white chocolate soft serve ice cream

It was a great five days in Hong Kong and Macau with my mom and my girls. The time off from work and household responsibilities no doubt rejuvenated my spirit and I’m thankful I had this opportunity. Still, I can’t help but think how much better it would have been with the boys whom we missed so much. Perhaps I can put this to rest when we finally have a chance to celebrate our 20th anniversary out of town. That’s something I am certainly and happily still looking forward to this year.

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Divine Design

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Circa 1978. My parents introduced me to Salliji when I was only 6 years old. Here, she teaches yoga and meditation to the pilots of the Airline Pilots’ Association of the Philippines and their families
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Eighty-seven year old Salliji, author of Cosmic Arrangement, has been teaching the benefits of meditation for 42 years

To say that the book “Cosmic Arrangement” by Salliji teaches the art of meditation is selling the book and Salliji’s teachings short. While it does certainly teach this art, it is so much more.

The book narrates Salliji’s cosmic journey around the world over the last eight decades. At PowerBooks Greenbelt 3, Makati, Philippines on June 20th, Salliji’s friends and disciples participated not just in the book launch event, but also in a meaningful session of learning and interaction. Salliji engaged her listeners in a brief lecture on the benefits of yoga, mindful breathing and innercises (versus exercises).

Three innercises were demonstrated, namely: sun breathing, swimming in space and diagonal stretching. Salliji emphasized that each innercise is combined with meditation, thereby allowing one to be aware of and to feel the flow of energy. Proper and mindful breathing (versus empty breathing) was also discussed and demonstrated, with emphasis on the benefits of being present in the moment.

Sun Breathing was the first among three innercises taught during the book launch
Sun Breathing was the first among three innercises taught during the book launch.

As a perpetually busy working mom who multi-tasks as a norm, I could readily identify with the challenge of simply being mindfully present in the moment. This alone inspired me to finish reading the book. If anything at all in this article piques your curiosity or interest, it may just be cosmic arrangement or divine design in motion.

Cosmic Arrangement is available in PowerBooks, Greenbelt 3, Makati, Philippines. Please leave a comment here if you’re interested in getting a copy but have no access to PowerBooks.

My very cool parents
I met Salliji 37 years ago through my very cool parents during the yoga and meditation class she offered to my dad’s group of pilots and their families at the ALPAP (Airline Pilots’ Association of the Philippines) office in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines. I have vivid and fond memories doing the yoga poses Tita Sally taught me and look forward to practicing yoga again. Even as a hyper six year old child, I remember that warm peaceful feeling of stillness and calm, whenever I was in meditation state or during yoga.
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My younger sister shows pure joy in finally meeting Salliji
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Cosmic Arrangement is available in PowerBooks, Greenbelt 3, Makati, Philippines