Of bitter-sweet changes: what life teaches you

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Facebook just reminded me that 3 years ago, I left Manila once again for my life here in Jakarta. It was also at that same time that I was moving from my “bachelorette” apartment in Mandaluyong to our current home in Parañaque, which is more apropos for a bigger family, including my daughter Abby and my Mom.

I have a penchant for doing that: going through cycles of change all at the same time.

Who in her right mind will buy a new house in Manila and leave two weeks after for another expatriate stint abroad?

Apparently, me.

Fast forward to today, I’m about to go through the same cycle of moving and changing. The cycle for me tends to repeat. It just gets bolder and bigger.

Ridiculously crazy – is an understatement for what I have been going through in the past few weeks. But I can’t exactly complain too much, as I brought this upon myself, for better or for worse.

I’m about to change jobs and leave the industry that has been my domain for almost fifteen years, and although I’m not changing countries, I’m again moving to a new apartment. This will commence all in a span of 3 weeks.

I’m probably sadomasochistic, receiving pleasure by subjecting myself to these pain and inconveniences.

I find that personal transformations are only made through difficult journeys, with a lot of pain and discomfort. No matter how much it hurts and jolts me, somehow I have grown bones and nerves in my body that make me adapt to the discomfort.

As I do it over and over again, I realized that no matter how much I toss myself into the fire, it still burns. It just made me more resilient each time I go through it.

At the same time, I have amassed important learnings and insights about change and difficult moments:

Lowered expectations mean less disappointment and more happiness. It may sound counter-intuitive, but when we jump into a massive change, we expect bigger and better, too. GUILTY. I’m so guilty of this.

I also expect people to be better, to know better or to understand better, which leaves me severely disappointed.

Two friends have given me this advice: expect less, or even don’t expect anything at all, especially from other people and your life will be so much happier.

Never expect that when you do the right thing, others will and respond positively. The divide between right and wrong has always been murky. It’s also always affected by perception and personal emotions, too. Nevertheless, let your moral yardstick and integrity guide you amidst the changes.

And even when things go awry, try to always do things right, make things right. If you fail, don’t be too hard up on yourself. It’s a wash-rinse-repeat process.

Finally and one of the most important insights that this experience gifted me: You will realize who among the people in your life are for real and who your real friends are. Some people will surprise you – for better or for worse, good or bad.

Some people who were not even close to me reached out to offer help – any kind of help – that they can give. From packing boxes to sending a bottle of wine (the latter being preferred) and to just offering time to listen to me rant as a show of moral support.

The kind words, the hugs, the show of solidarity and support immensely lifted my spirits up and gave me the cheerleading that I badly needed.

When I look back to this journey, I’m certain that what I will fondly remember are the people in my life who chose to be with me, whether they approve or disapprove of the direction that I chose.

At the end of the day, I am stronger and more resilient because of the love and support given by these people at this juncture of my life. Grateful, I will always be grateful to them when I recall these moments.

Now off to packing boxes, packing and unpacking my life.

Sea Breeze Ceningan: Wonderfully Bohemian

I love all things Bohemian. Ergo, not a surprise that I fell in love with the vibe of Sea Breeze Ceningan,  a quaint warung-bar in Nusa Ceningan, Bali. Yes, this is still in the Island of the Gods!

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Interior of Sea Breeze in Nusa Ceningan

Sea Breeze Ceningan Bar and Restaurant is located 500 meters from the Yellow Bridge, the bridge connecting the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan to each other.

From Nusa Lembongan, Arshad and I crossed the Yellow Bridge to  Nusa Ceningan to find a restaurant-bar overlooking the waters so we can hang out and drink cocktails while watching the sunset.

While cruising through the streets of Nusa Lembongan in a motorbike, we came across this quaint and quirky resto-bar which was on point Bohemian – both in its exterior and interior design.

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Sea Breeze Ceningan’s exterior boasting of beach-themed embellishments fused with Indonesian decors and statues

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Food for thought: sayings and maxims dotting the frontage of Sea Breeze Ceningan

When I entered Sea Breeze Ceningan, I immediately fell in love with the Boho vibe, as the restaurant was replete with Instagrammable nooks and crannies, with all its maxims and fun boards carrying words of wisdom:

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If you are a sun worshipper who likes Bohemian chic, head out to Sea Breeze Ceningan

The interior of the restaurant boasted of beautiful murals and mandala designs and the open design allowed air to flow to counter the warmth of the tropical island.

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Sea Breeze Ceningan’s quirky interior bedecked with mandala murals

Having an ocean view and a waterfront location, Sea Breeze Ceningan scores tons of points for having both Bohemian and beachy vibe. It felt so cool to just lounge around and chill inside the restaurant, as the open-air designed allowed us breeze.

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Sea Breeze Ceningan’s waterfront with swings and a heart-shape frontage

Arshad and I stayed to watch the sunset and take more photos while sipping rose’ wine from Plaga, a vineyard locally based in Bali.

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For more information:

  • Bar & Restaurant
  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • 8am – late
  • FREE pick up – Nusa Lembongan / Nusa Ceningan
  • 2 pax by motorbike, more than 5 pax by car
  • FREE wifi
  • FREE delivery on Nusa Ceningan
  • Mobile number: +62 812 3956 7407

Inaladelan Island, Palawan

Dear Pong Pagong,

I had so much fun swimming after you that you took me far away from my boat. I was so exhausted going back because I didn’t realize the distance I swam, with NO flippers to boot. I was so enamored chasing after you, jelly fish and plankton stings be damned! Now my legs are full of whips, lashes and battle scars that it will take months and several gluta IV shots to remove the marks.

Will I do it again? A definite YES as I rarely catch a glimpse of you. May the ocean be good to you, may humans take better care of you.

So long, Pong Pagong! We shall see each other soon. [photos courtesy of @nomadic_mike ]

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Pawikan sighting: one of the giant turtles we spotted during our trip to Inaladelan Island in Palawan, Philippines

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Pawikan lounging underwater in Inaladelan Island

 

Pisang-Pisang: Goin’ Bananas Over Healthy Food in Nusa Lembongan

NL_pisang7_wmI’m an advocate of healthy and clean eating. Although I can’t claim to be fully vegan, I prefer a plant-based diet. My quest for organic, plant-based food was very much satisfied by Pisang-Pisang (literally translated as Banana-Banana), a small healthy food restaurant attached to Rama Garden Retreat in Nusa Lembongan, Bali.

Pisang-Pisang serves meat, vegetarian and vegan options. Their menu has an extensive option for vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan choices. Best of all, most of the ingredients are organic. They have an impressive menu of smoothie and fresh juices, and you shouldn’t leave the restaurant without trying one!

Since I stayed at Rama Retreat in Nusa Lembongan, my package came with not just free breakfast, but also lunch!

For breakfast, I defaulted to wheat toast, fried eggs with onions and tomatoes with a side of fruits and honey.  Breakfast isn’t complete, of course, without my ever-reliable black coffee.

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Pisang-Pisang’s breakfast of wheat toast, fried eggs with onions and tomatoes with a side of fruits and honey, paired of course with black coffee

My next favorite (of which I ordered twice) is their soft taco, with a blend of sweet potatoes, red and green bell peppers, onions, corn, carrots and beans. This became my default lunch while I was in Nusa Lembongan. It was filling enough for me that I can’t eat anything else after!

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For a lighter fare and as energy extender after surfing, their pan fried tofu with onions, peppers and sriracha sauce is recommended. It’s tasty and the serving is just enough to tide you over the next meal.

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During our stay in Rama Retreat, I was really out on a mission to try most of Pisang-Pisang’s vegetarian dishes in the menu. I would also highly recommend their vegetarian stir-fried noodles with a generous portion of vegetables and their Japanese vegetarian handroll with edamame on the side.

Finally, to complete Pisang-Pisang’s healthy fare, the menu boasts of an extensive list of juice and smoothies and I suggest you try EVERYTHING. Since it is also marketed as a juice bar, they practically have all kinds of juices and smoothies you can ever think of.

My go-to fare included Wake Me Up and Spicy Jet Lag, which contained my favorite fruits: papaya, local lime and watermelon.

Pisang-Pisang’s products and ingredients are carefully selected from organic agriculture. The menu is reasonably priced so healthy eating won’t break your budget while you are in the island.

It also helped that they had super-friendly staff and the restaurant has WIFI access.

Pisang-Pisang is open daily from 7:00am until 9:00pm.

For more details, you can reach them through:  +62-81238441996

Location:

Jalan Jungutbatu, Banjar Kaja, Nusa Lembongan, Desa Jungutbatu, Bali, Indonesia, 0366

 

Unapologetic hiatus

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Bella at the NH Collection Amistad Hotel in Cordoba, Spain

I know I have not been posting or writing for more than a month. It was deliberate and I have no excuse other than taking care of my wellness and sanity.

I needed to live. I needed to breathe.

I needed to be with people I choose to be with. I needed to be rid of social obligations that just weighed me down.

I needed to let go of people who were not good for me.

I was trying to avoid my usual crash-and-burn phase.

And I didn’t want to lie about it.

The Spain trip did me a whole lot of good. It afforded me time to be with Arshad, outside of our day-to-day grind, only to be reminded that I married someone that I perfectly get along with, in terms of habits, preferences and rhythm.

It also allowed me to reflect on my choices and path, and that I can change decisions immediately without looking back. That reflections should be made, but not regrets.

Bella in Mezquita Cordoba

I hope to write more often, but between writing and saving my sanity and myself, I’m gonna have to choose the latter.

I’m borrowing what the poet Brittin Oakman wrote:

“I lied and said I was busy.
I was busy;
but not in a way most people understand.

I was busy taking deeper breaths.
I was busy silencing irrational thoughts.
I was busy calming a racing heart.
I was busy telling myself I am okay.

Sometimes, this is my busy –
and I will not apologize for it.”
—Brittin Oakman
#ToBeVulnerablyHonest

Perfectly said. Except that I don’t want to lie about it, because I deserve the break and momentary bouts of silence.

Beautiful Cadiz

Sunset in Cadiz

Cadiz, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe, is what I call a beautiful surprise.

We had no plans but to rest in Cadiz, as this is our stopover before we finally drive out to Sevilla. No tours booked, nothing. We booked a flamenco show when we already arrived.

If there is enough time, sometimes it’s good to not join tours or just let your feet take you wherever they may lead.

Cadiz, one of the most ancient European tows, was well worth it the missed flights and the long drives.

 

Of delayed flights and other travel shenanigans

It’s 2:08am in Singapore. Our flight to Barcelona has left at 11:30pm and we are not in it.

A faulty hydraulic delayed our Jakarta to Singapore flight for 2 hours and instead of an hour and a half’s worth of layover in Singapore, this delay will cause us to stay for two days in the Merlion City. This in turn causes us to lose our two days in Valencia. Such is the domino effect of this whole fiasco.

When traveling, delayed flights and lost luggage are the two greatest equalizers. Yes, even for business class travelers.

The queue for flight rebooking has not moved for almost an hour now, with a lot of flights fully booked in the next two days. The business class lounge had ZERO people after midnight (I am calling you out, Singapore Airlines), and the ground staff seemed to be unprepared, despite the 3-hour lead time that the airline already knows of the delay.

In short, I don’t see this blunder getting fixed until four in the morning.

I’m tired, I need a shower and I have a lot of time in my hands, ergo the blogging and probably reading some app dev porn from my tech agile stream.

What else is there to do?

One thing I have learned from my travels is that I just get more exhausted from bitching and getting angry about delayed flights and lost luggage (another debacle experienced during my trip to Italy).

Patience is not one of my greatest virtues but I have learned to adjust and make-do with the cards that I’m dealt with, especially if there’s really nothing I can do about it.

While Arshad is patiently in line (thank God for resilient travel partners and husbands), I am sat here in Coffee Bean writing and eventually clearing out some of my readings.

The cliche’ “when life gives you lemons, get vodka and make lemoncillo” (or is it a different one?) holds very true.

So Singapore it is in the next two days. Marina Bay Sands, here we go!

The Majestic Mount Mayon

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Mount Mayon: photo taken by Bella in December 2017

Before Mount Mayon erupted in January, I took the family to Legazpi for a short trip in December. NO, we did not bring the eruption to the volcano (although coincidentally, Mount Agung of Bali erupted days after we arrived in October).

Now called the Beautiful Disaster, the view of Mayon remains to be a majestic sight to behold. It was my first time to see it up close and personal, too, when we did the ATV ride around the volcano.

Mount Mayon is indeed beautiful, a national price for the Filipinos.