China Travelogue IV

13 11 2008

October 9, 2008

It’s our second night here in Xian. We’re staying at the Xiangximen Youth Hostel and it’s been a good experience so far. This is the first time I’m staying at a hostel and luckily Yun found a fabulous one. It’s in a good location as it’s right next to the old city wall. (Note: I must admit our accommodation was a level up from the full hostel experience as Dan and I had a private room with an en suite bathroom.)

This city has wider roads and more traditional structures than Shanghai. I find it less suffocating.

***

Today Yun, Andre and Lisa are going to the Hua Shan mountain but Dan and me decided to take it easy instead because Dan’s tummy is still feeling funny.

Yesterday we went on a tour that included the Ban Po Museum and the Terracotta Warriors museum, then in the evening we had fantastic street food at the Muslim Quarter.

Unfortunately I enjoyed the night bazaar at the Muslim Quarter more than the statue of the warriors. Maybe I built it up too much but I still found it amazing.

I’m not used to seeing Dan this sick, hopefully he feels better today.

***

I just got back from breakfast, turns out Lisa didn’t go with Andre and Yun so she and I had a good conversation over breakfast reminiscing about our experience at our own universities, protesting for a cause and talking about life and the choices we made and will make.

It’s nearly noon and Dan is still in bed, but that’s alright ’cause today we plan to just take it easy and visit sites around the city.

TO BE CONTINUED…





China Travelogue III

12 11 2008

October 8, 2008

Dan and I are at a coffee shop in my company’s Shanghai office. We just got back from a quick trip to the Bund. It was quick because we didn’t really enjoy our foray into construction land, accompanied with dust and persistent hawkers.

Hawkers. It reminds me of one observation I had in Hong Kong. I noticed most of the signs I saw had Tagalog translations to them, which goes to show how much of the population is made up of Pinoys.

Anyway, going back to what I’m supposed to write about. Shanghai this time around is a different experience.

I feel like calling this city a “city under construction.” The Jing’an temple was under construction, our hotel’s facade was hidden, or partly hidden, by a flyover under construction and finally, the Bund was under construction.

I don’t mean to sound negative, I did enjoy several things about Shanghai, like riding the Maglev at 430km/h and having cocktails atop the Jinmao Tower, and of course eating street food and dumplings at the Old Town.

We met up with our friends Andre and Yun and Andre’s mum Elisa yesterday when we flew in but the three of them have gone ahead to the next city in our itinerary. Now Dan and I are killing time and regaining our strength after five straight days of traveling and sightseeing and suffering a slight case of the squits. Haha. I suspect it was due to the smelly tofu.

We’re flying off to Xian in a couple of hours. We reshuffled our itinerary a bit because we couldn’t get any tickets for the overnight train to Beijing and all the flights are expensive. My head hurts a bit and I’m feeling a bit lethargic like I was just on a return trip to Manila from Tanay, Rizal in an open-air jeepney. Hehe.

TO BE CONTINUED…





China Travelogue II

11 11 2008

October 8, 2008

On our last day in Hong Kong we went back up Victoria Peak again because the rain had let up and the sun shone a bit. Paying another $66 HKD was well worth it because we finally saw the skyline.

After the Peak we took the MTR to Tung Chung Station and got into the Ngong Ping 360, which is a tourist trap that takes you to a fake traditional village with its own Starbucks. For a moment I felt dirty and hypocritical drinking watered down coffee while walking the stretch of souvenir shops and scripted “traditional” tours.

After Ngong Ping, our next stop was the Golden City Computer Center which was Dan’s version of techie heaven.

I forgot to mention that the dirty touristy feeling I felt at Ngong Ping was redeemed when we went up the 260 steps to see the 40-foot Buddha statue and it was completely eradicated when we lit several incense sticks to pray at the Po Lin temple. Lighting up the incense sticks and praying left us with a kind of serenity and contentment that we walked silently back to the cable car station.

Our stay in Hong Kong was capped off with a good seafood meal and three huge 640mL bottles of San Miguel beer (Dan’s first taste of Pinoy beer) at a food stall near the Temple St. night market. It was, again, surreal and very special to have Dan with me at this spot thousands of miles away from home.

I would say the highlights of this leg of the trip were seeing the Symphony of Lights show, offering incense sticks and praying with Dan at the Po Lin Monastery and the very filling seafood dinner with San Miguel at a Temple St. food stall.

TO BE CONTINUED…





China Travelogue I

24 10 2008

As most of you know, Dan and I were just on a 2-week holiday all across China so the next several entries will be lifted out of my travel journal. They may be incoherent, disjointed or without flow, sorry about that, feel free to email me for more details though. It was such an amazing experience and we’ve got so many stories to tell.

Our itinerary was Hong Kong – Shanghai – Xian – Beijing – Wuhan.

October 5, 2008

It’s our second night in Hong Kong.

I’m quoting Daniel when I asked him what he thinks of it an hour after touching down.

“It’s like Chinatown, except it never ends.”

I think it’s the most unintelligent thing I’ve ever heard him say but maybe he’s still digesting the experience so I forgive him.

Our hotel is decent, a bit far from the HK Island but it’s negligible. Last night we took a cab to Tsim Sha Tsui and saw the awe-inspiring HK Island skyline and the Symphony of Light show. It was a spectacular show and the feelings of amazement I experienced were similar to what I felt when I first went to Enchanted Kingdom. Haha.

This is Daniel’s first trip to Asia and our first overseas flight together. I must say it was nice to relax and enjoy a long-haul flight for a change.

I had forgotten how humid it can get and I was absolutely exhausted on our first night.

Our first meal was, funnily enough, Japanese. In a restaurant on Ashley Rd after watching the light show. We then went to the Temple Night Market, which wasn’t quite as impressive as the outdoor food stalls and Hong Kong’s skyscrapers.

Today we went up Victoria Peak while it was pouring so there was no view to be had but we still had fun. We had a bit of an adventure at lunch when due to hunger (mine mostly) we went inside a Chinese Restaurant where absolutely no one spoke English. For ten straight minutes after sitting down, no one paid attention to us and we couldn’t figure out which food to order from the menu written in Chinese. Thankfully one of the wait staff found a dumplings menu in English and we finally found familiar subsistence.

In the afternoon we rode the mid-levels escalator and checked out trendy Soho. It was nice and funky. The word “gentrified” comes to mind.

Dan adores Hong Kong and thinks he can live here but I’m not sure I can be happy here.

***

I was disorganized on the first night. All my things were unprepared and the itinerary wasn’t well-planned but I bounced back the next day.

I saw so many maids in Central, 90% of them probably Pinays. I didn’t know what to feel, should I be happy to see fellow Pinays, or be sad because here I am holidaying while thousands of women from my country work so hard, battling loneliness and stresses on their relationships, with only one day in the week to spend for leisure?

Despite that one scene today it’s been a wonderful two days riding the MTR, getting soaked in the rain and lost in the streets of Hong Kong.

TO BE CONTINUED…





Barossa Valley

24 09 2008

We referred to it as the “super awesome birthday weekend.”

It was a celebration of not only Dan’s birthday, but also his real homecoming from the US.

And boy was it a self-fulfilling prophecy. From the cottage with its own spa, to the dinner, cellar doors and Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, every single thing was awesome.

The cottage we stayed in had a proper wood fire and breakfast provisions, the dinner at Apellation was the best I’ve ever experienced in terms of service and ambiance. The shiraz at Two Hands and the fort at Chateau Dorrien (can’t call them port anymore ’cause apparently Portugal went to the world court and won the sole exlusive right to the name) almost made me convert from whites to reds. Not to mention the Farm Shop was just foodie heave with heaps of pate’ worth dying for.

***

After Barossa, I spent the rest of the week in Adelaide hanging out with Dan, his parents and our friends. It was an opportunity to obtain intimate knowledge of the city since I rarely ever stay there for more than a weekend. It also made me realize that when the time comes, moving there would not be such a bad idea.

Today I learned something, productive work can be a savior and that I am growing through an extreme exercise in patience.

Update: So far four people have told me to be patient and to wait it out. Two of these people I trust completely when it comes to their judgement/opinions. So wait I shall.





A Midnight Ode

6 09 2008

I will most probably regret it for the rest of my life, the fact that I was not able to witness the greatest reunion concert of my life. I have adored them since that day in summer of ’94 when my brother brought home a cassette tape of four skinny pimply guys and a song hits (only Pinoys will get what a song hits is hehe) featuring them on the inside page of the front cover. I distinctly remember being curious about the word “thesis” and singing to Ligaya without even knowing what it meant.

My first concert was in ’95 in a high school auditorium in Morong, Rizal and one of my ka-service (that’s bus mate to people who pronounce “r” softly and grew up in Manila) handed me a paper containing their setlist. It had shoemarks on it but I treasured it, although I never confirmed if one of them really wrote that setlist until I saw the handwriting on this photo and realized the legitimacy of that tiny piece of paper I’ve been keeping in an old biscuit tin in my old room in Tanay, Rizal (yes kelangan kasama parati ang “Rizal”).

Like any relationship I went through times when I lost all motivation to listen to them, especially when they released their 3rd album and everyone in my highschool started liking them and they became “too popular” for me hehe. Up to this day I still think that was a bad move, letting go of them just because of my pride. But college came and I got into the best university in the whole damn universe (Hehe), and I rediscovered them and was lucky to even witness a couple of live gigs… until they disbanded, I graduated and got a job and basically grew up.

Their albums were included in the chosen records I brought with me when I moved to Australia. I think they’re one of the things that give Pinoys a sense of solidarity, after all, have you ever met a Pinoy contemporary who grew up in Pinas who doesn’t know and idolize them? I hear another reunion concert is in the offing and I hope I won’t be too grown up and practical to dismiss the desire to go home just to watch it. I would seriously even consider begging Dan to master the Tagalog phrasebook I got him just for this band.





Flexi-working and virtualizing

4 09 2008

I didn’t go to Mexico. So in that makeshift office in a small part of our dining room I am virtualizing Mexico, starting work at 11pm when Melbourne is starting to wind down and finishing at exactly 8am. No after-office activities for me as I go straight to bed and am dead to the world in five minutes tops. Until 12noon.

I am averaging 4 hours of sleep each day, Dan says I’m slowly destroying my immune system but what can I do, it’s the start of spring and it’s such a shame to waste all that sun by spending it sleeping.

As expected, my sleep pattern, schedule and eating habits are in chaos. I can’t go for a nightly run because I’m too lethargic, it is just simply hard to function normally. I set myself a goal to take this certification before Dan comes home from the US (yes he went back again, but he’ll be home in a week hooray) but right now my goal is just to get through this without getting sick.

I suppose working like this has it advantages, for one, the quiet alone times have pushed me to become creative again and redecorate the apartment, also working alongside North America hours allowed me to reconnect with my friends overseas and then being on the same time zone as Dan isn’t so bad either.

Also I feel like all my efforts have been recognized with a small thank-you note from a workmate. Awww. I’m so easy to appease you should try it sometime.

Adrien (my nephew) was baptized last Sunday, should I say “welcome to the Christian world Adrien”? But I feel like saying don’t believe everything you hear haha. That kid is growing fast, so fast that on his first month he met his target weight… for his sixth month. Haha. He looks a lot like me, good on you my boy, our family can always use another strong-willed kid in the house.

Last night I said I couldn’t wait for this week to be over but tonight I realized I’m actually enjoying the quiet nights perfect for pondering things.

P.S. As I was posting this entry and listening to a playlist composed of Regina Spektor, Sara Bareilles and A Fine Frenzy, I suddenly hear a woman singing tagalog… turns out I also clicked on Regine after Regina when I drew up my playlist hehe.

About the photo: This was taken at 6am I think, look how light it is already, thank goodness winter is over. See that lamp on the left beside the vase, that’s my recent DIY project, I re-covered the shade in a decorative handmade paper, I’m very happy with how it turned out. Say hi to my small fiery red old trusty heater just behind the red ergonomic office chair from Ikea hehe! ;P








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