Good 2Go

Manila and Cebu City, the Philippines

December 30 – 31, 2018

Sailing used to be the cheaper alternative to flying. But in the advent of LCCs, it mostly cost less – and for less travel time – to take a plane than a ship. One December day, though, we decided to welcome the new year in Cebu. The holiday rush shot flight fares through the roof; that was a given. What was not was going by boat, which basically meant going by 2Go, the country’s largest passenger ferry fleet.

Continue reading “Good 2Go”

Advertisements

Wearing Tradition in Myanmar

Mandalay / Bagan / Yangon, Myanmar

May 28 – June 2, 2018

I was ready for my close-up. My friend Jo summoned me out to the courtyard at Ananta Bagan for my facial sesh with the hotel staff who came bearing a whetstone dish called kyauk pyin on which she proceeded to grind the bark off a chunk of wood. The resulting powder mixed with a bit of water produced a yellow paste – Myanmar make-up called thanaka – which she applied on my cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead with quick finger strokes.

Continue reading “Wearing Tradition in Myanmar”

Sensō and Sensibility

Tokyo, Japan

January 28 and February 2, 2017

I was looking up at a dragon staring down at me. That was how it was standing directly under the giant chochin, that iconic Japanese lantern, hanging under Kaminarimon, the entrance gate to Sensō-ji. The stream of tourists washing into temple grounds was oblivious to the intricate carving on the wooden, hidden dragon above them. I timed a gap in the human flow to take a groufie with my girlfriends before another wave of people nudged us to move forward.

20170128_142752
Under the Chochin’s Dragon @ Senso-ji, Asakusa, Tokyo

Continue reading “Sensō and Sensibility”

The Taipei Trio

Taipei, Taiwan

October 31 – November 2, 2018

Friendship didn’t always have to be linear. Frances, J9, and I had not been in the same room for 18 years after losing touch during pre-soc med era. A chance meeting and a surprise phone call a few months prior reconnected us, which called for a special reunion – at the airport! It was the first time we were together again since 2001. I suggested we travel to a neighboring country we all had not visited. Consensus leaned in favor of Taiwan, a perfect venue for our get-together: near, affordable, and largely unfamiliar to all of us.

Continue reading “The Taipei Trio”

Valley to Mountaintop @ Benguet

La Trinidad, Benguet, the Philippines

July 4, 2018

Strawberry fields were not forever, contrary to Lennon’s lyrics. And no, it was something to get hung about. Ki and I took a jeepney from Baguio to the town of La Trinidad for its famous strawberry farms. I had woken up that morning with decadent dreams of sinking my teeth into the luscious fruit and slurping the tangy juice. Alas, we found the bowl-shaped valley striated with rows of plastic sheets used for mulching. Warm and wet July, it turned out, was off season for strawberries. Fresa fail.

Continue reading “Valley to Mountaintop @ Benguet”

How Lakawon Won Us Over

Lakawon Island, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, the Philippines

November 30 – December 1, 2017

Regret put a damper on our trip to Lakawon Island from the get-go. Guimaras Strait made a winnowing basket out of our small boat. As billowing waves thrashed and tossed our asses off our seats, Ki scowled at every splash drenching our backs and bags. Wetness was the least of my worries; I feared for our lives. A recent celebrity death – Franco Hernandez’s – from drowning in similar circumstances was still fresh in my mind.

Continue reading “How Lakawon Won Us Over”

Brush with the Burman

Mandalay and Bagan, Myanmar

May 28 – 31, 2018

I learned the word Burman from Rudyard Kipling. In his letters and stories, he used the word to refer to the people of Myanmar, then named Burma by the British Empire. Whether it was a blanket term for all tribes in Burma or meant specifically for the Burmese tribe, I didn’t know. What I did know was that he regarded the Burman fondly, a sentiment that I shared when I visited their country. In the words of Kipling himself, “Personally I love the Burman with the blind favouritism born of first impression.”

Continue reading “Brush with the Burman”

Motorcycle Diary @ Siquijor

Siquijor / Lazi / Maria / Enrique Villanueva / San Juan, Siquijor, the Philippines

March 27 – 29, 2018

So near yet so far. Such was Siquijor from Ki’s hometown in Negros. During his walks along Dumaguete’s famous seafront boulevard, he wondered about the faint strip of land on the horizon. Somehow, it took decades for that curiosity to make the quantum leap to urgency. And it took a leap of faith for me to board a glorified banca run by GL Shipping Lines. The short distance between Dumaguete and Siquijor stretched to the longest hour in choppy seas.

Maayong Buntag Siquijor! @ Oceanview Farm & Cottages, Maria, Siquijor

Continue reading “Motorcycle Diary @ Siquijor”

Master and Servant

Victorias / Manapla, Negros Occidental, the Philippines

November 30, 2017

Lay theologian C.S. Lewis once pondered, “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” In as many ways as history would allow, so it seemed. In two sugarcane plantations north of my hometown, there were a couple of chapels that represented two contrasting images of the Christ in their artworks.

The Angry Christ Chapel (top) and Chapel of Cartwheels (bottom) @ Victorias and Manapla, respectively

Continue reading “Master and Servant”

My Chinese Character

Yangshuo County, Guilin, China

September 4 and 6, 2017

Was it the Dalai Lama who said “Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck”? Our last morning at our remote Yangshuo hotel, Riverside Retreat, was supposed to be a quick check-out. Nature foiled our plans. Rain started pouring in sheets at breakfast. As travel surprises went, our detention at the hotel turned out to be a stroke of serendipity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Guilin Gang: Quinn, Koller, Binu, and TTT @ Riverside Retreat, Yangshuo County

Continue reading “My Chinese Character”

Memories of Macau

Macau, China

February 1, 2018

“Everything is a memory. Everyone becomes a memory,” I waxed nostalgic on Facebook. Even a place could become a memory. My first visit to Macau in the early 80s was marked with colonial nostalgia. Stone and clay were a stark contrast to the steel and glass of Hong Kong even then. Macau had since moved on 35 years later. Skyscrapers had broken out of its skyline, but it had done a better job at memory preservation than its sister city.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
TTT @ Cathedral Square (Largo da Sé), Macau

Continue reading “Memories of Macau”

Close Encounters @ Mount Popa

Kyaukpadaung, Mandalay Region, Myanmar

May 30, 2018

My closest encounter with the flat-top monolith favored by aliens in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind was with its less famous cousin on the other side of the world. I had never even heard of it until a Google search led my travel buddy Melds and me to photos of Taung Kalat (Pedestal Hill), the 600-meter volcanic plug sticking out of the gentle slope of 1,500-meter Mount Popa. It would become a non-negotiable stop in our Myanmar itinerary the following year. Devil’s Tower in the US gained Hollywood fame, but what set Taung Kalat apart was the sprawling Buddhist monastery at the summit.

Continue reading “Close Encounters @ Mount Popa”

The Wild West Street

Yangshuo County, Guilin, China

September 4 and 6, 2017

This street was made for walking 1,400 years ago. The oldest in Yangshuo, West Street was still a promenade when I pounded its pavement of marble. Since the county opened up to tourism in the 1980s, the pedestrian street had also become a melting pot, a conglomeration of cultures catering to Yangshuo’s international visitors. Chinese out-of-towners, though, outnumbered foreigners in the unending stream of people.

20170924_131109
West Street @ Yangshuo County, Guangxi Province

Continue reading “The Wild West Street”

Humans of Siquijor

Siquijor / Lazi / Maria / Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor, the Philippines

March 27 – 29, 2018

My trip to Siquijor came with a warning. Friends expressed mild horror with my choice of vacation spot. Rumors – more likely fake news – of the disheveled babaylan sticking needles into voodoo dolls had dogged the island province since forever. But from the get-go at Siquijor Port, I was witness to the human side, not the dark side, of this supposedly mystical island. As I was taking a selfie at the bike rental shop, a police officer approached offering his photographic skills. Small-town hospitality was charming as it was disarming; he ended up in my photo instead.

Touchdown Siquijor!

Continue reading “Humans of Siquijor”

Beach Hopping in Winter

Hong Kong, China

February 2, 2018

We came to Hong Kong along with a mid-winter cold front and a big chance of rain. Daytime temperature hovered just a few degrees over zero, certainly not beach weather by any stretch. But for Ki, it was beach season nonetheless. Insulated with woolen scarf, leather gloves, and the sentimental warmth of the jacket given by Mom many birthdays ago, I set out with beach-bum-for-all-seasons Ki to the island’s scenic coastline.

IMG_20180203_104637_155
TTT @ Repulse Bay Beach, Hong Kong

Continue reading “Beach Hopping in Winter”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑