Things To Do At The Quezon Memorial Circle, Manila

One of the places I visited with E during my trip to Manila was the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, Manila. We took a jeepney and got off opposite the circle/park, but couldn’t find a way to cross the road. We ended up circling around half of the park for a good 10mins, before realising that the underpass was where the jeepney dropped us off lol.

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First time riding a jeepney in the front passenger seat!

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The underpass to cross the highway is at the entrance to Quezon City Hall. The short, brightly lit walkway was lined with tourist information boards detailing the best places for entertainment and food in QC and beyond.

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Quezon Memorial Circle and its surrounding park was named after Manuel L.Quezon, the 2nd President of the Philippines who held a nine-year tenure from 1935-1944. The place was originally intended to be the seat of the Philippine government and plans were underway to build a Capitol building before it was interrupted by World War II. Today, it is a green park with many family-oriented attractions such as a museum, playground, biking trail, and a small theme park.

We entered through an avenue lined with flags from all over the world. It was cool and breezy under the trees.

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Some beauty queens were practicing their modeling and catwalk skills. An interesting article here on the beauty pageant industry in the Philippines.

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The main area of the Circle was huge and filled with people even on a weekday morning. Joggers, children on trikes, people walking dogs (a rare sight in Malaysian public parks due to religious sensitivities), college students practicing their dance or singing performances, MMA fighters doing training… a perfect place to sit and creep people watch.

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Zumba class in session.

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Towering over everything else, the main fixture at the Circle is the Quezon Memorial Shrine. It stands at 66ms tall, representing the death age of President Manuel Quezon. The sleek triangular structure, which is shaped like a three-pronged crown is topped by female angels holding the sampaguita (the national flower) wreaths – each dressed in a regional traditional costume to represent regions in the Phils, namely Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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At the base of the structure is a museum dedicated to who else – Manuel L.Quezon. Entry is free but visitors can give a donation for its upkeep. Inside chronicles the history of Philippine independence, besides housing various historical artifacts and an insight into the life of the man himself. (Above) How the quarters of the first lady, Aurora Quezon, looked like.

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Quezon’s remains were re-interred here in 1979, and his wife’s at a later date. The huge dark tomb sits on a raised platform in the middle of a circular chamber which allows natural sunlight to filter in, lighting the tomb up like a halo.

During his time, Quezon made many reforms, including establishing a more uniform national language (Tagalog), education, agricultural, government and social sectors, as well as trade. In fact, the Phils enjoyed the best economy and trade it had seen since 1929, in Quezon’s time. This was brought to a halt when the Japanese invaded Manila in the 1940s. Quezon eventually died in exile in New York from tuberculosis at the age of 66.

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Outside the museum, the circle’s base had engravings that depicted important points of Filipino history.

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Cookies and cream – cold, milky and creamy. What more can one ask for on a hot day?

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Exploring more of the park. We stopped by at the Circle of Joy, a children’s playground complete with bicycle trail. Visitors can rent bikes, tricycles and tandem bikes for a fee.

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Had kebab and kalamares (only 5pesos each, that’s dirt cheap).

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A theme park area aptly named Circle of Fun, but it was closed during the day.

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Someone randomly left buckets of taho (soft sweet tofu) lying around ._.

Quezon Memorial Circle and its park is a good place for families and tourists as there are lots of things to see and do. It’s not the best kept (there were still patches of garbage around) but it’s clean enough and some spots are quiet and nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Quezon Memorial Circle 

R-7, Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Getting There 

Useful link here

Why The Legion of Honor Museum In San Francisco Is A Must-Visit For Art Lovers

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Standing on a hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, I look down to the foggy grey sea and think about how pretty everything is. It’s easy to forget that this green city sits on a notorious fault line.. and that all the neat museums, well-paved roads, beautiful trees and houses can all be uprooted in mere seconds. Even so, there’s something about San Fran that captures the heart of the weary traveller.

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The Legion of Honor is a popular attraction in the city. It looks like it belongs more to an ancient European town than a park in San Francisco. That’s because it is a full-scale replica of the French Pavilion in Paris.

Built by a wealthy sugar magnate, the building is now a fine-arts museum housing over 6,000 years of art, culture and history by renowned names such as Baroque and Picasso.

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A statue of the Thinking Man sits in the courtyard.

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I’m not an art connoisseur, but it’s hard not to marvel at the beautiful paintings and sculptures, especially those from the medieval era – before the ‘abstract’ or ‘modernist’ concepts came into place. Back then, paintings were done in minute detailing. Not putting down some modern artists, but these days a couple of splotches can qualify as art. Maybe I’m too stupid and low-culture to understand art today.

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Exhibits are not limited to paintings, but also furniture and sculptures. Some are not allowed to be photographed due to copyright and light sensitivity. Check with the curators if its okay to snap pix, unless you want to be told off in a quiet museum and have all the people stare at you lol.

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A grand tapestry which used to hang in a royal court, featuring gory battle scenes with dead bodies, knights on lions, skewered people and disembodied heads. You can look at it for half an hour and still discover new details – it’s like a story book in painted form.

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On the lower floor is a room housing all sorts of pretty and rare collections. Teapots, ceramic bowls, fine china, porcelain jugs and delicate glass ornaments can be found here.

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Persian tablets and carvings.

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Tribal Bead Necklace.

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An extremely life-like and detailed wood carving of a noblewoman.

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Paintings which you will never see in art galleries in Malaysia.

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Spacious and tranquil gallery rooms. The best way to explore the whole place is to divide your visit by systematic room-by-room order from one end to the other.

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The Legion of Honour is a good place to visit for art lovers and tourists, as there are lots of beautiful/interesting pieces and rich history to uncover. 🙂

LEGION OF HONOR 

100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, United States

Opening hours: Tues – Sun (930am – 515pm)

Admission: 10$ (Adults), children under 12 (free)

Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco

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I never liked getting flowers, because I hate the idea of wasting money for a bunch of blooms that will wilt in a couple of days. I’d much prefer going to a park or garden where you can see them in their natural state. 🙂

Our next stop in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is the Conservatory of Flowers.The oldest building in the park, it was completed in the 1870s with a large central dome and ‘wings’, reflecting Victorian-era architecture. The surprising thing is that the greenhouse’s frame is made from wood and glass; and it still keeps well even after a century.

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The Conservatory sits on a short hill overlooking a vast green field. In some travel photos online, the field is shown to be filled with flowers. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case while we were visiting. Still pretty though!

Forgive the face.. because it was cold and I looked like hell from the early morning trip.

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Home to about 1,700 plant species, the greenhouse is not very big but is divided into several sections. The main one houses the tropical plants. The air becomes immediately humid and warm upon stepping inside, as one’s lungs fill up with the smell of moist dew, leafy plants and earth. It reminded me of the rainforests of home.

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Moving on to the less jungle-y part of the greenhouse, there are many beautiful orchids and garden-variety flowers. This section exudes a feeling of zen and calm tranquility, with flowing water features and the smell of florals.

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Never been much of a green finger..but I think plants are an essential component of a home. They just breathe life and colour to an otherwise dull and drab front, don’t you think? 🙂

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The Malaysian national flower, Hibiscus or ‘bunga raya’ as we call it in Malay. The ones here were very healthy and the flowers were as big as a man’s palm.

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My mum calls these ‘dancing lady’ orchids.. and the name has stuck ever since. I think they do look like dancing ladies in yellow gowns, don’t you?

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The greenhouse is not very big and we were done in an hour, but I think it was a warm respite from the winds outside, especially in the colder months in San Francisco.

Adult ticket price: 8$ / Children: 2$.

CONSERVATORY OF FLOWERS

100 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco,

CA 94118, United States

Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 4:30pm;closed on Mondays

 

Hoa Lu / King Dinh Tien Hoang temple, Vietnam

We last went boating at the Tam Coc Bich Dong, or the Three Caves – a beautiful river retreat surrounded by beautiful limestone hills. Where to next? 🙂

Situated just nearby is another popular tourist attraction – the ancient capital of Hoa Lu.

Located in Ninh Binh province, Hoa Lu used to be the capital of ancient Vietnam in the 10th to 11th centuries. Most of the old citadel no longer exists, except for two surviving temples. The place under the Trang An Landscape Complex was declared a heritage site by UNESCO .

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Buildings, On the way to Hoa Lu.

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Entrance with its gray facade, arches and curving roof.

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A crystal clear river flowed through a bridge right in front of the complex entrance. Couple that with beautiful green hills and blue skies, and you have one of the most picturesque places you will ever see.

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Inside the pavilion, it was a short walk to the King Dinh Tien Hoang temple. We saw a farmer herding some water buffalo on the pavement.

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King Dinh was the ruler of Hoa Lu from its founding, until it was passed to King Le before the fall of the capital. Back then, Vietnam was part of China and with Hoa Lu, King Dinh managed to establish a truly independent monarchy after centuries of Chinese rule. It is no surprise then that the Vietnamese revere his figure and worship him in a temple.

PS: Vietnam is a communist country, therefore they do not have a ‘religion’ per se. Temples are built in honour of historical figures or revered people than for religious purposes.

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Interior of temple with a mausoleum area.

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It was a short visit, before we hopped onto our bus and headed back to Hanoi. Stopped by for some cold, Vietnamese coffee at a roadside stall. The coffee was black but sweet and frothy on top. No wonder Vietnam is famous for this beverage! 🙂

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Putra Mosque, Putrajaya Malaysia

To those unfamiliar with Malaysia, KL may be the heart of business and activity, but Putrajaya is the administrative capital of our country.

This is where all the shiny, new government buildings are at. The whole township is built with state of the art designs and facilities in mind, so it gives off a futuristic feel compared to the older, grungier elements of downtown KL. The streets are well kept and clean, the trees lining the avenues are well-maintained and trimmed neatly, and there is barely any rubbish on the road. A far cry from KL’s dirty alleyways, graffiti-scribbled walls and seedy hotels.

So what is there to do in Putrajaya? Nothing much in terms of entertainment, as most of the buildings are government offices. What they do have is a beautiful pink mosque called Putra Mosque, just next to the Prime Minister’s Office.

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I’ve never been inside a mosque, and I just suddenly thought of visiting one (I am random like that), so I hopped into my car and went.

Situated next to the Putrajaya Lake, Putra Mosque’s unique pink shade catches the sunset really well. Although not huge, it’s scenic and pretty.

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Just next to it is the Prime Minister’s Office. I use to call those domes as onion bulbs when i was little. lol

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And a square housing all the flags from the 14 different states in Malaysia, with our national flag, the Jalur Gemilang in the middle.

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The mosque exterior. It has a capacity of 15,000 and was finished in 1999. Still looks shiny new. The arch has Quranic verses on top.

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Visitors must be dressed decently to go in. Non-Muslim women are required to wear a robe. A pink one. The lady at the robe collection counter gave me this wtf look when I said I was visiting alone. I guess not many people go on random trips to see mosques on their own? lol.

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The impressive looking front of the mosque.

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Shoes must be removed before entering the prayer hall.

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Prayer area. It is huge, held up by 12 giant pillars and can accommodate up to 10,000 people. There is also an auditorium, lecture rooms, a dining hall and library.

Because Islamic architecture does not feature humans or animals, the designs are mostly geometrical and calligraphic. There is something calming about the repeated shapes on the wall – they reminded me of blooming flower petals.

There was a separate area for men and women to pray. Non-Muslims are only allowed to watch from a cordoned off section in the front.

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I think this is one of the Azan towers, where the loudspeakers sing the Azan (evening prayers).

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View from the side of the mosque, next to the Putrajaya lake. People go boating and play water sports here.

I had an unpleasant experience with a lady here. Wandering around looking for a toilet, I was yelled at by a woman who said I was not supposed to go down to the basement (apparently it was where devotees take wuduk, or wash themselves before prayer). I apologised and said I was looking for the bathroom, but she shooed me away by saying ‘no no you can’t go to the toilet here’ (lol?)

Not that I minded because with all due respect, this is your holy place and I probably shouldn’t have wandered around, but being mean and rude to people in your house of worship just shows the strength of your character and iman, sister. I’m sure your God is just in his rewards and punishments in the afterlife. 🙂

Anyway, if you’re a tourist, Putrajaya is definitely worth a visit, just to look at the buildings here which all have their unique architectures. Apart from the mosque, do look out for the two bridges, which span across the lake in two different locations in the city; as well as the administrative buildings with their modern architecture.

Getting Here 

Take the KLIA Transit train from KL Sentral to Putrajaya. From the station, take a taxi or buses:

  • Parkmay (Cityliner No. 868) – 20mins
  • No. 536B – 3 hours (takes long time coz it services a far route)
  • Kelang-Banting Bus (No.131) – 2 hours.
  • Omnibus (No. 186) from Kajang Terminal Bus, UNITEN- Putrajaya and Cyberjaya runs every 1 – 2 hours.
  • Putrajaya Internal Nadi Putra

Putra Mosque

Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM),

Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan, 62502 Persekutuan,

Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya, Malaysia

 

Opening hours for non-Muslims (outside prayer times) 

9am-12.30pm, 2-4pm, & 5.30-6pm

Sat-Thu, 3-4pm & 5.30-6pm Fri