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Say Goodbye to Phat Thai…But Hello to Harman’s

Say Goodbye to Phat Thai…But Hello to Harman’s

The Cherry Creek restaurant is moving away, and in its place is something completely different

The phrase “easy come, easy go” applies to a lot of situations in life, but it seems especially appropriate in the case of Denver’s Phat Thai. Indeed, it’s closing its doors June 15, Eater has reported, but chef Mark Fischer, who opened the restaurant originally, is determined that it will rise again – but somewhere else. And something new will take its old place, too.

The plan is to move Phat Thai’s second location to a smaller and more intimate setting, and this comes a mere two years after the place moved to Cherry Creek from its original original location in Carbondale. According to the restaurant’s website, the Cherry Creek incarnation was “where ‘hole in the wall noodle joint and lounge meets something a little more sophisticated,” and presumably, that vibe is intended to live on wherever Phat Thai goes next, just in a space that seats about 60 people.

For the old, larger, soon-to-be-vacant space, Fischer has a definite plan: opening in the near future will be Harman’s Eat and Drink, a new restaurant focusing on Western American cuisine and named quite interestingly after Edwin P. Harman, a Denverite and one of the initiators of the ZIP code. After a moderate renovation of the old Phat Thai building involving some cosmetic changes, Fischer hopes to have Harman’s up and running by the end of June.

Big Butt Theory

I am so glad that winter is over. I do not like the cold. I am so happy to be able to go outside and feel the warmth of the sun on my face. It also gives me the freedom to do more physical activities with family and friends.

Speaking of physical activities i have been back to 'running' in OCRs aka Obstacle Cours Races. I have several coming up and I have completed 2 so far in 2016. I also have a few 5ks thrown in for good measure.

Here is what I am registered for so far.

9 Savage Race Spring

10am start time
16 Glow it Blue 1k/5k 8:30pm
23 Dirty Girl Mud 10am start time

21 Paint Wars

11 Terrain Race. 10am 10k

6 Udder Mud Run Covington, GA
20 Rugged Maniac 10:30 wave. Timed

Here are the Facebook links to the ones I have completed this far.

01/ 24 Hot Chocolate 15k . 2:25
02/28 Atlanta Mission 5k 58minutes
03/06 Spartan Sprint 3:15 6 miles
03/13 5k in Paradise 6 miles about 55min
03/19 Muddy Brute in Tallapoosa, GA

I am working on making 2016 a great year as every year I am alive is truly a blessing and I want to know that I have made good use of my time on this earth. Life is too short to settle for less than wha you really want. I plan to blog more and share whats goin' on with me. I welcome comments and feedback.

The Art of Discarding

If there is one word people consistently use to describe me it’s “organized.” So when my lovely sister Carolyn mentioned a library book with a 300+ person waiting list called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, I was intrigued. I wondered what would make a book on “tidying” so popular, and also whether there was anything more I could learn on the subject. Turns out, the answer to the second question was a lot. Organized is not the same as tidy. In many ways I was just as much a hoarder as the next American influenced, however indirectly and going back multiple generations, by the Great Depression. The only difference between me and the hoarders who get on TV shows was my gratuitous belongings were sorted, labeled, and stuffed somewhat neatly and out of sight in a drawer, box, shed, attic or closet. This post outlines my journey to a more clutter-free life.

To paraphrase an idea gleaned from an interview with Tom Chi (Google): If you decide to form a new habit, rather than just using limited willpower to battle the deeply entrenched neurons relating to your old habit help the new habit along by finding a way to also move time, space, or matter to support it. Marie’s tidying method, the KonMari method, is a perfect way to move matter in a way that supports a new habit of thought.

So what new habits of thought could truly tidying your space support? Well, how about thoughts of love, joy, purpose, abundance, authenticity, inner peace, intuition, courage, generosity and clarity to name a few. The only other technique I know of to improve these things is meditation.

I titled this post The Art of Discarding because that’s how I would rename Marie’s book to target a more empirical American audience. Many of us would like to have less clutter, but don’t know where to start. The mere idea can throw us into paralyzing overwhelm. The KonMari method is simple, inspiring, step by step, and deals with not only the physical sources of clutter, but the mental and emotional as well. The mental/emotional aspect is what makes de-cluttering more of an art. It may seem like a lot of work initially, but the payoff is once you dig in and get it done, you will never regress to clutter and chaos again. It is a one-time only project and well worth the effort, because many of her students also find the lessons carry over into other areas of their life as well. I found that once I got some momentum going, it was also, dare I say it, sort of fun.

The system can be distilled into two basic steps. Tackle one category of belongings at a time, and physically touch and consider (i.e., be present with) each item as you work through a given category and ask yourself the question “Does it bring me joy?” The categories move from easiest to hardest to build both momentum and allow practice with the method. The tidying project is intended to be completed all at once, but as I never have a full day home to myself I compromised by moving though at least one category every night until it was complete. The point is to just get it done once and for all and not procrastinate and painfully drag it on.

Other de-cluttering advice I had previously followed was to look around a room and ask if I loved the stuff in it. If yes keep it, if no let it go. This fell short of the KonMari method for two reasons. First, this didn’t require that I physically pull out and touch all items of a given category, even if that category was Room A, so clutter got missed. Either because it stayed hidden and forgotten in a closet, or because it just blended in as part the room and was overlooked. Second, though there were things that I didn’t love, I knew I had to keep them for some other utilitarian reason. I needed a better question.

Day 1: Clothes

Clothes are the first and easiest category because most of us are used to replacing them on a fairly regular basis so there’s not a lot of emotional turmoil and uncertainty in discarding. I dutifully collected every article of clothing I owned from closets, drawers, laundry etc., until I had a somewhat daunting mountain on the bed. I first picked up a pair of socks and immediately knew why the best question had to be, “Does it bring me joy?”

If I had asked, “Do I love the socks?” the answer would have been “No, they’re just socks.” There’s still uncertainty as to whether or not to keep them. However, when I asked, “Do they bring me joy?” the answer in this case was a resounding “YES!” This particular pair was one of my favorite pairs of wool hiking socks to take on adventures. The keep pile had begun.

I moved through my mountain rather quickly and easily, and when it was finished I surveyed the massive discard pile. This is where the connection begins to build with positive habits of thought. It takes intuition to discern the yes or no response. In a nutshell, yes is light and expansive, no is heavy, constricting, or even wishy-washy. It takes authenticity to be willing to listen to the yes or no and not dismiss it because of what someone else might think. It takes courage to face past mistakes in clothing purchases, and generosity to donate them where they may do the most good.

On looking at the keep pile, I could see more clarity and purpose in my life choices physically represented in the clothes that brought me joy, both in terms of career direction as well as leisure. I could see where the gaps were in how I needed to better care for myself and my own needs where joyful clothes in that area were sparse or worn out.

Once I put only things that brought joy back in the closet, the energy that came back when I opened the door was (and still is) fantastic. Actually, now I usually just leave the door open. I had a brief experience working in big box clothing retail store and shudder at the memory of the go-back rack in the busy fitting room. It’s so lovely not to have that nightmare staring back at me from my own closet, and to instead look at something that more resembles a high end clothing boutique.

Another bonus is it is now super easy now to pack for my frequent travel. The bags of discarded clothes (and extra hangers) to donate was like a huge weight being lifted out of my life. This energy built a ton of momentum to push me happily into the next category. I looked forward to Day 2.

Day 2: Books

Adios awkward corner shelf with no corner to live in.

Don’t forget the cookbooks stashed in the kitchen when collecting and consolidating this category. The book category is where people often uncover their life purpose once they survey the books that remain. I did not have any revelations in this area, but was able to merrily discard a piece of furniture that never fit well in my current house, but I had been keeping anyway as a place to store books. I also combined this category with CDs and DVDs since most of my collection had long since been sold as technology shifted to streaming and was already sparse. Besides being a few grocery bags full of books lighter, my reward was a more open living room without unwanted and now unnecessary furniture. Embrace the Kindle app and additional momentum and bring on Day 3.

Day 3: Kitchen

The next category in the book is technically paper, but as it was personally my second hardest category, I saved it for second to last in following the spirit of the process.

I had previously de-cluttered my kitchen by banning all unnecessary plastic. I was on a mission at the time to be more healthy and more authentic and to me plastic was neither of those things. So out went a trunk load of cups, mixing bowls, cheap storage containers, utensils, etc. to be donated. I replaced anything that was necessary with glass and bamboo items, just as inexpensive but so much more attractive, by shopping at places like Ross, and slowly building up a collection of glass Pyrex storage containers as they went on sale.

Even so, by using the KonMari method and actually touching every kitchen item I owned, I was able to discard two more bags and also rediscovered items that brought me joy, in the form of delicious meals, that had been hiding in a kitchen cabinet.

Day 4: Komono (Doodads)

Toodle-oo, doodads! I’m becoming a regular at the thrift shop donation center by now.

My other lovely sister Cindy and I got a good laugh when I told her I culled a mountain of towels and blankets out of my hall closet. She remembered, but I had forgotten that I was repeating our mother’s pattern of keeping so many old blankets that it was nearly impossible to pry one in and out of the closet. Our childhood blanket closet, once the blankets were pried out, was big enough for a 7 year old kid to stand in and pretend they were on a rocket to the moon.

How many blankets does one really need? Best donate the rest so one of your human brothers or sisters might be able to keep themselves, a child, or a pet, warm. As a bonus, this year once the weather turned cold, it was a pleasure, whereas it used to be a total pain, to locate and remove the blankets I actually use from the closet.

Tip: Do not sort and discard art/office supplies by dumping your collection on your newly shampooed carpet or you will be sorry.

The other stash of household items worth mentioning is cleaning supplies, paint, and household chemicals. These tend to hide under the sink or in a garage because if you don’t end up using them and are also conscious of the effects on the environment so won’t throw them away (thank you), they pile up. I hunted these items down, found paint I had been carrying with me for 19 years, and took a box to the local hazmat station.

Day 5: Papers

The rule was simple enough to understand, but the mere suggestion cued the proverbial screeching record in my head. I make my living as an accountant which means I have “historian” as part of my personality. Papers were definitely my biggest hoard and I was as apprehensive at getting rid of them as the lawyers in Marie’s book.

You want the warranty and manual to every device I’ve ever owned? Check. Paystubs from every job I’ve ever had? Check. Bank and credit card statements going back 7 years? Check. Every rock chart and field show I ever played in college? Check. Every school newspaper from high school? Check. File folder overflowing with recipes? Check. Every greeting card I’ve ever received in my life, even if from my childhood orthodontist? Check. Every note I’d ever been passed in Jr. High, still in its fancy fold? Check. Report cards? Check. Receipts from 20 years ago? Check. The list went on.

My first impulse was to rebel against the advice in this category, but as I had momentum built already, I remembered again that I work as an accountant. In a 21st century office. At work my authentic self actually loathes and despises all paper. I’m able to get away with this attitude because we have access to top-of-the line scanning equipment and PDF software and I am a “paperless office” champion where I work. Why not bring this authentic self home with me as well? I really do hate paper. It’s heavy, slow, messy, and vulnerable to fire. What I am attached to is the information on it.

Night 1 scan and shred. Yes, this was just one night.

So I’m modifying this rule to say, do everything you can to go paperless. Understandably not everyone has easy access to fast scanners and expensive PDF software, but do what you can. Most people don’t have an aversion to simply tossing old pay stubs like I do, but we all should keep things like tax returns. Scan them if possible.

I’d love to say that this category took one night, but as it was my biggest hoard, it took days, even weeks, because I kept stumbling across new hiding places. I would bring a mountain of paper to the office and scan for hours after hours, sometimes staying in until midnight.

  1. Financial Records. Most of these were scanned and then shredded. Items to consider:
    1. Tax returns and support (W-2s, 1099s, etc). These should be kept forever in the US, but there’s no rule they can’t be scanned. Make sure to keep a backup.
    2. Bank and credit card statements. These should be kept for 7 years. Old paper statements were scanned, most of my current statements are set up to be “paperless” anyway and I just save them directly from the bank.
    3. Pay stubs. No need to keep more than a year, I scanned and kept all of them just for historical interest.
    4. Receipts. Unless they were related to something medical, those 20 year old receipts were discarded. I do have a small accordion file to keep recent receipts for items that might need to be returned, but this is purged regularly.
    5. Insurance policies and estate plan. This is currently my one exception, besides temporary recent receipts, to my paperless policy. I have a 3 ring “legacy binder” based on an excellent article from Dave Ramsey for my next of kin in case the inevitable happens sooner than expected. I keep it in paper form so it’s easy for someone else to find and use if needed. This may eventually change as more people in my life embrace the cloud.

    Collecting greeting cards to sort.

    Boom! Not overnight, but what a relief to have the mountains of annoying, stressful paper gone, and the information easily accessible and appropriately backed up on a computer.

    Day 6: Sentimental Items

    This is the category all the other categories build up to, because it can take some serious chutzpah to discard it. Since the sentimental items were so closely tied with paper I worked on them somewhat concurrently. The hardest part was locating and consolidating all of my various boxes of sentimental items collected over the years. I had heavy trunks full of doodads from primary school and college, as well as accordion files and boxes of items I had saved, stored, and moved without much thought since then. It was a total pain getting a lot of this type of boxes out of the attic (no boxes will ever return there). Once all the boxes, trunks, and suitcases were in a pile on the living room floor, I summoned the courage to open them and face the past.

    Sentimental items displayed where they can be enjoyed, as intended.

    Other than a few emotional land mines, such as remnant photos involving unpleasant old relationships that had somehow survived the previous bonfires, or having to read notes betraying painful evidence of those immature teenage years, most of it was fun. One box full of elementary school treasures brought those carefree days back. The sea of greeting cards to be sorted reminded me that I am loved and have been blessed with many friends over the years.

    Like Marie’s clients, I too was guilty of hoarding photo envelopes with every blurry photo ever printed (thank goodness for digital) and all their negatives. Most of these were trashed since the good photos were already in albums and/or scanned. I did keep a few loose ones that still brought joy in a pretty box with the other albums, at least until they can be scanned.

    I boxed up old VHS tapes and audio cassettes and sent them to a service to be digitized before discarding. A few items such as yearbooks, a binder ring of student IDs and old driver licenses, and the old letterman jacket I still wear to homecoming went back in the trunk, just not in the attic. Most sentimental items I kept were worked in to my current life. What’s the point of keeping things that bring joy if I never see them?

    Two interesting things happened once the de-cluttering was done. First, people often ask Marie whether they regret discarding anything. The answer she gave was rarely, and if it happens, it is hardly catastrophic and usually something easily laughed off. My one regret is no exception. While I was throwing away most of my household “spare hardware” collection, I picked up and considered a box of old light bulbs. Figuring if a light bulb ever went out again I would replace it instead with an LED, I chucked them. The second, and I am not exaggerating, the secondI walked back in the house from taking those bulbs along with a trunk load of other stuff to the donation center, I flipped on a light and *plink* it went out. Really, universe?? I knew I said I would replace it with an LED, but I would have kept at least one old bulb if it meant saving me a trip back into town to buy a new one so soon.

    The other interesting thing was, I had kept some pairs of work pants I wore to work all the time but didn’t particularly like, more because it was being able to keep my job that brought me joy than the pants. Mere weeks later we received an email from the boss that they had relaxed the archaic dress code and jeans would be allowed on all regular work days where important meetings weren’t involved. Apparently they had received the etheric download. The ugly work pants were donated not long after. Win.

    Epilogue: Time Clutter

    This category is not part of the KonMari method, but I used the momentum from successfully de-cluttering and simplifying my stuff to tackle my most challenging category of all: time clutter. Time, or lack thereof, has been a challenge for me since I began my career as a CPA. It mostly takes the form of unfinished projects many abandoned at the start of tax season and procrastinated for as long as four years. Over the course of just one month, I managed to complete them ALL, and then some. This has done amazing things to lower stress, increase inner peace, improve my energy levels, gain more clarity as to my life purpose, and improve my intuition. I’ve become more effective at work by “clearing the clutter” and getting right down to what it will take to simply get a project done. I feel like I have more time, or at least less guilt, to begin NEW projects and move forward with my life in a more authentic fashion.

    Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? Whether you choose to be aware of it or not, your energy supports your stuff. Does it support you back? Do you love yourself enough to surround yourself only with things that bring you joy? Do you trust in the abundance of the universe enough to let go of the things that don’t? Are you willing to practice generosity by donating? Are you willing to be aware and clear about what brings you joy (and what doesn’t)? Are you willing to be clear and purposeful as to what you choose to create and surround yourself with? Are you willing to deal with it NOW instead of potentially leaving an unpleasant legacy to your next of kin?

    Marie addresses many other issues that I didn’t touch on here, such as what to do if you don’t live alone and your mate is a hoarder, how to address emotional objections to discarding things like gifts, and how to properly organize and put away what’s left after discarding so your stuff never gets chaotic again. It’s a very worthwhile book and I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.

    Monday, 17 January 2011

    Go me :O) !!

    I have now lost 7lbs since the turn of the new year . whooop whooop !! I mistakenly thought I had lost 6lbs, but silly me cannot count . derr. Tina note to oneself. "13st 7lb down to exactly 13st is **7lbs** not 6 . Idiot :o/ . I'm in the F4N 11 challenge again this year and reported 6lb off, so if your out there Paul, it was supposed to be 7 . I will add that extra pound to this weeks weigh in on Friday if thats easier !!

    Feeling so positive right now. even eating grapefruit for breakfast, and thinking about everything I am eating. Its so good to be back in the driving seat again. It's true that lifes events can change every aspect of your mindset. the depression I have suffered over the last few years has been lifted, and along with that is my desire to get this blooming weight off again. can life get any better right now ?

    Will be back to report this weeks weigh in result on Friday. hope your all feeling positive . just think everyone, not long til summer now. what a great incentive to get this weight off again !


    Doesn’t the word creamy just sound dirty sometimes?

    I think my inspiration for meals this weekend has been because I’ve had this song in my head the past few days

    Un fortunately, nothing too saucy like that going on here but that’s a different post for another time.

    Creamy described my dinner last night. I was out and about the entire day running errands and such and when I got home, I was in the mood for something quick and warm.

    I put some chicken with wing sauce and water in the crock pot when I left in the morning and when I got home, the smell of chicken was in the air. I took out and pulled apart and store for use this upcoming week.

    I took some chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese, red onion, Cholula, garlic and black pepper and mixed together in a bowl

    To make chicken enchilada quesadillas

    I needed all that creamy, warm yummy goodness because it was time to do my taxes thanks to Turbo Tax. I’ve used H&R Block online the past few years but this year, they changed the format and just seemed more difficult to navigate through this year as opposed to less. And H&R Block was trying to give me $350 lessback than what Turbo Tax gave me so yeah, I’m officially a Turbo Tax girl now.

    I’m still conflicted if I liked it or not. I feel like it ended with some loose ends that I thought would be wrapped up but never were. Lincoln felt a little conflicted as well but at least he was warm

    Anyone else see it-thoughts?

    I slept in until 10A this morning which is pretty much unheard of, I love sleeping in!! I’ve been sleeping in more and more on the weekends which is wonderful since I tend to wake up at 4 or 5A and then have nothing to do for a few hours. I made a breakfast wrap grabbed some coffee to go and was on my way out the door!

    The mission for this morning was to find a new bed frame. I thought all the bed frame drama was done with after last weekend but it broke again. And I really don’t feel like fixing it every week because that is going to get annoying very quickly plus I am frugal but not so frugal that I won’t buy a new one. But then again, if I end up moving to a different city this year, I most likely won’t take my furniture with me so if I were to buy a new one it would be a waste of money. I checked out a few thrift stores this morning and found nothing, went to the Sears Outlet and all they had was California King frames and went to Value City Furniture and they don’t carry any full mattress frames. I may have a gentleman friend coming into town next month and I am really going to look like a hooker if I have a broken bed. Ugh.

    I met up with a friend at the gym afterwards. I’m finallystarting to feel better again and had enough energy to work out and we killed it! I did 40 minutes on the elliptical, 10 minutes on the bike then did various upper body exercises

    Speaking of hot tubs….kinda… friend and I went into the sauna after our work to sweat everything we didn’t sweat out out. I am all for being comfortable with your body but what is up with the 60+ year old crowd flaunting what they got? I am talking boobs down to the knees, it was very uncomfortable trying not to stare at that since I fear I’m going to be like that one day. I loathe you gravity.

    Instead of going for protein packed smoothies, we chose to go for $2 mimosas instead

    Look at how big they are! Plus, they weren’t shy with the bubbly and only $2. I could’ve had at least six more with how smooth they were and hello-cheap but we settled on two a piece. This is going to be dangerous for future Sundays, I love mimosas and I love getting my vitamin C in along with booze!

    Creamy was the word for dinner again tonight. I made stuffed mushrooms yet again but this time I stuffed with spinach dip!

    I saved the stems to use this week, I have no clue how I will use them but I figure I can chop up and cook and add to rice, pasta, etc.

    Let the mushrooms marinate in extra virgin olive oil

    I mixed thawed frozen spinach, parsley, cream cheese, shredded mozzarella and spike seasoning in a bowl

    Then stuffed, lined up on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes

    They turned out even better than the last batch!

    I know it’s not Frugal Friday but if you have an Earthfare near you, sign up to get a free dinner with a $10 purchase!

    Are you watching the Grammys? I had no clue it was on but feel like I know what’s going on thanks to the Twitter. And what the hell is up with Gaga–she arrived in an egg or something?

    Northwest Caucasian

    All NW Caucasian languages are characterized by a very small number of vowels (usually only two or three) combined with a vast consonant inventory, the largest consonant inventories on Earth. Almost any consonant can be plain, labialized or palatalized. This is apparently the result of an historical process whereby many vowels were lost and their various features became assigned to consonants. For instance, palatalized consonants may have come from Ci sequences and labialized consonants may have come from Cu sequences.

    The grammars of these languages are complex. Unlike the NE Caucasian languages, they have simple noun systems, usually with only a handful of cases.

    However, they have some of the complex verbal systems on Earth. These are some of the most synthetic languages in the Old World. Often the entire syntax of the sentence is contained within the verb. All verbs are marked with ergative, absolutive and direct object morphemes in addition to various applicative affixes.

    These are akin to what some might call “verbal case.” For instance, in applicative voice systems, applicatives may take forms such as comitative, locative, instrumental, benefactive and malefactive. These roles are similar to the case system in nouns – even the names are the same. So you can see why some call this “verbal case.”

    NW Caucasian verbs can be marked for aspect (whether something is momentous, continuous or habitual), mood (if something is certain, likely, desired, potential, or unreal). Other affixes can shape the verb in an adverbial sense, to express pity, excess or emphasis.

    Like NE Caucasian, they are also ergative.

    NW Caucasian makes it onto a lot of craziest language lists.

    These are some of the strangest sounding languages on Earth. Of all of these languages, Abaza has the most consonants. Here is a video in the Abaza language.

    It's More Fun In The Philippines

    10.12.2017 - 28.12.2017
    View Manila on Lingering's travel map.

    Sunday [10/12/2017] I arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the afternoon after taking a 2 hour flight from Brunei. My friends came to pick me up and then we headed to Shore Residences where I will be staying for the whole trip. It's a new residential condominium with a resort style amenities located at the heart of the SM Mall of Asia area in Pasay. Since the amenities were not open yet, all I could do was to just the view of it from the 16th floor everyday. In the evening, we walked to Mall of Asia by foot which is not very far from Shore Residences to have dinner and so that I could buy some food and kitchen utensils to cook when I don't go out.

    Monday [11/12/2017] Today we walked to Shell Residences which is located on the other end of the same road where Shore Residences is. A lot of foreigners were staying there as it is very near to MOA. After doing some documents in the bank, we headed off to Quiapo Market. The train system in Manila is pretty old and not as efficient as other countries as there is not enough trains to carry passengers every few minutes. When we came out of the Carriedo station, I could see rows of tents arranged next to each other along both sides of a narrow road. There were also stalls set up just next to the roadside where cars and jeepneys were passing by along a crowded street. As a foreigner, one could not help but noticed the rubbish just simply thrown everywhere on the road and the people just went about doing their business as usual. You can also buy fruits, food and all sort of items on this street market which you can also find in other countries but at a cheaper price.

    We walked towards the Quiapo church (also known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) which is famous for the Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ carved from black wood which said to be miraculous. Outside the church, peddlers were selling religious statues, rosaries and coloured candles for people to burn where each colour represent the wish they pray for (easy way of making money from what I see). The Quiapo church is like any other catholic church I have been to except that it is surrounded by open air markets. Inside this church you can also go up the narrow flight of stairs to kiss Jesus’ foot which was also carved from the black wood.

    Then we slowly walked to Quiapo bridge where there are stalls selling handicrafts under the bridge. I bought Filipina dolls wearing the traditional costume as well as a few star light decoration made of shells. On the way back to Quiapo market, we passed through another market area where this time, the peddlers were selling fresh food stuff like salted fish and vegetables. Our last stop was the Manila City Plaza where Jazel wanted to find mobile cover as well as Christmas presents. I was pretty shocked at the sight of that plaza as there were papers, plastics, food containers, etc. on the floor and the people were just walking on them like as if they don't see anything at all. Coming from a country where people don’t throw rubbish on the floor inside a shopping mall or shop, this is a shock for me as I also find it disgusting and it shows how the mindset of the local people are over there. Even people in China don’t through rubbish inside the shopping area or on the road where there are markets! We had dinner in Mang Inasal which is not bad but popular among the locals because there is a set where you can ask for refill of rice as many times as you like. So what the locals normally do is to order 1 set with the unlimited refill of rice while the rest just order the normal sets at cheaper price and after they had asked for refill of rice, they will share the rice with the others.

    On the way back, my friends bought balut eggs for me to try which was alright but probably some of the balut egg wasn’t that fresh because the first one that was opened smelled like it was a bit rotten already. I tasted the second one which did not have the slightly rotten smell. It tasted a bit like hard boiled egg as I couldn’t taste much of the young duck texture even though I could see fine black feathers and the eye socket but the yolk part was very hard to eat. I stayed overnight at Breeze Residences since I was going to following my friends to San Pablo and we had to catch the bus the next morning.

    Tuesday [12/12/2017] Today, we head to San Pablo’s SM Mall using the bus in the morning to meet up with my friends’ cousins. While we were waiting for their cousins to arrive, we did some shopping in SM Mall and then went to Shakey's Pizza for lunch. By the time their cousins came, we had already finished our lunch. We then headed back to SM Mall again for my friends to discuss about some business proposal with some people. By the time they finished the discussion, it was already evening.

    After that, we headed back towards Manila in their cousin’s car but it so happened to be the day where his car license plate number was prohibited from driving in Manila. License plates ending in 1 and 2 are prohibited from driving in Manila on Mondays between 7 to 10 am and 3 to 7 pm. Number 3 and 4 cannot be driven on Tuesdays, number 5 and 6 on Wednesdays, number 7 and 8 on Thursdays and 9 as well as 0 on Fridays. So we had to stop at the rest stop area and have our dinner while waiting for the curfew to be lifted. By the time we reached to Breeze Residence, it was already 10pm and we hung out there for a while before we went over to my unit in Shore Residence so that my friends could show off and try to persuade their cousin and his friend to buy a unit from them. When they decided to go over to Solaire Resort and Casino, it was already close to 1am and when we were in there, people were still gambling. We stayed there until 2am because we had to wait for my friend’s husband to finish gambling before they send me back to my condo first and then my friends back to Breeze Residence.

    Wednesday [13/12/2017] After a late night out, I had to wake up early to meet up with Sunny, a friend I have been communicating online since 2010. He asked me to meet up at Forum Robinsons in Mandaluyong as he was going to have lunch there with his staff. To go to Mandaluyong, I had to take a taxi so I walked all the way to Shell Residence because there was a line of taxi waiting at the roadside for passengers. However, I was shocked to hear that the taxi driver was going to charge me 600 peso (B$16) and giving the typical excuse of it is peak time already just to go there. I have been warned about taxi drivers in Manila refusing to use taxi meters and charging exorbitant price for such a short distance if they know you are a tourist so I walked off and tried to catch a taxi by the main road. The taxi driver I eventually got was better as he asked me first how much would I give him and he asked for a bit more which is half of the fare the first taxi driver was asking for so both of us were happy. The traffic was terrible at the EDSA area so I arrived late to Forum Robinsons. Sunny and his colleagues were already having lunch so I just joined them. It was fun talking to him as he's a cheerful, optimistic and funny man who speaks good English for a Korean. The rest of his female colleagues were also friendly and I learned that their company is similar to Kumon in our country. After his colleagues left (since they had to go back to the office), we stayed on and chatted. He was surprised to see me in Manila because I didn’t tell him that I was going there before until he saw the photos I posted on Facebook. After that, we headed to SM Light Mall since my friends said we will meet up there and Sunny had to go to his daughter's institution which was also near there. We didn’t go around the mall but just sat at the coffee shop and talked some more. It’s funny how we can click with some people so well on the first meeting. We talked and talked while waiting for my friends to come which they ended up not coming at all (which I wished they would have informed me earlier so I didn't have to wait for them there) until it was time for Sunny to go to his daughter’s institution. Unfortunately, he was not able to send me back as his car license plate was prohibited from driving on that day. By that time, it was after working hours and the traffic was horrible! It was difficult to get Grab taxi or even a normal taxi as the waiting queue was so long. So in the end, Sunny hailed a taxi cab for me before it went into the mall area but boy, was I charged 900 peso just to get back to Shore Residence because of the peak time. Oh well, I was glad to get out of the congested area but traffic towards MOA was not that different also.

    Thursday [14/12/2017] Today, we will be heading to Banuae in the evening so I have the whole day free for myself. After packing my stuff for the trip, I walked to the Mall of Asia to find the Science Discovery Center but was not able to find it. Finally, I was told by the security that it was temporary closed for renovation. Since it was closed, there was nothing else to do so I just went around each floor to see what shops were available. There’s an ice skating ring, cinema, entertainment playground for kids and a lot of shops. I managed to do some shopping in Uniqlo and get some thermal wear since Sagada is very cold at night but Uniqlo in Philippines is more expensive that in Malaysia. Most of the shops there were not really of any interest to me and even if they are like Marks & Spencer, it was more expensive than the ones in Malaysia and Singapore. Only SM Mall Hypermart were pretty affordable if you are talking about their locally produced products but not so for imported goods. So by late afternoon, I walked back to the condo and got ready for our trip later at night.

    I met up with my friends in MOA again around 7pm and had dinner with them first before we waited for the driver of the group tour to Banuae, Sagada and Baguio in front of Giligan's Island Restaurant & Bar. By the time the driver came, it was close to 9pm and we had to make another stop at the Caltex North Avenue petrol station to pick up some more people for the trip. When everyone was picked up, there were altogether 15 of us with the driver. It was going to be a long drive because we were expecting to reach to Banuae early in the morning.

    Friday [15/12/2017] After having some sleep on the way, the driver told us that we have to stop to eat something to fill our tummy first because we would not be able to arrive to Banuae early in the morning since there were also a lot of cars and vans heading towards the same destination. I was pretty surprised that there were a lot of cars at the rest stop area where people were having some hot food to eat or just for toilet stop. I don’t normally eat heavy after 12am so it was good to have a hot bowl of porridge at 1.30am. 30 mins later and after using the toilet, we continued our journey non-stop all the way to Banuae. I am lucky that I am used to travelling on the road at night, so it was not so much of a problem for me to get some sleep. Actually most of us slept because we trusted the driver who knew the road better than us and have been bringing people to these places frequently. However, my friend who had never travelled overnight before and is so used to luxury travelling said that she did not sleep at all because she was worried about the road since we were travelling at the sides of the Central Cordillera Mountains.

    By the time we reached to Banuae, it was only close to 7am and it was very cold. After taking some photos at the gateway of Banuae, we drove on to have our breakfast first. Breakfast was like in Indonesia, eating rice early in the morning. At the famous rice terrace, there was a native Igorot man who offered to pose with people for photo taking but expecting some money to be given to him as tip. After some photo taking of the famous Banaue rice terraces and souvenir shopping, we drove on to Sagada and by the time we reached there, it was already close to noon time.

    The driver parked the van at the back of the Church Of St. Mary The Virgin since there is no parking space in the town area. We went into the church first to borrow the toilet and boy, the water was freezing cold! When we started walking towards the town, the wind was pretty cold even though the sun was shining brightly. With a population of less than 11,500 Igorots, the town was very peaceful with people walking on the side of the roads as the road could only accommodate 1 car at a time. We passed by several small restaurants, a souvenir shop and some inns before deciding to enter a simple small eatery place. We tried the pinikpikan, a specialty dish of Sagada and ginsing-ginsing which was not bad. After lunch, we slowly walked back towards the church and on the way, we stopped at a souvenir shop to see what souvenirs to buy. There were local jams, wine, coffee, biscuits, t-shirts, magnets, keychains, etc but we did not buy anything yet as we still have the next day to come back again. So we headed back to the car park area and the driver told us that we will check into our homestay first before going to the Sumaguing cave.

    We were split into 2 groups since the homestay was not big enough to accommodate all of us. So for me and my friends, we stayed in Log-In Homestay which was very cozy because the interior is mainly made of wood and there is also a fireplace. There were 2 beds in my room which 3 person can sleep in and also a bathroom but unfortunately, the water heater was not working at all so the water was freezing cold! The other rooms had to share the bathroom on the first floor which had hot water so lucky them. The second group and the driver stayed in another homestay which was located at the other end of the town. The house wasn’t as nice and cozy as ours and their floor was tiled so it was freezing cold but they had hot shower.

    By the time everyone (including the 3 guides who were going to lead us) was ready for spelunking in the Sumaguing cave it was already 3pm. We had the option of doing the Sumaguing cave or the cave connect (this was more difficult and it starts from another cave entrance) but since the rest were not fit, we all ended up doing the Sumaguing cave only. It was ok but then there were some slippery spots so we were told to walk barefooted to prevent from slipping. There was a place where we had to walk in the water which fortunately was not that deep but the water was cold but not as freezing cold as the water in our homestay. We ended coming out from the cave close to 6pm and it was already dark. By the time we waited for the driver to pick us up, it was already 6.30pm and the wind was very, very cold!

    Before we head back to our homestay, the driver told us that we had to have dinner since the restaurant was on the way. Since our legs were still wet and we did not bring any jacket with us, walking from the road all the way down to the restaurant was like walking inside a big freezer since the wind just kept on blowing! Even when we were already inside the restaurant, it was still cold as the wind was blowing in until I closed the door. When we got back to our homestay, taking a bath was even more challenging! Since my bathroom didn’t have any hot water and I had to take a bath before going to sleep, it took me ages to even get my body wet and I had to get out as fast as I can before I freeze to death! I told the owner that the heater wasn't working in the bathroom in my room but she said to let the water run for a while then it will get hot. So guess what I did, I left the shower dripping a bit so that the water will be hot but when I woke up at 3 am to get ready to see the sunrise, it was even colder! No hot water at all!

    Saturday [16/12/2017] By 4 am, we got ready to go to Kitepan. We rode on a jeep where people can sit on the roof but since it was too cold, everyone just wanted to sit inside the warm jeep. It was a bumpy ride and by the time we reached to Kitepan, there were already people there and the wind was just howling like crazy. The viewpoint for the sunrise is actually at the edge of a hill so it was very windy and freezing cold. There were stalls selling hot drinks and simple hot soupy noodles just to keep the body warm. We had to wait until 6 am for the sun to rise so while waiting, we had to secure a good spot to view the sunrise. Everyone was trying to find ways to keep themselves warm and I tried standing behind someone so that person would block the wind but it was useless. When 6 am finally came, the clouds were still very thick and we couldn’t even see the sun rising but the wind had slowly became warmer. Without seeing the sun rising, we decided it was enough and headed back to the jeep but this time, some of them decided to sit on top of the roof all the way to the orange farm to pick some oranges. I didn’t go orange picking because I didn’t like that type of orange and I also thought the orange they grew were the orange coloured ones like from US but instead it’s the green ones which is even grown in Brunei.

    After orange picking, we were dropped off at the place we were picked up so all of us walked to town to have breakfast. Since it was Saturday, they have the open air market where people were selling vegetables and local snacks so it was interesting to see some of the things they sell like the smoked pork belly and also the various type of Filipino desserts. All of us decided to have breakfast at Salt & Pepper diner and while waiting for our food, a couple bought the famous lemon pies from the Lemon Pie House which they had booked the day before.

    After having our tummy filled, we did a bit of souvenir shopping before we headed towards the car park behind the church. We got ready to go to the Echo Valley to see the hanging coffins which I had wanted to see since 2015 when I first saw the photo in Bangkok. To go down to the Echo Valley, we had to walk pass through the modern Christian cemetery before going down the steps. At the viewpoint where we could see the hanging coffins already from far, this is the start of the Echo Valley where your voice will bounce back. Then we continued to walk down the valley slowly towards the hanging coffins. As we got nearer and nearer, I saw that the coffins were actually not hung from the top of the cliff as they were not very high and there were stacks of coffins inside a cave nearby. Up close, the coffins were just supported by metal rods which were stuck into the holes on the rocks. This traditional way of burying Igorot people is not carried out anymore as most of them have now converted to Christian and are therefore buried in cemeteries. We were told that there are other places with hanging coffins but this is the only place which is still accessible to people.

    Since we had late heavy breakfast, we decided to skip lunch and continued with our tour. We went to the northern part of Sagada to see the Bomod-ok waterfall which is 200m high. The driver dropped us at the parking area of the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin where we went to the Parish Center first to use the toilet before going down to the waterfall. We were guided by 2 ladies who handed each of us a stick and we started our easy walk down the steps. We passed through Fidelisan village where we stopped to wait for the others who were way behind us. While waiting in front of a small stall for the others, we ate buko special ice cream. Once everyone was well rested, we continued on until we passed the rice fields before reaching to the waterfall. No one wanted to take a dip in the water as the water falling down was very strong and freezing cold at this time of the year. However, 4 men were crazy enough to get into the water but for a very short time. After having enough of photo taking, as we slowly walked back up, everyone stopped to have something to eat at the small stall set up not far away from the waterfall. I guess most of them were starting to get hungry as they kept on eating the caramelized banana and some sort of fried dough sold at the small stall. Then we slowly walked up the steps which was a long slow walk as not everyone was fit to continue walking. This time, instead of using the same way down, we walked up through another route which leads to a parking area where jeepneys were waiting to pick up hikers to go back to the parking area. While waiting for the rest to come, some of them started eating again a stall selling balut and lumpia. I only tried 1 lumpia which surprisingly tasted crispy and delicious even though the skin looked soggy, very different from the ones sold in Brunei. On the way back to our homestay, we stopped at the Sagada weaving shop which I only bought a small pouch since it was not cheap at all. After that, we were sent back to our homestay and got ready to sleep early that night since we had to leave Sagada by 4am to make it back to Manila by night time.

    Initially, my friend's husband planned to ask the owner of our homestay to cook dinner for us since he invited everyone over to our place to eat but little did he know that the owner was on duty that night. Since we didn't know what time she would be coming back, in the end he had no choice but to call the driver to pick us up again for dinner at the same place where we had dinner the night before. There were only 8 of us going for dinner as the others had already eaten or were tired. After dinner, we went back to our homestay and we chatted a bit, ate the delicious lemon pie as well as drank the Sagada fruit wine. The lemon pie was irresistible and I had 2 slices since it didn't taste sour at all but I felt the sourish effect the next morning.

    Sunday [17/12/2017] We left the homestay at 4am when it was pitch black. We slept in the car and after 3.5 hours drive on the curvy road of the Halsema highway, we reached the highest point in Atok, Benguet which is 7400 feet above sea level. The wind was so strong and colder than in Sagada that I can't help but shiver so it was difficult to get a good shot of the scenery from the viewpoint. Most of us were hungry so we ate cup noodle just to fill and warm up our tummy from the small shop at the viewpoint. From there, we drove on until we reach to a restaurant where we had our breakfast. It was another heavy one with fried rice early in the morning.

    With our tummy full, we continued our journey to La Trinidad strawberry farm. Everyone would stop at this place if they are heading to Baguio so the car park was full of cars. The farm was pretty big compared to the ones in Indonesia but I have seen enough of the strawberry farms in Indonesia so I didn't go to pick the strawberries. Instead, we checked out the row of souvenir stalls where people were buying strawberries, strawberry jams, peanuts, biscuits, strawberry ice cream, keychains, etc to give away.

    After everyone had done shopping for souvenirs, we drove non-stop to Burnham park which I don't find it interesting as people go there to play some of the rides. We just went on the boat ride where the men were the ones rowing the boat. The place was literally crowded with local tourists riding the bike, going on the boat, photo taking here and there or sitting down and just watching people. It wasn't an impressive place and I would give it a miss if I had the choice. By 4pm, we started our journey towards Manila and on the way, we stopped at Lion's Head statue along Kennon Road. I'm not sure why this Lion's Head statue is so popular that it is a must stop place for tourists to take photos when you can't even take photo of the whole head unless you go across the other side of the road.

    After 2 hours on the road again, the driver stopped at a rest area which has a restaurant for tourists to fill their tummy and use the toilet before continuing their journey. They had a huge variety of ready cooked food and all you had to do was choose whatever you feel like having as you move along the line and then pay for it when you reach to the end of the line. I was getting addicted to the Filipino crispy lumpia wrapper that I couldn't resist ordering the turon and I don't normally eat sweet snacks like that for dinner. It's so sweet and crispy! Oh well, too much of sweet snacks are also not good. After dinner, we continued on towards Manila and by the time we reached Mall of Asia, it was already midnight but there were still a lot of people being dropped off (probably after coming back from similar trips like ours) and people waiting for the vans to be filled before heading back to their province. It has been a very long journey on the road but I enjoyed Sagada very much and I don't mind going back there again some day.

    Monday [18/12/2017] After the long trip during the weekend, I woke up very late and just stayed in the condo. I did my laundry and some cooking while just resting for the whole day. I tried the local corn beef in the can and it was absolutely tasty and moist without even needing to add salt or pepper. I should have bought a few cans back to Brunei since I can't find that brand here.

    Tuesday [19/12/2017] Today, I went with my friends to Greenbelt in Makati. I'm not a big fan of high class shopping malls but it wouldn't hurt just window shopping around. There were a lot of stores and branded boutiques (which were pretty expensive compared to other countries) and Greenbelt 1 to 5 are just next to each other. There is a departmental store where things are of reasonable price and this is the place where you see a lot of people buying stuff. I just bought a few things because I was too lazy to carry bulky stuff around and then by 5pm, we left Makati area to avoid the rush hour as people were starting to get off work already. We took the train to Mall of Asia because my friends who are members of Okada casino wanted to show off to me. Before we headed to the casino using the free shuttle bus from MOA, we ate our early dinner at Jollibee. After our simple dinner, we headed off to Okada using their free shuttle bus and by 7.30pm we were already there since it's just a few minutes ride from MOA. The casino has nice interior designs but to me, casinos are just casinos. You see gamblers (mainly from China) sitting in front of slot machines or gambling tables the whole day trying to get rich fast. After watching the dancing fountain show which plays every hour and going around the whole place just to see the shops we managed to meet up with one of the lady who went with us to Sagada who is a supervisor working there. Since we had to wait for my friend's husband who was happily gambling away while people have to wait for him, there was basically nothing to do since there were no stage performance to watch. By 9pm, I was starting to feel hungry already and the only food which was affordable to everyone is Starbucks (full of people), Chatime and French baker. So I ended up buying danish pastries just to fill up my tummy while chatting with my friend in order to pass time and waiting for her husband to stop gambling. By 11pm, since there was no sound from her husband yet, we decided to find him because we were already getting very bored waiting for him. It was a good idea or else he would not stop gambling at all. After 11.30pm, there were no more shuttle bus to MOA so everyone either had to take a taxi or Grabcar back to where they came from. By the time I was dropped off in front of my condo, it was close to midnight already,

    Wednesday [20/12/2017] After spending a day with my friends yesterday, I needed a day on my own so I decided to check out Manila Ocean Park. I took the Marine Voyage 15 package which was on offer at that time where I have access to 13 different exhibits. I went to check out the Oceanrium first which was pretty interesting because you could see different types of marine fishes, corals, spotted garden eels (everyone was so curious as to what they actually are). The most interesting part of this exhibit is the 220° curved walkway tunnel where you walk through and see the spectacular underwater view of amazing sea creatures swimming overhead.

    Next I went to the fish spa which was on the first floor and just enjoyed the breeze while waiting for the hungry fish to nibble away the dead skin on my feet. 30 mins after my feet first went into the water, less and less fish were interested in my feet already and they moved on to newcomers which gave them more food so it was time to head on to the Back of the House. It turned out to be just an area where all the Oceanarium's operations depend on it so not many people were interested to check it out unless you are very interested to keep marine creatures in your aquarium. Since I was on the first floor, I decided to check out the Trails to Antartica which is a favourite for children because of the Humboldt penguins so the queue to get in was pretty long. Disappointingly for the long queue, the place where the penguins were displayed is just a small area because you have to keep on moving on to the Christmas Village (which is just a small room decorated with Christmas decorations, santa clause, snowmen, etc) since people kept on coming in.

    The Jellies exhibit I have to say is the most therapeutic exhibit I have ever been to. It was so relaxing to just watch the jellyfish swim inside each individual tank in slow motion. But since I was planning to catch the last Sea Lion show, I had to move on and get a seat before the show started. Apparently the show was outside in the open before you enter the Ocean Park building and boy, it was so hot at 3pm with the sun shinning towards us regardless of where we chose to sit. Since I haven't had lunch yet, I bought a jumbo hot dog and ate it while waiting for the show to start. The 2 sea lions from South America were very funny and entertaining and they won the hearts of small as well as big kids.

    Next, I went to see the Shark and Rays Dry Encounter which happened to be in same place where we watched the sea lion show. Disappointingly, the 2 sharks was not really that noticeable in the tank unless you really look for them and the stingray was held by the caretaker so we could touch its surface. By the time I was done checking out the sharks and rays, it was almost time for the All Star Bird Show but this time it was not as hot as before. Once again, the intelligent macaws, cockatoos and eagles stole the hearts of the young and the old. The lesser known Barnyard and Birdhouse exhibits were slight further way from the main building so there were not many people. The Barnyard exhibit was located on the ground floor and here, you can learn facts about the rodent family and see hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs as well as chickens. On the first floor is the Birdhouse exhibit where you see all types of budgies.

    The last bird exhibit is the Birds of Prey Kingdom where they kept the Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus). The last exhibit to finish off was the World of Creepy Crawlies. There were very colourful poison frogs (which you don't normally see), lizards, turtles, spiders and snakes. While waiting for the Symphony of Lights show in the evening which starts at 6.30pm, I had some time to have a quick dinner in one of the restaurant. By 6pm, everyone was already waiting for the show to start. When it started, everyone was enjoying it as they used the latest multimedia technology and the tallest water fountains in the Philippines which can shoot water as high as 40m to display the fusion of earth's basic elements - water, fire, air and light. It was actually more interesting than the dancing fountain show in Okada especially when they used fire because I could feel the heat from the fire even though we were sitting far away from the fountain area. After the show, everyone started to leave while I waiting for my transport back to the condo. Such a lovely day to to spend the whole day at this place!

    Thursday [21/12/2017] Next day, I followed my friends to Los Banos where we would be staying at their cousin's place. We left the bus station at 4.30pm and arrived at Los Banos around 7pm. After we were picked up by their cousin, we went to Isdaan Floating Restaurant which has a theme park like ambiance with a lot of huge sculptures. There were not many people having dinner here so we sat in a floating hut where you can actually feel it going up and down constantly like a boat rocking gently. We waited for the rest of the family members to come before we had boodle fight for our dinner where different types of food were placed on top of a long banana leaf-lined table. It was a very filling dinner as there were so many leftover food even though there were 9 of us. After that, we went to their house and stayed for the next 2 nights before heading north of Luzon.

    Friday [22/12/2017] After breakfast, we head to Makiling National Park and walked on the tarmac road instead of hiking to the summit. So much for being told that we were going hiking by my friend. There was no one except us and after reaching Station 3, it started to drizzle. We kept on walking until Station 7 where we then walked into a muddy trail to get to the hot mud spring where the volcanic heat and sulphuric acid break down the surrounding rocks into clay. The trail was so muddy and wet that it was impossible to prevent our shoes from getting wet and dirty but in we finally reached to the end where it was partly closed off to the public for safety reasons. The water was warm like the one in Papandayan but nothing special. The only special thing about this place is that there were a lot of leeches sticking to my face and raincoat which I normally never had any problems even when hiking through the forest of Temburong. After that, we slowly walked back down towards the flat rock riverbed near to Station 1. It was nothing impressive about the flat rocks but the current was pretty strong after the rain. Once we reached to the registration hut, it was time to spray off all the mud before we went inside the car. How I hate my feet in soggy socks! Before going back home, we went to the market because my friend wanted to impress them with his cooking but they couldn't find what he was looking for.

    After taking shower, we had a slice of buko pie which was delicious when it is still hot as a snack just to fill our tummy first because we were going to attend the church service in Diocesan Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus first which was held every night for the past few days until Christmas. The church service surprisingly was in English and it doesn't seems like a typical catholic church but I enjoyed the service. After the service, we went home and had western dinner prepared by the cousin's wife.

    Saturday [23/12/2017] The next day after a hearty breakfast, we started our journey towards the north to Vigan which was about 14 hour drive from Los Banos. On the way to Quezon, we picked up my friend's mother and uncle who will be joining us for this trip. By the time we reached to Vigan, it was already after 8pm so we checked into a low budget hotel before going to Vigan for dinner. When we arrived there, I thought the famous Vigan city (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was very big from the pictures I see on the internet but it’s just a row of cobblestone street with old buildings that has the native Philippine, oriental building designs and colonial Spanish architecture. Since it was already Christmas holiday, there were a lot of local touists from Manila and elsewhere here. We had dinner in the open air of the cobblestone street which was catered for tourists and the food wasn't that bad. After dinner, we walked along the dimly lit street and checked out a few souvenir shops that were still open. There were also horse drawn carriages which they call kalesa where people can ride on it and go around the town.

    Sunday [24/12/2017] The next morning, after having breakfast in one of the restaurant in Vigan city, we went to check out the souvenir shops. We tasted Tongson's Royal Bibingka, a popular rice cake in Vigan which is pretty delicious when it is still warm. Then we went for the kalesa tour where we sat on the horse carriage to see places like the Bantay church and bell tower, the old Ilocos Sur jail which is now use to exhibit art, Burgos Museum which used to be the home of Padre Jose Burgos, one of the three martyr priests, RG Jar Factory and the Crisologo museum, the home of Floro Crisologo, a congressman who was assassination in 1972 while attending a church service. For our late lunch, we had fried prawn fritters which was as oily as the ones in Brunei and the tasty, oily fried empanada at the roadside stall which had meat, carrot and egg filling. Weather in the north was very hot but I was told by the bell tower guide that it is even hotter in June!

    Our next destination was to Laoag where my friends and I will be staying at their aunty’s house while my friend's cousin and his family will be staying in a hotel. After almost 2 hours on the road, we stopped at the Saint Augustine Church in Paoay which is one of the oldest church in the Philippines and part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then we stopped at the Paoay Sand Dunes because their cousin’s son wanted to try sandboarding but by the time we reached there, the sun was already starting to set so we didn’t do anything except just taking photos. One and a half hour later, we finally reached to their aunty's house. I always thought Christmas was such a big event in the Philippines because they are well known for putting up Christmas decorations as early as 3 months before December but in Vigan and Laoag you don't even see much of Christmas decorations. Since it was Christmas eve, I thought dinner was more special like having turkey or the typical Christmas dishes we normally would have in Brunei or other countries which celebrate Christmas but to my surprise, we just had the typical everyday food like pizza and pasta and local dishes. You just don't feel the Christmas vibe at all for a country that emphasize Christmas months earlier than any other countries. After the simple dinner and since it was Christmas eve, we went for the Christmas mass which was pretty different from the mass we have in Brunei. The pastor was funny though and once again, the sermon was in English even though they sung the hymns in Tagalog. I stayed up until midnight before I called it a night since there was nothing much for me to do while they chatted with each other.

    Monday [25/12/2017] Weather today was so hot even inside the house. After breakfast, we drove towards Pagudpud but on the way, it began to rain heavily. So we stopped at Hannah's Beach Resort and Convention Center which was so windy since it is located next to the beach and the rain did not show sign of stopping at all. While waiting for the rain to stop, we decided to have lunch and by the time we finished eating, the rain had stopped. Then we headed to Bangui first which is the home of the first wind farm in South East Asia. The first time I saw these type of wind farm was when I was on the train going towards either Munich or Berlin. The famous souvenirs you get from Pagudpud are the windmill keychains and fridge magnets made of wood.

    Then we went to see the Kapurpurawan rocks which were formed from years of the waves hitting on them. Nothing impressive about that place but a lot of local tourists go there for photo taking. There were also souvenir stalls selling local products and before we headed back, we ate Ilocos
    empanada which was sold in one of the stall. The wrapper was different from the ones in Vigan but it was still delicious and just as oily as the ones we had before. We then went to see was the Cape Bojeador lighthouse which was a remnant of the Spanish colonial era. We took a look around before heading back to the car. Our last stop was to the La Paz Sand Dunes because their cousin's children wanted to try sandboarding. The sun was setting fast by the time they tried sandboarding and since it was getting dark to see anything, we decided to slowly head back home. On the way back, we stopped at La Preciosa restaurant, which serve delicious Ilocano cuisine.

    Tuesday [26/12/2017] Today, on the way back to Manila, we stopped by at Marcos museum to see the previous president’s history. Then we stopped at Vigan again to buy some souvenirs and Tongson's Royal Bibingka since it couldn’t last long if not refrigerated. After having a quick lunch, we continued on with our journey. It was a long drive back so we decided to stay overnight in La Union since it was already after 8pm and we haven't had our dinner yet plus it was another 4 hours drive to Manila. There was no elevator in the hotel and our room was on the 4th floor so you can imagine how we have to carry up our luggage.

    Wednesday [27/12/2017] After breakfast, we drove towards Manila. On the way, we stopped to buy garlic and shallots which was not as cheap as the ones in Brunei but since they are native to Ilocos, I was planning to try and grow them when I get back home. We also stopped by at a stall selling dried sea products, local snacks and desserts for souvenirs. After few hours of driving, we stopped by at the rest area to have our late lunch and we finally arrived in Manila close to evening. My friends dropped me off at my condo and they went on to Los Banos again and stayed there at their cousin’s place for another day. I didn't enjoy Vigan and Ilocos as much as I did with the Sagada trip.

    Thursday [28/12/2017] Since my flight was evening, after packing all my things and having lunch, I walked to the Mall of Asia and just spent my time there since there was nothing else to do in the condo until it was time to go to the airport. I was hoping to just sit down in Starbucks and enjoy my time drinking a cup of cold frappe since the weather was hot but no such luck because all coffee places as well as famous fastfood joints were full of people. After going around to find a place to sit down and enjoy something cold, I ended up in Tokyo Ice Cafe and had mango kakigori. After just relaxing and enjoying my shaved ice dessert, it was time to go back to the condo and get ready to go to the airport. The departure area in the airport was pretty unorganized even though it was small and there were very limited place to seat so after clearing the immigration, I bought a cold, pretty tasteless sandwich which happened to be the cheapest food inside the airport even though it costed about B$5 (I could buy 2 loaves for bread for the price of that one sandwich at the supermarket in Brunei) since I was starting to feel hungry and my flight was only at 9pm. Overall, I would say that it is not really safe to travel alone in Manila (unlike in Indonesia) but the highland (province) areas are pretty interesting.

    Mutual Intelligibility of Languages in the Slavic Family

    A more updated version of this paper with working hyperlinks can be found on here.
    There is much nonsense said about the mutual intelligibility of the various languages in the Slavic family. It’s often said that all Slavic languages are mutually intelligible with each other. This is simply not the case.
    Method: It is important to note that the percentages are in general only for oral intelligibility and only in the case of a situation of a pure inherent intelligibility test. An inherent pure inherent intelligibility test would involve a a speaker of Slavic lect A listening to a tape or video of a speaker of Slavic Lect A.
    Written intelligibility is often very different from oral intelligibility in that in a number of cases, it tends to be higher, often much higher, than oral intelligibility. Written intelligibility was only calculated for a number of language pairs. Most pairs have no figure for written intelligibility.
    A number of native speakers of various Slavic lects were interviewed about mutual intelligibility, language/dialect confusion, the state of their language, its history and so on. In addition, a Net search was done of forums where speakers of Slavic languages were discussing how much of other Slavic languages they understand. These figures were tallied up for each pair of languages to be tabulated and were then all averaged together. Hence the figures are averages taken from statements by native speakers of the languages in question.
    Complaints have been made that many of these percentages were simply wild guesses with no science behind them. This is not the case, as all figures were derived from estimates by native speakers themselves, often a number of estimates averaged together.
    True science would involve scientific intelligibility testing of Slavic language pairs. The problem is that most linguists are not interested in scientific intelligibility testing of language pairs.
    Serbo-Croatian (Shtokavian) has 55% intelligibility of Macedonian (varies from 25-90%), 27% of Slovenian, 25% of Slovak, 20% of Ukrainian, 13% of oral Bulgarian and 25% of written Bulgarian, 10% of oral Russian and 22% of written Russian, 10% of Czech, and 5% of Polish.
    Chakavian has 82% intelligibility of Kajkavian.
    Kajkavian has 82% intelligibility of Chakavian.
    Bulgarian has 80% intelligibility of Macedonian, 41% of Russian, and 5% of Polish and Czech.
    Macedonian has 65% oral and written intelligibility of Bulgarian.
    Czech has 94% intelligibility of Slovak, 12% of Polish, and 5% of Russian and Bulgarian.
    Polish has 22% intelligibility of Silesian, 12% of Czech, 6% of Russian, and 5% of Bulgarian.
    Russian has 85% intelligibility of Rusyn, 74% of oral Belorussian and 85% of written Belorussian, 60% of Balachka, 50% of oral Ukrainian and 85% of written Ukrainian, 36% of oral Bulgarian and 80% of written Bulgarian, 38% of Polish, 30% of Slovak and oral Montenegrin and 50% of written Montenegrin, 12% of oral Serbo-Croatian, 25% of written Serbo-Croatian, and 10% of Czech.
    Belarussian has 80% intelligibility of Ukrainian and 55% of Polish.
    Ukrainian has 82% intelligibility of Belarusian and Rusyn and 55% of Polish.
    Slovak has 91% intelligibility of Czech.
    Eastern Slovak has 82% intelligibility of Rusyn and 72% of Ukrainian.
    Saris Slovak has 85% intelligibility of Polish.

    Reactions: So far there have been few reactions to the paper. However, a Croatian linguist has helped me write part of the Croatian section, and he felt that at least that part of the paper was accurate. A Serbian native speaker felt that the percentages for South Slavic seemed to be accurate.
    A professor of Slavic Linguistics at a university in Bulgaria reviewed the paper and felt that the percentages were accurate. He was a member of a group of linguists who met periodically to discuss the field. He printed out the paper and showed it to his colleagues at the next meeting, and they spent some time discussing it.
    Now onto the discussion.
    There is much nonsense floating around about Serbo-Croatian or Shtokavian. The main Shtokavian dialects of Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Bosnian are mutually intelligible.
    However, the Croatian macrolanguage has strange lects that Standard Croatian (Štokavian) cannot understand.
    For instance, Čakavian Croatian is not intelligible with Standard Croatian. It consists of at least four major dialects, Ekavian Chakavian, spoken on the Istrian Peninsula, Ikavian Chakavian, spoken in southwestern Istria, the islands of Brač, Hvar, Vis, Korčula, and Šolta, the Pelješac Peninsula, the Dalmatian coast at Zadar, the outskirts of Split and inland at Gacka, Middle Chakavian, which is Ikavian-Ekavian transitional, and Ijekavian Chakavian, spoken at the far southern end of the Chakavian language area on Lastovo Island, Janjina on the Pelješac Peninsula, and Bigova in the far south near the border with Montenegro.
    Ekavian Chakavian has two branches – Buzet and Northern Chakavian. Buzet is actually transitional between Slovenian and Kajkavian. It was formerly thought to be a Slovenian dialect, but some now think it is more properly a Kajkavian dialect. There are some dialects around Buzet that seem to be the remains of old Kajkavian-Chakavian transitional dialects (Jembrigh 2014).
    Ikavian Chakavian has two branches – Southwestern Istrian and Southern Chakavian. The latter is heavily mixed with Shtokavian.
    Some reports say there is difficult intelligibility between Ekavian Chakavian in the north and Ikavian Chakavian in the far south, but speakers of Labin Ekavian in the far north say they can understand the Southeastern Istrian speech of the southern islands very well (Jembrigh 2014).
    Čakavian differs from the other nearby Slavic lects spoken in the country due to the presence of many Italian words.
    Chakavian actually has a written heritage, but it was mostly written down long ago. Writing in Chakavian started very early in the Middle Ages and began to slow down in the 1500’s when writing in Kajkavian began to rise. However, Chakavian magazines are published even today (Jembrigh 2014).
    Although Chakavian is clearly a separate language from Shtokavian Croatian, in Croatia it is said that there is only one Croatian language, and that is Shtokavian Croatian. The idea is that the Kajkavian and Chakavian languages simply do not exist, though obviously they are both separate languages. Recently a Croatian linguist forwarded a proposal to formally recognize Chakavian as a separate language, but the famous Croatian Slavicist Radoslav Katičić argued with him about this and rejected the proposal on political, not linguistic grounds. This debate occurred only in Croatian linguistic circles, and the public knows nothing about it (Jembrigh 2014).
    Kajkavian Croatian, spoken in northwest Croatia and similar to Slovenian, is not intelligible with Standard Croatian.
    Kajkavian is fairly uniform across its speech area, whereas Chakavian is more diverse (Jembrigh 2014).
    In the 1500’s, Kajkavian began to be developed in a standard literary form. From the 1500’s to 1900, a large corpus of Kajkavian literature was written. Kajkavian was removed from public use after 1900, hence writing in the standard Kajkavian literary language was curtailed. Nevertheless, writing continues in various Kajkavian dialects which still retain some connection to the old literary language, although some of the lexicon and grammar are going out (Jembrigh 2014).
    Most Croatian linguists recognized Kajkavian as a separate language. However, any suggestions that Kajkavian is a separate language are censored on Croatian TV (Jembrigh 2014).
    Nevertheless, the ISO has recently accepted a proposal from the Kajkavian Renaissance Association to list the Kajkavian literary language written from the 1500’s-1900 as a recognized language with an ISO code of kjv. The literary language itself is no longer written, but works written in it are still used in public for instance in dramas and church masses (Jembrigh 2014). This is heartening, although Kajkavian as an existing spoken lect also needs to be recognized as a living language instead of a dialect of “Croatian,” whatever that word means.
    Furthermore, there is a dialect continuum between Kajkavian and Chakavian as there is between Kajkavian and Slovenian, and lects with a dialect continuum between them are always separate languages. There is an old Kajkavian-Chakavian dialect continuum of which little remains, although some of the old Kajkavian-Chakavian transitional dialects are still spoken (Jembrigh 2014).
    Kajkavian differs from the other Slavic lects spoken in Croatia in that is has many Hungarian and German loans (Jembrigh 2014). Kajkavian is probably closer to Slovenian than it is to Chakavian.
    Nevertheless, although intelligibility with Slovenian is high, Kajkavian lacks full intelligibility with Slovenian. Yet there is a dialect continuum between Slovenian and Kajkavian. Kajkavian, especially the Zagorje Kajkavian dialect around Zagreb, is close to the Stajerska dialect of Slovene. However, leaving aside Kajkavian speakers, Croatians have poor intelligibility of Slovenian.
    Chakavian and Kajkavian have high, but not full mutual intelligibility. Intelligibility between the two is estimated at 82%.
    Molise Croatian is a Croatian language spoken in a few towns in Italy, such as Acquaviva Collecroce and two other towns. A different dialect is spoken in each town. Despite a lot of commonality between the dialects, the differences between them are significant. A koine is currently under development. The Croatians left Croatia and came to Italy from 1400-1500. The base of Molise Croatian was Shtokavian with an Ikavian accent and a heavy Chakavian base similar to what is now spoken as Southern Kajkavian Ikavian on the islands of Croatia. Molise Croatian is not intelligible with Standard Croatian.
    Burgenland Croatian, spoken in Austria, is intelligible to Croatian speakers in Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, but it has poor intelligibility with the Croatian spoken in Croatia.
    Therefore, for the moment, there are five separate Croatian languages: Shtokavian Croatian, Kajkavian Croatian, Chakavian Croatian, Molise Croatian, and Burgenland Croatian.
    Serbian is a macrolanguage made up to two languages: Shtokavian Serbian and Torlak or Gorlak Serbian.
    Shtokavian is simply the same Serbo-Croatian language that is also spoken in Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia. It forms a single tongue and is not several separate languages as many insist. The claim for separate languages is based more on politics than on linguistic science.
    Torlak Serbian is spoken in the south and southwest of Serbia and is transitional to Macedonian. It is not intelligible with Shtokavian, although this is controversial.
    Torlakians are often said to speak Bulgarian, but this is not exactly the case. More properly, their speech is best seen as closer to Macedonian than to Bulgarian or Serbo-Croatian. The Serbo-Croatian vocabulary in both Macedonian and Torlakian is very similar, stemming from the political changes of 1912 whereas these words have changed more in Bulgarian.
    The Torlakian spoken in the southeast is different. It is not really either Bulgarian or Serbo-Croatian, but instead it is best said that they are speaking a mixed Bulgarian-Serbo-Croatian language. In the towns of Pirot and Vranje, it cannot be said that they speak Serbo-Croatian instead they speak this Bulgarian-Serbo-Croatian mixed speech.
    It’s also said that Serbo-Croatian can understand Bulgarian and Macedonian, but this is not true. However, the Torlak Serbians can understand Macedonian well, as this is a Serbo-Croatian dialect transitional to both languages.
    Intelligibility in the Slavic languages of the Balkans is much exaggerated.
    Slovenian speakers find it hard to understand most of the other Yugoslav lects except for Kajkavian Croatian. Serbo-Croatian intelligibility of Slovenian is 25-30%.
    A lect called Čičarija Slovenian is spoken on the Istrian Peninsula in Slovenia just north of Croatia. This is a Chakavian-Slovenian transitional lect that is hard to categorize, but it is usually considered to be a Slovenian dialect.
    Bulgarian and Macedonian can understand each other to a great degree (65-80%) but not completely. However, the Ser-Drama-Lagadin-Nevrokop dialect in northeastern Greece and southern Bulgaria and the Maleševo-Pirin dialect in eastern Macedonia and western Bulgaria are transitional between Bulgarian and Macedonian. The Aegean Macedonian dialects mostly spoken in Greece, such as the Lerinsko-Kostursko and Solunsko-Vodenska dialects, sound more Bulgarian than Macedonian.
    Russian has a decent intelligibility with Bulgarian, possibly on the order of 50%, but Bulgarian intelligibility of Russian seems lower. Nevertheless, Bulgarian-Russian intelligibility seems much exaggerated. Some Russians and Bulgarians say they understand almost nothing of the other language. Nevertheless, most Bulgarians over the age of 30-35 understand Russian well since studying Russian was mandatory under Communism.
    However, Bulgarian-Russian written intelligibility is much higher. Bulgarian and Russian are close because the Ottoman rulers of Bulgaria would not allow printing in Bulgaria. Hence, many religious books were imported from Russia, and these books influenced Bulgarian. Russian influence only ended in 1878.
    Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian have 10-15% oral intelligibility, however, there are Bulgarian dialects that are transitional with Torlak Serbian. Written intelligibility is higher at 25%. Macedonian and Bulgarian would be much closer together except that in recent years, Macedonian has been heavily influenced by Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian has been heavily influenced by Russian.
    This difference is because Bulgarian is not spoken the same way it is written like Serbo-Croatian is. However, Bulgarians claim to be able to understand Serbo-Croatian better than the other way around. There is a group of Bulgarians living in Serbia in the areas of Bosilegrad and Dimitrovgrad who speak a Bulgarian-Serbian transitional dialect, and Serbs are able to understand these Bulgarians well.
    Serbo-Croatian has variable intelligibility of Macedonian, averaging

    55%, while Nis Serbians have

    90% intelligibility with Macedonian. Part of the problem between Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian is that so many of the basic words – be, do, this, that, where – are different, however, much of the rest of the vocabulary is the same. Serbo-Croatian speakers can often learn to understand Macedonian well after some exposure.
    Most Macedonians already are able to speak Serbo-Croatian well. This gives rise to claims of Macedonians being able to understand Serbo-Croatian very well, however, much of this may be due to bilingual learning. In fact, many Macedonians are switching away from the Macedonian language towards Serbo-Croatian.
    The Macedonian spoken near the Serbian border is heavily influenced by Serbo-Croatian and is quite a bit different from the Macedonian spoken towards the center of Macedonia. One way to look at Macedonian is that it is a Serbo-Croatian-Bulgarian transitional lect. The intelligibility of Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian is highly controversial, and intelligibility studies are in order. Croats say Macedonian is a complete mystery to them.
    Czech and Polish are incomprehensible to Serbo-Croatian speakers (Czech 10%, Polish 5%), but Serbo-Croatian has some limited comprehension of Slovak, on the order of 25%.
    Serbo-Croatian and Russian have 10-15% intelligibility, if that, yet written intelligibility is higher at 25%.
    Serbo-Croatian has only 20% intelligibility of Ukrainian.
    Slovenians have a very hard time understanding Poles and Czechs and vice versa.
    It’s often said that Czechs and Poles can understand each other, but this is not so. Much of the claimed intelligibility is simply bilingual learning. Czechs claim only 10-15% intelligibility of Polish.
    The intelligibility of Polish and Russian is very low, on the order of 5-10%. Polish is not intelligible with Kashubian, a language related to Polish spoken in the north of Poland. Kashubian itself is a macrolanguage made up of two different languages, South Kashubian and North Kashubian, as the two have difficult intelligibility.
    Silesian or Upper Silesian is also a separate language spoken in Poland, often thought to be halfway between Polish and Czech. It may have been split from Polish for up to 800 years, where it underwent heavy German influence. Polish lacks full intelligibility of Silesian, although this is controversial (see below). Some Poles say they find Silesian harder to understand than Belorussian or Slovak, which implies intelligibility of 20-25%.
    The more German the Silesian dialect is, the harder it is for Poles to understand. In recent years, many of the German words are falling out of use and being replaced by Polish words, especially by young people. Poles who know German and Old Polish can understand Silesian quite well due to the Germanisms and the presence of many older Polish words, but Poles who speak only Polish have a hard time with Silesian.
    Many Poles insist that Silesian is a Polish dialect, but this is based more on politics than reality. In fact, people in the north of Poland regard Silesian as incomprehensible. 40% of Silesian vocabulary is different from Polish, mostly Germanisms. The German influence is more prominent in the west Polish influence is greater in the east. Many Silesian speakers now speak a watered down version of Silesian which is more properly seen as a Polish dialect with some Silesian words. Pure Silesian appears to be a dying language.
    Silesian itself appears to be a macrolanguage as it is more than one language since as Opole Silesian speakers cannot understand Katowice Silesian, so Opole Silesian and Katowice Silesian are two different languages.
    Cieszyn Silesian or Ponaszymu is a language closely related to Silesian spoken in Czechoslovakia in the far northeast of the country near the Polish and Slovak borders. It differs from the rest of Silesian in that it has undergone heavy Czech influence. Some say it is a part of Czech, but more likely it is a part of Polish like Silesian.
    People observing conversation between Cieszyn Silesian and Upper Silesian report that they have a hard time understanding each other. Cieszyn Silesian speakers strongly reject the notion that they speak the same language as Upper Silesians. Ponaszymu also has many Germanisms which have been falling out of use lately, replaced by their Czech equivalents. Ponaszymu appears to lack full intelligibility with Czech. In fact, some say the intelligibility between the two is near zero.
    Lach is a Czech-Polish transitional lect with a close relationship with Cieszyn Silesian. However, it appears to be a separate language, as Lach is not even intelligible within itself. Instead Eastern Lach and Western Lach have difficult intelligibility and are separate languages, so Lach itself is a macrolanguage. Lach is not fully intelligible with Czech indeed, the differences between Lach and Czech are greater than the differences between Silesian and Polish, despite the fact that Lach has been heavily leveling into Moravian Czech for the last 100 years.
    Czechs say Lach is a part of Czech, and Poles say Lach is a part of Polish. The standard view among linguists seems to be that Lach is a part of Czech. However, another view is that Lach is indeed Lechitic, albeit with strong Czech influence.
    It is often said that Ukrainian and Russian are intelligible with each other or even that they are the same language (a view perpetuated by Russian nationalists). It is not true at all that Ukrainian and Russian are mutually intelligible, as Russian only has 50% intelligibility of Ukrainian. For example, all Russian shows get subtitles on Ukrainian TV. Yet some say that the subtitles are simply put on as a political move due to Ukraine’s puristic language policy. Ukrainian and Russian only have 60% lexical similarity. Polish and Ukrainian have higher lexical similarity at 72%, and Ukrainian intelligibility of Polish is

    However, there are dialects in between Ukrainian and Russian such as the Eastern Polissian and Slobozhan dialects of Ukrainian that are intelligible with both languages. Complicating the picture is the fact that many Ukrainians are bilingual and speak Russian also. Ukrainians can understand Russian much better than the other way around. Nevertheless Ukrainian intelligibility of Russian is hard to calculate because presently there are few Ukrainians in Ukraine who do not speak Russian. Most of the Ukrainian speakers who do not speak Russian are in Canada at the moment.
    In addition, the Slobozhan dialects of Ukrainian and Russian such as (Slobozhan Ukrainian and Slobozhan Russian) spoken in Kantemirov (Voronezhskaya Oblast, Russia), and Kuban Russian or Balachka spoken in the Kuban area right over the eastern border of Ukraine are very close to each other. Slobozhan Russian can also be called Kuban Russian or Balachka.
    It is best seen as a Ukrainian dialect spoken in Russia – specifically, it is markedly similar to the Poltavian dialect of Ukrainian spoken in Poltava in Central Ukraine. Although the standard view is that Balachka is a Ukrainian dialect, some linguists say that it is actually a separate language closely related to Ukrainian. An academic paper has been published making the case for a separate Balachka language. In addition, Balachka language associations believe it is a separate language. Intelligibility between Balachka and Ukrainian is not known. Russian only has 60% intelligibility of Balachka.
    However, Balachka is dying out and is now spoken only by a few old people. Most people in the region speak Russian with a few Ukrainian words.
    Slobozhan Russian is very close to Ukrainian, closer to Ukrainian than it is to Russian, and Slobozhan Ukrainian is very close to Russian, closer to Russian than to Ukrainian. Slobozhan Ukrainian speakers in this region find it easier to understand their Russian neighbors than the Upper Dnistrian Ukrainian spoken in the far west in the countryside around Lviv. Upper Dnistrian is influenced by German and Polish.
    The Russian language in the Ukraine has been declining recently mostly because since independence, the authorities have striven to make the new Ukrainian as far away from Russian as possible by adopting the Kharkiv Standard adopted in 1927 and jettisoning the 1932 Standard which brought Ukrainian more in line with Russian. For instance, in 1932, Ukrainian g was eliminated from the alphabet in order to make Ukrainian h correspond perfectly with Russian g. After 1991, the g returned to Ukrainian. Hence, Russians understand the colloquial Ukrainian spoken in the countryside pretty well, but they understand the modern standard heard on TV much less. This is because colloquial Ukrainian is closer to the Ukrainian spoken in the Soviet era which had huge Russian influence.
    The intelligibility of Belarussian with both Ukrainian and Russian is a source of controversy. On the one hand, Belarussian has some dialects that are intelligible with some dialects of both Russian and Ukrainian. For instance, West Palesian is a transitional Belarussian dialect to Ukrainian. Some say that West Palesian is actually a separate language, but the majority of Belarussian linguists say it is a dialect of Belarussian (Mezentseva 2014). Belarussian and Ukrainian have 85% similar vocabulary.
    Russian has high intelligibility of Belarussian, on the order of 75%. Belarussian is nonetheless a separate language from both Ukrainian and Russian.
    From some reason, the Hutsul, Lemko, and Boiko dialects of the Rusyn language are much more comprehensible to Russians than Standard Ukrainian is. Intelligibility may be 85%.
    The Lemko dialect of Rusyn has only marginal intelligibility with Ukrainian. Lemko is spoken heavily in Poland, and it differs from Standard Rusyn in that it has a lot of Polish vocabulary, whereas Standard Rusyn has more influences from Hungarian and Romanian.
    The Rusyn language is composed of 50% Slovak roots and 50% Ukrainian roots, so some difficult intelligibility with Ukrainian might be expected. It has also been described as a transitional dialect between Polish and Slovak. Eastern Slovak has

    80% intelligibility of Rusyn.
    Pannonian Rusyn is spoken by a group of Rusyns who migrated to northwestern Serbia (the Bachka region in Vojvodina province) and Eastern Croatia from Eastern Slovakia and Western Ukraine 250 years ago. Pannonian Rusyn is actually a part of Slovak, and Rusyn proper is really a part of Ukrainian. Pannonian Rusyn lacks full intelligibility of Rusyn proper. Not only that, but it is not even fully intelligible with the Eastern Slovak that it resembles most.
    The intelligibility of Czech and Slovak is much exaggerated. It is true that Western Slovak dialects can understand Czech well, but Central Slovak, Eastern Slovak and Extraslovakian Slovak dialects cannot.
    It is also said that West Slovak (Bratislava) cannot understand East Slovak, so Slovak may actually two different languages, but this is controversial. Western Slovak speakers say Eastern Slovak sounds idiotic and ridiculous, and some words are different, but other than that, they can basically understand it. Other Western Slovak speakers (Bratislava) say that Eastern Slovak (Kosice) is hard to understand. Bratislava speakers say that Kosice speech sounds half Slovak and half Ukrainian and uses many odd and unfamiliar words. Intelligibility testing between East and West Slovak would seem to be in order.
    Much of the claimed intelligibility between Czech and Slovak was simply bilingual learning. Since the breakup, young Czechs and Slovaks understand each other worse since they have less contact with each other. In the former Czechoslovakia, everything was 50-50 bilingual – media, literature, etc. Since then, Slovak has been disappearing from the Czech Republic, so the younger people don’t understand Slovak so well.
    Intelligibility problems are mostly on the Czech end because they don’t bother to learn Slovak while many Slovaks learn Czech. There is as much Czech literature and media as Slovak literature and media in Slovakia, and many Slovaks study at Czech universities. When there, they have to pass a language test. Czechs hardly ever study at Slovak universities.
    Czechs see Slovaks as country bumpkins – backwards and folksy but optimistic, outgoing and friendly. Czechs are more urbane. The written languages differ much more than the spoken ones.
    The languages really split about 1,000 years ago, but written Slovak was based on written Czech, and there was a lot of interlingual communication. A Moravian Czech speaker (Eastern Czech) and a Bratislavan Slovak (Western Slovak) speaker understand each other very well. They are essentially speaking the same language.
    However, in recent years, there has also been quite a bit of bilingual learning. Young Czechs and Slovaks talk to each other a lot via the Internet. There are also some TV shows that show Czech and Slovak contestants untranslated (like in Sweden where Norwegian comics perform untranslated), and most people seem to understand these shows.
    All foreign movies in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia are translated into Czech, not Slovak.
    Far Northeastern Slovak (Saris Slovak) near the Polish border is close to Polish and Ukrainian. Intelligibility data for Saris Slovak and Ukrainian is not known. Saris Slovak has high but not complete intelligibility of Polish, possibly 85%. Eastern Slovak may have 72% intelligibility of Ukrainian.
    Southern Slovak on the Hungarian border has a harder time understanding Polish because they do not hear it much. This implies that some of the high intelligibility between Slovak and Polish may be due to bilingual learning on the part of Slovaks.
    Russian has low intelligibility with Czech and Slovak, maybe 30%.


    Jembrigh, Mario. Croatian linguist. December 2014. Personal communication.
    Mezentseva, Inna. English professor. Vitebsk State University. Vitebsk, Belarus. December 2014. Personal communication.
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    />Author Robert Lindsay Posted on November 6, 2010 Categories Applied, Balto-Slavic, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Bulgarian language, Comparitive, Czech, Dialectology, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Classification, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics, Multilingualism, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slavic, Slovak, Sociolinguistics 78 Comments on Mutual Intelligibility of Languages in the Slavic Family

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