Staycation at Alcoves

Makati, the Philippines

August 24 – 25, 2014

Granted, a hotel is fancy and convenient, but for an extended stay, a big family, or a no-frills staycation, it can be pricey and unnecessary. There are digs that combine the ambiance of both home and hotel: the apartment hotel, which offers the downtown location and luxuries of a hotel and the homey comfort and privacy of an apartment. I had the privilege of enjoying such a staycation at one of the well-appointed units of Alcoves Apartments, located at several high-rise condominiums in Makati.

Alcoves Apartment-Hotel @ Makati

Alcoves Apartment-Hotel @ Makati

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A Little Bromance

Suzhou, China

October 20, 2013

Over the sea grows the moon bright. We gaze on it far, far apart.

There couldn’t be a more opportune time for a night of nostalgia than on a full moon. In Chinese tradition, the moon, unreachable yet inescapable, arouses retrospection, and, especially in mid-autumn, it inspires reunions. How apt then that the moon was a perfect orb on the chilly October night I would rekindle a long-lost friendship separated by distance and a decade.

Moon Over Pan Pacific Hotel Suzhou

Moon Over Suzhou @ Pan Pacific Suzhou

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Crouching Lion, Leaning Tiger

Suzhou, China

October 20 – 21, 2013

It took a few turns before it dawned on me that I was lost in a complex labyrinth of rock. I could not even retrace my steps to where I had entered. People who could help me could not understand me; those I could ask were just as clueless. I broke into a sweat despite the autumn aftie chill. I didn’t mind losing my way, but I did mind missing the appointed time given by our tour guide to regroup. I couldn’t be the idiot that held up everyone’s schedule. Finding the exit was a fluke after I had been running in circles like a hamster on a wheel. By then, what I had feared happened. I was the last tourist on the bus. As I got on panting, the whole group erupted into applause and cheers. I turned redder than Chairman Mao.

TTT and the Prettiest Photobomber @ Lion Grove Garden, Suzhou

TTT and the Prettiest Photobomber @ Lion Grove Garden, Suzhou

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Southern Frontierland

General Santos City, the Philippines

March 27 / 29-30, 2014

Land as far as the eye could see – that was the view from the plane making its final approach to General Santos City. In an archipelago, it is uncommon to see so much land, such horizon-hogging terrain uninterrupted by the sea. It stretched out beguilingly, unending and inexhaustible. No wonder then that my mother’s uncle had claimed a slice of this vast open country long before I was born. Mom and I made this trip to Mindanao to visit his descendants, most of whom we had not met.

Touchdown @ General Santos International Airport, Tambler, South Cotabato

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Three Weddings and a Breastfeeding Virgin

Manila, the Philippines

May 18, 2014

My grandfather must have turned in his grave. He was the first Filipino Baptist minister in my hometown in the 1930s; fast forward to about 80 years later and his daughter – my mother – declared she wanted to do a visita iglesia in Manila. As a PK (pastor’s kid), Mom could count with one hand the times she had been inside a Catholic church. Perhaps because of this blog, she finally caught on to my fondness for religious art in these colonial era churches.

Wedding @ San Agustin Church, Manila

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The Fruit of Our Labor Day

Tarlac, the Philippines

May 1, 2014

My friends and I had to count years before we found the time to take this road trip. Our plans for a rustic R&R in the lupain (farmland) of our haciendera friend Perfy always fell through, our free time never in synch. Conflicting schedules aside, there was never a reason urgent enough to drop all other plans – until my BFF, Danson, came home for a month-long vacay after seven years overseas. Thanks to a non-working holiday, all five of us crammed into Vang’s car and drove to Victoria, Tarlac on Labor Day.

Bestie and Me @ Isdaan Floating Restaurant, Tarlac

Bestie and TTT @ Isdaan Floating Restaurant, Tarlac

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A Throwback Trip

Kathmandu, Nepal

February 23 – 28, 2013

The red brick terminal exuded that retro vibe. In the absence of connecting tubes, passengers deplaned onto the tarmac. Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport was decidedly quaint, a throwback to the airports of old before the age of glass and steel. I had landed, not only in a remote kingdom, but in the distant past.

Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal

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