Saturday, September 22, 2012

TAIPEI: Budget and Itinerary (2)


SATURDAY: September 15, 2012
Taxi (Makati - NAIA 3) - 117.00
Travel Tax (NAIA 3) - 1,620.00
Terminal Fee (NAIA 3) - 550.00
Cebu Pacific (Manila - Taipei - Manila) - 4,197.52
PhP6,484.52

Friday, September 21, 2012

NANTOU: Budget and Itinerary


FRIDAY: September 21, 2012
Nantou Bus (Taichung - Sun and Moon Lake) - 190.00
Bike Rent (Sun and Moon Lake) - 400.00
Late Lunch (Dolce Luna) - 280.00
Nantou Bus (Sun and Moon Lake - Taichung) - 190.00
HSR (Taichung - Taipei) - 700.00
TWD1,760.00

Estimate of TWD1PhP1.50

TOTAL - PhP2,640.00

YUCHI: 01 - Sun and Moon Lake's Cycling the Musical



No, Sun and Moon lake is in no way connected to Miss Saigon, although you can stage your own musical here with nature as your only audience. I sure did, and it was liberating. There is nothing more fun than having a go at Eric Carmen’s hits about how love is all that matters and being by yourself, in full volume, while on a mountain bike descending a slope at full speed. Come to think of it, I should have included Highway to Hell on that set list, except that this lake is really far from hell. Nor is it paradise but hey, the place is just perfect for nature lovers and health buffs alike, two categories under which I really do not fall but let us just pretend that I did. At first, I thought that nature might pelt me with stones or dead lake creatures because of our differences in musical taste, but she turned out to be just as tolerant and patiently listened to my impromptu concert, without caring that much whether I do not hit a note or be unable to sustain a vibrato for whatever chilling effect it might result in.

CHANGHUA: Budget and Itinerary


THURSDAY: September 20, 2012
HSR (Taipei - Taichung) - 700.00
Taxi (Zhongshan Rd - Corner Backpacker Hostel) - 100.00
Corner Backpacker Hostel (1 Bunk/1 Night) - 500.00
Brunch (Iris 113) - 99.00
Zhonglu Bus (Taichung - Lukang) - 93.00
Snacks (7 Eleven) - 85.00
Souvenirs (Lukang) - 570.00
Zhonglu Bus (Lukang - Taichung) - 93.00
Early Dinner (KFC) - 200.00
TWD2,440.00

Thursday, September 20, 2012

LUKANG: 01 - Taiwan's Second Oldest Town



Once again, change of plans. Taichung was just supposed to be a stopover where I would establish my base to go to Nantou. What I wanted to happen was take the high speed rail to Taichung, check in at the guest house, and then go directly to Nantou for one day at the Sun and Moon Lake. For the next day, I would be checking out and bringing my stuff to Formosan Aboriginal Park, which is also within the Sun and Moon Lake area, and head back to Taipei from there for my red eye flight from Taoyuan. And then I woke up at around 8 AM.

TAICHUNG: Corner Backpacker Hostel


To tell you the truth, my first impression of this guest house was a bit negative despite the cool pictures on its Hostelworld page. First, there was a negative post in there. Second, it was a bit difficult to find, as per the instructions given, which included taking a cab that I eventually did. Fortunately, everything changed when I met the owner and his sister, who are both very helpful and kind. Okay, so here is the drill. When you finally find the guest house, you are redirected to the breakfast café facing it via a note at the door. The owner is the café owner’s brother. The said sister would then contact his brother to check you in because he does not live in the guest house.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WANHUA: 01 - Window Shopping at Ximending



Ximending was not really on the itinerary. Neither was Taipei, but from what I have realized, and you have to excuse me for resorting to using this abused phrase: "You can take the boy out of the city, but you cannot take the city out of the boy". Hualien was a city alright, but I just needed to see some skyscrapers to relieve me of my homesickness. And so instead of going to Taitung and risk doing nothing because of the not so pleasant weather threatening my island hopping plans, I just bought a train ticket back to Taipei.

HUALIEN: Budget and Itinerary


SUNDAY: September 16, 2012
TRA (Taipei - Hualien) - 440.00
Snacks (TRA) - 50.00
Amigos Hostel (1 Bunk/2 Nights) - 1,000.00
Snacks (Bosondo Tea & Coffee) - 55.00
Drinks (7 Eleven) - 20.00
Dinner (Pizza Hut/Cafe 85c) - 251.00
TWD1,816.00

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

XIULIN: 01 - Taroko National Park


How do I describe Taroko Gorge? Well, it is one of those places that make you stop and stare, after which you begin to be grateful that you were born in this awesome planet. After the exhausting trip characterized by what seemed like endless walking and non-stop snapping of photos, I realized that the said place is just full of rocks, huge rocks, which has sort of become the defining attribute of the place. What seems to be a river has become a narrow stream of water, that is apparently the result of the dam controlling the water’s flow.

Monday, September 17, 2012

FENGBIN: 01 - Farglory Ocean Park and Your Dental Health



I have been to one glorified aquarium too many in this lifetime, why go see another one? I have nothing to do today, okay. I was supposed to go to Taroko National Park and maybe collapse in the middle of a hiking trail and die unnoticed, except that I woke up at around noon, and a good head start is recommended unless you want to be stranded there and have a slumber party with the snakes, which are said to be plenty this season. Paragliding was the second option, except that the ­feng is hen da. More or less they would not like their clients getting flown away too far and ending up in Fiji or some far-flung Polynesian island nation because of that strong wind. Paragliding would have been fun, and a first. If only that stupid typhoon would leave before Friday!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

HUALIEN: 01 - Amigos Hostel


This was the first one recommended on Wikitravel, and its name is not that hard to forget, so it was the hostel I inquired about at the Tourism Office. Luckily, the location of this guesthouse is accessible enough from the train station. Just walk straight down the road, turn right to 7 Eleven at the second block, and you reach the hostel after a block or two. Give it around 5 minutes, if you are a brisk-walker. Downtown is just down the road, although most people would say that it takes 30 minutes on foot, which is true if you are looking for something in particular such as KFC, which I only reached after half an hour of walking.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Mistress

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Sparks fly when JD (John Lloyd Cruz) meets Sari (Bea Alonzo) in a bookstore. He is persistent. She is reluctant. He is an architect who gets what he wants; a reluctant heir to the family’s business empire. She is the wardrobe mistress of a reputable tailoring shop; a persistent breadwinner who would do everything to support the big household relying on her. Theirs is a perfect love affair waiting to blossom, if everything were just made believe. Unfortunately, there is this thing called reality. He is his mother’s biggest secret. She is the kept woman of a business tycoon. Happy ending, anyone?

Mistresses here, mistresses there, they are everywhere! Even before No Other Woman last year, Pinoys have always been fascinated with this social phenomenon. Everyone just needs an annual dose of his querida movie, and this year's bet is no lightweight, but then again, the question: You have seen one too many kabit movies in this lifetime, do you really need to see another one? And if so, why this one?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bona (PETA)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Call center agent and Nazarene devotee Bona (Eugene Domingo) places her family aside and her career on hold to support the dreams of struggling wannabe actor Gino Sanchez (Edgar Allan Guzman), who gets eliminated first from a TV talent show called Star of Tomorrow. Despite the warnings of her friends and the arrival of a potential life partner in the person of the condominium’s landlord, Bona opts to prioritize Gino’s career up to the point of shelling out her hard-earned money that her sister and nephew need, distancing herself from her friends, and heating the water for his daily morning bath. In short, she is no longer just a fan, but a worshipper of someone who is obviously just using her.

I have not seen the Lino Brocka movie, and so I would not have the right to compare, although that one seems to have been a pure drama and very well-received by critics. As for the theater adaptation, it is more of a comedy, which is perhaps just apt since Domingo is already known for her acting prowess when it comes to this genre. The first half is pure comedy, while it is in the second half where the serious underlying issues start to surface. About two or three of the supporting actors are not alien to the theater scene, while the rest of the cast seem to be rather unknown, but still effective in portraying their roles.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bwakaw

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Mang Rene (Eddie Garcia) is retired, cynical, and gay. He continues to work for the post office anyway for lack of better things to do. His acerbic tongue brings nothing but squabbles with other residents of the sleepy town where he resides. Coming out of the closet quite late in his 60’s, he has no family to support him. His only companion in his old house is his dog Bwakaw (Princess), a stray Labrador retriever  that he decides to adopt. When not playing verbal judo with his beautician best friend (Soxie Topacio) and his loud cross-dressing assistant (Joey Paras), Rene takes time to visit an old friend (Armida Siguion-Reyna), his ex-girlfriend of fifteen years, in a retirement home. He also frequents the parish church to hand over his repeatedly revised last will and testament to the town pastor (Gardo Versoza). When the dog is eventually diagnosed with terminal-stage cancer, Rene’s life starts to fall apart, but begins to pick up again through his secret admiration for tricycle driver Sol (Rez Cortez).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Captive

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Thérèse Bourgoigne (Isabelle Huppert) is a French social worker based in the Philippines. Coming back late one night with a box of supplies along with her good old friend Soledad (Rustica Carpio) to a resort in Palawan, they suddenly find themselves getting ushered into a speed boat along with several other hostages by an armed group called the Abu Sayyaf, who plan to hold them captive for ransom. They transfer to another boat, craftily dodge patrolling marines, and go on what seems to be an endless hike in the jungles of Mindanao. This scenario takes more than a year, with a lot of casualties and harrowing experiences along the way.

Captive is dragging and long, but it comes as an advantage for the audience to emulate the tortured psyche of a person in captivity. You paid to see this movie, and you are held captive on your seat inside the theater not because someone is pointing an M-16 or a knife to your neck, but because you are curious as to what is going to happen next to the actors you are watching portraying the roles of hostages with an M-16 or a knife to their neck. It serves as some sort of psychological experiment, and in a way it is effective in that the feeling of being stranded is felt right there and then.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Do Bidoo Bidoo

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Barely out of college, Rock (Sam Concepcion) and Tracy (Tippy dos Santos) are getting married as a result of teenage pregnancy. Her mother (Zsa Zsa Padilla) does not agree because she thinks it will just be a repeat of what happened to her and her husband (Gary Valenciano), who actually wants the marriage to take place in order to save face. Rock's father (Ogie Alcasid), a one-hit wonder composer, is also cool with the idea, too bad his wife (Eugene Domingo) does not share the same sentiment. Telling their stories through various songs from the APO Hiking Society, I Doo Bidoo Bidoo is one enjoyable movie that serves as a genuine musical treat while also tackling an issue that is as relevant as it is timely.

Every time one hears the cue for yet another musical number, it is met with momentary awkwardness that is quickly replaced by a smile and an inexplicable shiver down the spine, maybe because you grew up listening to these songs that remind you of an era when Original Pilipino Music did exist, and was not yet characterized by the brain drain the industry is experiencing now. This movie might seem to be an excruciatingly dragging music video about marrying young, but because of these songs that effectively reflect the emotions of the characters, you have no other choice but enjoy, and perhaps sing along if you are not that shy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Amorosa: The Revenge

♣/♣♣♣♣♣

1992. A young woman (Empress) falls victim to rape and murder in an old house somewhere in Tagaytay. Fast forward to the present, Amorosa (Angel Aquino) is left without a husband after a road accident. Hounded by financial woes, she takes her sons Rommel (Enrique Gil) and Amiel (Martin del Rosario) to live in her aunt’s pension house in Tagaytay, where she would serve as manager and earn some much needed cash to support the family. Soon after they move in, the ghost starts to haunt her, drawing similarities from their situation regarding some difficult choices made in the past that have led to life-changing results.

Very good acting from Angel Aquino, particularly in that scene where she had to choose which son to save. She is one of the reasons why I almost wanted to give this movie four clovers out of five. It is a good thing that Enrique Gil does not get left behind. This kid can act, and it is nice to see two able actors sharing one screen. At least, not one gets to outshine the other. Lilia Cuntapay is also here, and uses her hair once again to provide some good old fashioned scare. It works every time!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera (Lunchbox Theatrical)

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

An old man bids for items from the past, including a chandelier with a rather interesting history. As it comes to life and hovers back to the ceiling where it belongs, everyone is transported to an old opera, where one witnesses the rise of Christine Daaé (Claire Lyon) from chorus girl to prima donna, taking the place of the opera's aging soprano, Carlotta. This she achieves through the aid of a mysterious tutor which she refers to as the Angel of Music. Everyone else calls him the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (Jonathan Roxmouth). With the arrival of her childhood sweetheart Raoul (Anthony Downing), she then faces a tough dilemma: how to escape the man to whom she owes her career so she could be with the man that she truly loves.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

HANOI: Budget and Itinerary


WEDNESDAY: August 29, 2012
Jetstar Pacific (Ho Chi Minh - Hanoi) - 1,139,000
May de Ville Backpackers Hostel (3 Nights/8 Bed Dorm) - 340,000
Airport Transfer (May de Ville Backpackers Hostel) - 378,000
Refreshments/Lock (May de Ville Backpackers Hostel) - 50,000
VND1,907,000

Saturday, September 1, 2012

[QUANG NINH] Budget and Itinerary


SATURDAY: September 1, 2012
Halong Bay Day Tour (May de Ville Backpackers) - 843,570
Refreshments (Stopover) - 20,000
Lunch Drinks (Boat) - 140,000
Snacks (Stopover) - 45,000
VND1,048,570

SUBTOTAL - VND1,048,570
Estimate of VND100,000.00 = PhP225.00

TOTAL - PhP2,359.29

[HA LONG] Ha Long Bay


I knew Ha Long bay would underwhelm me. Not to be unfair or anything, but even before I got there I already had preconceived notions of the place courtesy of hearsay and my undying admiration for Coron. Ha Long Bay had an automatic disadvantage because of this, but let us call a spade a spade and get to the details. Besides, I do not lambast something without reason. And so, what made me dislike Ha Long Bay? The brown water.

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