Monthly Archives: December 2008

Top memories for 2008


the hard parts finally over, here comes the rain!

  • Clambering up steep slopes in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.  I will never again attempt to climb a mountain without doing months of training/exercise beforehand.

  • Throwing up over the side of the boat en route to Itbayat, Batanes.  Over the side of the boat pa talaga, di man lang barf bag. How absolutely ladylike.

  • Riding topload at Batanes. The whole Batanes journey is actually one big highlight of the year. Definitely an unforgettable journey.
  • Biking to Angkor Wat.  On our third day at Siem Reap, Cambodia, we decided against another guided temple tour and just went around town on rented bikes. We still ended up going to the temple area though, making it to Angkor Wat just before sunset.  We sort of got lost (I still haven’t completely figured out how it happened; I blame it on the map) and ended up going there via the long way, which was just fine since it gave us the chance to spot this marker and have a photo op 🙂


  • Haggling at the Russian Market in Phnom Penh. I’m still not absolutely cutthroat at it but I’m getting there.
  • Walking up and down Khao San Road in Bangkok simply taking in the sights and sounds and smells and enjoying the banana pancakes.
  • Sampling tasty travel eats! Coconut crabs in Itbayat, Tonichi’s fish steak in Batan, delightful Hue-style pho in Saigon, discount breads in Siem Reap, etc… Continue reading

Christmas time in the city 2

Saying a quick hello-and-goodbye to a casual acquaintance the other day, and I greeted her “Merry Christmas.” She answered “Happy Holidays” cheerfully enough and then went on her way, leaving me to wonder if that meant that she had a problem with “Merry Christmas.”

I wondered for a while if that also meant that I should start being polite and greet people “Happy Holidays” just to be safe, and Abby told me “Anu ka ba, Merry Christmas ka no, Kristyano ka e!” which of course, makes perfect sense. Just because a person doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ or Christmas does not mean that I shouldn’t wish Jesus’ love on him/her.


Christmas time in the city

It’s Christmas time and for the MRT stations, this means having passengers unwrap their gifts as part of the security check before they can be allowed to ride the trains.  I rode the MRT twice yesterday and both times I saw passengers held up at the entrance oh-so-carefully opening the gifts they have with them so they can show to the guard that they don’t contain chemical explosives or other similar holiday mood-ruining items like that.  I can imagine dozens, maybe even hundreds, of passengers going, “dang, why didn’t I think that this might happen, it took me hours to pack all this shit!” And what if they just received those gifts, and were resolved never to open them until Christmas? The Manong Guard would be the first to know what the gifts are! Not that he cares, of course.

I surmise, though, that they only make you unwrap gifts if they can see them, e.g. if it’s a huge boxed thing containing glasses or whatever that you have to tote in a separate bag. However, if your gift is small enough to say, fit inside a small cloth bag or purse (not plastic bag, I think that would be more suspicious) which then fits into your main bag, then the guard on duty would just give your bag the usual cursory-I-don’t-really-want-to-do-this-but-I-have-to glance and let you through. Just a thought.

and the frenzy continues

Last night, I was peacefully enjoying browsing at Fully Booked Gateway, oblivious to everyone around me, when my browsing was suddenly interrupted by sounds of girls twittering, gushing, and basically exclaiming in delight. I looked up and saw what they were all a-flutter about. Some guy entering the store wheeling in boxes of books. “Sandali lang ho, che-check-in pa namin ito,” the guy said, as the small gaggle of people (mostly girls) parted to make way for him as he wheeled the boxes towards the back of the store, watching adoringly as he passed by.

It just took me a couple of seconds to realize what was going on: a new delivery of the Twilight books has just arrived. Earlier, I overheard a guy asking customer service about the “Twilight saga” and he was told to wait for fresh new copies that will be delivered by 7:30 PM. I remembered thinking, oh, so it’s really not just girls going all crazy about those books – then forgot all about it, until all the sounds of female excitement.

It was all too amusing. I was grinning like an idiot watching it all. I realized that I was witnessing a mini cultural phenomenon. I gave up the browsing and just hung about the edges of the crowd observing things, even snapping photos with my phone cam (photos which I can’t upload here because I can’t find my phone-to-computer cable. Drats). I did keep my finger on my place in the Nora Ephron book I was browsing, lest I be mistaken to be one of the couldn’t-wait Twilight fans, he he. I’ve read the series –the first three anyway – after a fashion, skimming through the pdf versions, but I never really felt the need to get myself real copies, much less hang about at bookstores waiting for the books’ arrival. I sort of did that for the Eraserheads reunion concert, but that was different. Magkakaubusan talaga nun e.

The crew started clearing away all the books displayed on a table, plus an entire shelf top to bottom, to make way for the new arrivals. The poor things were unceremoniously piled and stuck away somewhere, as evidently the Twilight series require a lot of shelf space. Before the books could be displayed, however, some sort of signal or announcement suddenly drove the waiting crowd to dash across to the other end of the store where the Twilight boxes were placed, and a little commotion ensued as books were distributed straight out of the boxes. I was left standing open-mouthed at the front area for a few minutes, then roused myself and followed the throng to take even more pictures. The general make-up of the two dozen or so crowd: high school to twenty-something girls, and high school boys. I don’t think there was a twenty-something guy, except for one who was accompanying his girlfriend.

A girl clutching three huge books to her chest, one of the early ones to grab a set, was instantly on the phone to her friend reporting on the achievement. “Wala pa daw yung Twilight bukas pa daw ng umaga,” she said. Hah. So she didn’t even have the first of the series. She didn’t sound too upset about it though; she was probably just too happy that she got the other three.

In the midst of all the confusion, a staff member had time to answer a customer’s query for a better copy of Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” There was no other copy, but I had the feeling that when new copies arrive there won’t be an excited troupe of would-be customers waiting for them.

At some point the crew came to their senses and halted the distribution. “Intayin nyo na lang ho sa harapan at nagkakagulo na,” some supervisor-looking guy sternly said. No kidding. The customers were well-behaved enough; in a short while they left the boxes alone and went back to the display area near the cashier. By this time the lucky ones who already had the books had formed a line to cashier, no doubt feeling all smug and tingly.

“Ganito ba talaga lagi pag may dumarating na Twilight?” I asked one of the three crew members left guarding the boxes. He explained that they ran out of copies the day before, and the new ones were supposed to arrive at 3 PM but got delayed so customers piled up. The day before. And these books aren’t even new releases. Wow.

Eventually the table and shelves were filled up with the hefty black-and-red tomes, making me immediately miss the variety of other books that were formerly there.

When the pile at the table was about three books deep, a crew member told a colleague, “Tama na yon, hindi na nila mauubos yon.” “Oo, tingan ko kung maubos pa nila yon.”

We’ll, I really wouldn’t be too sure.