Hot Air

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Last weekend, we drove to Clark Field in Pampanga (a province north of Manila) for the 18th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. We arrived early enough but there was already a huge crowd milling about. As I fiddled with the camera, I enviously eyed the ones who were able to secure a good spot for the expected photo ops and complained to the husband that everyone around me seemed too tall! 😀

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To signal the start of the festival, skydivers jumped from a light plane, one of them with the Philippine flag. We then spent the rest of the morning  with our eyes glued to the sky, enjoying the sight of colorful balloons and paragliders and getting mightily impressed with the daring of aeronautical acrobats. Like everyone else who had a gadget (or two) in hand, I just clicked and clicked away.

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I’ll post pictures of the cute balloons next time. 🙂

Extra Shots: San Francisco

Here are some more photos from our trip to San Francisco, some of them taken while driving down those hilly streets, while waiting to cross the street, while crossing the street, or from the parking lot at Best Buy. 😀

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And so we leave San Francisco, not exactly with our hearts left behind but with pleasant, sunny memories of finally seeing the most photographed bridge in the world, strolling in a not-so-tiny neighborhood park, relishing ‘exclusive’ nighttime photo ops, inhaling the sweet smell of chocolate and drooling over everything in a bakery that has all the goods.

We will surely be back. There’s still so much more to see, experience and eat (of course!) in this lovely and exciting city. Thanks, “SanFran”! 🙂

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P.S. This was our rental car. We called it Andy.

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At Boudin Bakery, San Francisco

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If there’s one kitchen skill I’d like to master, it’s breadbaking. I simply enjoy watching and learning the process and really, who doesn’t love the smell and taste of freshly-baked bread? I know how to make only the most basic of loaves and I am in awe of anyone who knows her sourdough and who is not confounded by starters, active yeasts and such. 🙂

In search of dinner on our second night in San Francisco, we were enticed by the wonderful smell coming from the famous Boudin Bakery. They have a shop and cafe area called Bakers Hall where one can stop for a quick meal and a cup of coffee and load up on kitchen supplies (or be sorely tempted to).

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Don’t you just love shop displays like these? Makes one want to be a gourmet cook, hehe.

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We brought our meal to the patio looking out into Fisherman’s Wharf and people-watched. (People-watching at Fisherman’s Wharf is a very interesting pastime indeed.) The soup in a bread bowl that I had was absolutely delicioso.

Later, we kibitzed with other tourists in front of a huge observation window along the street and watched some of Boudin’s bakers show off their skills (that’s my envy speaking, haha). Here’s a very short video I took, with some ambient sounds from the streets of San Francisco:

They make the shaping of loaves look so easy, argh!

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I wasn’t kidding when I said I am in awe of those who are good at bread baking. I’m learning (slowly) through cookbooks and once, out of exasperation, enrolled in a day-long training just to get a feel for the kneading part, hehe. Months later, I am still the sort of amateur who ‘over-flours’ the counter. 🙂

How about you, do you bake bread? How did you learn? 

Late Night at Pier 39, San Francisco

Sometimes, it pays to arrive late.

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San Francisco’s Pier 39, considered by many to be the city’s premier tourist trap, is usually teeming with both out-of-towners and locals. But we got there on a late night,  famished after some poorly thought-out shopping and desperate for dinner. Some watering holes and family restaurants were still open but with most shops closed or about to close, the place was practically deserted.

We had no intention of buying anything and enjoyed just looking through shop windows at some gorgeous displays. I walked around and took lots of pictures — as anyone would, I think, who had been given access to a theme park after everyone else had gone home. 🙂

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Fruits from a Southeast Asian Garden

My memories of childhood summers always include the tambis. One of the bigger trees  in our garden, the tambis or macopa (water/rose apple) was also the only one in our street and bore so much fruit that it gave us our version of a lemonade stand. Every summer afternoon, my sisters and I would set up a small table in front of our gate, arrange the tambis in pyramids and sell them to neighborhood kids for about ten centavos per three pieces.

We also had aratiles and guava trees and our playmates were free to pick a few from those. (I remember that guava tree. I kept peeling off the top layer of its trunk because it was always smoother underneath — a victim of my misdirected quest for neatness even in nature.)

The fruit trees in my mother’s garden are especially prolific now that it’s summer. Around this time, neighborhood kids regularly come around and ask if they can pick aratiles or hagis or tambis. Ma always says yes but also always with a warning for them to leave some on the trees or else, heh. Some things never change. 🙂

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