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This past fall,  we took a trip to the other side of the world!  We spent two weeks traveling in Japan and the Philippines.   We actually arrived home from the Philippines one week before Typhoon Haiyan struck.

We first arrived in Tokyo and spent a few days sight seeing.  Our hotel room was TINY.  So tiny, the bed was pushed against one wall. Two people got in and out of the bed from one side.   Since our time in Tokyo was brief and mostly spent outside, we didn’t mind as much as we would’ve on a longer trip.  We visited the Tsujiki Fish Market, Hamarikyu Gardens, and the Tokyo Tower (which reminded me of the Eiffel Tower in Paris)

The next stop after Tokyo was Boracay Island in Aklan, Philippines.   Boracay’s White Beach graces several “Top Beaches in the World” lists so we were really eager to visit.   Getting there was quite an ordeal.  It reminded of some sort of Anthony Bourdain adventure.  We flew into Manila, then flew to Kalibo, took a two hour ride in a van to the water’s edge, and then took a boat to Boracay Island.   The only thing missing was a train ride.

On Boracay Island, we stayed at Fridays resort.  Upon arrival, we were greeted with shell necklaces and a cocktail.   The service at this resort was outstanding.   My favorite thing here was the fresh fruit cocktails. I think they mixed fresh mango with rum and ice for the mango daiquiris and they were delicious!  The mangoes in the Philippines were some of the best I’ve had.

Boracay is where I collected the sand and shells to create my own mementos and souvenirs.  After a few days at the beach, we flew back to Manila.  There, we stayed in the Manila Hotel which I also highly recommend.  We were told Michael Jackson and Barack Obama have stayed here too.

I loved these small flower arrangements they had throughout the lobby.  This low height arrangement is perfect for a dinner table setting.

In Manila, we attended a special convention and did some sightseeing.  We visited the Ayala Museum (no pictures allowed) and Hidden Valley. Hidden Valley Springs is beautiful forest with naturally heated mineral pools to enjoy.

We absolutely loved the food at our hotel.  They had quite a variety with several stations of  different types of cuisine: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and more.   Outside the hotel, Filipino food was interesting. I describe it as a mix of Asian and Mexican foods.  There is rice and soy sauce, but also some seemingly latin-based spices.   My favorite meal was chicken adobo.

The trip was enjoyable but also so eye opening and a step outside the box from what we are used to on this side of the world.  Now, we’re already thinking ahead to our 2014 trip.

Have you been to the other side of the world (where ever that may be for you)?


You know how I grabbed some sand from the beach in the Philippines and made a little trip souvenir with it?

I’ve created another small memento from our trip.  I made jewelry pins out of other things I picked up on the beach in Boracay Island, PHP.   Here’s the collection I brought home all laid out on my desk.

There’s some coral and a few pretty shells that I picked up right off the beach just because they had great shapes and seemed so perfect and smooth, two of the shells weren’t even damaged at all.  While, I think this sort of beachy collection would look really neat  as-is framed in a shadow box against a pretty background, I knew I wanted to create some sort of ‘dipped’ look with at least a few pieces of the coral.

I purchased jewelry pins at Michael’s (using my 50% off coupon!) and used gold leaf sheets (left over from this project) to create my new beach souvenirs.  I chose my two favorite shapes and then taped off the bottom halves of the coral.  I sprayed the top half with spray adhesive and layered on a small piece of gold leaf atop the sticky half.   After smoothing the gold leaf over the coral,  I brushed on some Polycrylic  (I used that because I already had it but any clear coat spray or polyurethane should work) to protect the gold leafing.   I used Gorilla Glue to glue the coral to the brass jewelry pin and allowed it to harden and dry.

I actually love adding pins like these to my jean jacket and sometimes have several different pins (flair!) on the pocket lapel at a time. The sheen of gold leaf (unmatched by paint) is absolutely gorgeous and the fact that it reminds me of a great trip just makes it even sweeter.

Do you have an item you collect from your travels?  Do you display souvenirs in your home? Now I need to move on to an idea I have for the shells.  I am eager to see how it turns out!

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