Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back in Cleveland

A few hours of uneventful travel later and I am home. I had a killer weekend in Springfield. It was great to spend time with Megan and Brad, and special guest star Stephanie.

Springfield was a great place with heaps of cool places to eat and drink (although the batting cages are very unreliable). I'm looking forward to Christmas there.

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Glimpses of Central Province

Madhya Pradesh (MP), the center of India is a land of natural beauty along with rich heritage. The state has two hill ranges Vindhya and Satpura and several small and big rivers running across the state. These natural features have created a landscape of plateaus, river valleys, hills, and forests. (Click on all the images for bigger picture)

It has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the 9th - 10th century temples at Khajuraho, remains of the 3rd - 7th century BC Buddhist settlement at Sanchi; and cave paintings dating to 8000 BC at Bhimbetka. Apart from this There are plenty of rich cultural heritage sites. Gwalior is famous for the forts and palaces. Shivpuri is known for wild life and cenotaphs, Orchha and Datia is known for the palaces, Jabalpur well known for its natural water resource and marbles. The capital, Bhopal is a former princely state, a small city celebrated for its mosques and palaces, old-town ambiance. The hill-citadel of Mandu (near Indore) is renowned for its ruins set in greenery, especially after monsoons. Ujjain is a holy city for the Hindus. Other less known sites like Padavali, Mitavali, Suryavahi also have rich cultural heritage. The scenic sanctuaries of Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks are mostly savanna grassland terrains that have tigers and elephants as prime attractions.

The itinerary that we followed for my trip is as follows. We reached Bhopal overnight and started my trip next day early morning. During our journey we also covered Jhansi which falls in the different state and that is Utter Pradesh.

My family comprising of 4 adults and 2 kids enjoyed our experience owing to the good road network in the state. The travel and sight seeing was done by train and SUV. We had booked the accommodation and vehicle at all the places before the start of journey.

Friends, it was a pleasant experience and let me share the details with you in the subsequent posts.

From Bhopal, we traveled to Bhojpur.

Bhopal ---> Bhojpur 28 kms

To see the World visit other participants at: That's My World Tuesday.

What noise does a deer make?

Another one of my amazing animal photos. They were just grazing in the burbs.

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Suck on this Caroline

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

They have hypercolour beer bottles

The mountain logo and banner across the bottom are blue when the beer is cold and goes white when it warms up (which means you are drinking too slow).

"when the mountain turns blue, its as cold as the Rockies"

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My very own cowboy boots

Marinduque in my Heart

Am sharing this video that I presented as a birthday & goodbye present to Atty. Allan "P.A." Velasco, who ended his term as Marinduque administrator yesterday. Video shows some of the cultural and tourism-related activities that he helped introduce during his two-year stint at the capitol.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Believe me

That is a photo of a guy in a country hat, drinking from a pitcher of beer, with a black eye. I'm so out of place but look good in my cowboy hat and boots.

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I'm 100% cowboy. Yeeeeha

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The roaches are big over here

Mortein just won't do

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The local Kum and Go

If you didn't laugh, you are dead on the inside.

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Fried pickles, sounds disgusting but really amazing

I've been taken to hooters for lunch (it really is a family restaurant). I get more American each day.

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We are in BCF on steroids

I have just been picked up and taken to what seems to be the worlds biggest store EVER and it is dedicated to hunting and camping. It has live alligators fish the size of cars and stuffed animals everywhere. There is a 3 story waterfall and a one piece camouflage baby suit. Redneck utopia.

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Can I keep him?

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A view of Springfield from the airport

And Megan is late. Has she ever been on time for anything? I could be attacked by a crazy midwesterner because of my slick city stylings.

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Starbucks- American for disappointment

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That's the snow on the plane window!!!

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Let it snow, let it snow

I'm in cleveland airport at my departure gate waiting for my flight to Springfield (via Chicago) and looking out the window I can see snow. It's swirling around and floating and to a Gold Coast boy, it's pretty cool. I have attached the picture, and although you can't see it, imagine the graininess is snow.

In Springfield it is going to be 17c, a heatwave. I will be very disappointed if it continues to snow in cleveland this weekend. I don't want to miss the only fun thing to happen in Cleveland since . . . Um, I'm drawing a blank here.

Looking out, it is very cool. I can't wait to get out in it when it snows when I am around. The locals will be complaining the way we complain about the heat at home but smile through the pain people.

The next time I post, I will likely be in Missouri, writing in my newly acquired midwestern accent.

PS I hope the snow doesn't ground us. That may take the shine off.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's P.A.'s Birthday Party!

"P.A." throws a birthday-despedida party for his supporters and fans at the Mogpog Covered Court this afternoon from 4:00 pm.

Atty. Allan "P.A." Velasco recently took his oath as member of the administration party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD. Set to file his candidacy for a national position in the May 2010 elections in the Philippines, he will be leaving his post as provincial administrator by the end of this month.

Velasco served as chairman of the Marinduque Provincial Tourism Council during his two-year stint in the provincial government. He undertook related projects and activities in cooperation with the office of the governor, the provincial council, provincial tourism office, local LGUs, cultural organizations, tourism agencies and Team Marinduque. Initial thrust is for the island-province to make a strong presence in the promotion of the island as a haven for adventure sports and community-based tourism.

All-out promotion and development of Marinduque tourism and allied services and industries shall be his 'reason for being' if elected. P.A. is president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Marinduque Chapter.

He is the son of Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the Philippines and former Marinduque beauty queen Lorna Quinto-Velasco of Mogpog-Torrijos.

Magellan's new Vinni Bag for wine transport

Here is another product I'm taking with me to Italy to product-test - the Vinni Bag from Magellan's. According to the Magellan's website, the Vinni Bag is "an air cushioned ride for your prized vintage. More secure than bubble wrap, the inflatable (and reusable) Vinni Bag seals fine wine, spirits, or other fragile or large items in an air-filled chamber, protecting it from the rigors of travel. Made of PVC, it inflates with just a couple of breaths, safely securing the bottle inside, and has a clear panel on the front for easy inspection by airport security. " I look forward to trying out this made-in-the-USA product! Check back to see for my review of this product.

Turkey, turkey goodness- nearly there

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Chilli makes poker better (not you Chile)

Last night's poker game was a smashing success. The dark horse of the night was Faiza. She came in "not knowing how to play" and cleaned up. Most consistent goes to Chile, the Don of the table. Best poker face goes to Lyudmila- nothing could crack that Russian stoicism. The enthusiasm award goes to Asad- he tried so hard.

A big thanks to Julia for supplying the food. German efficiency knows no bounds. In between work and poker, she was able to pack for her Chicago trip, make chilli and find the game (we moved rooms).

I'm happy to do it again to take all of your money.
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This is how we do it in Chile

It is thanksgiving today and Antonio is cooking turkey the way his mamma (in-law) used to make it. Watch for the finished product.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kim Chi at Korean Food Cooking Class

There is a saying : "to really understand one country's culture, you must try their food". So, what is the trademark food for Korea ? Yes, Kim Chi or Kim Cee is the most famous Korea food, not only for the local people but also at overseas.

Kimchi actually is a fermented vegetable dish highly seasoned with red pepper and garlic and is served at virtually all meals. Because for its popular, most of Korean Restaurants everywhere in the world are serving Kimchi soup for dessert or main menu.

For tourists who are visiting Korea, don't forget to take the Kimchi Making Lesson. There are many famous Korean cooking classes in Korea, include classes in royal palace cuisine at the National Palace Museum in Gyeongbokgung Palace, classes run by the Tteok Museum, and Yoo’s Family’s classes in Bukchon hanok village.

Kimchi Festival or Kimchi Contest is frequently hold by Korea governments now. Kimchi was again front and center on the Hansik (Korean food) tour arranged by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery and the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea (EUCCK) that took place at the Hanok Village in Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do (North Jeolla Province)

There are 3 main site for visitors to take Korean Cooking Classes :

1. The National Palace Museum of Korea at Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul.

The royal palace cuisine cooking classes at the National Palace Museum in Gyeongbokgung Palace have become particularly popular since the international success of the Korean TV drama, “Daejanggeum”, which was set in a Joseon era palace kitchen. This is a good course for people looking to learn Korean cooking over a longer period. Courses last three months, and participants learn a new royal meal every week. For those interested in partaking, be sure to make prior reservations through the homepage.

National Palace Museum of Korea Annex 1F

Program :
Learn 12 different Royal Court dishes over a 12-week period (accompanied by a guide)
Experience programs will vary according to the season, so please inquire by telephone or via the homepage.

Course Dates & Times: Fridays (3-month regular course) 6:30pm ~ 8:00pm
Irregular Course: to be scheduled on Saturdays.

Fees for Ingredients:
- Ingredient costs for regular courses will vary from 15,000 to 20,000won
per month. (around 50,000 won total for 3 months)
- Irregular Courses: 4,000 won ~ 10,000 won per class.

2. Tteok museum

The Tteok Museum offers classes in cooking traditional dishes like tteok (traditional rice cakes) and kimchi. During the classes, participants can wear a hanbok, and at the end of class you can eat the food you’ve made. The programs are only available for groups of at least 20 people.

The museum is a short walk from the front gate of Changdeokgung Palace in the direction of Jongno 3-ga Station, Exit 6. It is open Monday to Saturday, 10:00—5:00 and on Sunday, 12:00—5:00. It is closed on Seollal and Chuseok. Entrance is 3,000 won.

3. Yoo’s Family

At Yoo’s Family’s cooking classes, visitors can learn Korean dishes like kimchi, bulgogi, pajeon, and tteokbokki, which are popular among foreigners. Minimum of 2 people required per class. English and Japanese interpretation provided.

Some photos of Korean Cooking class like Kimchi and Tteok, and lesson at Korean Palace :

Pulmuone Kimchi museum seoul
Kimchi, a pickled and fermented dish, is displayed in the Pulmuone Kimchi Museum in Seoul

learn how to make kimchi
The Hansik tour group is learning how to season kimchi

kimchi lesson at Gyeongbokgung palace
Cook Traditional Royal Court Delicacies at the National Palace Museum of Korea (Gyeongbokgung Palace)

Gogung Tteurak Cafe
The newly opened Gogung Tteurak Café, located inside the National Palace Museum of Korea, presents the ambiance of traditional Korea. The facility is divided into a souvenir shop and a café, serving traditional teas.

Utgitteok Lesson
Tourist trying in making Utgitteok, an abundant pile of rice cakes topped with elegant decorations usually prepared for large events. We were also able to easily follow directions for Saektteok (colored rice cakes), which feature beautiful colors and shapes, often called Kkotsanjeok (meaning a mountain of flowers).

Korean Cooking Class
Famous Korean cooking classes, include classes in royal palace cuisine at the National Palace Museum in Gyeongbokgung Palace

rice cakes at Tteok Museum
Rice cake or TTeok. Tteok Museum teaches the history and tradition of Korae's Most Important treat

Kimchi at Dongrakwon Jeonju
The group is listening how to make kimchi at Dongrakwon, Jeonju Hanok Village in Jeollabuk-do (North Jeolla Province)

first time making kimchi
For most of the participants it was their first time to make kimchi, and they were intent on following the given instructions as precisely as possible, slicing the radish and mixing it with other seasonings.

Watch KimChi Making learning class Video here

The first inaugural ACC 2009 poker match

It is the poker Olympics. We have 2 competitors from Russia, 1 from Germany, 2 from Bahrain, one from Chile and the loud Australian. Its not about who won . . . as long as I did.

It was a great night and I met another person who cannot understand Australian.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Antonio is cooking the turkey and apparently it is going to involve apple and plum.

Happy than thanksgiving all and to all a goodnight.

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This is our room in the EY Cleveland office

We are full of Christmas cheer (and whatever kind of feeling goes with Thanksgiving).

Thanks for the photos Julia.

Bring it Mother Nature

Apparently it is going to snow in Cleveland on Friday, just as I fly out to Springfield where it is going to be 17C. It is better this way as in the snow I am basically invisable. Just floating freckles in a sea of white.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This may be my last post

Antonio and I are on a bus going the wrong way into dark and scary places in Cleveland where I certainly don't belong. Tell the cops to search for me on google latitude.

Update: we ended up at a dodgy train station but it will take us downtown so we should survive. I just need to find a tree to climb for safety.

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tubes of mince!!

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Antonio has decided on his next international assignment

Bahrain - he gets to have 4 wives.

And a quick howdy to our new recruits in the project room, Julia from Germany and Asad from Bahrain. The fun keeps growing.

I have found a use for iSnack 2.0

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Monday, November 23, 2009

She sells seashells...

Yes she does, this girl from Gaspar Island, but big ones like these are getting harder to find.

Normally washed up on the Marinduque shores are the small ones that children collect, play with or turn into garden or house decors.

Hidden beach with a past, Gaspar Island

On a small strip of white sand beach mantled with crushed corals hidden along the southern part of Gaspar Island (one of Tres Reyes (Three Kings) Islands off Gasan), one feels completely isolated from the rest of the world.

This island figured prominently in the journal by a French naturalist who explored Marinduque in 1881, Alfred Marche. He may have referred to the crevice from where the above photo was taken: "About 2 o'clock in the afternoon, the sea being calm, on another exploration of the coast, we visited a few crevices and discovered a grotto, the entrance of which was hidden by debris produced by a volcanic convulsion... I entered and, having the ground dug, I found out that the bottom was carpeted with a bed of skulls slightly covered by madreporic debris and sand." (Marche)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hazar Rama Temple, Hampi

This 15th century shrine of Lord Rama located in the Royal Area of Hampi is popularly called "Hazara Rama Temple". Inscriptions inside the Hazara Rama temple provide evidence of the indicate the period of origin of this temple as Devaraya I erected it in the early 15th century. This is the only temple in the area with its external walls decorated with five rows of bas-reliefs. They portray the processions of elephants, horses with attendants, military contingents, and dancing girls. (click on the image for bigger view)

The name of the temple is Rama due to the large number of Ramayana panels carved in long arrays, onto the walls of this temple. Incidents in the story like Dasaratha performing a sacrifice to beget sons, the birth of Rama, his exile into the forest, the abduction of Sita and the ultimate fight between Rama and Ravana are all carved in a vivid manner. In these panels, the story of Rama and through it the triumph of good over evil is brought out.

This high wall encloses the entire complex with the main entrances set on the east. The temple consisted of a sanctum, an ardha mantapa and a pillared hall with an open porch with tall and elegant pillars. The pillar hall is notable for its unique pillars in black-stone. They are set on a raised stone platform in the middle of the hall. The other structures in this temple complex are a shrine for Devi and Utsava Mantapa.

To the south is a small doorway, which leads to the Durbar Area. It is believed that this thempe is used privately by the royal family.

10th Philippine Hobie Challenge - Marinduque Leg

Marinduque is one of several island hosts to the 10th Philippine Hobie Challenge earlier this year. Leg 1 of the race was from Laiya to Marinduque. Powered by easterly Amihan monsoon winds the fleet made rapid progress on a bearing of 129 degrees across the southern reaches of Tayabas Bay. The lead boats sailed on the open waters at 16 Knots ahead of the competitors to lay the buoys for the Gasan gate and Katala Beach finish.

PHC reported that "in the lee of Marinduque, with it’s mountainous peaks of over 1,000 metres slowing down the wind, former grand master World Champion Bruce Tardrew displayed his experience and cunning nearly overhauling defending champion Engwirda in the final 5 nm.

Engwirda however put in an extra squirt of speed at the end to finish just over a minute ahead. These two Australian teams were a full 12 minutes clear of 3rd placed Andrew Locke, also representing Australia.

Bob Engirda’s overall time of 2 Hrs 46 Min and 34 Sec equated to an incredible average speed of 13.3 Knots for the 36.9 nm leg, including the final 5 miles in light and variable winds.

The final team was ashore and enjoying a cool beer at the Katala Beach Resort within half an hour and joining the enthusiastic welcome from our hosts in Marinduque with dancing and singing on the beach.

Governor Bong Carrion hosted a sumptuous dinner for the competitors and support crews that evening as the full moon rose in the heavens."

The sailors were treated to the traditional "putong" welcome ritual at Katala Beach Resort in Pinggan. The 10th PHC covered Laiya, Marinduque, Romblon, Tablas and Boracay. Sponsors were Fairways & Bluewater, HobieCat Australia, Villa Maria and Margrita, Seair, Petron and the Department of Tourism in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Marinduque.