Although you probably did not notice, this blog has been inactive during the past three weeks. The reason is simple: I took a break, treating myself to a 24-day trip to Thailand and the Philippines. Anticipating that many of the places I would visit would offer non-existent or very bad internet connection, I decided that it was going to be frustrating to pretend I could blog during the trip, and just left my laptop at home (or rather, in the Bangkok hotel which I first visited for a conference, before leaving for the tour).
Effective today, I am back in business, and my will to blog is renovated by the hiatus. To start with, I will publish today a guest post many of the visitors of this site will find interesting. Then I plan to be blogging about the highlights of a workshop in machine learning, which I will attend next week in New York University. Following that, I hope I will continue to cover the most interesting news from the particle physics world, as usual. 

But 2020 will also be interesting for me from another perspective - and this, too, should in some way get reflected by material I will post here. For reasons not connected with work activities of my own, I will be traveling to many places, touching four continents. More on this in future posts, though. For now, I can give here a minimal account of the trip I took to the Philippines during Christmas break.

The trip started on Dec 22 in Bangkok, from where my wife and I flew to Puerto Princesa, a town in Palawan. Palawan is a very beautiful island, known for the thousand islets around it and for wonderful beaches and marine life. We visited Cacnipa island for three days, a secluded place off Port Barton; then moved to El Nido, where we took an adventure-style three-day cruise that brought to Coron island after a dozen stops to the best beaches and spots for snorkeling. The cruise was served by Buhay Isla, and it lived up to expectations and beyond.

From Coron we went back to El Nido, then flew to Cebu on Dec 31. There, a taxi ride plus a ferry brought us to Malapascua island, a place hit by typhoon Ursula just four days before. We found knocked down trees and wrecked boats, but overall the touristic activities were working fine there. We were lucky with the weather, also. On Jan 4 we flew back to Bangkok, and from there we came back to Italy yesterday.

Overall I feel I can warmly advise the Philippines for a vacation. You can choose the 100% relax of resorts like the one we visited in Cacnipa Island (Coconut island garden resort), or the rather adventurous feeling of the basic cruise (there are three- and five-day tours offered, or you can customize your own). The sights are unbelievable, and the marine life as good or better to the other places high in my list.