Destination: Little Rock, Arkansas

The search for a possible residency program for Marco continues and I honestly shouldn’t call it search since we don’t really have the final say where he ends up in but he ended up getting an interview in Little Rock, Arkansas and since it’s a city and state that I’ve never been to and the drive from Houston wasn’t too long of a drive, Cassie and I tagged along.

When I was single and younger, I made a bucket list to visit all 50 states before I turned 30 and needless to say I failed doing that. I’m not saying that I’ve given up on that list, I guess my priorities just changed throughout the years and it wasn’t like I wasn’t in a long distance relationship for 7 years ( up to this day, I still don’t know how Marco and I did that) so our savings went to our wedding sinking fund, travel costs and what not so I’ve only managed to go to a bunch of them (not even half).

Ever since Cassie was born, we’ve been blessed to have traveled to a few more places for family visits, reunions and Marco’s interviews and so far she’s been to 7 states (including this) and 1 international destination. Not bad for a year old who won’t even remember half the places we’ve been to (but I guess thats why mommy takes a billion and one photos all the time, right). The only wonderful thing about not having ticked of that particular thing on my bucket list is that I have the rest of my lifetime to do that but I won’t be alone this time, I’ll have my little family with me and we’ll have our own adventures together.

To whoever is reading this, this isn’t a “travel blog”. Yes, it may just give you ideas on where to go, food places to go to, things to try out but it won’t consistently give you a breakdown or a rough estimate of how much to spend or a detailed review of a hotel or B&B ( well, it might, maybe when I’m ranting or raving about things) but so much of my posts are personal thoughts that I’ve allowed people to have access to. This is somewhat a personal online journal of mine, I’m sure I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, my entries are mostly there to keep track of memories. For a person who wanted to be on stage and memorize lines for a living, I suck in remembering details, dates and people. I’ve explained this to my husband before, I only remember things when they strike some kind of emotion within me, I remember little details based on what I felt at that particular situation and that’s how its always been. Okay….enough ranting, without further ado here are photos from our recent travel to Little Rock.

Old State House

Address to Google: 300 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201

Anyone who’s read a few of my past entries know that I have a thing for historical landmarks and buildings so you would understand how delighted I was that we found this in the heart of the city. The weather seems perfect in the photos but it was actually quite chilly when we went to visit. That one I didn’t quite anticipate so its a good thing I wore leggings under my skirt or else I would’ve been sporting Marilyn Monroe the entire time.

This building with Greek Revival Architecture contains a hodge podge of Arkansas history.

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Cassie and Daddy being silly at the museum

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Reading up on some Arkansas history on the spot

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Old school Clinton Memorabilia

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We’re not big on politics so it was intriguing for us to have found out that the Clintons were originally from there. Of course they had an entire section dedicated to their rise to power and the role they played starting with local politics.

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We found out that they had a play place for kids after we toured the museum so Cassie got to spend a few minutes playing before closing time.

Star of India Restaurant

Address to Google: 301 N Shackleford Rd, Little Rock, AR 72211

As cheesy as their name sounds and as plain and boring as the outside of their restaurant looks, I swear to you they are, if not the best, one of the best Indian restaurants we’ve been to. I’m no foodie but I’d like to think my husband is because he does love to eat all sorts of food and Indian cuisine is one of his favorites and he was extremely impressed. The ambiance was pretty legit and as we were dining you could see a lot of customers were coming in and we were actually lucky to have walked in early because by the time we ended our meal the place was packed. What I’ve noticed is that these customers were regulars, locals who just kept coming back and you could tell because the owner or the host rather addressed almost every single one of them by their first names and he somewhat knew their life story.

I was impressed with their customer service and did I mention that the first thing they did when they saw us walk in with a baby was put us in an area convenient for us and Cassie, they placed a large manila paper under her high chair discreetly saying “babies are babies, let them make a mess—we are ready”, unlike those snooty restaurants who claim they’re open to families but they give you a disgruntled look when your baby starts making a mess while eating. Oh and before I forget, they’re only one $ sign…super duper affordable, besides with the kind of food that they served us and their impeccable customer service I was willing to pay more. We will definitely be back if we happen to be in town.

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Choctaw Route Station

Address to Google: 1010 E. Third St.reet Little Rock, AR 72201

Upon picking up Marco after his interview, this little brick red building caught my eye. I wish we had more time to explore it but since I was so intrigued and we couldn’t go in to check it out I had to look into it.

This old building used to be a railroad passenger depot of a train route that no longer exists. They restored the building and converted it to a library under the Clinton School of Public Service.

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Leo’s Greek Castle

Address to Google: 2925 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, AR 72205

Now this is what I’d call a hole in the wall, the place seemed shady or maybe it seemed that way since it was night time and we weren’t familiar with the territory. The building structure was old, others might even consider it run down but inside it was quaint and clean, food was cheap and the gyros were to die for. Yep, the ratings don’t lie…so far every food hub we’ve tried here in Little Rock was a success.

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The Old Mill

Address to Google: 3800 Lakeshore Dr, North Little Rock, AR 72116

If you like classic movies then you shouldn’t have a hard time recognizing this place in the opening credits of Gone with the Wind. This picturesque mill really looks like it popped out of a fairy tale story book. I would have loved to explore the vast area surrounding the mill but we were on a tight schedule, I still can’t believe theres no admission cost to this landmark, it stands plainly in the middle of T.R Pugh Memorial Park. You won’t miss it.

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Our little bunny dozed off, she missed the whole thing.

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Big Dam Bridge

Address to Google: 7600 Rebsamen Park Rd, Little Rock, AR 72207

The first time I heard about this bridge I thought the name was a pun, I don’t know but I find it hilarious that they named it the BIG DAM BRIDGE. I’d have to say though the bridge was entirely true to its name. This bridge is said to be the longest bicycle and pedestrian in the entire US and no, we didn’t try to cross the bridge, we just took pictures. Haha.

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Junction Bridge at Little Rock River Market District

Address to Google: 200 Ottenheimer Plaza Little Rock, AR 72201

It’s not just another pedestrian bridge, this old railroad bridge is said to be 150 years old and it’s another convenient stop for tourists to take pictures since its located in between the River Market District and North Little Rock (must see areas in Little Rock from my understanding). Let’s not forget that there are also unique art installations/ pieces that are hard to miss.

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David’s Burgers

Address to Google: 200 Ottenheimer Plaza Little Rock, AR 72201

Who doesn’t love traditional American burgers? We went to the one within the River Market District coz it was the closest one at that time and we knew we had to try it out before heading home to Houston because consumer ratings varied from 4 stars to 4.5 online and true enough it didn’t disappoint, best part is the menu is $10 and under.

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And that wraps up our Little Rock trip. 😀

~Rhea

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Destination: Harlingen, Texas

Marco was scheduled for another interview here in Texas but this time it was in Harlingen so we took a road trip close to the border of Mexico more for business than pleasure. It’ s days like these when I get to take advantage of the perks working PRN (as needed) at the hospital. I love how I can just pick my schedule and take off from work without any hassles or complications when need be. It took us roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes to get there and the first thing we did was google a good place to eat. We ended up having lunch at Brass Wheel Restaurant.

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Marine Memorial

Visited this mini museum mainly for the Iwo Jima Memorial statue. The wind was acting up so we didn’t even stay long and I didn’t even bother visiting the gift shop like I normally would.

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Iwo Jima Memorial up closeimg_9599_zpsimpsxovc

Because he feels the need to do the “Lion King” pose at every historical landmark we go to.img_9611_zpslbwedbei

 Checked in at Courtyard by Marriott

It had a modern minimalistic feel to it.

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The hotel’s poolside was pretty decent and since we had nothing else better to do, we decided to take Cassie for a swim.

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She acts like she runs the place, waiting for daddy to get ready.

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So apparently people who viewed my snaps thought we were crazy for swimming that day since it was rather breezy, the water was warm and we didn’t really stay long so I promise you Cassie was fine.

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Famished after her swim so she grabbed her snack, sat on the sofa and started munching on her puffs like a boss

That night Cassie and I stayed in and ate left overs while Marco had an informal dinner with the rest of the interviewees for the residency program.

The next day, Marco rode a shuttle and left early for the hospital, Cassie and I packed our stuff, loaded up and went window shopping after we had that cockroach incident. I am not even going to expound on what happened since I am positive that it wasn’t even the hotel’s fault but lets just say I had to get over my fear of roaches so I could kill one. I felt like if I didn’t, it would have called the rest of its friends and Cassie and I would have a cockroach frenzy.

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Just roamed around town while Marco was doing his interview, its a good thing I found the mall right when he finished. He gave me a call just when I walked in a Forever 21 and it looked like 6x this photo. It felt like a Forever 21 warehouse and I was just glad he called before I could do any credit card damage that  I would regret in the future. Everything was on sale!!!!

Met up with one of Marco’s friends from med school that was currently doing residency over there, they had a quick catch up before we drove back to Houston. On our way home we got stopped at an immigration checkpoint. Because the city was located in the border  line of Mexico, immigration was taking precautionary measures that Marco was unaware of and I totally forgot about. He forgot to bring his green card and it took them a while to verify his identity with his drivers license. I’m just glad nothing crazy resulted from our inefficiencies. We got home safe, extremely exhausted but safe.

~Rhea

Photo Diary: A Day with the Lujans

Filipinos by nature are very much family-oriented, if they could live with all their aunts and uncles and cousins they would, and in one way or the other that was how my childhood was. There was never a dull moment because I grew up being close to both sides of my family, I got taunted, teased and semi-bullied (a lot by my kuyas). Yes, it was one of those “Ugh-I-hate-you-but-I know-you’re-pestering-me-coz-you-actually-care” type of relationships and it was true, they teased me a lot but I knew they had my back and that they loved me. But of course everyone grows up and life takes us to our own paths sometimes away from those you grew up with.

Today, I  got to spend time with my kuya Giancarlo, his wife ate Dulce and their 2 wonderful kids Isaiah and Jude. I’m glad that amidst the hectic Christmas season our families found the time to meet up. From a very-filling barbecue lunch at Lucille’s to a stroll in Laguna Beach to a Gingerbread display at the Ritz and a dinner at a local Korean soup place we found ourselves catching up and talking about random things in our current lives, a day was definitely not enough but it is what it is, I’m just happy that we were able to push through with this meet up. Lujans, thank you so much for spending time with us and taking us around AND for spoiling Cassie with her new toys, we don’t know when the next time will be but we will definitely be looking forward to that.

Here are some photos from today:

(Wish we had at least one photo with all of us together)

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Cassie and her kuyas, Isaiah and Jude

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They gave Cassie her favorite, Minnie Mouse in her Christmas-themed outfit

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The Lujans

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Beach art work

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The whole display was edible. How yummy is that!

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~Rhea

Cassie’s 1st trip to the Happiest Place on Earth

Visiting Disneyland during the holidays, we already knew the place was going to be jam-packed. Prior to getting there my husband was telling me to prepare for long lines and a whole lot of waiting, pretty much he wanted us to brace ourselves for anything and expect the unexpected to avoid frustrations. I told him that this trip was all going to be about Cassie since its her first trip to Disneyland, all I wanted for her was to ride the “It’s a small world” ride and have a photo with Minnie Mouse, her all time favorite Disney character (so far).

Thanks mami for this trip, we had a blast and we could tell Cassie was sooo happy to be there based on the number of “Wows” she uttered all throughout the day.

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Ready in her Minnie Mouse outfit (without the ears yet in the picture)

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This ginormous Christmas tree was a sight to behold

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…We’re officially here!!!

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Why hello there Monstro the whale.

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T’was tempting but we skipped out on this one just because you can have Carousel rides elsewhere

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Oh, look who we bumped into—the Evil Queen.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Cassie’s 1st ride. The only reason why we made this her first ride was because it was the closest one to where we were at, at that time and it had the shortest waiting time. I’m glad we went that route because when we checked the Disney app the waiting time doubled. I guess this ride is pretty famous with kids.

If you’re taking a child around Cassie’s age (a year and 2 months), be prepared for dark moments in the submarine which might possibly scare him/her. Overall she was in awe with all the bubbles and the fishies and she loved it!

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While waiting in line

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Alice in Wonderland Ride

We didn’t necessarily have this ride as one of our “must-trys” but infant-friendly rides were limited and this had the shortest waiting time after the submarine ride so we went anyway. What it is, is a mini-roller coaster where you encounter the characters of Alice in Wonderland, which would have been perfect except that it was set in the dark and the characters were colorful with a neon-effect, giving them an eerie glow. Add on the Cheshire cat’s creepy grin to the whole scenario and you get a crying, creeped out infant. I feel like if we take Cassie 2 or 3 years from now, she’d love this.

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Turkey Legs and Pizza for Lunch

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Thanks tita an for taking care of Cassie so mommy could eat

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Cassie’s Disney’s #OOTD

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It’s a Small World Ride

Of course the line for It’s a Small World seemed endless but it actually went by pretty fast. Cassie ended up sleeping while we were waiting and I was dreading the fact that she would miss out on the ride. When we finally got on the ride, we took that chance of waking her up and I’m glad that we did because she was just in awe the entire ride. She woke up smiling to the little dolls moving and dancing and the “Its a small world” song on replay. “Wows” and a whole lot of pointing— that was Cassie. Looking at her, you could tell that she felt like she was in her own wonderland and that just made me and Marco happy, seeing that look on her face was priceless!

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Tito Mik helping out with the Cassie-carrying.

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…and the lines keep going and going and going

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Mickey’s ToonTown

This part of the park is literally like a big playground for kids where they can visit the classic disney characters’ house. We came too late in the afternoon and the lines were so long that we missed everyone except Goofy. We ended up going inside Minnie Mouse’s house and I’m pretty sure to Cassie that was a big blur but I knew she had fun while we were in there. At this point we still haven’t seen Minnie and I really wanted Cassie to have a picture with her since she is Cassie’s favorite, they directed us back to the front of the theme park and told us she’d be hanging out there until the start of the parade.

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Outside Mickey’s house

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Mickey’s Ice cream bar—a disney must-have

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Yay! at least we found Goofy. Good job tito mik and tita an for falling in line for cassie 😀

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Minnie Mouse’s House

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We finally found Minnie up front but Cassie wouldn’t wake up at all. She opened her eyes for a few seconds but went back to sleep, poor baby was really exhausted from today’s activities.

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Disney’s Electrical Light Parade

Everyone who visits Disneyland should really stay to watch this especially since they won’t be having this around forever. It’s not only fun for kids but its safe to say most adults enjoy this spectacle, I’m a bit sad that Cassie slept through the entire thing but on the bright side, Marco and I enjoyed the parade in peace ( no offense Cas).

Sorry my pictures below won’t do justice to the actual parade but at least we had most of it on video for Cassie to watch later on.

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Of course she woke up after the parade, She was in  a good mood too.

You’ve been good to us especially Cassie, thanks Disneyland. Till next time.

~Rhea

Honeymooning: Cebu

June 15- 17, 2014

Reservations for the day after the wedding were already made in Shangri-La Mactan. We didn’t waste any time and decided to start working on our “mini-honeymoon”. Since we made a decision to stay in the Philippines until early next year so I could finish my thesis in UP, we decided to hold off on the real honeymoon that we’ve been planning and just explore the Philippines little by little. When you live out of the country you grew up in for a few years, that’s when you realize the beauty of it and appreciate what it has to offer, so right now the best thing to do is take advantage of our situation and just see where the wind takes us.

You’ll probably be seeing a lot of “honeymooning” posts after this, they call the 1st year of marriage the “honeymoon stage” right? Well then, honeymoon it is!

How cute is this World Cup inspired flower centerpiece.

We’re gonna get to use them already…woohoo. Thanks so much Tita Teresing for the 2-night stay in Shang. 🙂

Gigantic bed just for the two of us.

We also had to bring the gifts with us since we didn’t get to open them yet.

Dinner buffet with the new family. Thanks mom and pop for the treat!

World cup time in Shang, so they had a bunch of these guys lurking around.

Our cutie pie Diego and his Ninong Marco

What a great day to be on a honeymoon, I would love to wake up to this everyday. Met up with mom and pop for breakfast before they checked out.

Good Morning Husband! Watching NBA on our 2nd day as a married couple.

Happy to be hitched.

Hit the beach for an early morning swim my mister.

For lunch, Marco and I decided to try a local restaurant nearby so we went out of Shangrila and took a jeep.

And this is where we ended up eating… MANNA STK FOOD HOUSE. 🙂

It was pretty empty when we got there, only 2 other tables were filled probably because it was a Monday and a little past the usual lunch time . If I’m not mistaken, one of the tables were a group of Malays doing a documentary/ film about Filipino food and I overheard the owner/ manager explaining to them what SUTUKIL was.

To those who have not been to Cebu, and to those who don’t know what Sutukil is, it pretty much stands for…

SUSugba (Grill)

TUTuwa (Soup)

KIL Kilaw (Raw)

It seriously is a must-try!

What we ordered for the both of us, what else…SUTUKIL baby!

And while we were enjoying our food, a man came in and played classic songs on something that looked like a portable harp.

Marco and Rhea with happy tummies, I’m glad we came here.

Since it was just outside the “Sutukil Area”, we took a 3-minute walk and visited the Lapu-Lapu Shrine.

Philippine History 101: Lapu-Lapu was one of our first national heroes, he was the head of the native Filipinos when they defeated the Spaniards in a historical battle called the Battle of Mactan.

I think this plaque reiterates everything that I just said, haha.

Trying to pose like Lapu-Lapu

The marina just outside the Lapu-Lapu Shrine

After walking around the vicinity, we decided to head back to Shangri-la for another swim, this time we plan to check out the poolside first.

Trying to soak up what’s left of the sun, then we headed back to the beach until the remainder of the afternoon

The obligatory photo op by the shore, you could tell Marco wasn’t so happy about it. Haha.

Since it was just the two of us, Marco and I had to look for a sturdy rock to put our phone on so at least we could take a decent picture with the both of us in it #honeymoonhits

We stayed by the beach until dusk, the atmosphere was simply beautiful

Shangri-la Mactan at night

Next stop..Boracay.

~Rhea