Pic(ks) of the Week: Messiahs, War Rooms, and Starbucks Europe

Favorite Messiah(s)

I’m no geek but I’m a sucker for superhero movies.  My favorite larger-than-life boys are:

(a) Peter Parker

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker

Photo Credit: Click here.

(b) Tony Stark

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark

Photo Credit: Click here.

(c) The young Charles Xavier

James McAvoy as Charles Xavier

Photo Credit: Click here.

and as of last week,

(d) Clark Kent

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent

Let’s face it.  Superman is hotter with a beard.

Photo Credit: Click here.

Graphic novels are not my thing so it’s really just the actors that draw me to these characters.  Take Spider-Man, for example.  Andrew Garfield does not appeal to me as much as Tobey Maguire.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Andrew Garfield.  But I think his talent is suited, pun intended, for drama (read: Never Let Me Go) not action.

Brandon Routh on Superman Returns bored me to death I almost walked out of the movie theater had I not been with a friend that time.  But with Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel, my ass stayed put. 😀

Favorite Place

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I’m familiar with the concept of war rooms though, until recently, I’ve never actually had command of one.  Last month, I lead a two-week systems training for our Users.  It was only too convenient to take ownership of the venue right after because two new projects are coming in and another is ongoing.

While this place gives me “cabin fever”, I won’t deny that my happiest for the past few weeks have been spent here.  In spite of the breakouts it did on my skin (uh, it’s really filthy inside, LOL), I consider this my home now (albeit temporarily) where I see our “family” and possibly, even our careers, growing.

Favorite Souvenir

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Left: from M & C

Right: From T, M, & H

My staff reported back to work Monday from a well-deserved trip to Boracay.  I requested him to grab me a tumbler since I have no plans of going there anyway.  Soon.  Or ever. 😀

The Naga memento, on the other hand, was given to me by a friend from college.  I was in Luang Prabang when I received a message from her asking me if I wanted a tumbler from one of the provinces in the Philippines.  She handed it to me on her wedding day without requiring any payment.  I have yet to treat her to dinner.  And more importantly, dessert. 🙂

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The “Europe edition” of my collection began when M and H gifted me Barcelona on my 28th bornday.  And until Starbucks opens its doors in Luang Prabang, this is tied with my Alaska as a personal favorite. 🙂

I was employed with a local bank (but no longer) on its heyday of automating processes.  Thus, we had multi-racial third party service providers: Egyptian, Indian, and Belgian.  T, from Belgium, has dealt with our company the longest so though we did not directly work with each other, we were acquainted through Christmas parties and summer barbecues at my place.  He told me that the only Starbucks in Belgium is located in the airport and he granted my wish for a Starbucks souvenir.  I know, I know.  I can be very manipulative persuasive when I want to be. 😀

Globe-Trotting (LAOS): I left my heart in Luang Prabang.

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On the way to the Living Land farm, one of the two Australian women in our group asked me why I joined the tour given that I’m from the Philippines, a country with resources to cultivate its own rice.  Truthfully, I admitted that:

(a) I’ve never been to a farm.  Well, at least, not to an organic one.  My dad is in possession of a piece of land but he grows mangoes as a hobby and I’m pretty sure he uses methods that are quite industrial.

(b) In all the outreach programs I’ve had in high school and college, there weren’t any options to learn rice farming for a day.

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Mr. Laut Lee (in photo) picked every single person (ahem, me), couple, or family up in our respective hotels promptly at an agreed time.  He came in a tuk-tuk large enough to accommodate nine people.  The farm is located at Ban Phon Vang which is approximately five kilometers from Luang Prabang’s hub.

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I observed that to ensure that the farming activities are qualitative for its participants and adequately spaced, each group consists of only ten people or less.  While the other tourists (in photo above) were already out in the sun, my own crowd is inside the hut, readying our tools.

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And learning how to weave.

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Hold your horses.  Obviously, this isn’t mine.

I gave up after knotting three strands.  :)

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The real fun began when I met Elsa, a six-year-old who hails from England.  She held my hand and we dove our feet into the mud, laughing our asses off.  To this day, I haven’t forgotten what she said to me:  “Look, I can make the mud fart with my foot!”.  :D

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Together with her parents, Elsa traveled to Luang Prabang with her seven-year-old sister, Ruby.

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A clear profile of Ruby, making flour.

The sisters took turns riding Susan the Buffalo.

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 They remind me of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield of Sweet Valley Kids.  Elsa, of course, would have to be “Jessica”.  And not because she’s younger of the pair either.  :D

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If I were to pick a favorite, strangely enough, I was thrilled to pump juice out of a sugar cane.  :)

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We passed a jug of juice we squeezed while munching on treats made out of rice and swapping insights on our day in the farm.  When it was her turn, Ruby declared, “I will bring my children here.”   We all burst into laughter and even more, when her mum replied, “Well, hopefully, that won’t be too soon.”.  🙂

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I caged my emotions when Elsa gave me a parting gift.  Like everything else in this world, I was aware that it wouldn’t last long so I committed the token to memory.  :)

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Other shots on Living Land:

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Globe-Trotting (LAOS): “It’s not the destination but the journey.”

(Cheesy, but true.)

Apparently, my yagit camera is not so yagit after all!

No filters, no post-processing.  :)

The thing is, aside from the plane tickets and hotel booking, I’m not the type to prepare a travel itinerary.  Sure, I have a list of must-see, must-do, must-eat but 99% of the time, I don’t stick to that list.  You can call me “whimsical”.  :)

(I never force myself into following a schedule while I’m traveling because for Christ’s sake, I have a day job where EVERYTHING must be scheduled or hell breaks loose.)

The Sweetest Thing

Take the ride up to Kuang Si.  Most travelers prearrange a tour ahead of time (which is probably cheaper, I admit) but all I did was to inform the hotel manager the night before and he was able to secure a vehicle that would take me to the waterfalls the very next morning.  By “vehicle” I thought it would be the Lao version of a tuktuk.  Turns out, it was an air-conditioned van driven by a young Lao.  Possibly my age.  Definitely educated.

There are, of course, rule breakers.

Generally, I’m not a fan of small talk.  Well, I’m not fond of talking to just anybody at all.  Once upon a time, I was probably this major chatterbox but all that changed when I realized that when some people are given the opportunity to open their mouths, all that comes out is total bullshit.  :D  So I try not to do the same.

On a self-timer.

This young Lao introduced himself as “Phet”.  The van is owned by his family which means, they’re one of the Lao families lucky enough to have escaped poverty.

He mistook me for Thai.  When I told him where I’m from, I inwardly sighed in relief when he didn’t declare “Manny Pacquiao!” (triumphantly, I might add).  Though he earned a college degree, I don’t think his knowledge is extensive when it comes to Geography.  He thought the Mekong River stretches to the Philippines!  :D

For some reason, Kuang Si is some sort of a haven for bears too.

I think it was out of politeness or perhaps he wanted to practice his English (he’s fluent, so I don’t think he really needs to) but we exchanged stories the entire 45-minute ride up to and down from the Kuang Si.  When we saw a bunch of kids wheeling their bicycles on the road, he told me they were let off early from school because the next day is the most important Buddhist holiday in Laos.  I got a kick out of that because it encouraged me to ask about the education system in his country.  There are more, but here are three things I found out:

(a) Tuition fee for Primary School, one year = 250,000.00 Kip. That’s approximately USD31.00— where USD1.00 = 8,000 kip.

(b) Tuition fee for College, one year = 3,000,000.00 Kip. That’s approximately USD374.00. College and University are two different things. College = 3 years. University = 5 years.

(c)  Yes, in school, they do Math. (He didn’t know the term “Math” though so I had to explain the concept further.)

Ang cute lang.  :)

On Lao tradition, this totally cracked me up— People throw glasses/ buckets of water at you during the New Year. To cleanse you of bad spirits. The falang (slang for Westerners) are angered by this seemingly random act when they come visit in May.

We also touched on the subject of Lao government but I chose to minimize my probing out of respect.  Political issues are always sensitive so I limited my questions to their democratic structure and voting rights.  We agreed that these are “same-same (his words, not mine) but different” from the Philippines.

I was caught off guard by his aptitude and personality, I almost didn’t want to say good-bye.  I didn’t ask him to be my friend on Facebook either because I’m not cheap like that.  :D  Suffice it to say that in this lifetime, the memory is enough.

Oh, by the way, the waterfalls are lovely.  :D

Globe-Trotting (LAOS): Home away from, well, EVERYTHING.

I don’t do hotel reviews because I’m no expert in the hospitality industry.  Thus, never mistake this post for a “review” as I only wish to share my wonderful experience at the Mekong Riverview with you. 🙂

My room can be found on the upper-left hand 

portion of the above photo.

The Mekong Riverview Hotel is located in what they refer to as “Old Town Luang Prabang” in the province of Luang Prabang, Laos.  As its name implies, yes, the hotel does have a commanding view of the famed Mekong River.

The hotel serves complimentary breakfast at a patio overlooking the Mekong too.  Now that’s starting your mornings right. 🙂

Note: I didn’t get the dishes pictured below per day.  I got all every single day! 😀

Omelette with mushroom and cheese and

sausages, ham, and bacon

They call this “Special” which is basically

pineapple crepe with honey and fried banana.

I love the Lao style fried banana. 

My sweet tooth was jumping for joy! 🙂

Some days, I opted for the simple banana crepe

with vanilla sauce, instead of the “Special”.

Washing everything down with Lao coffee

Since I canceled my plans to visit the Plain of Jars in Phonsavan, I spent a sufficient amount of time luxuriating in my room.  And by luxuriatinlg, I mean, reading books and mooching off the free WIFI. 😀

Mekong Riverview is famous for its Swedish beds.

With just a push of a few buttons, you can recline your mattress.  I never did this but I suppose it’s convenient for people who watch  TV (the plasma is hung on a wall facing the bed) or read books at a certain angle.

Sorry, no bathroom photos.  I don’t do that either.  I think it’s gross to post pictures of where I poop, er, “flip through magazines”.

If you examine the photo above, however, there are two doors on the left and right hand sides.  The left is where the rainshower (hot and cold!) and sink are.  The right is where the toilet is.

There’s a bevy of basic toiletries provided and replenished as your room is cleaned.  Three kinds of towels (i.e., bath, hand, and face), included.  There are robes, bedroom slippers, and hangers ready inside the wooden cabinet.  The refrigerator is stocked daily with six bottles of mineral water, a variety and cans of soda— all complimentary!  I got twice as much because my room is ideal for two and I was traveling alone. 🙂

My “Carrie Bradshaw” window where I wake up (and say goodnight) to the Mekong River.  The “traffic situation” during the Boun Ok Pansa was viewed from up here too. 😀

A selection of Laos travel books is made available by the hotel owner, Mr. Urban Paulsson, as you arrive in your room.  I think this is a very nice touch.  Not only do you experience the utmost comfort, you’re also gifted the opportunity of being educated.

My designated bicycle!  The hotel manager, Somchit, and his staff don’t even keep this anymore.  The wheeler is always parked out front so I can use it anytime I want. 🙂

For the elderly (and those who choose not to use the free bicycles), a golf cart driven by one of the hotel personnel can drop you off at Luang Prabang’s hub.  Tuktuks are on stand-by and for a fee to serve as your ride back to the hotel.  Most tourists, however, prefer the leisurely walk home.

Use of the golf cart or bicycles does not mean that Mekong Riverview is quite far from where the Luang Prabang action is.  Quite the contrary.  It is walking distance to the significant attractions such as the Wat Xieng Thong and the streets where the Alms Giving Ceremony takes place.

More than the food, comfort, and convenience, what made my stay at the hotel memorable was the gathering hosted by Mr. Urban Paulsson on my first night.  Wine was served for the guests and I was able to engage in delightful conversations with Westerners from Belgium, England, and America.  They are generations older than me and are professors, bankers, doctors, and retired U.S. army men.  From bucket lists to U.S. politics and, yes, even to Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law— it was a night where I felt my lightest.  And not because of the champagne either. 🙂

I’m sure there are a handful of cheaper alternatives for guesthouses in Luang Prabang but I’m blessed for the chance to live at the Mekong Riverview albeit temporarily.  Mr. Urban Paulsson is a hands-on owner and he personalizes the Laos experience of every visitor.  With that, there will always be a reason to go back. 🙂

Globe-Trotting (LAOS): The Alms Giving Ceremony Experience

If you were to heed travelers’ advice, you would be standing along Sakkaline (main) Road at 5:30AM, waiting for the monks to emerge from their respective wats.

If you were me, however, you would have been out on the discreet Kounxoa Road at 4:30AM because no matter which side of the globe you’re in, you value punctuality. 😀

(In that sense, I’m not your ordinary Filipino who always manages to come in an hour after the scheduled appointment.  Hence, the phenomenon— “Filipino Time”.)

Of course, the streets were almost empty (and completely dark!) at 4:30AM where the only sounds you’ll hear are the slight breeze from the Mekong River and the occasional swish of a wooden broom.

(I ended up going back to bed.)

The seemingly obligatory TOMS shot as the women

lay their mats and arrange their alms

The Alms Giving Ceremony is an age-old custom still practiced in the town of Luang Prabang, Laos.  I’m not claiming expertise on Buddhism but here is what I gathered from reading literature and interviewing a few English-speaking Laos.  Please feel free to correct me as I may have misunderstood what I read/ heard.

(a) The alms symbolize a passing of nourishment to the giver’s departed family members.

(b) Generally, monks are not allowed to “kill” or cook food.

Traditionally, the alms are in the form of sticky rice.

Sticky rice is usually wrapped in banana leaves but

the taste must not be mistaken for the Filipino delicacy, Suman.

Economically, “modernized” varieties of alms have spread out such as biscuits.

And while there are a handful of men who participate in the giving process, the mats lined out on the street are generally occupied by women and children.

(A Lao matriarch was sitting right next to me when I took the above photos.  She was engaged in a congenial banter with the people across the street who I assume are immediate/ extended family.  I attempted to converse with her in English to no avail.  Unfortunately, my Lao is very, very limited to the touristy phrases.)

As a spectator, I learned that:

(a) The monks need “assistants” to carry their alms.  Sticky rice go into the bowls while biscuits go into a basket or a plastic bag.

Once the assistant’s basket/ plastic bag fills up, he runs to the wat to dump the goods in what I surmise to be the wat’s common storage (also in the form of a basket).

(b) You can stand on the steps of the Wat Xieng Thong for an “aerial view” of the ceremony.

Lastly,

(c) The ceremony is a sacred ritual, not a sporting event.  Never, EVER, point your cameras (whether with or without flash) directly to the monks’ faces.

(There is this one particular Asian guy who really annoyed me because he had paparazzi lens and yet stood right in front of the monks, the women, AND the children to take pictures. :()

Whatever type of camera you are using, please.  R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  Always position yourself on the other side of the street or from a considerable distance.

Out of all the things I’ve seen and heard in Luang Prabang, this, by far is a personal favorite.  I sincerely hope that tradition will win over the pressure of “modernization”.

Globe-Trotting (HONG KONG): I Wish I Knew How To Speak Fluent Chinese

According to Rule No. 1, I can post archival data. 😀

Favorite Throwback

(to my childhood)

As you may already be aware of, I get a kick out looking for and drinking Fanta.  In Hong Kong, there’s always the Orange and the occasional Lime but I was extremely blown away when I actually spotted a Grape at the OK Convenience Store right across from work.  It’s not the same as drinking it out of the bottle (no straw) but close enough.

Favorite Dip

I usually like my McNuggets dry (i.e., no barbecue sauce, please).  But when my sister  (who was in Hong Kong the same week I was albeit for vacation) recommended the Honey Mustard, I couldn’t resist.  It also helps that I see Hello Kitty’s fez when I lather my chicken bits with dip. 🙂

Favorite Chinese

Our side of the harbour is catered to tourists from mainland China.  Thus, suffice it to say that even if I badly wanted to hang out here, I couldn’t.  Yup, not even for the free WIFI.  This is the only time I wish I knew how to speak fluent Chinese. 😦

Favorite Office

How awesome is it that I have to go through inside Times Square to reach our office?  I was a good girl though— never swiped my card (although I can’t deny that the urge was omnipresent).

Favorite Perk-Me-Up

I spent the last day of our business trip with this giant mug of love.  What Starbucks? 🙂

Globe-Trotting (HONG KONG): Kicking the Ass of Lady Starbucks!

This hole-in-the-wall cafe is easy to miss especially since the Times Square block is littered with signboards and flashy ads.  In a strange way, it reminds me of “Platform Nine and Three Quarters” of the Harry Potter fame.  You’ll reach it, only if you’re meant to. 🙂

  Definitely not on your touristy map!

Dim as a dungeon early morning.

At night, the entrance is illumined in blinding light.

I’m not making a mockery of the place when I say it’s only as big as my kitchen and bathroom, combined.  In fact, its size is part of its charm.  People do not come in droves but alone or in twos, having the most intimate coffee experience on this side of the harbour.

Early bird!  I’m only comfortable taking a picture

when there are no other patrons around. 🙂

A steaming cup of Latte Macchiato (HKD25.00)

to reward myself after a grueling day at work. 🙂

Cafe Corridor’s interior is a hodgepodge of mismatched chairs, polaroids, alcohol bottles, and framed art.  It’s a nook and cranny for anything and everything quirky.  That’s why it appeals to me immensely! 😀

I wish I had the luxury of trying all items on their menu.

A fun way to drink water from the tap. 🙂

Ready, set, SMILE!!!

I had the opportunity to dine here on our only free day off from the business trip and wasn’t disappointed at all.  I ordered the All-Day Breakfast which constitutes of toast, eggs, hash, and sausages (HKD45.00).

I also had the Cappuccino Mocha (HKD35.00) and was delighted that the barista shaped the foam into a heart (deep down, I’m cheesy too, haha!).

I still can’t decide whether it’s best to hang out at Cafe Corridor at night (crowd: teenagers from Mainland China) or in the morning (crowd: white expatriates) so I will say both if only to escape Hong Kong’s glamourized “Binondo” feel. 😀

Globe-Trotting (CAMBODIA): Cruising Khmer Land Like A Khaleesi ;)

I don’t drive.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  I don’t drive in Manila.  I could if I wanted to but I don’t.  Being enclosed in a four-wheel drive and stuck in horrendous traffic will only result to multiple insurance claims— death or otherwise.  If another vehicle (or a police officer) pisses me off, I would most probably and deliberately crash my car into it (or him) out of rage.  I’m murderous that way. 😀

For USD2.00, you can rent Manong Khmer’s bike for an entire day.

Cambodia, more specifically Siem Reap,  is a different terrain altogether.  I LOVE cruising Khmer Land, albeit on a second-hand Japanese bicycle.  Again, let me rephrase:  I love cruising Khmer Land on a second-hand Japanese bicycle rented at my suking Manong Khmer na tindahan. 🙂

Nope, no photos of Manong Khmer and  his Khmer minions

because I’m not your average exploitative turista. 🙂

Bicycles in Cambodia are as prolific as Filipino soap operas.  They are everywhere.  There is always a rental shop a stone’s throw away.  Mind you, these shops are a gold mine.  Most of them offer a wide range of services such as laundry, ironing, and computer repairs.

My suking Manong Khmer na tindahan, however, isn’t as close to the hotel as I’d like it to be.  In fact, it took me forever to find it.  I was scouting for a bike with a look and feel that veered from your usual Parisian influence if only to distinguish mine when I park it beside those which are.

Most bicycles in Cambodia don a wicker basket. 

Manong Khmer’s had the atypical supermarket kind.

Somewhere between boyfriends, college, and my dad sending my mountain bike to his farm— I stopped biking.  “Racing” with childhood friends (and being chased by asong kalyes) became a thing of the past.

One push from Manong Khmer and the past became present.

Back then I didn’t have the luxury of a baby bicycle or training wheels so I taught myself how to ride a grown up one.  Like most childhood friends lost, I thought the memory of riding would elude me in Cambodia.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I asked Manong Khmer to adjust the seat three times before I became comfortable with the height.  And yes, I panicked when after two successive tries kicking the pedal, I couldn’t find my balance.  Manong Khmer was too kind to recognize my difficulty frustration and with one single push from him, I was off— squealing in victory.

  Full stop on a red light. 

Streets in Cambodia are a hodgepodge of cars, tuktuks,

motorcycles, and bicycles.

        Kuma-Khaleesi!!! 🙂

I’ve never felt more like Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen on her silver.

CHOS!!! 🙂

I get such a high whenever I see banks all over Cambodia. 🙂

Parking like a pro at the Red Piano.

Gliding on a bike wearing a modernized Khmer sampot.

BEST BORNDAY EVER!!! 🙂

Globe-Trotting (CAMBODIA): Khmer Chomp

I went to The Red Piano for Angelina Jolie.

The menu’s not as pricey as its cover looks. 

Meals range from USD3.00 to USD7.00.  Not bad at all.

To feel her “presence” via the Tomb Raider Cocktail, at least.

If my Fashion Police memory serves me right,

this is the dress she wore at the premiere of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

I intentionally didn’t take a snapshot of the famous cocktail for the following reasons:

1.  It wasn’t photogenic— clearly outshined by the icon it was inspired by.  A man sitting next to me who ordered the same thing exclaims, disappointed: “This is it?  I thought it was gonna be a badass drink because, you know, they called it ‘Tomb Raider’— this is too girly!”

2.  I want to bring a travel companion next time and see the look on his/ her face upon being served the cocktail.

3.  I’m never a spoiler. 🙂

Beverage mishap aside, this restaurant is still my go-to place in Siem Reap.  I think we are all aware how maarte I am when it comes to food.  I’m not very adventurous, that is, if I can’t imagine how it was cooked or what’s in it, no thank you.  That’s why I’m not into Asian or Filipino cuisine.  My palate is more inclined to the Italian and American smorgasbord.  The Red Piano’s menu had a variety of those (and more).

Pork Cordon Bleu, a specialty

(Punas laway, sabay himatay!)

Ordering the above photo is a bit of a wait but worth every second of its taste.  You can immediately tell that it was made fresh by the chef.  Every layer is piping hot and gooey (the cheese) and doesn’t feel as if they’ve been pre-attached/ pre-packaged the way most cordon bleu meat are.

Bacon Butty for my bornday brekkie.

This would be your average crisp French bread and butter,

if it weren’t for all that divine bacon. 🙂

The only Starbucks in Cambodia is over at Phnom Penh which is why I’m beyond grateful that The Red Piano’s Iced Coffee delivers a similar kick as the global franchise.  This like my Siem Reap Red Bull! 🙂

Ice melts fast dining alfresco (oh, that infernal heat!)

but the staff can serve you more, upon request.

Sugar syrup and milk too. 🙂

As I am your typical lola in her twenties, I didn’t hang out at The Red Piano late at night (hello, 9:00PM bedtime).  I reckon the restaurant interior’s just as “happenin'” as it is during the day.

 

How awesome can it get in that Communist shade of red?

For my buddy Paul. 🙂

Granny Yammie’s coveted outdoor dining spot is over here.

I’m counting the days until I can get another plane ticket to Siem Reap.  Hopefully by then, I’ll have someone to toast the Tomb Raider with. 🙂

Globe-Trotting (CAMBODIA): Hello, Angkor City.

I’ve figured (and proven) that the BEST way to get acquainted with Angkor City is to clock in at the National Museum before heading out to explore the Archaelogical Park.  In there you will learn everything you need to know about the temples you intend to visit from history to religion to yes— even clothing— and more importantly, architecture.

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Segue: In fact, it was primarily the Museum which inspired me to purchase

my very own “modernized” Khmer sampot. 🙂

Entrance fee costs USD13.00 plus an additional USD3.00 if you want to loan a headset (which I did).  Even at the Musee du Louvre, I opt for borrowing a headset because I’m really tamad to read museum text.  Besides, it’s an excellent way to block white noise (i.e., turistas yakking and yakking with no decency in respecting the sanctity of a museum).

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Asura the Demon

I just know it’s gonna be a fabulous day because

my alter-ego welcomed me.  Bwahahaha! 😀

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I get a kick out of seeing Khmer writing even if I don’t understand a thing.

Unlike other turistas who compare the Angkor National Museum to other museums in Paris or New York City, I choose not to.  I think it’s unfair because Cambodia may not have easy access to top-of-the-line resources that other world class museums do.  Heck, I’m from the Third World myself.  And though I’m DYING to bash my country’s national museum, I’d rather shut my trap for the same reason.

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Reminds me of our 1998 visit to the Getty.

I wish visitors were allowed to take snapshots inside the galleries so I can show you where my phobia for Siddhartha and all Hindu gods began.  *snickers*  It’s childish, I know.  But after being the only person in a gallery where they keep 1,000+ images of Buddha, I couldn’t help but develop an irrational aversion for the gods. 🙂

Asura (na naman)

Winner ang pout! 🙂

If you exit the Archeaological Park,

you may notice that most of the heads are missing. 

I reckon they are now displayed here.

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  Inasmuch as I’d like to sneak a handful, my inner Ms. Minchin triumphed in following the rules.  That, and for fear of being (a) deported or (b) jailed.  (Oh, the extent of my imagination.  Hehe.  :))

Globe-Trotting (CAMBODIA): Kamusta ka naman, NAIA?

The Internet is no stranger to snide remarks about the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), specifically, Terminal 1.  And for good reason.  I, for one, truly believe that the airport experience (being your first point of contact with the destination) is a foreshadowing of what your trip will be like in that country.  Well, at least that’s a proven theory in my travels. 🙂

Here is my last known photo at Terminal 1.  Bound for Hongkong in 2007.  I say “last known” because I usually fly PAL which parks at Terminal 2 and an entirely different story altogether.

Somber, methinks.

Early morning, just rolled out of bed, turista look.

(Potangena!  And I was way skinnier too.)

Happy Camper at the Immigration. 

By this time, my sister is super annoyed of taking my photos.  😀

(I was a camwhore in my yesteryears.)

In 2007, I didn’t think NAIA was terrible.  But having seen snapshots and read pleas for renovation littered all over the Web, I couldn’t avoid agreeing.  Yup, the Philippine Airports do need a major overhaul.  I want a bidet in every cubicle at the ladies’ banyo.  Demanding ba??? 🙂

The thing is, in terms of aesthetics (I won’t deny that’s what I’m mostly concerned about), our international airports are far behind.  I won’t post pictures of NAIA’s facade because the literature of such is extensive online.  :)  But here’s three of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga.

I don’t understand why the signages are an ugly taxi yellow.  If there are provisions governing appropriate color schemes for airports, please feel free to leave a note on this blog.  I need an explanation! 🙂

There is hope, however.  I noticed ongoing construction to improve the airport facilities.  Salamat naman!  Paki-revise na rin sana ang color scheme.  Haha! 😀

I don’t usually judge an airport by its “grandeur” but when I landed on Siem Reap International Airport, I was completely floored.  Not by the ginormous Buddha that rests above you as you claim your baggage (no photos, sorry, you have to be there!) but by the humility it possesses.  Just like everything else in Cambodia. 🙂

If the airport smelled of lavender and played New Age-y music, it would’ve felt like a real spa because of the greenery in the courtyards.

I was also impressed by their immigration system.  Picture-taking and fingerprint-scanning were a breeze.  It reminded me of LAX’s, a friendlier version, that is. 🙂

Checking in…

Waiting for the damn plane to fly me back to hell, este, the Philippines

Another insane personal theory I concocted while traveling: the food sold at the airport is just as bad as it is.

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport

(Baka dapat nag-San Mig Light na lang ako?  :D)

Siem Reap International Airport

And yes, the latter also has a . . .

. . . in every cubicle at the WC.  For maarte travelers like yours truly. 🙂

Sooo.  Noynoy, I am a HUGE fan of your father.  But the airport that bears his name is, without a doubt, kawawa compared to what I’ve witnessed in Cambodia.  I didn’t grow up idolizing Diosdado Macapagal but even I have to admit that I’d rather fly in Clark than in NAIA.

Globe-Trotting (CAMBODIA): Did I just get “robbed”?

You’ve probably turned deaf from hearing me rave non-stop about Siem Reap.  Now I must confess that there is something I didn’t enjoy in Cambodia’s northwest.

Et voila, the Cambodian Cultural Village.

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Don’t be fooled by the photo.  It’s not as quaint and picturesque as it looks.

It was my first “official” day in Cambodia.  I wanted to take it light having woken up way too early and flown in from Malaysia.  After a couple of hours in the Angkor National Museum, I didn’t know where else to go.  Surely the Angkor Archeological Park was out of the question because I planned on catching the sunrise the next day.  And though it was 1:00PM, I wasn’t really aching for a meal in Pub Street (full brekkie at the hotel).

Thus, I ended up at the Cambodian Cultural Village.  Having never heard of it from travel guides I read online, clearly, should have served as fair warning.  But I wanted to kill my curiosity since I saw the place on the way to the hotel from the airport.

It is too Nayong Pilipino for my taste. 🙂

I know that at some point, Filipino kids have been forced to join field trips to Nayong Pilipino by their schools but back then, I already remember thinking that the visit is an exercise in futility.  Hello, why not just cart us off to the real historical sites!  As you can tell, I don’t exactly possess “Pinoy Pride”.  Tee-hee. 🙂

Just like its Pinoy counterpart, the Village had miniatures though even I have to admit that our “dioramas” are way better.  :)  Note: I haven’t been to the actual places yet so please forgive me if I got the names wrong. 🙂

Tuol Sleng also known as S-21 or Pol Pot’s Secret Prison, Phnom Penh

(now a Genocide Museum)

The Royal Palace, Phnom Penh

And other significant landmarks that don’t ring a bell (to me) at all.  Feel free to leave a comment if you know what these are— unfortunately, I couldn’t read the descriptions as they have long been worn and faded. 😦

The Village also boasts of “authentic displays of Khmer culture” in various theaters styled as native huts like this.

I was looking forward to witnessing a traditional Khmer wedding (sappy, haha!) but decided to skip it because there was still an hour’s worth of wait (the performances are spaced and scheduled as there are quite a number of “theaters”/ shows around the Village).

I felt robbed.  The entrance fee is USD15.00— steep and unreasonable for an attraction which has very little to offer.  :(  A day trip to the Angkor Archeological Park costs USD20.00 and you get to see the Angkor Wat and its surrounding and “covered” temples!

The only highlight of my miserable afternoon is when I stopped for a Fanta at one of the concessionaires.  The sellers were two teen Khmer girls still in what I assume their school uniforms (because other sellers are in regular day wear).  They helped me navigate through my map of the Siem Reap province.  Had it not been for them, I would’ve stormed out of the Village fuming mad of the dollars I lost. 🙂

Globe-Trotting (CAMBODIA): Dear Coca-Cola

I’m not claiming to be an expert in the carbonated drinks industry but as far as I know, Fanta is a noted absence in Manila.  I never bothered checking at S&R because there are only two things I buy when my family goes grocery-shopping there:

1. Cheese Hungarian Sausage

2. Clam Chowder (available on the pizza eat-in/ takeaway area)

Anyway.

Fanta constitutes a chunk of my childhood, where, after playing all afternoon in the kalye— my lola or yaya would spare me some coins so that I can buy a bottle at a nearby sari-sari store.  The seller usually puts them inside a plastic with straw but I prefer drinking directly from the bottle (I was a grubby child, I know).  Back then, my favorite flavor is Grape.  I don’t even eat real grapes, I just like drinking grape juice.

We moved to a different neighborhood when I was twelve where sari-sari stores ceased to be ubiquitous.  I honestly don’t remember when I stopped drinking Fanta but it could be any of the following (or a combination of) reasons:

1. They were no longer available in the market.

2. I became too old to play in the kalye, thus, no longer entitled to a thirst quencher after hours out in the sun.

3. People in the new neighborhood don’t buy goods at a sari-sari store.  They get them at the local grocer which is approximately a 5-minute tricycle ride away from our house (Waiting time for a tricycle to come by: 15 minutes???).

I missed Fanta not for how it tasted but for the childhood memories attached to drinking it.  That is why I was delighted to find them all over Siem Reap.  The first time I saw one, I actually let out a tiny squeal.

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Who doesn’t love orange soda?

A can usually costs USD1.00 but in my suking Khmer na tindahan, retail price is KHR4,000.00 = USD1.00 for two cans.  I stressed the use of the Cambodian Riel because unlike the other merchants in Siem Reap, my suki calculates everything in KHR. 🙂

My suki only carries one flavor (Orange) and so do the surrounding stores in the hotel’s block.  Which is why I was absolutely thrilled to find flavors I never tasted before.

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Lychee, sold by a little Khmer girl at Beng Mealea

I actually wanted the Strawberry and she didn’t hesitate to dive into the Coca-Cola cooler looking for one but turns out, they ran out so I opted for this.  I’m not disappointed though.  I have such a sweet tooth. 🙂

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Fruit Punch, sold by a teen Khmer at Banteay Samre

I was offered to sit on the shade by the teen Khmer who sold it to me.  She, the merchants her age and I got into a very interesting conversation where I asked them how they learned English (no school but from tourists while selling), how much is a sack of rice (they buy in kilos for KHR2,000.00 = USD0.50 = 1 kilo of good rice— emphasis on good), if they are acquainted with television (Marian Rivera soap operas imported from Manila), etc.

I admire their resilience.  Banteay Samre is not one of the more popular temples so they seize every opportunity to hound tourists with Khmer silks, books, “cold drink(s)”— to earn a measley Dollar. 😦

When I came home, I was really bummed not to have Fanta on my daily “diet”.  On hindsight, however, perhaps it’s all right if they no longer sell Fanta in Manila.  Just so, whenever I see one, I can continue creating memories associated with this lovely drink. 🙂

Pic(ks) of the Mid-Week: Couples, Brands, and Superstars

Favorite Couple

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Photo Credit: D’s Fezbook Newsfeed 🙂

I said YES!  And by that I mean, I agreed to walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid on my favorite twosome’s wedding.  Mind you, I promised myself that my brother’s union would be the last I’d attend as one of the entourage but when this bride and groom asked me to be part of their ceremony, I couldn’t resist.

Laughter and a solid friendship are what I consider non-negotiables in a relationship.  Before these two became a couple, they were the best of friends.  The only things that hurt when I hang out with them are my sides.  From laughing.  I’m already counting the days to their December wedding. 😀

Favorite Brand

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Products from my kitchen

Right: 2007 to 2013

Left: 2013 onwards

I chanced upon Messy Bessy when I was dropping off clothes for dry cleaning at a neighborhood laundry which prides itself for being “eco-friendly”.  That was way back in 2007 and since then, I’ve been loyal to its household cleaning products such as:

(a) Dishwashing Liquid = Before, this product came only in one variant.  Now, it boasts of different scents: Aloe & Green Tea, Kiwi Lemon, Vanilla Orange, and my personal pick, Ocean Rain.  Cost: PHP130.00 (500ml); PHP440.00 (2-liter refill)

(b) Hand Wash = Like the dishwashing liquid, only one variant was available back then (i.e., Aloe & Green Tea) and it was marketed for hand use.  Today, this product comes in all scents as the dish cleaner and may now be used for lathering your body.  Cost: PHP180.00 (500ml); PHP500.00 (2-liter refill)

(c) Woody Wood Cleaner & Conditioner = Pledge gives me the sniffles  and a headache.  Which is why I’m very grateful for this alternative.  It shines my piano, furniture, and floor and smells of practically nothing!  Cost: PHP450.00 (500ml)

(d) Minty Orange Surface Cleaner = I use this product for cleaning my refrigerator and countertops.  It agrees with me because the citrus odor is hardly strong and with the right amount of spray, leaves any surface gleaming.  Cost: PHP240.00 (500ml); PHP440.00 (2-liter refill)

Favorite Teenybopper Superstar

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Photo Credit: Miley Ray Cyrus, on Twitter

With the recent release of her new single, We Can’t Stop, Teen Queen Miley Cyrus ditches her Disney-patented crown for, in my opinion, a soul.  Some might call her trashy.  I applaud her for being real.

She was never Hannah Montana.  It was just a part she played for far too long.  She wasn’t meant to be a role model for young girls.  She’s an artist who has proven that she continues to evolve.

I fuckin’ love her. 😀

Pic(ks) of the Week: Bedtime stories, aging, and . . . Kit Kat.

Favorite Pasalubong

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Right: From K, who now lives in Japan

Left: From my Kuya and sister-in-law, who visited San Francisco 

I’ve been constantly hearing raves from people who are privileged to taste Kit Kat in flavors aside from milk chocolate.  My sister’s personal favorite is its Green Tea variant.  Mine would have to be Lychee (pictured above).  Forgive me, my knowledge of the Japanese language is nil so I only based “Lychee” from how my palate dissected the wafer’s coating vis-a-vis how it was illustrated on the foil wrapping.  :D

The other flavors in photo are Strawberry Cheesecake and Dark Chocolate.  I can’t say much for either because both are predictable and ordinary.  Hmmm.  Any chance that Nestle came up with a Tiramisu?  :)

***

I arrived from a week-long Hanoi vacation just as my brother and sister-in-law were leaving for San Francisco.  I originally asked for a Starbucks city tumbler to add to my growing collection but I was informed that they only had the city mug so I told them not to bother.  Instead, they bought me Starbucks VIA Iced Caramel which is:

(a) not available in Manila (BOO!); and

(b) on sale where 5 sachets = USD2.99 (YEA!)

Favorite Bedtime Story

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The thing about reading is that you can go through so many phases and still come full circle.  I fluctuate:

(a) from celebrity-penned fiction to history non-fiction;

(b) from young adult to fantasy; and

(c) from crime to the classics.

My current obsession is Nordic crime fiction in general, and the Nina Borg series, in particular.  Nina is a do-gooder nurse who is always compelled to save someone, else, the world.  The Boy in the Suitcase is the first installment.  Nina’s story is not as perverted as Lisbeth Salander’s but close.  I’m putting Invisible Murder on-hold until Death of a Nightingale debuts in November 2013.  I hate cliffhangers.

Favorite Spiel

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It’s never because I “aged considerably” (ahem, 30!).  It’s because I have always been, well, to put it bluntly, anti-social.  I would rather spend an entire day horizontal in bed reading, instead of worming my way through crowded bars.  Unless you are extremely special in my books (pun intended), I won’t crawl out of the covers for coffee, brunch, or a wedding.  :D

Pic(ks) of the Week: Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.

Favorite New Discovery

La Petite Camille - Deep Fried Ice CreamMilky Way Cafe - Halo-Halo

Left: Deep Fried Ice Cream from La Petite Camille

Right: Halo-Halo from Milky Way Cafe

I’ve been a full-time resident of Makati, Philippines since 2007 and I’m ashamed to admit that it is only fairly recently that I’m trying out the cafes and restaurants around the city.

La Petite Camille is a Chinese-owned Vietnamese restaurant located at Greenbelt 5.  Restaurants in Makati don’t last very long.  I’m hoping this one does.  The Vietnamese coffee is as good as the cups served in its land of origin.  I doubt that the Deep Fried Ice Cream is an authentic Vietnamese dessert.  However, I’m glad it’s on the menu.

Milky Way Cafe, on the other hand, dates as far back as the 1960s.  At least, its bevy of Filipino recipes do.  The actual cafe opened its doors along Arnaiz Avenue in 2002.  It boasts of the rarest gem (at least for me) in Makati: the ultimate Filipino dessert, Halo-Halo.  Unlike most Halo-Halo typical of Pinoy restaurants, Milky Way’s version has less and smoother crushed ice which blends perfectly with the dessert’s ingredients.  This is so addicting that I’ve been having it every Friday for two weeks now.

Favorite Show on Earth

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I have yet to find a friend (or stranger) who loves Boardwalk Empire as much as I do.  I’m partial to HBO since Sex and the City debuted in 1998.  I’ve been following some of the shows, albeit the DVD release, like Six Feet Under, Entourage, and The Sopranos.  Obviously, I’m far behind but mind you, I don’t really enjoy watching TV.  I’m more inclined to patronize films.

If I were to live in a decade of my own choosing, it would have to be the 1920s.  I’m convinced that my soul belongs to the era of cloche hats, American gangsters, the Jazz Age, and Prohibition.

Anyway, my favorite character in Boardwalk Empire, was axed by the producers killed off on the second season: Jimmy Darmody (played by Michael Pitt).  Why bastards like Lucky Luciano and Mickey Doyle outlive him is beyond me.  Still, his death doesn’t prevent me from religiously indulging myself with the series.

Favorite WTF Moment

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I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this clothing line showcased at the premiere local department store in the Philippines.  Only because the lack of creativity in terms of its brand name is, I’m sorry, laughable.  One of my biggest pet peeves is movie piracy.  This comes in close second.

“Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery” goes the proverbial expression first heard in the 18th century.  I beg to disagree.

Pic(ks) of the Week: Treats, Trainwreck, and Bargain

Favorite Treats

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One thing you should know about me is I tend not to open some of my Christmas presents until, well, February.  Thus, these tiny pieces of chocolate heaven should have been listed as one of my holiday picks but weren’t because I almost forgot about them.

It’s not that I receive a lot of gifts.  I don’t.  Which is precisely why I never bother to look under the tree because I’m not expecting a surprise for me.

These treats were given to me by one of my good friends from the Bank, Ms. F.  They came in a small plastic jar with a fluffy snowman head on its lid.  I use the jar to store little notes I’ve written this year on people, places, and events that put a smile on my face or a laughter in my belly.  :D

Favorite Trainwreck

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I will never understand the basis of scheduling films in Manila.  There are occasions when the release is aligned with the United States but there are instances when it’s utterly delayed.

Take Savages, for example.  I purchased the DVD from a local bookstore.  Weeks later, it opened.  I would’ve preferred to watch the movie on the big screen but since I already have Blake Lively immortalized on home video, well, I wouldn’t waste a few more bucks on her.

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Three reasons why, in spite of being “star-studded” and directed by Oliver Stone, I think the film didn’t live up to Don Winslow’s genius:

(a) Blake Lively as “O”: She may be the epitome of a California Teenage Dream but did the story have to be narrated on her point of view?  Her voice is as annoying as the screenplay’s ending.

(b) Taylor Kitsch as “Chon”: An actor as forgettable as Taylor Kitch should not portray the immutable Chon.

(c) John Travolta as “Dennis”: The acting tries too hard.  I’m inclined to cast someone anonymous to which he will be applauded for.

Favorite Bargain

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Dress: Dorothy Perkins

Ballet Flats: Parisian from, dare I even say it, SM Masinag

I have two ratty dresses in my closet.  This is one of them.  It has a small tear on the side which I keep on neglecting because:

(a) It’s not even vulgar; and

(b) I suck at sewing.

The shoes were a random find at the one of the most obscure SM branches I know: Masinag.  :D  We took my niece there for a Sunday stroll (it’s less than a kilometer from where she lives).  Her nanny, much to my awe, pointed the flats out to me because they were on sale at PHP499.00.

Pic(ks) of the Week: I should be removed from the “Bacon Lover” category.

The last time I did this was 2 months and 28 days ago so forgive me if I’m a little bit rusty.

Favorite Disappointment

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Everyone loves bacon.  But you are encouraged to disagree with me, if you feel that that declaration is not all-encompassing.

Which is why I was thrilled to learn that a famous local deli opened in my neighborhood serving the bacon lover’s dream: Bacon Slab, priced at PHP320.00.

The dish’s name speaks for itself.  It is one GINORMOUS slab of bacon served with bacon rice and eggs sunny side up.  Apparently, I should be removed from the “Bacon Lover” category because I hated this.  :(

Wait, hear me out, at least.

(a) I don’t like eating fat.  Whether on a traditional pork barbecue or a simple pork stew, I always remove that layer of fat stuck to the meat.

(b) I prefer my bacon to be thin, crisp, and toasted.  This is a slab so obviously, it doesn’t suit my preference.

The meal is a gamble but for what it’s worth, I’m just relieved to have finally killed the curiosity upon hearing amazing reviews on this bacon lover’s dream.

Favorite Spiel

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Inasmuch as I’d like to take credit for this meme, I can’t.  But for those who know me only too (physically and mentally) well, I’m sure you can imagine me delivering these lines perfectly.  :D

Favorite (Wedding) Party Favor

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I’m not just saying that I love live for cupcakes because they are one of Manila’s latest craze.  When I asked my mom what she constantly craved for while she was pregnant with me, she replied: “Cakes”.  So there you have it.  The only justification for my sweet tooth and strong affinity for all kinds of baked goodies.

There are various cupcake stores all over the metro but my favorite would have to be Sonja’s.  In fact, I usually order half a dozen of their Lemon Cupcakes and finish the entire box in, well, less than three days.

Pictured above are obviously not my personal Sonja’s pick but that of my friend M’s.  These were served at her wedding January this year.  What’s more, each guest had a takeaway box too.  I love that I went home from the ceremony/ wedding party with my brand of cupcake.

Favorite Surprise

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Ever since he was deployed in Vietnam, my dad has been bringing home  paintings of street artists he commissioned.  They were always of the countryside so my jaw literally dropped when he came home with this.  

I’ve always wanted to “sleep with” Che Guevara.  :D  And with Papa’s intention to hang the painting at my place, I finally can.  :)

Favorite Souvenir

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It’s no secret that I collect Starbucks tumblers from all over the world.  My sister, who embarked on a recent trip to Vietnam albeit for leisure, had the privilege of witnessing the first Starbucks opening its doors to Ho Chi Minh city.

Cover art of Starbucks tumblers vary one country to another, or from city to city.  Vietnam’s shows a woman wearing a farmer’s hat with her head bowed low as if in submission.  Hmmm.

Holiday 2012 Picks: Merry Happy!

Favorite Errand

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Before you pass on severe judgment, let me just clarify that I didn’t buy the stupid catalogue for myself.  I’m not going to feign ignorance on half the stars who made the cover but come on.  I’m more Hollywood than Kapamilya (Or Kapuso.  Or Kapatid.  Or what-the-fuckever.).  I do not patronize this kind of bat-shit.  :D

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(I did, however, own an older version of the above magazine with Marian Rivera as its front-runner.  In my defense, it was only due to my very, very, VERY brief Darna fangirling phase.  :D)

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So what are these glossies for, anyway?  Well, believe it or not, these are pasalubong for my cousin in Arizona.  My family thought I’d be the right person to send on this errand.  No complaints here.  :)

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I didn’t know how “lonely” she is so even though I was instructed to buy “chismis” magazines only, I added these two specifically to:

(a) broaden her fashion choices yet keeping it close to home— i.e. Preview; and

(b) “corrupt” her perspective on art (I was told she’s a budding artist)— i.e., Rogue.

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I wrapped the bundle up in Lili and Nana paper so as not to cheapen it further.  Yezzz, maarte lang talaga ako.  🙂

Favorite Hue

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The concept of “glitter” is quite traumatic to me (OA!  :D) for two reasons:

(a) Mariah Carey’s trainwreck movie; and

(b) Grade School art class.

Apparently, I’m healed because I added another Solemate to my shoe closet.

Favorite Message

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One of the few things I look forward to during the holidays are the gingerbread creations displayed at business district hotels or our neighborhood country club.  I don’t even mind not being able to taste them.  A feast for the eyes is more than enough.  :)

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Every gingerbread art you see on this post was handcrafted by a child.  I wasn’t around when the actual gingerbread making was held at The Palms Country Club.  Thankfully, though, these babies were hung at the lobby.  I took photos when we had our Noche Buena.

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It was overwhelming to witness the children’s creativity.  I wish I had the luxury of time to devote a snapshot to each.  Such a shame that I can only share with you my favorites.

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Merry Happy!  :)

Favorite Freebie

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Technically, this isn’t a freebie because my brother had to buy a PHP3,000.00+ sterilizer and it was only then that he was awarded the reusable bag.  Kuya originally opted for the color green but since he was giving the bag to me and the shade reminded me of my cheerleader pom-poms back in high school, I (kindly) ordered him to exchange it for fuschia.  :D

Pic(ks) of the Week: When it comes to the Twilight franchise, I would have to give you a flat NO. Well, almost.

Favorite Surprise

Did I ever tell you?  There are only three kinds of fruit I eat:

(a) Apple;

(b) Pineapple; and

(c) Banana.

I guess you could say that’s one of my bizillion quirks.  :D

Anyway, the menu at Cravings promised walnuts with this “Baked Apple Crumble” but there are absolutely no walnuts and no crumble either.

But I’m not complaining.  This is the best dessert I’ve had in, let’s say, ten days (I’m a dessert monster!)— bite-sized apples swimming in warm syrup and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dash of cream cheese.  Mouthful!  :)

Favorite OOTD

Dress: Dorothy Perkins

Ballet Flats: Solemate

(from SM— can you believe it! Har.)

What “children” are wearing these days never cease to amaze (okay, maybe disgust) me.  Don’t even say the words FASHION BLOGGER to my face.  Because, really.  I just might start throwing things.  :D

If those kids were able to play with paper dolls instead of Barbie (or Bratz na ba? Whatever.  :)) when they were younger, they’d know what real style meant.  IMHO.

Favorite WTF Moment

I’m the BIGGEST (literally and figuratively) teenybopper I know but when it comes to the Twilight franchise, I would have to give you a flat NO.  Well, almost.  This Grape Float from Jollibee nearly encouraged me to actually go and see the finale.

Favorite Batshit

Don Winslow - Savages

I swore to myself that I will not read Savages even long after finishing its prequel, The Kings of Cool, until I found a copy without Blake Lively’s face on it.

(Obviously, I did.  Thank God, Buddha, and Allah!)

More than the anti-hero, Ben, this novel is a must-read for the women.  Don’t worry.  Magda, Elena, O, and PAQU are not your stereotype damsels-in-distress.  On the contrary.