February 29, 2008

Trip to Bavaria 2/12-2/19

Went on a short business trip to a small town near Munich. It may be sunny looking, but first thing in the morning it was only about 10°F (-12°C) outside. This is somewhat colder than I am used to and for how I was dressed. (My companion on the trip has thought it would be about 45°F instead – last time I trust him to check the weather…)

This picture was taken near the village of Wadlhausen or Icking, which are both southwest of Munich. The Leoni Hotel where we stayed is on the Starnberger See. It’s a nice quiet lake hotel with decent WIFI. The hotel is a little ways away from anything else, however, which limited our ability to vary the evening meal.


This is the view from my hotel room, looking away from the lake toward the surrounding hills, of course. The lake was totally fogged in most of the time, so you didn’t miss much but a grey picture…


Posted by Sean at 5:11 PM

December 14, 2006

Beach House in the Philippines

Well, the whole family just got back from visiting the Philippines. Elena and the kids left on Thanksgiving Day and I followed them a week later to see the progress on our beach house. Elena busied herself for most of the trip directing the electricians, plumbers, granite workers, carpenters, and drapery hangers in making as much progress in finishing out details as possible before the house blessing on December 9.

After talking with our neighbors, we found out the address for our home away from home:  03 Greenville Estates, Baroro, Bacnotan, La Union Philippines 2515.

The following pictures should help give you a sense of the progress on the house so far.

  • View from our property out to the National Highway.

View from property to National Highway

  • Dirt road from National Highway to the house.

Dirt road from highway to house

  • The PNR (Philippine National Railway) right-of-way in front of the house.

PNR right-of-way (soon to be a garden)

  • Gateway to property.

Gateway to property

  • Welcome to Baroro!

Welcome to Baroro!

  • Driveway garden.

Driveway garden

  • Front of house detail. (Thanks for letting us use the Pajero Uncle Oscar!)

Detail front of house

  • Entry-way to the house. I tried not to say anything about the goose (my mother-in-law’s idea).


  • Entry-way steps. The ceiling here is a nightly gathering spot for the geckos. High score: 11

Entryway steps

  • Front door carved in Balinese style in cousin Alex’s shop.

Front door carved in Balinese style

  • Entry foyer. House is laid out in two wings off a central foyer hallway.

Come on into the foyer...

  • Foyer ceiling detail. The paint colors and designs were Elena’s undertaking.

Foyer ceiling detail

  • Foyer looking left toward the door of what will become an office.

Foyer looking left

  • View through foyer French doors out into central courtyard.

Foyer looking out into courtyard

  • The courtyard has a low terrace with French doors to the inside.

Courtyard view from foyer

  • Looking right in the foyer. The living room is around the corner to the left.

Foyer looking right

  • View through the foyer window onto the courtyard terrace.

Foyer window into courtyard

  • Some decorations for visual interest in the foyer.

Foyer decoration

  • Pieces Elena gathered from Mexico, Philippines, Canada, etc.

Foyer mirror detail

  • The light through the glass blocks is brighter than the camera allowed me to capture

Foyer corner glass brick & sun detail

  • All the doors, frames, and window in the house are solid nara, tangile or molave.

Door to corner storage room

  • Archway entry into the living room.

Archway entry to living room

  • Living room with sofas from Italy and Germany store bought in Manila.

Living room

  • Four sets of French doors out to the courtyard.

French doors to courtyard

  • Living room detail showing one of several floor fans I came to greatly appreciate during our stay.

Living room corner detail

  • The tile and granite floors are cool to walk on, but they echo a bit…

Sofa set

  • Raine claims we are missing a large screen satellite TV that should go over in this corner…

no big screen TV just yet...

  • Detail of the living room drapes. Fancy drapes seem to be popular around these parts, surprisingly.

Living room drape detail

  • View from living room out into the courtyard.

Living room to courtyard view

  • View of the courtyard garden.

View of courtyard garden

  • Courtyard paving detail and the handy rocking bench.

Courtyard paving detail

  • View across to the bedroom wing and courtyard plantings.

View across to bedroom wing

  • Follow the pavers out to the garden and onward to the beach path.

Out to back garden & beach...

  • Archway entry into the dining room and kitchen area.

Kitchen/Dining room entryway arch

  • Two columns and the glass display case segment the eating space. 

Detail of dining room column

  • The dining set was moved into the house from my mother-in-law’s place.

Dining room

  • Arched exit doors out onto the courtyard terrace from the dining room.

Dining room exit to courtyard terrace

  • The harlequin pattern on the ceiling turned out very nicely.

Dining room table & chairs

  • View from the dining room into the first of two kitchen areas.

Dining room view into kitchen

  • Generous kitchen space & island; doorway leads to traditional “dirty” or “muddy” kitchen for cooking fish, etc.

Kitchen island

  • I wish our kitchen at home was half as big…


  • The house has some dual voltage here to allow for use of US made appliances.

Kitchen corner

  • Detail of the tile work on backsplash; the large ones cam from Turkey, the small ones from Mexico.

Kitchen tile detail

  • It was very pleasant in here once the ceiling fan was wired in correctly.

 Kitchen ceiling fan

  • Detail showing some of the various types of stone used on the floors and countertops.

Detail of marble & granite flooring used in house

  • Unfinished office off the left side of the foyer.

Office off foyer left side

  • Detail of the bedroom wing steps, arch, and interior bedroom windows.

Detail of bedroom wing steps, arch & interior window

  • This side of the house has wooden floors, windows, and moldings.

Bedroom wing wood flooring

  • Window detail; the depth is due to the house’s concrete block construction.

Bedroom wing hallway window detail

  • Elena said I should have taken this shot after they hung the group of mirrors…

End of bedroom wing hallway detail

  • Seating area with an old fashion sewing table and reclining chair. See the mirrors?

Seating area & sewing table in hallway

  • The first of three bedrooms. This is nearest to the front of the house foyer; door leads to a bathroom.

Bedroom nearest foyer

  • Another bedroom view; our Canon PowerShot camera is nice, but do not allow enough flash control.

Bedroom exit to small terrace

  • Entrance to middle bedroom.

Entry to middle bedroom

  • Middle bedroom with French doors out to side terrace.

Middle bedroom

  • Master bedroom. Note: the lamps for the room were installed shortly after this picture was taken.

Entry to Master bedroom

  • Plenty of storage to the left and the door to the master bath.

Storage in master bedroom

  • The drapes and French doors going from the Master bedroom to the garden terrace.

Master bedroom curtain detail (sorry about the exposure)

  • Around the room to the right showing the not yet fully installed AC and more drapes.

Master bedroom courtyard window (ditto)

  • Cannot get the flash to work properly in here, but waiting out the doors is the garden out there.

Master bedroom exit to garden terrace

  • Stepping out onto the garden terrace. The beach is straight ahead past the little jungle here.

Step out into the garden...

  • Garden terrace looking left toward the dining room windows.

Garden terrace looking right

  • Looking left from the garden terrace, which wraps around the house to the middle bedroom.

Garden terrace looking left

  • View from the terrace out toward the beach.

View from terrace to beach

  • View down the garden path. Due to the coral, you should take your flip-flops.

View down garden path

  • View from the garden back toward the Master bedroom and terrace.

View back from garden to master bedroom & terrace

  • Terrace view showing the driveway out to the front of the property.

Garden terrace wraps around the side of the house

  • View toward 2nd kitchen and dining room.

View toward 2nd kitchen and dining room

  • Where is that beach again? Oh yeah.

Where is that beach again...

  • My mother-in-law has a magic green thumb. These are some of her orchids.

My mother-in-law has moved many of her orchids here to Baroro

  • Down the garden path toward the beach. The garden was water every day except during the typhoon…

Down the garden path toward the beach

  • Hard for me to believe that none of this existed here but 4 years ago.

None of this existed 4 years ago...

  • It was nice to just stroll through the garden, front and back, to see the various plants.

Orchidae everywhere

  • Palm, hibiscus, bougainvillea, papaya, lemon, etc. A surprise nearly everywhere I looked.

Palm, hibiscus, bougainvillea, papaya, lemon, etc.

  • Some plantings decorated with sea shells.

Some plantings decorated with seashells

  • The nipa huts are still here; two of them. People were sleeping out here at night to stay cool.

The two nipa huts are still a popular naptime destination

  • Almost out to the beach at this point; things have grown so much since the last time I can’t see it though.

Almost out to the beach now...

  • The last major storm destroyed most of the gate; that's two gates done in by the elements so far...

The last major typhoon destroyed most of the gate; that's two so far...

  • Out on the gray sand beach looking north toward Bacnotan.

At the beach gate looking north

  • Looking down south, with Poro Point out there in the distance barely visible in the haze.

Beach gate looking southwest

  • Out on the beach looking north again past our neighbor’s fence.

Out on the beach looking north past neighbor's fence

  • Out on the beach looking south. Not that many people out here but residents and fishermen.

Out on beach looking down south

  • View back towards the house as seen from the beach.

View back to the house walking down the beach

  • The house is set back from the beach rather than right on it for a number of reasons.

House is set back from beach to better cope with ocean swell during monsoon season

  • Thanks for visiting! Maybe you want to visit for real next time… 

Thanks for visiting!


Posted by Sean at 3:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 1, 2003

Our Garden Gate

The picture is of our daughter Maya on her 3rd Birthday, standing in front of the gate that leads down to the beach at our property in the Philippines.

Located near San Fernando, La Union (SFLU) in northwestern Luzon, it is about a 7 hours drive north of Manila. The commute is terrible, but once there one enjoys spectacular daily sunsets on the Lingayen Gulf of the South China Sea, sandy beaches as far as one can see, and quiet surroundings (except when the local town Fiesta is on).

One year before this picture was taken, there was nothing here but the beach and 20+ truckloads of dirt. The credit for the fact that there now stands a lovely garden with Hibiscus, Mango, Papaya, Palm, Lemon, Orchids and dozens of other plants and flowers goes to my mother-in-law, who is an avid gardener.

More than a few of the expatriot community of retired and vacationing Germans, Swedes, Americans, Britts, Australians, and Dutchmen living in the area found the opportunity to "stop by" to visit and get gardening advice, not to mention carloads of relatives and friends (my mother-in-law was one of twelve children I'm told) while we were there from three weeks back in February.

Resting in the shade of one of two Nipa Palm thatched huts that sit on the property, I was able to cope with my technology-withdrawal symptoms by taking comfort from several facts:

1. You can get any beer you want - as long as it is San Miguel.
2. Beer is about $0.25 a bottle.
3. The local Internet Cafe has DSL.
4. They charge $0.63 for 90 minutes of DSL connect time.
5. Email and VNC allowed me to keep tabs on the shop.
6. Cell calls to the US were $9.12 for ~15 minutes.

Sadly, the fact that GSM works so well there allowed the shop to keep tabs on me from time to time as well. I walked our production manager through restarting our DC and Exchange server remotely when the power went out here in Redmond due to a transformer blowing down the streets.

While on the subject of power, we were without it in the Philippines only once for 20 minutes, though I heard from our neighbors that the grid is not yet sophisticated enough not to have to be turned off whenever the tropical trees have to be trimmed, which apparently happens off and on over the course of a few days at least once each year in their area. The fact that it is as expensive as anyplace here was also a surprise, and goes a long way toward explaining why relatively few people purchase an air conditioner despite temperatures in the upper 70s to mid-80s in the cool part of the year we visited. Now I know why mom built the Nipa huts...

Since this picture was taken, a vacation house for our family and that of my architect brother-in-law down in L.A. has begun to slowly rise on the site. I will post pictures of the house when I have a chance, but in the meantime, I hope you'll excuse me while I cut this short, find a beer from the fridge, and take a stroll out my garden gate (at least in my mind's eye).

Posted by Sean at 6:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack