How not to spend the holiday season

At my parents’ house, before it all went down

‘Twas the most wonderful time of the year: We flew all our Christmas presents from Germany, spent Christmas Eve together with my family, had lots of nice food, and visited our elders on Christmas Day. The warmth of the holidays started to lift our spirits after crashing into The Philippines… until Markus had chills late on the 25th, followed by a high fever. 

I cannot describe how I felt when I read the thermometer. Markus never gets sick randomly, in fact, he has never gotten ill since we met. I thought this could only mean one thing and my head immediately fell down the rabbit hole.

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Our Amazing Race experience of traveling back to The Philippines during this pandemic

Micah and I made it to The Philippines! We have been here since December 1 and it honestly seems like a small miracle that it actually happened. If you have been wondering about our inactivity, this was mainly why. What follows is a recounting of our experience; if you are looking for official guidelines on how to travel to The Philippines during the pandemic you can find up-to-date advisories here.

After months of anxiety-inducing preparation that included almost not finding any more (remotely affordable) flights, not knowing if Micah’s new passport would arrive on time, uncertainty about even being able to travel to The Philippines from Germany after the emergence of the Omicron-Variant and countless smaller issues, it was almost time for us to fly out.

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Who are you in another life?

Who is this guy?

In the book The Midnight Library, the main character explores alternative versions of her life, new realities only possible had she made different choices and pursued other paths. Isn’t it an interesting concept?

Who would you be if you decided on a different major, partner, hobby, or city? How different would your life be if you went for another opportunity where your life forked previously? How would your relationships look like if you chose the alternative? Would you even like this version of yourself?

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Pawikan turtle conservation continues in Pag-asa, Bagac, Bataan

Remember those pawikan or sea turtles that you helped return to the ocean last season? They are at it again!

On 30 August, the first pawikan nest was found by the community volunteers. There are a total of 27 nests now and counting. All of these first eggs were adopted by Audrey and Bubbles.

Bubbles, our favorite cat lady, powered much of the operations of the community hatchery during the off-season. Her support allowed us to nurse these early nests, but more important, rebuild the hatchery that was damaged by coastal floods during the last moonsoon season. We cannot thank you enough for your support!

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I baked Brötchen everyday for a week and here’s what happened

On her Chef’s Table episode, legendary chef Nancy Silverton said, one must be obsessed with bread to be a baker. I thought that was a bit much, but what did I know? I did not bake bread then. Fast forward a few years and here I am baking Brötchen everyday, trying to learn the nuances of bread and keeping my mind open to what water, flour, salt, and yeast have to teach me.

The first thing I made with my new Kitchen Aid are Brötchen, small rolls typically eaten for breakfast, or anytime really, in Germany. On Day 1, I used this recipe and the result were crispy, soft, but dense Brötchen that could sustain the German army.

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In Gelnhausen, on a lovely fall day

Enchanting, colorful, and historic, medieval towns are my current obsession. I cannot resist their charm. Lucky we are surrounded! Markus and I have been to several since I arrived in Germany and it is about time I talk about one, no?

This is from Gelnhausen, a quaint town near Frankfurt founded by Emperor Barbarossa in 1170. The entrance is a steep walk as it sits on the side of a hill – very traditional. Its main attraction is the Marienkirche that you can see towering on the background in our picture above. It could be Wednesday Adam’s Castle if she was a Disney princess. I totally love it.

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Birthday overseas, lots of food, and a big surprise

By the river Main on my birthday

We mainly cook our meals at home because of our diet preferences, but when I saw The Red Lion in the old town near our flat, I thought I had to experience dining there. A birthday is a good excuse, too, no?

Built in 1727, this is the oldest restaurant here, standing neatly in its corner after two World Wars and still serving guests amid a pandemic. They had plenty of mushroom and potato dishes, with continent-size portions.

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I am thinking about meat

Last weekend, Markus and I visited the Hessenpark, a magical open-air museum that provides a glimpse into traditional village life in Hesse. It was like a Harry Potter world, if only it was set in rural Germany.

Almost 100 Fachwerkhäuser on display, plus furniture, tools, shops, crafts, and all the toys imaginable to impress and educate a new Asian in town. I had a lot of fun, even if it rained most of the time.

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Currently, I’m obsessed with

After two months here in Germany, I can safely claim that I am more relaxed and am finally able to flow with the rhythms of life. My inner world can still improve by a lot, but it is okay, currently.

Today, I would like to share a short list of some things that bring me joy and help me get out of my head each day:

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Getting vaccinated… again

Recovery in progress

Last week, I had my first jab of Biontech, which is great, except I have been fully vaccinated with Sinovac before leaving The Philippines. But as the politics of Covid-19 vaccines goes, I am legally unvaccinated here, since Germany, like most European countries, does not recognize the China-made vaccine.

Some physicians and majority of the population have not even heard of Sinovac and have no idea what it is! Very interesting since this is the most available and widely used vaccine in my side of the world.

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