Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Winter Trip to DC

My trip to the USA in December 2010 would not be complete without a quick tour at the nation's capital. I was determined to see the historic structures DC is famous for. The 5-hour bus trip from New York to DC in a freezing winter night was all worth it. Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. The centers of all three branches of the federal government of the United States are in the District, including the Congress, President, and Supreme Court. Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, which are primarily situated on or around the National Mall.

Washington Monument
By law, Washington's skyline is low and sprawling. The federal Heights of Buildings Act of 1910 allows buildings that are no taller than the width of the adjacent street, plus 20 feet (6.1 m). Despite popular belief, no law has ever limited buildings to the height of the United States Capitol or the 555-foot (169 m) Washington Monument.

Great view of the Washington Monument

 Washington, D.C., is a planned city. In 1791, President Washington commissioned Pierre (Peter) Charles L’Enfant, a French-born architect and city planner, to design the new capital. The L'Enfant Plan featured broad streets and avenues radiating out from rectangles, providing room for open space and landscaping.  He based his design on plans of cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Karlsruhe, and Milan brought from Europe by Thomas Jefferson in 1788. L'Enfant's design also envisioned a garden-lined "grand avenue" approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) in length and 400 feet (120 m) wide in the area that is now the National Mall.

The National Archives

US Capitol Building

The White House

Lincoln Memorial Building

DC Train Station

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

Smithsonian Museum

America's Most Iconic Bridges

I have this love affair with bridges. I always get fascinated with the parallelism between bridges and the purpose of human existence. I'm interested to know how bridges were built and why they were built. Bridges connect places, without them, it would be very hard for people to travel from one place to another unless of course if they own a boat or helicopter ^_^.  And as humans, we can serve as bridges too..of opportunities and relationships of people around us. Isn't that a great and noble thing?

These are some of the most iconic bridges in America that I've had the chance to see and even walk across. 

Manhattan Bridge, New York

The Manhattan Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the East River in New York City, connecting Lower Manhattan at Canal Street with Brooklyn at the Flatbush Avenue Extension. The main span is 1,470 ft (448 m) long, with the suspension cables being 3,224 ft (983 m) long. The bridge's total length is 6,855 ft (2,089 m). It opened to traffic on December 31, 1909. It was designed by Leon Moisseiff, and is noted for its innovative design. As the first suspension bridge to employ Josef Melan's deflection theory for the stiffening of its deck, it is considered to be the forerunner of modern suspension bridges and this design served as the model for many of the long-span suspension bridges built in the first half of the 20th century. 

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, New York

The Verrazano–Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge in the U.S. state of New York that connects the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. It spans the Narrows, the reach connecting the relatively protected upper bay with the larger lower bay. The bridge is named after Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano who, while in the service of Francis I of France, became in 1524 the first European to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River, and for the body of water it spans: the Narrows. It has a central span of 4,260 feet (1,298 m) and was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1964, surpassing the Golden Gate Bridge by 60 feet, until it was in turn surpassed by 366 feet by the Humber Bridge in the United Kingdom in 1981. 

The bridge establishes a critical link in the local and regional highway system. It marks the gateway to New York Harbor; all cruise ships and most container ships arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey must pass underneath the bridge and therefore must be built to accommodate the clearance under the bridge. Since 1976, the bridge has been the starting point of the New York City Marathon.

The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the U.S. city of San Francisco, on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to Marin County, bridging both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia, PA

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge is known informally as the Ben Franklin Bridge and originally named the Delaware River Bridge, is a suspension bridge across the Delaware River connecting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Camden, New Jersey. Owned and operated by the Delaware River Port Authority, it is one of four primary vehicular bridges between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey.

George Washington Bridge, New York

The George Washington Bridge – known informally as the GW Bridge – is a double-decked suspension bridge spanning the Hudson River, connecting the Washington Heights neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City to Fort Lee, Bergen County, New Jersey, in the United States. Interstate 95 (I-95) and U.S. Route 1/9 (US 1/9) cross the river via the bridge. The New Jersey Turnpike (part of I-95) and US 46, which lie entirely within New Jersey, end halfway across the bridge at the state border with New York. At its eastern terminus in New York City, the bridge connects with the Trans-Manhattan Expressway.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge in New York City and is one of the oldest bridges of either type in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. It has a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed. It was originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and as the East River Bridge, but it was later dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name coming from an earlier January 25, 1867, letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and formally so named by the city government in 1915. Since its opening, it has become an icon of New York City, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.

I wish I could travel more and see other beautiful bridges around the world.

Hollywood - Land of Dreams!

At some point in my life, I dreamed of becoming rich and famous. And for sure many of you do. It's obvious that those longings are subconsciusly influenced by the Hollywood movies that we watch. The famous line from the happy man in the movie Pretty Woman resonated with me while I was walking the streets of Hollywood. "Welcome to Hollywood! What is your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams, Some dreams come true, some dont; but keep on dreamin'- this is Hollywood.

The Hollywood Sign

Hollywood is the symbol of fame, power and glamour but do you know that almost all of the stars who made it really big in Hollywood started with just a dream? 
The thing about our dream we cannot just simply pray and ask God to make our dreams come true. That's not how it works in this universe. There is no thing as magic wand in the real world. We got to really have to want it to get it...When we build a house we cannot just say to the architect, I want a nice house, you have to describe what nice is...very specific - how it will look like, how many bedrooms, interiors, etc...The same thing as our dream. we have to know exactly what we want and from there we find ways how to make it a reality.

Hollywood Boulevard

The Wax Museum

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Rodeo Drive

Virginia Beach, VA - The Longest Pleasure Beach in the World.

I got an opportunity to celebrate 4th of July 2013 with great friends at the famous Virginia beach, VA. Virginia Beach is a resort city with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront. Although best known for its tourism but the military and agribusiness sectors contribute significantly to the city's economy. Tourism produces a large share of Virginia Beach's economy. With an estimated $857 million spent in tourism related industries, 14,900 jobs cater to 2.75 million visitors. 

The city is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world. The 35-mile coastline is comprised of Virginia Beach resort area, the Chesapeake Bay beach, and Sandbridge beach. It is located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world.

Virginia Beach

Hotels by the beach

Grommet Island Beach Park

A view of the beach from the hotel

The long stretch of white sand beach

Happy Beach Bummers

Virginia Beach

Poseidon or Neptune, Am confused!

Standing tall and high

Law Enforcement Memorial

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Stunning Beaches in the Philippines

The Philippines is an amazing country in the southeast coast of Asia blessed with so many natural resources. It is famous for its beautiful and stunning beaches. Below are just some of them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

20 Essential Skills for Smart Travelers

Traveling is so much fun but at times it can also be a nightmare if you are not prepared for it. I have compiled 20 essentials skills for smart travelers. And if you have something in mind not in here, please feel free to add it on the list by simply putting on your comments. 

1. Know How to Pack Light. I prefer traveling without a check-in luggage but if it can't be avoided, just keep in mind the luggage weight limit that is included in your air ticket. Airlines are charging ridiculous amount of money per kilo or per pound if it exceeds the weight limit.

2. Know Basic Cooking. A big chunk of most travel expenses is on dining out. You will be able save a lot of money if you can cook simple recipes like boiled egg..LOL! or sandwiches.

3. Driving.  May it be stick or automatic, one should be able to drive. Depending on your itinerary, at times, it would be cost effective and convenient to rent a car and drive than taking cab or doing a commute.

4. Changing a Flat Tire. If you have driven for years, you should at least spend time learning how to change a tire. You never know when and where your tire will give up on you.

5. Jump Start a Car. This I didn't know how until one night, my car won't start while I was about to leave from a mall parking. I have to call a cab to help me jump start my car. 

6. Riding a Bike. Knowing how to ride a bike will not only save you money, time and energy, it can be a good exercise too!

7. Crossing an Intersection. It takes some skills and talent to cross an intersection especially in many busy intersections in countries where traffic lights are absent. It may just save your life.

8. Parallel Park. Parallel parking can be tricky but once you know how, you will be fine.

9. Basic First Aid. You should at least know how to dress a wound before putting a band aid.

10. Sew A Button. Always carry a needle and thread when you travel in case a wardrobe malfunction will happen.

11. Paddle a Boat or a Canoe. A trip to the beach or an island can be more exciting if you can paddle your way to explore the place.

12. Shine a Shoe. I just like my shoes clean and shiny.

13. Start a Fire. What if you are stranded in an island in the middle of nowhere? Fire can absolutely help you survive.

14.  Pitch a Tent. This is helpful for travelers who love to camp out in a beach, mountain, or in a park.

15. Read and Write. I mean this is common sense right?

16. How to Read a Map and use a Compass. What if your GPS or phone hangs up on you or does not work all of a sudden? Map and compass should come in handy for you to proceed with your planned itinerary.

17. Take a photo and video. This is a big part of traveling to preserve memories. One should know how to take good photos or videos or the latest craze nowadays SELFIE.

18. Haggle. If you are collecting some stuffs as souvenirs, you should master the art of haggling. 

19. Use a computer. Yes, we are in this era of high technological advancements, modern gadgets and all but there are still people who detest computers. Many of the things now can be done in a computer like checking and booking flights and hotels, researching and reserving for a place, etc.

20. How to Laundry and Iron Clothes. You don't need to go a laundry shop and spend money or you don't want to smell terrible when you are visiting a museum or in a busy tourist spot. Just wash your clothes on the sink in the morning before leaving your hotel and let it dry then iron them when you return if needed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Note of Self - My Birthday Reflection (092014)

It's my birthday month once again! This is the best time of the year when I usually reflect on certain impactful events in my life during the year, look at the big picture and strategise, so I can have a better perspective and a clear direction on how to approach the year ahead. I am writing this note to myself, to keep me reminded of the things that really matter in my life.  Many times in the past, I was always caught up with many things which in the end were not really that necessary and important. It was late to realize that I've already spent much time, money and energy on them than what I supposed to.

Here you go A.P:

1. Pursue for your dreams. As Michael Nolan said "There are many things in this world that will catch your eye but only a few things will catch your heart - pursue them passionately". Don't allow your old dreams to just die without a fight and get buried into the ground. Revisit old dreams and cultivate new ones. Keep on dreaming! Don't be so consumed with the day-to-day work details because it will wear you out. Don't be too fearful to remember why you are doing what you are doing. Don't be overwhelmed with every minute details that in the grand scheme of life are just that, details. Everyday is a new possibility to see the world as a place where you can pursue and live your dream and help others see their dreams too.

2. Count your blessings and always be thankful. Good or bad - everything happens for a reason. Instead of magnifying on the negative side of things, train your thoughts to focus the positive side. Learn from the lessons and keep moving forward with high hopes. In your heart, forgive those who have wronged you, do not carry unnecessary baggage at your back. It will only slow down your journey or worst hinder your from achieving your goals. Be grateful for those people who treated you badly. They have opened up things inside you, which have helped you grow into someone better and stronger. Be grateful for all of the things you have always hated about yourself and recognize that they are now things you have learned to love and appreciate. Be grateful for the life experiences that have paved the way for you to know who you are and who you are not.

3.  Be kind. To yourself. To your family. To your friends. To your enemies. To everyone. You have become who you are today because of them. Spend quality time with people who matter most to you. Don't waste your time with people who are negative and who looks down on you. When you are kind, you are remembered, you do not need to be everywhere, you can be at the places you feel are important to you and when you are wherever you are, be kind to everyone, no matter how they are to you. A small act of kindness is never wasted, it can go a long way.

4.  Complain less and give more. Complaining on just about anything will not make your a better person and will not bring you where you want to be. Always cultivate a heart of giving and give with a happy heart. The bible says that whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

In Awe of San Francisco!

I must say that San Francisco, California is one the most beautiful cities that I've been to. The climate is perfect, the sceneries are beautiful, the public transportation is fairly accessible and you will never run out of things to do in this city. San Francisco is a popular tourist destination, known not only for its cool weather but the steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridgecable cars, the former prison on Alcatraz Island, and its Chinatown district. 

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is just one of the cities which makes up the entire San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco's neighbors - Oakland and Berkeley east of the Bay Bridge, Marin County north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Peninsula south of the city are all part of separate counties, each with their own governments and local public transportations.

San Francisco Ferry Building

One of the "must do's" I had during my SF trip was to walk across the famous Golden Gate Bridge and I successfully did it! It was fun and very interesting. There were a lot of tourists walking along the bridge that time. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California and of the United States.

San Francisco Tram

Despite its span length being surpassed by 8 other bridges since its completion, it still has the second longest suspension bridge main span in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City.

SFO Palace of Fine Arts or Exploratorium

Another place of interest in San Franciso is Alcatraz Island where most of us are familiar in Hollywood movies. An inescapable experience as the island logo says. It offers a glimpse into a unique piece of history and an awesome view of San Francisco Bay. While you are in the boat going to and coming from the island, your eyes will feast on this amazing sight San Francisco skyline.

The Alcatraz Island

Fisherman's Wharf rings with the barking of seals. I was my first time to see a bunch of them up close and I warn you with their smell though because it was so nasty. Seafood restaurants are aplenty in the area. Some include the floating Forbes Islandrestaurant at Pier 39 to stands that serve fresh seafood, most notably Dungeness crab andclam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. 

Alcatraz Ferry

My 7 days stay in SF Bay Area was memorable. I had an amazing time meeting really good friends, touring around, window shopping and bar-hopping. Given a chance, I would like to come back and live in San Francisco area for a while. 
California Academy of Sciences

SFO City Hall

Alcatraz Prison Cell