I Do.


I Do.

Christophe, I promise to love and care for you and I will try in every way to be worthy of your love, trust, and respect. I will always be honest with you, kind, patient, supportive, understanding and forgiving. Yes, even when sometimes being all of that is in itself a challenge. But most of all, I promise to be a true and loyal friend to you. I will love you through good and the bad, through joy and the sorrow, the ugly and the beautiful. Maybe not so much the ugly…kidding! I want to face all of life’s experiences and share beautiful dreams and goals with you. I promise to be your equal partner in a loving, honest, and nurturing marriage, for as long as we both shall live. Je t’aime enormement, mon mari.

P.S.: I will even learn to speak your native language to save you the trouble of translating each time we are in the company of French people.:)

***

Venue: Alila Villas Uluwatu

Photo by: Noel Abelardo
Gown by: Nikolai Jude Hernandez
Suit by: Cho Vittorio Iago Orlanes
HMU: Bali Makeup and Hair
Videography: Point One Designs

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Total Fitness: The BREAK-UP Guide


NOTE: Published in this month’s issue of TOTAL FITNESS magazine. Grab a copy TODAY!

***

Who made the rule that you have to be friends with your Ex? No, seriously, how can two people who, at one point, shared everything in their lives –both emotionally and sexually, to the complete extent–ever break out of that mould and erase the past and pretend like it never happened? Some people manage with ease and élan, but some are just unable to.

I remember a very long time ago when R and I broke up, I often wondered ‘How can I be “friends” with him, when even now, when I’m not in love with him anymore, some part of me flinches to see him looking so good and taking this whole thing better than I ever could? How can I be friends with him, when he has successfully ruined my last three flings, because all of those guys looked at me and said,“Um…are you still hung up on your Ex?” How do I explain to people, that it is not because I am “into” him per se, it’s just that for a year and a half, he was the most important person in my life. He was my best friend, with benefits. We shut out everyone else, just being with each other. That he and I were like some stupid packaged deal that you cannot have one without having the other as well? And I hate that he’s able act all “Oh, I’m so over you” around me, and I turn into this completely different person, who’s being snarly and bitchy and picking fights for no reason at all. I might as well just paint myself red and run around waving a sign, saying “Remember me? I used to be your girlfriend. We used to date.”

That was six years ago and contrary to what my broken little heart feared before, my life did not end.  In fact, shortly after the proverbial bruise has disappeared and my ego has had a chance to repair itself, I woke up in a place where flowers are much more vibrant, the air a lot fresher, and dreams are much closer to reality.

Most of us who dare to love and make a decision to cast all else aside, are never spared from the lashings of a break-up – any break-up. When we are in a relationship, we tend to conduct our lives in a certain pattern or structure and this goes on for what seems like ages that when things finally come to a halt, we feel a great deal of pain and desolation. But usually, the pain is due to the fact that we suddenly have so much time in our hands that we don’t know what to do with – no more going to the gym together; no more candlelit dinners during anniversary and birthdays; no more hanging out with other couple friends, and yes, no more sex with the same person night after night after night.

Face it, the inevitable has arrived. You are no longer in a relationship and the sooner you accept that; the sooner you allow yourself to look past the hurt and wish the other party well, the better and stronger you will be. Getting over an Ex, especially if the relationship was the most intense you have had yet, can be a long and arduous process – but you will get there. Now to make sure you don’t self-destruct, here are some tips you can apply post-break-up:

  1. Find A Good Distraction. Go ahead, mull over the relationship and its demise, but NEVER obsess about it. If it ended, there must be a good reason why and there is no use trying to relive the good days over and over again in your head. So he now has someone new and it hurts like open-heart surgery without anaesthesia — but you have to move on. How to do this? Take on a new hobby. Start a blog. Get active in sports and group activities. Feed your creative side by reading great literary works or dabbling a little in poetry and prose.
  2. Keep Your Space and Ditch Memory Triggers. Usually, after a break-up, we go through the ‘We used to’ phase – ‘We used to come here every Saturdays’ ‘We used to shop here a lot’ – and it’s very normal. What is abnormal is when you insist on clinging to memory triggers:  Little gifts, dried-up flowers, and framed photos that you put on display on top of your office desk or the corner table in your bedroom, forming a little altar of love begone. See that trash bin over there? Use it! And while we’re on the subject, STOP CYBERSTALKING YOUR EX. Terrible idea.
  3. Love Yourself and Embrace Your Inner Goddess! So he dumped you for someone else – or a new toy (Don’t laugh, it can happen. A toy or hobby can sometimes be just as good a substitute to a tiresome lover!) big deal. Whatever she looks like, never use it as an excuse to wallow in self-pity and think yourself unattractive and unlikeable. You are beautiful and someone is dying to be with you. Keep your options wide open and don’t shut people out.
  4. Deal With the Hate Phase Positively. 9 out of 10 breakups are antagonistic, no matter how the splitting parties try to make it appear amicable. If the reason for the break-up is infidelity or betrayal of trust, expect rage to be boundless. But sooner or later, this phase will come to pass – unless you or your partner are chronically vindictive. Nonetheless, you should find a way to channel that hatred and rage. Be open to your friends about your feelings or write about it. By unburdening yourself of negativity, you are that much closer to achieving catharsis.
  5. Do NOT Rethink Your Decision…especially when break-up is caused by one party’s infidelity. It is very common for people to turn messianic thinking you can save that person from himself and if you find yourself going down that road, STOP and RUN the opposite direction! You wouldn’t want to be sitting in the front row for the re-run, believe me.

On Being Fit and Healthy.


Bend it like Vicky.

So I’ve been asked several times by people what it is exactly that I do to keep in shape. There’s running, of course, which I try to do as often as possible for a minimum of 5k for each run. There was a time when I logged 10k everyday and I was able to keep at it for about a week. But given that it’s not my main vocation and I do need to put food on my table, clothes on my back, and fancy shoes on my feet, work always come first.

There’s hiphop which I try to do every Thursday when I’m not traveling or at work. I like my workout with a lot of body movements and loud music which explains why dancing holds a lot of appeal for me even when the only time I’m even remotely graceful on the floor is when the routine involves grinding, booty-shaking, and chest pump. Anything more complicated or technical than that, I might as well be the girl born with two left feet.

And then there’s  free weights. I was not a fan of fitness clubs before. I dreaded the smörgåsbord of exercise machine, most of which I didn’t know how to operate. And back when I used to carry a little bit more weight on my petite frame, I would get completely self-conscious around gym members who look better and fitter. But when my body began to improve little by little, I must admit, I would sometimes be a little shameless in showing off. No, not full monty of course, but maybe just a tight tank top or a sports bra top and shorts or capris for workout which often get a lot of appreciative looks from men and uhrrrm, very scary dagger looks from some women. Though it may be deemed as little bit too much in the self-promotion area, but my rationale has always been that I worked hard to achieve my ideal body shape and form and if I can inspire even just one person to do the same, then I’m happy. Whether it’s for health reasons or just plain and simple affectation, it doesn’t matter, so long as I get to motivate people to do something about their fitness and looks. After all, who wants to be obese in the first place or for the rest of their lives for that matter?

Workin' it!

So yes, lately I have also been spending some time in this fitness club I frequent – mostly to do free weights workout and spinning or RPM. My friend who’s a complete health and fitness freak got me into it and I must say that he knew exactly what he was preaching about because I have seen significant improvements in my body and most especially, my overall health and fitness. I am more agile and flexible now. My endurance has also improved a lot and it may have been brought about by my strengthened core.

Last time I bumped into one of my favorite Takbo.ph friends Dennis at FF, he made me his guinea pig . In his spare time, Dennis is studying to be a full-fledged fitness instructor/personal trainer. He showed me a lot of workout routines targeted to develop and tone specific areas of my body. He even showed me how to use some of the exercise equipment there, much to my delight because I have always felt that it’s such a waste that I don’t get to maximise my monthly club membership. But that’s going to change from here on in.

So going back to the question on what I exactly it is that I do to keep fit. Well, here are some of them…

This one here is called the Russian Twist and it's mainly for core strengthening. This is also how you get that nice line on the sides of your midsection. And the 5kg weight plate I'm holding as I twist to the left and right also helps give my arms a very nice definition.

This is the free weights alternative to the equipment-aided squat exercises. The bar weighs around 20kg and as you can see, it's not that tough to carry. After the initial fumbling execution, I can now squat 30kg; 12 reps; 3 sets.

This is called the Preacher's Curl and this is good for the biceps. I usually do 3 sets of this with 12 reps for each set.

And because I burn tons of calories and expend a lot of energy after each run and/or workout, I make sure that I eat healthy and on time. I used to consume a lot of junk food before (potato chips, soda, chocolate, name it!) but with the desire to look fit, healthy and extremely good comes great restraint. These days, when couch potato-ing at home and feeling the niggling urge to open a bag of chips or take a bite off that block of chocolate, I grab an apple or a pear instead and drink a glass of water.

Aside from that, I also take vitamins and health supplements to make up for lost nutrients, especially when I miss an important meal of the day or had been delinquent with my food intake.  I’m sure you have your own preferred supplement and brand whose health benefits you’ve already proven over the years. Below are some of the stuff I take every morning, usually after my workout, in order to keep health-IER. Now, if you haven’t been bitten by the fitness bug yet, look for me and I would gladly clamp my sharp teeth on your neck or shoulder – whichever is yummier – and maybe we can run and hit the gym together! What did I tell you? I’m all about inspiring people to living nicotine/alcohol/excessive fat and sugar-FREE lifestyle. Lezgow!

Health supplements for a healthier me!

For more proof, please refer to the photo below. That is the result of a semi-serious training spanning about six months. I have made a few more trips to the fitness club since then and therefore I look more toned now but I still say it’s a work in progress. I’m closer to my fitness goal now but there’s still tons of work to be done. And I don’t mean the surgical kind of work, just so we’re clear. I wanna see just how far I can still push the fitness envelope…

Still a work in progress...

 

TRAVEL: Conquering MT. MACULOT


 

At the Grotto.

 

Located  south of bustling Manila in Cuenca, Batangas, Mt. Maculot is easily among the favorite mountaineering destinations because of its wide campgrounds, good enough degree of climbing difficulty, breathtaking vista above and the awe-inspiring view of the Taal lake from the famous Rockies.

And this is where I, along with with some of my Takbo.ph friends, hied-off to last April 9 – in preparation for The North Face 100k Trail Adventure Race in Baguio City which happened April 24 – 25, which I signed up for but had to pass up on due to work travel scheduled on the same week.

Incidentally, it was also my first attempt at mountain climbing and not only did it go oh-so-well, I am now convinced I have found my second (sport) love next to running.

The Planning Stage. Just before the Holy Week break, I got sms from Pat informing me of two climbs being organized which he thought I should consider joining if I am indeed serious about completing TNF – especially since I have never climbed a mountain and have only done trail running once in 2009. I was psyched! First was Mt. Batulao but it was cancelled at the last minute due to some members not confirming and transportation arrangements not finalized. I was disappointed but it was just as well that the climb didn’t happen on Good Friday because I was totally ill-prepared for it.

And then came Mt. Maculot. An ideal choice, according to Dennis, because the TNF Adventure Race this year was said to have been designed to have the same degree of difficulty, thanks to the race director and organizers.

Assembly. After a series of sms and email exchanges, as well as, regular updates on Takbo.ph’s forum, the day finally came for us to converge at the assembly place: KFC Buendia. Assembly time was 1:30AM. It was a bit tough for me, having just played badminton for our company’s sportsfest which ended just before 9PM. After having dinner with Noel at the nearby restaurant, we walked the rest of the way home so he can glam up for Malate and I can start packing for my mountain adventure.

Not exactly knowing what to bring, I ended up packing my bag with the oddest assembly of caboodles, most of which are not exactly mountain climbing must-brings. I packed Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (sometimes I like to trick people into thinking I’m super smart by toting around some hard to read books, hahaha), thinking I’d have some reading time once we camp out at the summit; my iPod nano and iFrog speakers; a bag of lightly-salted Pretzels; a box of Loacker coconut chocolate wafer thins; a bottle of water; a pair of shorts, knickers and tanktop to change into after the climb.

I only had about a thousand pesos in my pocket ($24).

Meal before the ascent.

Destination: Mt. Maculot. We boarded the Jam bus bound for Lemery, Batangas at around 3am thinking we would be on the road shortly after. Unfortunately, the driver waited until the bus was full and it was only after some serious berating by one irate passenger that the driver grudgingly drove the bus out of the station at 4am. The air conditioning system inside the bus was in such fine working condition that I immediately drifted off to a much-needed nap. The travel to Cuenca was only two hours which is just about enough to give my sleep-deprived body some energy for the climb.

But, alas, there was a car accident not too far from where we’re supposed to get off which caused traffic flow to go on almost a standstill. We reached Cuenca at 7am. There were 10 of us so we divided ourselves into two groups and hailed two tricycles to take us to the registration area. Registration was 10 pesos each. Used to be 5 pesos but with the inflation rate and all…:D

The Ascent. We decided to take the path leading to the Grotto first which is on the other side of the mountain.  Before embarking on our journey, we took some time to eat our breakfast at the foot of the mountain. KFC original recipe chicken has never tasted so good! Yes, I was that hungry.

Finally, it was time to start our ascent. Dennis was our designated guide and we all just trailed behind him. Little Miss Eager-beaver, I was almost always the one closely behind Dennis. Bakit ba, adelantada ako eh! (Translation: Why ba, I’m adelantada! LOL)

Like a marauding colony of ants, off we went to conquer Mt. Maculot…

At the grotto, we were able to charm some kids to take several group shots and soon after,  we left the Grotto and made our way to the summit

We haven’t gone that far yet when my feet started to form blisters because I was wearing the wrong pair of socks. Yes, no-show ankle socks are a no-no in mountain climbing. Thanks to Carina, Ellen, Ambo and Dennis for supplying me with band aids. And who can forget Carina’s gigantic tub of petroleum jelly!

I think my climbing attire is a little bit confused but you really won’t care anymore once you’re out there. Or maybe it’s just me, Little Miss No Reservations. Also notice how my nostrils were flaring in some of the photos.  That’s where I humbly conceded that no matter how relatively good a runner you are, it takes so much more than just speed and endurance to do mountain climbing.

Only a few minutes into our descent, we got into another adventure. Okay, fine, we got lost. We took the wrong trail which led us to a dead-end. Rather, the edge of the ravine. We didn’t have stable veins or rock to hold on to so most of us had to resort to sliding our butts down. But despite that, we were still a bunch of happy trekkers!

On our last rest before we soldiered on all the way down to the foot of Mt. Maculot. Glen fed us with so many energy bars and gummy bear-like things. I also scored a bar of super melted Snickers almond chocolate from him and some lychee jellyace from Carina. I’m such a food monster!

By the time we reached the end of our mountain journey, my whole body was covered in dust mixed with dried-up sweat and I was not smelling very nice. I think it was Tracy who said that even after a long workout session in the gym, she has never smelled as sour as she did after the climb. Same rings true for me and everyone else in the group. So what else was there to do but to shower!

For 15 pesos, we were given a bucket of warm water for showering which was not so bad except that I’m not used to bathing using a sachet of Pantene shampoo as bodywash, which is exactly what I did because I didn’t  bring my bathing and moisturizing caboodles with me.

Being among the first ones to shower, I had enough time to scour the sari-sari store for food. I started with a small serving of DingDong mixed nuts (one of my favorite junks!), a small bag of cheap chicharon (deep fried pork rind), barbecue and isaw (grilled chicken entrails), and halo-halo! By the time the rest of the gang were done showering, my mouth was already frothing from too much food of the weirdest assortment!

At 5:30PM, we boarded the bus that would take us back to Manila. Awww…

Our Mt. Maculot adventure easily ranks among my favorite adventures this year, if not, forever. I had so much fun climbing over fallen tree trunks, hanging on to tree roots for stability, sliding down pathways on my already-painful butt, ducking from spiny leaves and trunks to avoid getting scratches on my precious skin – but I ended up having a shallow gash on my right leg anyhow when I tried to swing my leg over a trunk. My mountain climbing adventure was made even more fun by friends with whom I share my passion for running and athletics. What we found most abominable though was the shocking amount of trash and litter left by other climbers. It disgusted us to the core that these bunch of irresponsible people walk around disrespecting Mother Earth just like that. Maybe on our next trip, we can organize a clean-up project at Mt. Maculot. Now that’s something to seriously think about and plan for.

Please help preserve the environment.


Favorite Item no. 3: CARINA hand carry


I am truly, madly, profoundly in love with my blue CARINA bag! Got it last night and I totally went nuts when I took it out of the shopping bag. I’m not as crazy over hand carry as I am with shoes but the gorgeous Abby Jocson collection is certainly making me change my mind!

First, it was the leopard print bag which pretty much sums up my fashion quirks. I love everything leopard I might as well have one as pet!

One of the four uniquely crafted hand carry lines by Abby Jocson, the Carina hand carry can hold your wallet, sunglasses, a paperback novel, a laptop, your make up kit and your gym stuff! It has side exterior slip pockets; zipper detailing; brass colored hardware; snap closure; interior lining with two slip pockets and a whole lot of space.  And for someone who lugs around a lot of stuff in her hand carry, this is the bag for me!

Vibrant and Delicious, yep, that's me and my Carina!

Get this and more at Abby’s online shop. Happy shopping!


Travel: Rampaging in BEIJING (The Hecticity Tour 2010)


***Title and post courtesy of Eric Cabahug.

 

The Beijingians, aka Performance Artists from Manila, at the 798 Art District. Photo by Jun.

 

The Beijingians From Manila, composed of Succulent Vicky, Brilliant Eric, Bubbly Cris, Shrewd Uly, and Lovestruck Perry, has concluded their highly successful “Rampaging in Beijing: The Hecticity Tour 2010”. The supergroup, also known as the Fab Five (F5), touched down at the Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) a little past midnight on Sunday, October 24th, to a very cold and wet welcome. They were promptly taken by limousine to the cozy Zhongan Hotel, conveniently located at the back of the grand Beijing Railway Station, their base for the whirlwind 3-day sojourn in the historic city.

DAY ONE officially started at 7 o’clock in the morning. It was a rainy, hazy, and overall very gloomy start and the group briefly considered making big changes to their itinerary. They stuck to the plan. And after a 2-hour trip by bus and private van they were scaling the heights (via open cable car), and braving the -2 degree cold, at the Mutianyu Great Wall. After a quick lunch of hot and tasty dimsum and hotter and tastier noodles at a nearby town, the group then made their way to the 798 Art District where they spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the various galleries and art installations — and becoming performance artists themselves. Last stop for Day One was the Olympic Park. Dinner of fried chicken, rice and fruits was served at the home of a newfound friend in the outskirts of the city. The F5 were back at their hotel around midnight.

 

The Beijingians at the famous Great Wall of China. Photo by Jun.

 

DAY TWO The sun finally came out on the second day of The Hecticity Tour. Thank goodness! Otherwise, it would’ve been a very wet (and presumably inconvenient) trip to Fragrant HIlls and the Summer Palace. Fragrant HIlls is a huge tree-covered nature park about 2 hours away from the city by subway and bus. It offers several trails for trekking, a number of natural and man-made lagoons perfect for picture-taking, a couple of hilltop temples, and lots of places for rest. Aside from Vicky’s unfragarant pitstop in one of the toilets, the group had a pleasant time at the park. The F5 arrived at the Summer Palace around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. That gave them only under two hours to explore the 2.9 square kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site described as “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design”. So the group decided to for the best thing to do in the park — climb its highest peak. They weren’t disappointed with the spectacular view. The subway took the Beijingians back to the city for dinner. Tired and feeling sick from the biting cold, Vicky and Uly decided to retire early and headed back to the hotel. Perry went back to the hotel too — a different hotel with a different company (wink-wink). Eric and Cris decided to explore another side of the city for late-night picture-taking. They capped the night with cake and coffee before finally calling it a day.

 

 

By the lake at Fragrant Hills. Photo taken by some random stranger.

 

DAY THREE Final day. F5 has had two full and tiring days of swinging from one end of Beijing to the other. Were they about to slow down and take it easy? Heck to the no. It was forbidden. This was, after all, “Rampaging in Beijing: The Hecticity Tour”. And so the group made an early check out at the hotel (but deposited their bags for safekeeping) so that they could continue their unimpeded rampage through Beijing. Today was the day they went to the grand Forbidden City. Arriving at the gate, the group quickly discovered that the ancient city wasn’t so forbidden after all. But it didn’t matter. Like the Chinese soldiers of old, the group marched on from one massive gate to the next, one palace to the next, one imperial room to the next, and one garden to the next. But the Beijingians didn’t realize just how massive Forbidden City was until they climbed the viewdeck temple at the adjacent Jingsham Park. And everybody’s jaws dropped. The group then made their way by tram to the Wangfujing Street, a famous shopping district, for lunch of the famous Peking Duck courtesy of another newfround friend (read: Perry’s other hotel). And then it was off to the charming Houhai Park for pasalubong shopping. F5 officially left Beijing at 1 o’clock in the morning of Wednesday, October 27th. Very tired and very cold. But very happy. And a little sad that “Rampaging in Beijing: The Hecticity Tour 2010” had come to its end.

Here are some more photos of our ultra hectic tour of Beijing. Enjoy!

Travel: Goin’ Balinese


 

Sunset view at Kuta Beach

 

What else can I say about Bali that hasn’t already been said over and over again by people who have visited the island and found themselves lost and completely enamored by it? We flew in from Singapore in themorning and what greeted us was nothing at all like I expected. Yes I’ve read Eat Pray Love; wikipedia’d and Lonely Planet-ed Bali like crazy; and have likewise spoken to people who have been there so you would think I’m already sorta in the know and there’s very little that could surprise or excite me about the trip.

Until our driver Yus (a very affable fellow, that Yus) took us on a quick city tour and I found myself unable to contain my awe as I stared open-mouthed (the look I had on was quite embarrassing actually and I’m glad it didn’t show in any of the photos!) at the temples and resorts we passed by…

From the airport, Yus first took us to a beachside restaurant called Blue Marlin. The restaurant offered a nice view of the beach (name escapes me at the moment) and the huge waves which scared me a little but the surfers obviously loved – but that was all. Food was overpriced and the steamed crab that we ordered didn’t have much meat. An anorexic crab was what I called it after seeing that it barely had anything in it to satisfy our gnawing hunger. Good thing there was vegetables and the soup was at least good. Oh, and just before food was served, an all-male singing group with guitars and a violin, went over to our table and serenaded us with Robbie Williams’ Angels and James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful which I’m hoping they chose because I am both and not because of the tip we gave them. Oh maybe they did choose the songs appropriately because the tip came much much later. Good job, Blue Marlin singers!

 

Ripcurl Surfing Competition at Padang Padang

 

Though still a bit famished after our disappointing lunch, we decided to move on with the rest of the tour so we can make it in time for our, ehem, romantic dinner at the villa. Yus drove us to Padang-Padang resort where there’s a Ripcurl surfing competition happening. We only stopped for a few minutes on the bridge where we have a good view of the surfers and onlookers but didn’t really go down to where the real action is. Instead, we took a few photos and admired the view from the top.

From Padang-Padang, we drove up to Uluwatu to check out the temple. For an entrance fee of Rs 3,000 per person, you get an amazing view of the ocean (not sure if it’s the Indian ocean or something else altogether) from the cliff where the temple is actually perched on. Those of us who were wearing short dresses and shorts were asked to wear some very colorful cloth, sarong-style, as a show of respect to the place and the spirits that dwell there.

Now I gotta tell you about the monkeys. They’re all over Uluwatu temple! You’ll see them on tree branches, on the ground, on top of the temple walls – eating, ALWAYS eating! Which I found extremely cute and their carefree ways one might say are enviable – until one of them snatched my shades from my head and ran off with it! For a moment there, those monkeys didn’t seem very cute anymore. Can’t blame them entirely because Yus warned us rather sternly to keep our shades out of sight because the monkeys just love to snatch them and I, of course, didn’t listen. Good news is, I was able to get it back. Rather, one of the locals retrieved it for me for Rs20,000. Which got us into thinking that maybe, just maybe, those little furry fellas are in fact in cahoots with the shades and what-not-retrieving locals and they each get a banana or peanuts for a certain amount of tip. Lol. But those monkeys were really cute and the view from the Uluwatu temple is certainly one for the books – or postcard, at least.

After seeing what must have been a hundred or more monkeys, it was time to go to Heliconia Villa – our very fancy home for the next three days. But not before passing by Kuta beach first…for the sunset view.

Now as you know, I am huge fan of Boracay and its sandy white beaches and Kuta beach is definitely nowhere near Boracay in the powdery sand department. But I still found Kuta to my liking – especially with the hot surfer dudes and chicks on the prowl. And the whole Kuta stretch, I grudgingly admit, is by far more structured and organized than the chaos that has now become of my paradise island Boracay. And the sunset, ohmygaaaad, the sunset! It’s everything that I could ever want in a sunset.  Too bad we didn’t have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine to make the experience more enjoyable.

From Kuta, we finally made our way to Seminyak district where Heliconia Villa is located and what greeted us when we walked into the villa was like a dream – a dream that smelled of flowers and incense and with rose petals strewn all over the place…from the pathway, to the private pool, to the outdoor bar and kitchen and living area, all the way to the bedroom and the bathroom which had an ivory white bathtub in the middle filled with warm water and, what do you know…more red rose petals!

What followed after that was a flurry of pre-wedding, actual wedding and post-wedding activities. Not mine, of course, but the reason why we wound up in Bali in the first place was to attend B’s friends’ wedding. It was my first time to attend a French wedding and it didn’t at all seem any different from the few weddings I’ve attended – except that the officiating priest in Uluwatu, though Catholic, did not go through the elaborate catholic mass ceremony and instead officiated only the exchange of vows and the putting on of the wedding bands. The wedding place itself was like a little slice of heaven perched on the side of the cliff with the great view of the Indian Ocean below. It was so romantic that it’s quite easy to comprehend how and why couples can fall in love all over again just by being there.

After the wedding, the guests were requested to be at the wedding dinner at Villa Mathis which is a good ride from our villa. Food looked amazing but only B had a taste of it as I was still quite full from the late lunch we had. I helped myself to a glass of red wine though which warmed me up a little bit. We were talking to this French couple and their lady friend but I would only be able to pick up a word or two and the rest, well, B would translate for me. They didn’t speak English much you see and my French, of course, is practically non-existent!  But it was fun and the two French ladies, though in their late 30s or early 40s look extremely good and sexy that I couldn’t help but wonder if nature would be just as gentle with me when I get to their age. Fingers crossed.

The following day was our last day and the only time we would ever get to spend alone and away from the milling crowd. We woke up early, had our breakfast, and headed down to the beach. I was already starting to develop painful heat rash all over my body but I was determined to lie on the beach nonetheless. The sun was beating down on the Seminyak beach so hard I was nearly roasted by the time we decided to pack our beach stuff and make our way back to the villa to grab a quick lunch and surrender to the expert hands of the Balinese masseuse for a 2-hour massage and body scrub.

It was one kind pampering I will never forget! The massage was very relaxing and the body scrub, although at times very painful because by this time my skin was already inflamed with heat rash, felt just as heavenly.

Finally, it was time to leave Bali and at that point, I was torn between wanting to stay for a little bit more and going back to my home country which I have missed so much while I was away.  Our Bali trip was beautiful but somehow it felt like a lot of things were missing to complete the experience only because I didn’t get to soak in the island in my own terms. I didn’t get to eat local food; didn’t get to scour the shops and galleries which I would have wanted to do; didn’t get to run around the island as much as I had hoped. Come to think of it, I still have a laundry list of things I want to do next time I’m in Bali. I’m thinking maybe traveling to the island solo would give me an entirely different perspective of Bali and everything it represents. I am definitely going back.