July 18, 2014

MH17 Shot Down

Friday, July 18, 2014 Posted by Mary , , , No comments

I can't believe it! Just months after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanishes without a trace, another Malaysian jet is down. MH17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, is shot down by a surface-to-air missile in pro-Russian controlled eastern Ukraine.

I'm so heart-broken. And angry. How dare they take the lives of 298 innocent people? I blame Russia, and Putin, and his ultra-nationalist greed. If Russia had just left Ukraine alone, this would not have happened.

How sad for Malaysia and the challenges their flag carrier is facing. How sad especially for the families and friends of the people on board. My heart goes out to them. I hope that in the some way, they get comfort from the fact that the whole world mourns with them.

July 15, 2014

Enamored with Waterton Lakes National Park

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 Posted by Mary , , , 4 comments

There has been one thing that's influencing my travel decisions for the past few years: the item on my bucket list that requires me to visit 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This interest started around 10 years ago when I was an exchange student in Japan. We'd visited a number of these sites then, and I was intrigued by their how special they were. Thankfully, my husband fully supports me in this quest, and because of it, I have discovered a new favorite--Waterton Lakes National Park.

Waterton is a Canadian national park in the southwest corner of Alberta, just a few kilometers from the US border. In fact, along with Glacier National Park in Montana, USA it forms the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site designated in 1995 because of its distinctive climate, physiographic setting, mountain-prairie interface, and tri-ocean hydrographical divide. It is an area of significant scenic values with abundant and diverse flora and fauna.

Waterton is quite a long drive from Red Deer. Four and a half hours, to be exact, so we spent the night at Pincher Creek before going to Waterton. It is its closest city, just around 40 minutes from the park. In hindsight, that might have been a bad decision. We should have just driven directly to Waterton and spent the night there. It would have given us more time to enjoy the place. Still, the day that we spent at the park was nothing short of amazing.

There are many breathtaking parks in Alberta, but Waterton is special because its centerpiece, the magnificent Upper Waterton Lake is right there--right by Waterton village. You don't have to drive away from the town to enjoy its splendour. And because of the park's distance to the big cities, it is also not as busy as the other parks in the province. You can enjoy the area in relative peace.

Another highlight of the park is the Prince of Wales Hotel. It was constructed between 1926 and 1927, and named after the Prince of Wales who later became King Edward VII. It is a massive Swiss-chalet style building, oozing with charm and character. The best part: it has a parlour with an amazing view of the lake.

We were also able to visit Red Rock Canyon while at Waterton. A 16-km drive from the town, it is a must-see because of it's gorgeous red and green bedrock layers. If you like hiking, or wildlife, this is the place to be. We didn't see any bears that time, but there are many of them around this area.

We capped our tour of Waterton with a meal at the posh Bayshore Lakeside Chophouse. It was wonderful to be able to dine and relax right beside the lake. I had Braised Short Ribs. It was tender, succulent, and perfect.

It is not very often that I want to go back to a place I've only very recently visited. But I do wanna go back to Waterton. It is truly breathtaking. I could probably live there forever. For a self-described city girl like me, that's saying something.

July 9, 2014


Wednesday, July 09, 2014 Posted by Mary , 1 comment

Last night, I found out that the daughter of a former colleague of mine in the Philippines passed away. She was only 17 years old.

It is devastating. I watched this girl grow up. She would often come to the office, a smile always on her face. She would be at our Christmas parties, and other special events. It always felt like we were all family at the College of Computer Studies in Silliman University, so hearing what happened is just unbelievable. I can't even fathom how devastated her mother must be.

I don't have the complete details but the doctors say it was congenital brain aneurysm. She was out with her classmates on Monday night when she suddenly fainted. She went into a coma and never woke up. Around two days later, she'd passed away.

Events like this make you realize how fleeting and bittersweet life can be. In fact, it can be downright scary. But I guess it is also moments like this that motivate us to treasure our loved ones and live life to the fullest.

In a Viber conversation, my friend Charina said it best: "We are so fragile. God is our only strength."

Rest in peace, Rouellyn.