Aimee’s Top Five Cities

It’s been over a year since this pandemic has started and everyone is already itching to travel the world. Bea Alonzo, for example, released a vlog about her top ten destinations. I, too, am dreaming of the day I can travel freely again sans face masks or face shields. As I watched her video this morning, it made me reflect on the places I’ve been to and the countries I want to visit next. Her video gave me the inspiration to write a blog entry about the top five foreign cities I’ve visited in the past few years. I haven’t been to a lot of countries like Bea did so it is only rightful that I choose the cities instead as there are times I’ve travelled to different cities within a country. So, having said that, I want to make it my life goal to visit 20 more countries in the next ten years. So here goes my “hot list,” or Aimee’s top five cities:

  1. Seoul, South Korea

It was September of 2018 when I went to South Korea with my family. My mom, I guess, enjoyed this trip the most. I was happy to have shared this experience with her. We went to see a lot of tourist spots in the morning and would go out at night either just drinking outside a convenience store ala K-drama scene or going to Myeongdong for shopping. Of course, we never missed out dining in some of their local restaurants, allowing each one of us to have an authentic taste of their food. I guess the best part of this trip was when we went to Everland.

2. Medellin, Colombia

I’ve always wanted to go to South America especially Brazil. But I guess that is for next time. My trip to Colombia was planned on a whim. I was there for a quick getaway. At that time, I was feeling burnt out from too much working and lucky for me, there was a seat sale at the now defunct Insel Air Aruba. The moment my friends and I arrived at Rio Negro, I knew I was gonna enjoy our stay. The drive to Medellin reminded me so much of the drive going to and from Baguio. Although there were blind curves and sharp turns and roads seem dangerous because of that, the scenery from the mountains make it worth the drive.

While in the city, we managed to stroll and explore on our own. I’ve had the best tasting Bandeja Paisa while drinking Colombian beer, ate Frisby chicken with honey, and also tried Mofongo. We’ve been to other nearby tourist areas like Guatape El Peñol. I’ve also done some crazy things in Medellin like touching the private parts of a statue in Botero Plaza. HAHA! and I’ve managed to ride a cable car and be seated next to the window (have I ever said I have fear of heights?). We managed to squeeze in some shopping too aside from clubbing.

3. Las Vegas, USA

Oh this trip is definitely one for the books! My friends and I did some crazy stuff here and we weren’t even sure at that time that our file for back to back days off would be approved. Lady luck, however, proved to be on our side because most of us had our requests granted. We flew to Vegas although we could have travelled by car from Tucson but time is of the essence, we didn’t want to waste any. As soon as we landed, we went to take a pic at the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign. We stayed at the strip so it’d be easy for us to get around. Although all of us would stroll in the morning despite the lack of sleep from previous night’s partying (yes, I partied in Vegas! I’ve never went to clubs and bars her in Manila but I did while I was living in the US), it turned out though that I was the only one who had the will to wake up early and stroll! Well, until I convinced Lou to walk along the strip. At night, Vegas is so alive that most of my friends would rather sleep in the morning and then go out at night. But I chose to do both. And even when I alreadu had the initiative to be touristy in the morning, I still missed out on going to the stratosphere. I haven’t even been to the M&M store and whatnot. But with the crazy friends I have travelled with, I have danced with a stranger for the first time in a club, paid to watch Chippendales (which I’ll never do again) and went to a gay bar with bartenders only wearing boxers and suspenders. So yeah! Definitely one for the books!

4. Amsterdam, Netherlands

I’ve prayed for this trip to happen! I was in transition to another workplace when I went to Amsterdam. Lucky for me, my aunt decided to meet me there. At least, I would not be traveling solo and would be with someone. It was winter already. I arrived there last week of November. I was not used to the cold weather. The only time I have experienced winter was when I was living in Arizona. It was only one season and the cold was bearable. Amsterdam though is different. The weather is bipolar and it only goes from cold to colder. Then again, I still managed to enjoy the city. Despite not being able to read and speak Dutch, I was able to commute to and from the airport, take the tram to Dam Square and get back to our hotel without much problem. One thing I enjoyed the most from this trip is the walking tour. I was happy to find out a lot about Amsterdam. I found it very interesting and informational. We went to the Anne Frank’s museum and Van Gogh museum as well and both experience was just way too enlightening. I wish I had more time there honestly! We weren’t able to do the canal boat trip but we did get on the hop-on hop-off bus tour. I also got to drink a beer or two at the Heineken factory.

5. Kowloon, Hong Kong

I’ve been to Hong Kong a lot of times already. I’ve visited Disneyland thrice and I guess, the reason I’ve put this here on my list is because of its familiarity and sentimental value. Hong Kong is the first country I’ve ever visited. I’ve gotten myself familiarized with MTR and I can read their city map very well. I’ve also explored Mong Kok a lot to buy souvenirs, and walked the streets at night to stroll. I’ve experienced traveling to Hong Kong with family members, and also experienced going solo. Either way, I had fun and Honk Kong was always a good country to explore.

I honestly haven’t been to a lot of countries compared to other travel enthusiast. So in the years to come I still wish to explore more cities and countries and still on my list are Peru, Brazil, and France. Who knows? Maybe this entry will have a part two and will morph into Aimee’s Top Five Countries. 😉

Next Chapter

Today is another goodbye. I didn’t actually think it would come to this but it did anyway. So I guess this is it. I have to officially say farewell to Cayman. On my previous entry, I wrote so enthusiastically about the life I used to have and how I would love to do all the things I haven’t done yet when I return to the island. But shit happened. Our company has to cut its losses because business is still bad.

I feel sad to be let go of a job I love. And not because I did something bad but because of a worldly situation. I feel like a chapter of my life has been forced to close against my own will. However, I admit that sometimes, that push is necessary. We have to be confronted by events in our lives that would leave us no option but to move forward and begin a new chapter. That’s what happened to me this year. I had no other option. And yes, I’ll also need to start again. 

Life is so unpredictable. I didn’t think this pandemic would wreak havoc in many lives of people. But then again our lives do not end today nor this year. 2020 may be the worst year yet but we got to endure and persist. We have to deal with the changes and believe that the best is yet to come. 

You see, there is nothing wrong with change or having to start again. But I guess each one of us just gets too afraid of the unknown. Who knows what’s in store for us in the future? Who knows how our lives will turn out to be or where we’ll end up? Everything is just still so unclear. But, that’s the beauty of it. We may feel afraid, lost, and unsure of what’s to come but when the future finally unfolds, and everything falls into the right place, we will finally get to realize how each thing, circumstance, or person, fits into the bigger picture. There will be that “Aha!” moment and everything else will just make sense. 

So trust. Trust in the universe. Trust in the Lord even when there is so much confusion and uncertainty. I have been doing that lately for I have learned to trust as well. I know that one day, I will understand all the why’s. But for now, I have to close this chapter and begin a new one. The answers will come soon. Maybe in the next one!😉

Coming Back For You Cayman

The Cayman Islands has been my home for a little over two years now until recently when I had to temporarily move back to my country due to the pandemic. I wasn’t excited about it to be honest because my job was at stake. I realized, however, that if I insisted on staying, I had no guarantee my finances would hold up until everything gets back to normal or, at least, when I get to start working again.

With me currently in the Philippines, I came to understand that while it is true that it’s comfortable here as this is my home country, I am also yearning for that familiar life I used to enjoy on the island. And even though this may seem cheesy and may seem untrue, I miss Cayman. I really do. There’s just too much to like about it. The scenery, the island vibes, they grow on you. It is more of a slow burn than a rapid-fire. You don’t notice it immediately but next thing you know, Cayman already occupies a space in your heart. It hits you just a little later like it did to me. But at least, now I know that I loved it there.

Funny though because back then, I thought, my movements were very limited. I had this notion that I can’t move as freely as I wanted to because I don’t own a car there in Cayman. My opinion changed, however, now that I am back in Manila. I realized that my movements here are actually more limited. Even if I decide to take my sister’s car, with the traffic and the proximity of the places, I can probably do very little (if I do decide to go out) as opposed to the lots of things I can probably accomplish in five hours there in Cayman.

City life is just really very different to the island life. Everything is fast paced here. Everyone seems to be busy and always on a rush. It’s tiring and exhausting to the soul. There’s no tranquility in the surroundings, only noise and clutter.

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On the other hand, life is slow and relaxed in Cayman. And I like it like that. It is befitting of a paradise. And there is no doubt about it too. Tourists flock the island so they can enjoy the beaches. And my favorite thing to do is walk along the shoreline and watch the sunset. I loved doing it on my days off. Besides, the white sand is just heavenly to walk on. I find it very therapeutic. And whenever I‘d go to the beach for whatever reason, I find that being present in that situation calms the inner turmoil I have within. It makes me more relaxed and as a result, I get to have that very elusive inner peace. Somewhere in Tiki beach, I used to have a spot under a tree where I would lay out a blanket on the sand and read my book. Sometimes, I would just lay there and wallow in the beauty of nature. I would just close my eyes and listen to the environment for there is just something in the waters and the sound of the waves that is very soothing.

And although I have lived quite sometime in Cayman, I know that I still have a lot of things to do there. I haven’t been to Cayman Brac yet or Little Cayman and I haven’t even gone on a submarine tour or snorkeling at night in Rum Point. I have yet to try known restaurants like Grand Old House, Ragazzi, and Calypso Grill. Even this year on my birthday, I told myself I would go for parasailing so I could check it off my bucket list but that didn’t happen. I’ve been offered by people I used to know to also go on jetskiing but unfortunately, none of that materialized.  There were several occasions in the past when my friends used to make fun of me because most of the time, I didn’t even know the names of the restaurants they’ve been talking about. Thank goodness though because my work permit is not yet expired and I will hopefully be returning to the island (yes, I’m claiming it) soon which means I can finally do the things I haven’t done yet without really feeling any regret that I’ve had let my chances go. One thing I have learned about chances is that when you’re given another chance, you should always make it count.

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So I can’t wait to go back Cayman! I wonder what you still have for me. I thought that you were already wearing me out and that I was tired of the island life already but I was wrong. I like it there. I love the simplicity of the life I have or used to have. I miss living independently. I miss my friends, the people I work with, my job, and the money I used to earn! haha! Cayman may be an expensive place to live in, but I can deal with that. I’ll find a way like I always do. So yeah, definitely, I’m coming back for you, Cayman!