Lake Louise

On our way to Lake Louise, I saw some sceneries that reminded me of the Drielandepunt in Netherlands. Drielandepunt is where the boundaries of Germany, Belgium, and Netherlands meet.

In Lake Louise, the view is absolutely breathtaking! Glaciers on the mountain make the panorama picturesque. A truly sight to behold!

nice background 🙂

freezin cold!

After an hour or so, we headed back to downtown and searched for the Devounian Garden. Unfortunately, it was already closed. Chinatown was the other option, however, the shops are also closed.

We all decided to go to the mall to grab a bite and walk around a bit. When we are about to go home, we bumped into James classmate and best friend, Jedd. The two six-year-old kids run towards each other with open arms then stopped abruptly. 😀 That surely elicited laughter from all of us.

Jedd & James

We all thought they’re going to hug like they haven’t seen each other for a million years.  The truth is, they just saw each other few days ago.

🙂

It’s a good way to end the day…  Gotta snooze now. Another exciting day tomorrow. Mwwwwwwa!

apple picking

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Click the links below to read the related articles:

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When I went to Ontario, my “little sister” Fritchie, included apple picking in the itinerary. I was thrilled because I haven’t seen an apple tree yet. Ha!  I don’t know how it came about, but apple or apple trees seem to be a big thing on the other side of the world  (Philippines) where I grew up. :p

On the day of the apple picking, Bob (Fritchie’s husband) drove us to find a particular apple farm. While Bob was giving me a crash course about Canada, Fritchie noticed that we were driving in circles and can’t seem to find that elusive apple farm.

It’s kinda funny because we ended up going to a pumpkin farm. -_-  To maximize our time, we decided to go to Badlands as well.  Moreover,  we also had fun driving up and down the hill (a “roller coaster” ride!) in which it surely made Charles giggly. Hahaha!

pumpkins!

badlands

Bob searched for another good apple farm near the area where he grew up. The next “apple picking” itinerary got pushed back several times. Nonetheless, we were able to do it on my last day in Ontario.  It’s weird because Charles decided to get cranky during that day. He was weeping while we were walking in the apple farm. It was so loud that we can even hear the echo! Maybe he can sense that it was my last day in Ontario? Or he was just pulling our leg? Hmmm…

apple farm

Charles

Anyway, he did stop crying when he got tired.  And we all enjoyed picking (and eating) apples!  I thought apple trees are tall like pine trees. Good thing it’s not, or else, I won’t be able to reach any apples at all. It does resemble the guava tree that I used to climb when I was a teenybopper back in the Philippines.Ha!

Charles & Bob

want some? 😀

What should I do next? Maybe pick tulips in Netherlands? I didn’t get to do that when I was there (click here to read the  Netherlands article). Or be a DJ for a day at Wave radio (i hope i won’t mess up the titles. :p)? Or perform like what Madonna did during the Superbowl? Ha! We’ll see.

Netherlands

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Note : Check out the other Europe trip related articles:

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Nearly seven (7) years ago,  a scholarship from the Netherlands Fellowship Program paved the way for me to travel to Netherlands (a.k.a. Holland) for free (see travel for “free” article for more details)!:D  It never occurred to me that I will be able to follow my father’s footsteps because he also went to Netherlands through scholarship when I was a baby. Is it fate? Hmmm…

I must admit, it’s one of the defining moments of my life.  Meeting and gaining friends from all over the world helped me see and understand things in a broader perspective.  🙂

AfroCarribean Party

with Khinna

See below for more unforgettable and silly moments :

EurAsia Party

with my Dutch Sis 🙂

winning team 😀

dancing or giggling?

Filipino & Dutch connection

Freedom Party

Grace (in red shirt) Birthday Party

Flower Auction

My Bhutanese’ Bodyguards. 🙂

Goofing around before Graduation.

I can’t wait to visit Netherlands again (this time, I vow to visit one of the “coffee” shops!) and other Euro Countries in the near future.

P.S.
Mommy Lenah this is for you 🙂 :

Banff

A jump start to a new, bright and sunny day! It was raining yesterday so we just roamed around the mall. I did not do much shopping because my pocket is still bleeding from all the money I spent in that US Visa application (see related article -> denied).

Nevertheless, I did indulge myself with food as well as bought bedding, duvet and comforter for my new place. I’ll be moving to my new cave in a few weeks time. Wohoo!

my comforter. hahaha!

Today’s itinerary includes a visit to Banff National Park and Lake Louise. We are kinda lost at the moment and I have no idea on which direction we are going. I’ve let RJ use his iPhone to check the road that we need to take. I kinda suck with geography thingy, so, I just sat back, enjoy the scenery and start writing.

By the time that we’ve found the Banff National Park, there’s already a long queue for the Gondola (Cable Car) Ride. Thus, we opted to look around for a bit and look for souvenir items.

on our way to Banff

Banff National Park

Next stop… Lake Louise! 🙂

at a glance

I bet you’re curious on who thecuriousme is? Get to know me at a glance… Read on!

I’m blessed with a very complicated name… to the point that I have to spell it all the time in order for people to understand it. What can I say, it’s a lifetime battle. 😉

I’m the kind of person who loves to smile and laugh. I enjoy hanging out with energetic and crazy people.  I’m addicted to Korean and Taiwanese Comedy TV Series.  Writing is one of my passions and it serves as an outlet for venting out my curtailed emotions.

My unending thirst for learning has driven me to take up and finish several courses. These are: BS Computer Science in Lorma Colleges (Philippines); MA in Technological Education at Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (Philippines); through a scholarship grant given by Netherlands Fellowship Program, a Post Graduate Diploma in Managerial Control and Management Information System in Maastricht School of Management (The Netherlands); and a 10-week London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Level 1 Bookkeeping course in Uptrend Business School (Singapore).

Education, work experience and traveling helped me a great deal to become a well-rounded individual. Teaching at the age of 20 helped me become more flexible, open minded and extremely patient. While in HSBC, I learned to become an effective team player. Dealing with irate clients can be irksome but it’s absolutely fulfilling when they end up being happy and satisfied on how their concerns were handled. Whereas, working in Singapore and studying in Netherlands ignited my interest in learning other cultures and languages.

One last note, I’m a self-confessed nomad. So far, I have travelled few countries in Asia, Europe and North America. I still have four (4) more continents and several countries to go. The three (3) other things that I want to do in this lifetime are: to sing one song without a glitch, become a DJ for a day, and get drunk like there’s no tomorrow.

a gift from Big Sis & Manager

Brussels

Normally, we go to Aachen(Germany) and Liege (Belgium) to roam around, shop, and feel the cool breeze.  (See related article ->   Belgium  ) After which, we travel via train and opted to go back to Hotel Randwyck in Netherlands at the end of the day.

One weekend, the group decided to go to Brussels (Belgium) for a change. Once the group reached Brussels, we all took the hop in hop off tourist bus so that we can check out places as much as we can within the day.

We were getting hungry after our first two stops so we grabbed a bite before carrying on. There were five of us in the group (four ladies and one guy). While eating, two of our friends (lady and guy) mysteriously disappeared. The “exciting” part was, they were holding our tour bus tickets! We were very upset and frantically looked for them. We have our hand phones but we don’t know their contact numbers. -_-

It was around 6p.m. when we gave up the search and went ahead to the train station. To our surprise, our two missing friends were at the train ticketing area. We did not utter a word. We just looked at the them and our eyes said it all. :p

The next morning, they explained what happened and  our guess was right. Apparently, they went somewhere to clear up a misunderstanding (which happens frequently).

Scenario: The guy was engaged to be married in his home country and still flirting with our friend.

Ultimately, the guy broke up the engagement and ended up marrying our friend after going through the so called hiccups of a relationship .  True love does exist! Ha!

Hmmm…. Maybe it can be tag as a relationship developed in Europe… and leveled up in Brussels, Belgium…. 😉

luggage

… and here’s what happened at the airport…
(lost? check out the article, “flying” for a preview :p)

The rigid baggage check at the airport entrance made me scramble towards the first check in counter that I saw. When I regained my composure, I  double checked from the airport official if I was on the right lane… and I was not.  -_-  Apparently, the lane that I was in was for China Airlines and I was supposed to board the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM).

The long queue on the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) lane did not dampen my excitement. Before reaching the check in counter, the luggage needs to be weighed and I was totally shocked when the officer told me that the check in luggage should be 20 kilos and the hand carry should be 10 kilos!

(Note: The school (Maastricht School of Management) in Netherlands booked my flight. I unwittingly asked the luggage details (30 kilos for check in and 10 kilos for hand carry) from my friend but I did not bother to read through the notes on the travel itinerary. Later on, I learned that my friend travels first/business class most of the time and I was on the economy flight. -_-  Silly me… I should have known better. As they say, there’s always a first time. Ha!)

My original plan was to place all heavy stuff in my check in luggage and have my hand carry (sling bag) contain all important documents. However, my check in luggage weighed nearly 45 kilos. Ha! I was so embarrassed! I quickly left the line and went to a corner to remove some of the contents of my luggage.

I opted to leave some of my clothes as well as the heavy souvenirs and dumped it temporarily on the vacant chair. I felt helpless because I don’t have extra suitcase to put in the excess and  there’s no shop nearby that sells a bag or a paper bag. One pregnant airport staff offered  assistance by giving me a big SM (ShoeMart) plastic bag and proposing that some of the heavy personal belongings should be placed inside the plastic bag to lighten up my check in luggage.

similar to this but bigger

She kindly watched the excess things that I placed on the empty chair as I went to queue again for the second time. Sadly, my luggage was few kilos more than the allowed weight. I don’t have budget to pay the excess kilos so I went to the same corner to remove some more “junk”. The pregnant airport staff advised me to add the other heavy things in the big plastic bag and asked me to leave the big plastic bag with her together with the excess stuff.

For the third time, with my luggage and sling bag in tow, I went to queue again. I was apprehensive when it was my turn to weigh because I don’t want to go through the whole process of removing junk again. Fortunately, I passed the weighing “test” this time. Whew! Finally, I was able to check in my luggage and get my boarding pass.

I took the excess stuff and gave it to my family. Good thing my father, stepmother and younger sister were still outside waiting for me to board the plane. The pregnant airport staff was patiently waiting for me in my little corner. I took the heavy big plastic bag and gave her a lunch money as a small token.  It’s truly heartwarming to see angels everywhere… 🙂

The immigration officer looked at my “hand carry” then asked if I can manage. I gave a sweet smile and told him that its light but the truth was, it weighed more than 10 kilos. O_O  I passed through the immigration and boarded the plane without a fuss. Indeed, the big green SM plastic bag accompanied me to Europe…

Lesson Learned:
Carefully go through the luggage details.
Weigh the luggage before going to the airport.
Bring extra bags. 😀

Belgium

One of the favorite destination of our group during the weekend was Belgium. Liege, Belgium is a convenient place to visit since it’s just a 45-minute travel via train from Maastricht (Netherlands) where we were based. We all have soft spot for Liege because it’s the place where we spent our first weekend in Europe.

We like to roam around the place without map, check out shops, and take photos. Whenever we couldn’t find our way, we ask for directions from the youngsters because majority of the old folks only speak French.

Our second travel to Belgium was a work visit (a combination of “work” and pleasure). Our lecturer served as our guide and the transportation was provided by Maastricht School of Management. We get to visit a factory, shops and not to forget the red light district. The factory stopover provided a great insight on how the internal procedure work and among other things.

Although Belgium shops have somewhat similar structure with Netherlands, they have a greater selection of items being sold.

Also, it’s in Belgium where I tasted the best chocolate ever! Both the dark and milk chocolate are incredibly delectable! It’s thin, not too soft and not too hard. I’ve been looking for those type of chocolate for ages yet it’s super elusive… maybe, it’s only available in Belgium. Sigh. Anyway, I’m not a fan of fries and waffles however, Belgian fries and waffles are incredibly irresistible and savory! It turns out, fries and waffles originated in Belgium. It’s a good to know information eh? :p

A “tour” to the red light district (a.k.a. prostitution den) culminates our trip to Belgium. To be clear, we were not suppose to go there but the guys in the group practically begged our lecturers to bring us there. After several discussions and “negotiations”, they reluctantly gave in. 😀

We went around the red light district as a group so NO hanky panky. It’s my first time to visit such place and my heart bleeds when I saw a pregnant girl, putting up a strong front and still working. She’s with the other ladies standing in a display window wearing seductive attire (mostly flimsy underwear). The display window is similar to the area where mannequins are placed in front of a shop. It would be great to listen to their stories and know the reason why they chose that path. Hmmmm…

On a lighter note, I was looking for European gigolos in a display window for my to feast eyes on but they’re nowhere to be found! -_- I was totally disappointed! If guys have the opportunity to stare at ladies, ladies should also be given a chance to stare at guys. :p

With all the bantering and teasing, the trip ended on a happy note…

Next stop, Brussels. 😀

Luxembourg

Weekend was meant for gallivanting after a nerve wracking and brain torture weekday,.:) After the Paris adventure (click here to read the blog entry, “exploring Paris”), this time we opted to go to Luxembourg. It never crossed my mind that I will be able to set foot to the richest country in the world (2010)! Whoa!

From Netherlands (Maastricht), we travelled to Germany (forgot which city) via train. From Germany, we boarded the train going to Luxembourg. The travel time was not as long as the Paris trip.

In a couple of hours, we reached Luxembourg. Luxembourg reminds me of Baguio City (a.k.a. Summer Capital of the Philippines). Flowers were everywhere and there’s also a distinct pine tree scent. The scenery radiates a serene and peaceful feeling. It’s the perfect place to rejuvenate after too much stress from the instant (click here to read the blog entry, “instant”) world. I wonder how Luxembourg maintains its natural ambiance…

After a lengthy walk and sightseeing, we stopped near the bridge to take a breather and enjoy the view. The calming effect was really fantastic! To save money, we brought our lunch and had a feast near the church under the tree.  It’s like having a picnic in Burnham Park in Baguio City, Philippines.

It was a such short trip but the most relaxing one. I hope I can go there again someday (even better if I will be with someone special) but for a longer period so that I can explore the country more.

Until then!

travel for “free”

Who doesn’t want to travel without spending a penny on airfare, accommodation, and pocket money? Come on! The clamor for free stuff is like a common denominator for most homosapiens (if not all!).

In any case, hitting the jackpot from a lucky draw or lottery, receiving a travel gift from a friend or relative, and flying for a business trip are some of the options to travel for free.

Applying for a scholarship is another alternative. Fat chance? Nah… As they say, there’s no harm in trying…that is speaking from experience. :p You betcha! It was one ordinary day when an opportunity knocked unexpectedly.

Although when I saw the notice, the due date shows that I’ve already missed the deadline. Without any hesitation, I still gave it a shot! Good thing the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in the Philippines accepted my late application.

It may sound crazy but the moment I saw the notice, I had this gut feeling that it’s meant for me. Don’t get me wrong…. It was not a smooth sailing process. Along the way, doubts and hindrances occurred every now and then; yet, I blocked the negative elements and focused in the application.

Below are the steps that I went through:
1. Department Head – Letter of Application Approval and Recommendation
2. University President – Letter of Application Approval and Recommendation
3. Gather required documents and submit application to NEDA main office.
4. Take and pass the written examination in NEDA main office.
5. NEDA shortlists the applicants from all over the Philippines. Alloted slots per country will determine how many will be chosen.
6. NEDA will then notify the selected applicant to apply in the partner school of the sponsoring country. In my case, it was Maastricht School of Management (MSM) in the Netherlands (a.k.a. Holland).
7. MSM selects from the applicants from all over the world.
8. The chosen applicant will then receive a conditional admission letter from MSM.
9. Submit required documents (including the conditional admission letter) to Netherlands Fellowship Program (NFP).

TheCuriousMe Note:
*** My documents reached the Netherlands embassy after the cut off time, so they advised me to request for deferment from MSM.
MSM deferred my application and gave me a slot for the following year.

10. NFP will do a worldwide selection.
(According to our Program Manager, there were more than 500 applicants from all over the world for the Managerial Control and Management Information System (MCMIS) course)
11. NFP picked 15 participants for the MCMIS.
(Participants came from Thailand, Bhutan, Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, South America, Palestine, Euthopia… – I forgot the others :p)
12. Process documents and apply for visa then fly via Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM).

Sounds easy? How I wish. Sigh… It was VERY tough. Aside from going through a rigid screening, completing the needed documents, being deferred for one year… receiving hurtful words from the one of the university signatories was the “main attraction”. She gave me a mouthful… specifically stating: “you’re not qualified”, “you will not get the scholarship”, etc.

I didn’t even know how I managed to snag the scholarship. Let’s just say, no matter how many struggles we go through, and the light of hope gets dimmer and dimmer, if it’s meant to be… it’s meant to be. Aja!

exploring Paris

We had 3 days and 2 nights to explore Paris, the most romantic city in the world. Eiffel tower was on the top of our list to visit and it’s our first destination when we got there (click here to read the Eiffel tower article).

Aside from visiting the Eiffel tower, our first day in Paris was not that eventful because we were also occupied in looking for our hotel and gauging the cheapest and fastest way in completing our itinerary. In short, we just had the general feel and smell of the Paris ambience as a starter.

Our schedule was fully packed during the second day. First on the list was Museo De Louvre. I felt like I was in the movie, “The Vinci Code” while walking inside the museum scrutinizing one painting to the other (see Museo De Louvre article).

We also got to see the Notre Dame de Paris.

Next stop was the flea market. As expected, we had a hard time finding our way so we resorted to entering a shop, bought some stuff and asked for direction. One minor problem was, they can’t speak English well so we showed our map and explain in broken (known as “barok” in Filipino) English.

Thanks to the helpful Parisians, we eventually found the flea market. We shopped for souvenir items and gamely exchanged jokes with the vendors. To save money, we opted for the fries and beef (fondly called Shawarma in the Philippines) for lunch. It’s funny because I haven’t tried eating Shawarma in the Philippines but I was able to taste it in Paris.

Off we go to Disneyland, our next destination. It was very tempting to do the rides but we need to catch the last train back to our hotel. Hence, we hammed up for the camera, enjoyed shows, checked out the shops and then, non-stop walking and sightseeing.

Disneyland, Paris France

Notre Dame de Paris, France

A dinner at an Indian restaurant culminated our second day in Paris.

We were all dead beat when we reached Hotel Eden. We packed our things, rested our tired muscles then woke up early again to roam around Paris for few more hours before catching our coach back to Netherlands.

The 3-day trip to Paris was definitely a once in a lifetime experience! It’s worth every little penny we spent and for all the ordeals that we have faced. Out of sheer exhaustion, with a smile on our lips, we all slept all throughout the journey back to Netherlands.

Back to “reality”. :p

Dutch angels

It’s the day of our Paris trip and we need to leave the hotel at 4a.m. in order to be at the pick up point on time. Boy, waking up at 3 a.m. and taking off at 4 a.m. during Spring is really tough (I wonder how it feels during the winter? brrrr!).

When we reached the train station, we had a problem getting the ticket from the ticketing machine. The machine requires card or coins and we only have paper bills. We cannot get it from the ticketing office either because it’s still closed.

We asked a Dutch couple (DC) if they have coins to change our paper bill and unfortunately, they don’t have. The DC were terribly concern but they were in a hurry because the wife, who happens to be a flight attendant, needs to catch her flight.

While the DC were waiting for the train, the husband, who is a lawyer, saw the train ticket inspector and discuss our plight with him. He explained that we cannot buy the tickets from the machine and we need to catch our trip to Paris.

Good thing the inspector understood our situation and allowed us to board the train without tickets. He said we’ll get the tickets in our destination. Normally, if you get caught without a ticket you will be fined or even worst, you will be put into jail. I guess, the inspector is a bit lenient to us because we were foreigners as well as students in Maastricht School of Management (MSM).

Bedankt (thanks) to our Dutch angels (DC and the inspector), we were able to reach the pick up point earlier than we have expected. It gave us time to take photos and grab a bite.:)

Next stop… the Eiffel Tower.

casino

It was freezing but that did not dampen our spirit to look around Maastricht (Netherlands) and check out shops. On impulse, we took a bus and ended up going to Germany. Since we were within the vicinity, we decided to go to Drielandenpunt (a.k.a. Three-Country Point). Drielandenpunt is the location of the border of Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

After taking photos, we stayed a bit in Aachen (Germany) and walk around. When we can no longer take the cold weather, we decided to enter the Casino and play while making ourselves warm.

All my friends were able to get in the casino smoothly and when it’s my turn, the guard blocked me and asked for proof of identification. He further mentioned that only 18 years old and above are allowed to go inside (I was already in my 20s at that time).

My friends were laughing so hard while throwing me teasing expressions. I grinned nervously and showed my passport. After a moment, the guard smiled back and allowed me to enter the casino. I opted to play the slot machine and immediately stopped when I lost. I know, I’m a penny-pincher. :p

On our way back to the hotel, my friends were still laughing about what happened and kept on teasing me. One of them even tried to mimic the guard. It was indeed a funny moment.

It made me wonder why a lot of people often mistook me as below 18 years old. It happened to me a couple of times that’s why I always bring with me proof of identification just in case it’s necessary for me to show it.

I guess, that’s the disadvantage of being petite with a baby face to boot! In any case, I consider it as a blessing because a lot of people spends a couple of grands just to have a youthful look.

For me, all I need to do is smile and the youthful glow will radiate. :p