Tuesday, February 26, 2013

FUJIAN: Budget and Itinerary


FRIDAY: 22 February 2013
Taxi (Makati - NAIA 3) - 179.00
Travel Tax (NAIA 3) - 1,620.00
Terminal Fee (NAIA 3) - 550.00
Cebu Pacific (Manila - Xiamen - Manila) - 2,658.46
Rice Meal + Pepsi + Hot Choco + Dewberry (Cebu Pacific) - 500.00
PhP5,507.46

Monday, February 25, 2013

XIAMEN: 03 - Fun Getting Lost at Gulangyu


Gulangyu should have been the first stop of this tour, as most itineraries would suggest. It seems like everyone would readily volunteer that island if you ask which one place in Xiamen should not be missed. It almost fell victim to that it’s-near-anyway-so-I’ll-just-go-there-later phenomenon, but at least I still got to go. I was getting out of the guest house to head to the island when I met my new Filipino friend. We said we would still go in the evening, because his German roommate said it would probably be more enchanting sans the tourist infestation. As we stared at the night ferry that evening, however, we all just agreed that it would be better left for the next morning. And so they went the next day while I was exploring Hakka tulou. I could have gone with them but I could no longer cancel the tour I booked earlier. Oh well, alone time in a tourist island. Emo mood on!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

LONGYAN: 01 - Looks Like an Old Style Condo to Me


I think you should not go, but then you have to balance the pros and the cons before deciding for yourself. They are UNESCO World Heritage Sites after all, but that does not assure that they would not bore the hell out of you. Or maybe I just prefer majestic ruins? Or not. In any case, there are many of them spread out in a certain area of Longyan, and booking a tour is your best option unless you have your own car. That is if you want to visit more than one. I specifically booked Nanjing Tulou. You know, that with a square one in the middle but I ended up at Hakka Tulou anyway, which was not as bad. I guess. Fine! Rant later, directions for now.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

XIAMEN: 02 - Temple + University + Beach


To set the record straight, I only decided to go to Xiamen because that particular Cebu Pacific route is always on sale, and if you board one of their flights you are bound to know why. I would not even be surprised if they end up cancelling it altogether, what with the plane almost empty on the way and coming back. To my surprise, though, I had fun in Xiamen. Loads of fun. Perhaps it is because of the new friends I met along the way, or maybe the soothing weather that was just the right kind of cool depending on the material of the sweater you are wearing. The trip is also relatively shorter than Manila – Beijing or Manila – Shanghai, thanks to Fujian’s strategic location just across Taiwan. Arriving at Xiamen Gaoqi in the middle of the night, it was awesome to see that the airport was still busy and full of people. All of them were lining up for taxis. I could not find the bus indicated on the “Directions” part of the page of the hostel I booked on Hostelworld, not only because I am rather talented in getting lost, but also because those buses, as I discovered later, only run until 11 PM or so.

XIAMEN: 01 - XiaMen International Youth Hostel


What I normally do now is go to Hostelworld and filter the guesthouses by ranking, and Xiamen International Youth Hostel had some serious backing from the online community, so I just went with the flow and booked. Good decision, although the first impression was a bit weird, maybe because of the creepy facade? The hostel is a three-story (or four?) house that resembles those old family homes in the province, from the gate all the way to the steps leading down the main foyer. Or as a new friend would put it: “quaint”. It does look old, but of course you have to wait until you get inside.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

LAS PIÑAS - Yexel's Toy Museum


Once upon a time, I used to live in a village in Las Piñas called Pilar, where in front of a cousin’s house was another house that had a life-size figure of Spider-Man adorning the facade. Years later, I come for a visit, and find out that Spidey has since been joined other superheroes from other studios as well as various cartoon characters. Superman. Lightning McQueen. A giant Rubik’s Cube. Even the facade itself has been modified to resemble a large yellow Lego brick, along with bold letters spelling out YEXEL. And so that is what the house has come to be, a full-fledged toy museum in a residential village.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dazed and Confused


Never mind me. I just miss blogging. By “blogging” I mean thinking out loud. Of course most people would think I am nuts because I do have a blog entry uploaded almost every day, regardless if it is about a movie I just saw or the budget and itinerary list for a place I just visited. However, I really do not consider those as “blog” entries. Technically, they are, but why am I even explaining myself? Before all the travelogues and movie reviews, I wrote very personal blog entries, all of which seemed to have been forgotten since I started this travel gig. In any case, I am back, and I would like to do this regularly if it is the only way to hold on to my sanity. Perhaps, next week I would be doing it in Spanish, or in French. Who cares. I am back to thinking out loud. And where else to start best than with the redundant theme of Quarter Life Crisis. What the heck is a “Quarter Life Crisis”?

Warm Bodies

♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

A zombie in post-apocalyptic America, R (Nicholas Hoult) is one of the few who still have the ability to think, which is manifested by his many internal monologues. One day while hunting with his group, he comes across Julie (Teresa Palmer), one of the human survivors raiding a laboratory for medical supplies. After killing and eating her boyfriend's brains, R gets some flashbacks from the guy's memories, including his good times with her. In a weird and inexplicable twist, the zombie falls in love and to the surprise of many, starts becoming human again, albeit bit by bit. But of course there will always be villains. The Bonies, zombies which appear to be skeletons that have reached the point of no return, do not like the change at all, and start hunting the two star-crossed lovers.

Life of Pi

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

A shipwreck en route to Winnipeg leaves Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. On a life boat. With an injured zebra. A vicious hyena. A female orangutan. And a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Later on, the hyena ends the zebra's suffering and kills the orangutan next. Pi is next in line, if not for the intervention of Richard Parker, attacking the hyena and throwing it off-board. The remaining days are characterized by the issues of survival and cohabitation, thunderstorms, a carnivorous island, and never ending sea sickness. Between man and beast, which is more fit to survive? Or will they both succumb to the hopelessness represented by the vast ocean they are floating on?

The Man with the Iron Fists

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

An African American blacksmith (Rza) creates deadly weapons to earn enough gold to buy his prostitute girlfriend's freedom from Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu), the owner of Jungle Village's popular brothel aptly named the Pink Blossom. Their love story gets entangled with a series of events such as the arrival of a mysterious Englishman by the name of Jack Knife (Russell Crowe), the assassination of the Lion clan's leader and the eventual return of his heir for throne and revenge, and the betrayal of the emperor and his gold.

One is sure to dismiss this as one of those films with the usual senseless bloodbaths, but when you go see a movie that has anything to do with Quentin Tarantino, no matter how indirect the connection, you know you should be there to appreciate the artsy execution instead of all the violence and gore. Needless to say, this is one visual spectacle that will leave you in awe, for all the imaginable reasons. The story, and the acting even more so, should rank low on the priority list. This is a flashy action movie, not a Meryl Streep Oscar vehicle.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Potted Potter (Lunchbox Theatrical)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Offering a condensed version of all seven Harry Potter Books in seventy minutes, Potted Potter is a rather hilarious parody made possible by the comic tandem of Gary Trainor and Jesse Briton, who present themselves as two stage actors (which they are) trying to come up with a stage adaptation of the books. Trainor is the actor portrayed as the expert in everything Harry Potter, while Briton plays the part of the clueless co-actor whose supposed ignorance of the story serves as a good source of most of the laughter from the audience. The parody features a live game of Quidditch, which involves two members of the audience tackling Trainor while dressed in a tacky gold ensemble as the Golden Snitch.

Improvisation makes up for the utter lack of set, props, and appropriate wardrobe. The two state from the very beginning that it is supposed to be a grand spectacle but turned Improv due to Briton’s irresponsible management of their funds, which is of course part of the script. The atmosphere is similar to that of a stand up comedy show, in which the dialogue is key to the humor. They also play up the comedy of errors produced by the conflict between the Harry Potter Purist (Trainor) and the indifferent wannabe joining the bandwagon (Briton), to which any Harry Potter fan could easily relate.

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