Sunday, April 20, 2014

(un)holy week 2014

i can hear the motorboat roaring when it started to dawn on me, i'm going to puerto galera again this holy week. if in cebu, it has to be sta fe, specifically in sugar beach, while here in puerto galera, it has to be

the white beach

it is my 4th year in a row since 2011 when it's my first time to spend summer here in manila. going to white beach puerto galera has become an annual tradition for me as well, it's like a "panata" which i jokingly kid with my friends that i usually get crucified in a more different way.

this is the isolated portion of the white beach, this is the spot where me and russ spent time star gazing last year, some called this the jurasic park, while allan call this: Bona Station.
i don't know why i consider going to a sought after beach during the holy week as a penance (long ride, traffic, mob, seat shortage) that we have to go through for this looong weekend as one can always do staycation let say in shangrila or sofitel as the rates are similar compared to the resorts along the beachfront specially during the super peak season. but i think what drive most people to the beach is the crowd itself. especially for those who work out their bodies to flaunt, not just to the nature but to other people to see. i dunno what do you call that, is it a sort of a seasonal exhibitionist?
with my mareh, allan, it's his first time to set foot in puerto galera. 
as i noticed in my previous post, i'm so eager about discovering the island, what's new, what's going on. what to expect and what "i have to" experience. this time, it's about just going back to a usual rest house, a home away from home, like going back to a lost aunt's beach house, hiding while the summer sun scorch the city.

with the usual crowd. although nothing beats a spot where u can have the whole beach by yourself.
my first two years was spent with my dulce vitas: JM, Sherwin, Ralph and Ian. when mostly we go gaga with the boys of summer then just simply flirt with them, and just like alchohol you just had a hangover and then simply get over with it the next day. on my 3rd year, it's the time when i'm with russ that i started to wish i'm on a date and have a romantic getaway. i even dated a guy for a night and miraculously, nothing sexual happened to us. then this year, yes, i've dated some guys and had romantic moments by the beach. i even had a sort of long distance relationship with a guy from cavite, and as usual it ended naturally in due course.

..the girl from ipanema este puerto galera

in puerto galera during holy week is not suitable for gay couples as the temptation of being with other hot guys is way too much. so i enjoy celebrating my blissful singleness in this island. if february 14 is like single awareness day that can be miserable for some meanwhile holy week in puerto is like xmas for singles like me. lol

tristeza, the big sadness the heart feels, let it leave mine forever..
one thing i also noticed is that most of the crew here in PG are also becoming long time no see friends. i mean most of the tourists come and go but there are some people who you constantly see there every year become your friends. there was even this guy (who works in one of the bars along the beach) whom i keep on eyeing last time i went to puerto while he's playing volleyball and was surprized he approached me after their game, we introduce eachother, change numbers and everytime we see eachother here in puerto galera, we become instant sorta kinda sweethearts. ahaha. another long story.

na anne curtis ako, di talaga biro maging dyesebel!

every year here in puerto galera is memorable if it's not remarkable. there's just too much details to tell as everyday in this dedonistic beach has its own revelation. every year, different happenings, different stories. and here's my latest memorabilia: stings from box jellyfish. aguy!

Friday, April 11, 2014

reach for the sky painted ceiling

one of the recurring childhood mannerism i still got is that every time i see a pool of water, i usually extend my arms and see my hands seemingly touching the sky. i always love finding myself doing it, even if it's on a murky pond left after a rain on one of the street potholes, it's giving me this natural high brought by the surreality of touching the sky or the clouds floating by.

recently, i've seen a different kind of sky.

i really thought that the whole Macau was claimed to be the "city of dreams", but it was only portion of it specifically the Cotai strip

of which we are able to drop by on one of the known spots: the Venetian hotel. im not dreaming of visiting Venice, i even have a hard time pronouncing it if it is veneez or venes? but few of the things that interest me is the idea that it's a sinking city and the advents of the gondolas.

in the venetian hotel, i was impressed with how they mimic some of the streets in Venice, the grand canals and pulling it off with a gondola and the singing gondolier. it's just funny as most tourist and even us make a wishing well out of the great canal as the water is so clear as oppose to (based on my readings) the smelly greenish colour straight from the lagoon or sewers. but one thing that mesmerized me is the painted sky as it so huge and can only imagine the efforts of completing such a gigantic task in the name of "business". i'm not so sure if i can still consider it as an art as it targets tourist and tourists would go there to shop, dine, stay and gamble. i dunno if some would go there to reflect and attain a higher level of experience with the structures. but most of us visitors are there to spend. so the whole thing (interiors, architectures, etc) boils down to one thing: profit.

erasing that reality and try to romanticize with the thought of a "dreamy" and "fancy" sojourn, we just walk under this sky on a painted ceiling, hopping from casino to smoke, then inside the mall to have coffee and towards their restaurants to eat. erasing the notion that every leap is equal to possible spending, my adult self keeps on calculating the profits and how much would i earn if i applied here. again erase erase erase. i'm here as a tourist and should be childlike to think that the clouds above are kinda moving and can actually be reached.

then again, who am i fooling?

oreo enter tryst

Billboard in Central Hong Kong. Giving me a glimpse of how hot locals can be.

it might be because i'm not aware of the places where gay people usually hang out as it seems that to all places i went to in hk, gay scene is not that rampant. i haven't seen any gay or lesbian couple holding hands or smooching somewhere anywhere. i went to the time square, chai wan, to victoria park, peking road, mtr stations but none (unlike in manila specially in cubao or in malate)

but once, i spotted a couple---two giddy strangers who just had their first meeting on a hidden bench under the canal road flyover. other than that, i could only pass by cute guys looking at me and once i glimpse back with that marina abramovic‘s the artist is present stare, they sort of mutter something under their breath like: "sorry Buddha"

although having a date is not a priority but it doesn't hurt to be excited who i can possibly meet around the city. A spur of the moment big time sensuality! A hope to experience a happy version of Wong Kar-wai’s “happy together”! curious who are the queer people around, I logged into a gay social site and i got instant invites, but to my surprise the gay folks around are actually not locals but Caucasians who are here for a business trip and tourist from other countries. among the bombarding msges i got this top 3 potentials:

*since im in the land of Chinese empire, i want to meet a local, and here's this cute part chinese part british guy who's inviting me for a drink in a bar inside hyatt hotel, which is too far from our hotel and his msges and presence on that dating site is intermittent, and i cannot afford lounging in that bar and waste my money for a whiskey on a rock let alone looking stupid for waiting for someone who won’t pop up. so i have to crush him down on my list,

*there's this filipino guy whose pictures online is so hot. but my idea is to meet him on a date. never i knew he's actually too loud in person. i mean i love loud persons as most of my friends are, but he's too way over the top. although he's sweet as brought some mrs fields cup cake and gong cha milk tea, i manage to let him in and talk (which is too much, so full of himself.. ahaha), but i have to send him out afterwards.

*then there's this caucasian guy (among many others) who is finally my type. tall, young and able. he even wish to make love and have 3 rounds of sex. like what?! i was even swooning with the idea that i'll be like Coco---the character in Wei Hui's Shanghai Baby who end up having an affair with a german expat. but too bad, as our sched didn't meet. his trip going to hk is the same day that im leaving to macau. then the moment i have to go back to hong kong, he's on a business meeting and the moment he's done with it, that's the time i'm leaving back to the Philippines.

sighers. surmise to say that this trip is more of a spiritual journey than physical. to think this county is a metropolitan. my luck on this might turn around when i go to more spiritual places such as cambodia or thailand. hmmn, it's giving me an idea where to book next. Hmpf!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Off the beaten path in Tai Pa village

It's quite heart warming when a week ago I just virtually touring the nook and cranny of hk and macau, then here I am, stepping my feet on those roads. Be a part and sipped into the "real" picture that once, can only be seen on my flat screen.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

why go anyweher else but here?

photo taken by Allan Ayuste Ramos

almost entirely

If Causeway bay HK is like Cubao, Peking road is BGC, while Taipa Macau is like maginhawa street in QC.

So laid back and so relaxing. Before I get sleepy, let's have go and have a cuppa coffee.

i first saw this coffee shop while inside a shuttle from the Macau pier on our way to the hotel. it is one of those spot, let say in a movie or on a page of a magazine? that you caught yourself muttering something  under your breath like "i'm gonna be there!".

it's relatively small yet quiant compared to coffee shops that i passed by in hk. one thing that attracts me to this place is that it has this notion of it's the only coffee shop in town yet the locals are not crazy about this place at all. it makes me imagine of a lost cabin in the woods and i'm the only person who can actually see it. The moment i get in, it seems that the shop was opened just for myself, the whole place was almost entirely abandoned other than the cashier (who also brew the coffee and serve the pastries) and maybe some cats or rats hiding somewhere, taking the afternoon nap.

this is where i was completely at tuned with myself. it is my 3rd day of "being abroad" and it's my first time to let off some steam from all the chaos, lost in translation, money changers and all those uncertainties from unknown territories. i think it's a misnomer that if you're on a vacation to a foreign place, it's nothing but bed of roses. well, hell no! it wasn't the case.

i can only visualize all the obstacles, challenges and havocs of this trip as sugar cubes melting into the coffee, together with the bitter sweet memories of the past, i sip it all in.

finally, after seemingly a very long long time, i was able to breathe.

instead of throwing a party, with all the tasks of preparing food and drinks and entertaining guests for my 29th birthday, here i am, having a simple day inside a small coffee shop. having coffee, nibbling on a portuguese egg tart and rereading a murakami.

this framed cat portrait inside their loo reminds me of Chai, who among my core friends, greeted me first thing in the morning, sending her love from Cebu to the network providers here in this quite town. this picture sort of sending me a message as well.

so i let the day passed by.
almost entirely doing nothing.
i just opened my eyes,
and look straight ahead.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

hen huan ying ni

i feel that i have done so much good things in the past and this trip has its way of saying straight to the chinese universe: 'hen huan ying ni'

amusing to think the never ending exchanges of thank yous and you're welcomes with the universe put us on a give and take phenomena with the people around you, the way you handled a situation and maybe the spirits that are hovering around us.

it is a trip of being grateful to the universe and the universe conspire with me for being thankful of which is in perpendicular to what we had this "fuck you world summit" last December when finally' the 5 of us reunited.

chilling out inside out. as temp outside is at 17 deg celsius. and i thought it's already summer!
one of the perks of going to a new place is that obviously, everything is new to me. the zeitgeist do sometimes demands and suggests certain fads but this time it's only there to tell me that if i got an instagram account, my followers might be bombarded with hundreds of photographs in one day! i even have a lot in my cam phone memory card that i'm still thinking if i should post it or not.

here i'm all alone in our hotel. Allan is with his family and they are in Disneyland. for some reasons, i rather roam around HK than get stuck in that amusement park, an indicator that i'm too old and too jaded to meet a man or a woman inside micky mouse mascot, let alone shake hands or hug goofy. like duh..

so instead i hop out from central hk to kowloon via star ferry and went into figuring out "how to get here how to get there" mission using this hotel provided map. it's an adventure of its own, being puzzled and exploring the place around you. it is definitely exhilirating when i'm able to see and being "i'm here!" in the places i've previously seen in google or in the lonely planet guide.

i fiil beri smor.
without any companion and without a tripod, i set my camera on self timer and place it leaning on my shoulder bag. sometimes i felt awkward possing from afar without a photographer. people around are wondering why i pose without seeing someone taking a picture of me. every now and then i get paranoid that there might somone who report it to the police that my bag is a bomb and my phone is a detonator as i keep dropping it on the floor while my camphone is ticking itself to take the picture. yes, it was so silly.  

ayse cremu!
one of so many things i admire in hk is that it's clean, it's not so polluted, there are no thiefs to steal your phone (propbably my gadget is way too obsolete from what they currently have ahaha) and most of all, nobody knows me. so i can feel and act like tourist whenever i like. i can sing, scream gibberish chinese on top of my lungs without being spotted by someone and spread it on facebook that i'm going nuts. it was really fun even if i could only afford a mister softee (i just found out it's a famous mobile ice cream since the 70's). yum!

at the heritage
temperature is dropping down by the minute so i got to walk, walk and walk. then i stumbled on this place, i've seen this gigantic boquet of cold roses from afar then i went down the subway to check it out. when you're all alone and nobody to talk with, your mind has a tendency to interact within your mind. so i was imagining if i have a contact in hong kong and if he's asking where he could find me, i will simply say: "i'm in a place where there are two winged horses beneath a tree of gigantic flowers".  contextually it doesn't make sense but i think my contact won't fail to see me as this place is very hard to miss.

we also have pegasus in quezon city, but it's completely a different place!

another spot i want a selfie taken, but the floor is too wet to lay my bag and set the self timer in my camphone. i wish the extendable monopod for camphone is already existent when i got this pic. since this tableau always being on somebody else's background, i let them bask the limelight this time. most people now (i think including myself) lost the ideal concept of travelling, it should be you seing and being with the place, not yourself inside the frame and the place is just the witness. did i make any sense? or i think i'm just too tired. got to go' bye!

xie xie ni!

last sunset before my 29th bday at the Kowloon Pier

It started with resigning myself to the idea of spending my birthday in front of a computer, in a small cubicle, inside the office. I was thinking I will take my leave on 8th so I could welcome the eve of my birthday then work on the very same date. Since it’s a legal holiday here in the Philippines, I could earn double pay. I mean it’s just another birthday so no big deal. But the notion of giving up my annual tradition of spending my birthday to an alien place is still scratching on me.

Roughly 1 week from my birthday I got a call from one of my close friends who drops a huge bomb, which eventually shattered all my plans on how I will be spending my day and the whole week of my bday.

As he simply said: “let’s go to hong kong!”

If only I’m 10 years younger, I would simply quips “Go!”
As my usual character is that I usually don’t think and just go with the flow
Moving forward, I’m still treading on the rim of spontaneity but now leaning towards critical thinking.
He said he will be going to hong kong and macau with his family and there’s an extra accommodation for their 1 week stay.

So series of thoughts went into my mind:

* I could save for hotel accommodation

* this is a long overdue trip going abroad, although I want my first time to be in Cambodia but ..

* it will be my first stamp on my passport which is already 3 years old from the date I got it from DFA (we had this joke about passports not getting stamped)

*Bjork had her Volta tour in HK 6 years ago, so that’s the closest thing I could be near her footprints.

* the trip is from April 7 to 11, that’s 5 days of abscences from work and that merit a memo from the manager

* I’m planning to use my earnings to buy the sony Z2 tablet to replace my hp 2140 netbook which I gave to my younger brother

*but hey, to hell with gadgets..

With all those pros and cons one thing that will prove that it’s really mine to take (a bet with the universe) is: if the airfare is below 10k for a back and forth ticket.

Lo and behold, I checked PAL and they got this USD199 promo to HK almost 2k less from my envisioned airfare budget (which is a bargain compared to their usual roundtrip fare of USD350) i can imagine the angels, the saints and even the devils are actually jumping for joy!

Without second thought, I booked it online and got my itinerary receipt at PAL ticketing office in Cubao.
From the long queue and worse emigration kiosk of NAI2 to mind boggling HK international airport everything seems to be a blur. I know it’s not a big deal for almost everybody, but there’s always a certain magic on “first time..”

Which could be at par with BB’s never ending question: “when as the last time you did something for the first time?”

sail on,

and just as i thought this oriental sail boats can only be searched on google, but here it is, just in front of me, sailing on.


Monday, April 07, 2014

it's time!

still, it won't dawn on me that after all the travels i made in the past, this time the cab went into a different terminal, from domestic to "international" 
it's around 3am when i got out from the appartment and hailed a cab. i'm still groggy from my mid shift work and i have to be in the airport atleast 3 hours earlier from my scheduled flight, as this is not juts a domestic but an international flight?! ahaha. it sounds so big deal for a first timer but i just can't help to get excited for this trip as finally i can experience and say "i've been outside the country, i've been abroad".   

first glimpse of the foreign shores
i think it was roughly a two hour flight from manila to hong kong, first half i went to sleep and between the flight they served a meal. that's the time i listened to bjork and i got her volta album specifically prepared for this moment. i'm in the middle of "vertebrae by vertebrae" when we passed through a huge dark cloud that curtains our destination. finally the first scene that pops out is a single floating ship 90deg from my window. that image sort of froze me from some time until the plane swivel to a normal position when i finally reached for my camphone and tok this picture.

Airport Express brings you from hk intl airport to Central within 28mins! but it would cost you HKD180.00 for a two way ride
i strode across the colossal and ooomph ultra modern  hk international airport just like Sylvia Plath's Esther Greenwood enter the hall ways of esteemed magazine publishing office in New York, trying to be confident and jubilant but i end up taking a queue on the "prime minister's" emigration desk. it was so emberassing. even the local residents lining up simultaneously look at me. 

sorry naman, naninibago lang po

that was just the start of my journey. figuring out their train system (mtr) is one thing. if Manila's MRT is physically exhausting, HK's MTR is psychologically challenging--- specially when you're all alone, without a travel guide without proper briefing. i think this is beyond getting lost in translation. oh well, let this one hell of rollercoaster ride begin. go!

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As Time Goes By