I won’t lie to you; I came to Nepal for the bungy. I understand that most people pay a visit to this South Asian nation as a jump-off point for Mt. Everest. After all, the Himalayas would not really stop stalking you once you land at Kathmandu. Climbing the highest mountain in the world is not part of my many delusions of grandeur, but jumping off high bridges is. And so when the idea of going to Nepal surfaced, I came across the bungy package offered by The Last Resort, and eventually knew what I wanted to do.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015
I must admit that my Kathmandu plans are really half-baked, and my last-ditch attempt to book accommodations in advance backfired. And so I was left with no option but come to Kathmandu and search for one myself. I chose one really close to The Last Resort, so I ended up at Kathmandu Resort Hotel. Do not be fooled by the name because this place seems more like a motel to me, but I like the room I got which I think is cheap for its category.
The guy next to me won't stop looking at the window. I suppose he was looking at the window because if it was me he was looking at then that would be plain freaky, right? And so I offered to switch seats because it seemed to me that it was his first time on a plane and was excited about it. I totally forgot that we would be flying over the Himalayas. When the snow-capped mountains began to appear by the window, I felt like stabbing someone for the wrong choices I make in life.
THURSDAY: 26 February 2015
Three Brother Restaurant (Coke) - 100.00
Drukchen Hotel (Room WiFi) - 200.00
Drukchen Hotel (Mango Juice x2) - 100.00
Estimate of BTN1 = PhP0.75
TOTAL – PhP300.00
Thursday, February 26, 2015
As much as I hate those who often say that you have not really been to this country if you have not visited that attraction, yadda yadda yadda, for Bhutan even locals say that this is the case for the Tiger’s Nest. Come to think of it, every foreigner who has been here would most likely post a selfie with that temple at the background. Be warned, though, it requires an uphill climb that would usually take two hours for a normal person. If you are not that fit, this might be challenging for you.
The room I got at Hotel Drukchen was not as big but still huge based on my personal standards. They gave me twin beds instead of a queen, which was fine by me. There were two seats by the window, which I never opened because it was too cold. A large desk and a TV were right in front of the wall opposite the beds. The bathroom seemed larger than the one at Galingkha. The hot water here had the same problem, although I was able to get more than just enough for a good hot bath.
15. It's All My Fault
Annalise brings everyone back to her house, including Rebecca, who is uncooperative at first but Annalise persuades her to, untying her so she can sit comfortably on the couch while the rest try to prove to her that she is guilty of Stangard’s murder. None of them manages to convince Annalise, who still believes that her husband did it. The mock trial is disrupted by Asher, whom Frank tries to dismiss but he gets into the house anyway. All of them manage to move downstairs before he can find them. Once again tied to a chair, Rebecca tells Wes that she did not kill Lila. Further flashbacks show that Sam indeed met up with her on the rooftop the night she died. He promised her that he will divorce Annalise, before calling someone on the phone, telling the person on the other line that they “owe” him and that they should “do it now.” Minutes later, a guy is seen strangling Stangard on the rooftop. That man is revealed to be Frank, who later throws her corpse into the water tank. Back in the basement, Rebecca appears to have escaped, but as everyone leaves, Annalise goes back down to meet up with Frank. As they both look at Rebecca’s lifeless body hidden from plain sight, they both ask each other if they did it, and they both deny.
14. The Night Lila Died
The court denies Nate’s petition for bail, but Annalise uses Asher’s connection with the judge to have her inhibit so another one can be assigned, who then grants Nate’s bail. Nate could not trust her anymore, but is left without a choice. He fires his lawyer and calls the number she gave him. The firm defends a priest who killed another for molesting a boy. They lose the case because he does not want to break his religious vows. 5 months earlier, a fight ensues between Rebecca and Lila, something witnessed by Rudy Walters next door. Rebecca then seduces Griffin in his frat house and sends Lila a message on his phone to come over so she can catch them on the act, which she does. Wes has lost faith in Rebecca after he and Laurel visit Rudy in rehab, who convinces them that Rebecca has been lying all along. They start to wonder if she indeed killed Lila and if their coming to her defense was for nothing. Michaela and Connor find out, the four abduct Rebecca, tie her down, and call Annalise to tell her what they have done.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
8. The Imaginary Line
Becca avoids Kevin like the plague, but the universe find a way for them to spend more time together. Lolly asks her about the future with Kevin, and she tells her that nothing happened between the two of them because she never admitted her feelings. Flashbacks (or flash-forwards, technically) reveal that Becca and Kevin will become close in 2003 while she’s still married to Sean, and eventually they will elope in 2004, which means friendship over for her and Lolly. Sean pursues Paige and they both get a side job waiting tables at an art gallery function. The night doesn’t end well for her when she catches him making out with someone else, with him explaining that he’s free to go out with anyone given how she’s been rejecting hi for two weeks now anyway. Lolly buys E to get rid of her inhibitions with Kevin. When Becca sees her mustering the courage to kiss him at the rave, she feels optimistic that it would be a new future for them and that their friendship will remain intact. Kevin decides to stay in New York.
WEDNESDAY: 25 February 2015
7 Brothers Tours (2-Day Tiger's Nest Tour Package) - 440.00
7 Brothers Tours (Tourist Visa) - 40.00
Cousin Restaurant (Coke) - 100.00
Estimate of USD1 = PhP45.00
Estimate of BTN1 = PhP0.75
Estimate of BTN1 = PhP0.75
TOTAL – PhP32,281.50
The tour agency chooses your accommodation for you, and this would most likely be a three-star hotel. You can request for a four or five-star hotel but there is an additional fee for that. In any case, I am more than satisfied with the hotels I got because I am a hostel kind of guy. Anything which offers more privacy and creature comforts for me is definitely a plus. Galingkha Hotel is right at the corner of Thimphu’s main shopping street which makes it very accessible wherever you plan to go, thanks to its central location.
Driving to Thimphu was as scenic as it could be in terms of the view outside, and very informative thanks to my guide. Dorji hails from the eastern part of Bhutan but makes a living in the capital as a freelance tour guide. He is like a walking Wikipedia article on everything Bhutan, especially on the subject of Buddhism which seems to be his favorite. That was a welcome change because I am also interested in Buddhism, as opposed to the favorite topic of some tour guides which happens to be Politics.
I knew something was fishy when I asked for a window seat and was told that it didn’t matter because it was “free seating”. Free seating? Even provincial buses have seat assignments. My doubts were put to rest when we finally reached the boarding gate. There we were. All ten of us. Ten. When we got into the plane we each claimed a row and pissed on the aisle to remind everyone that it was OUR row, OUR territory, and that no one was allowed to trespass.
Bhutan is like North Korea, in the sense that you cannot just fly in and have a DIY tour. The comparison ends there. Despite being reclusive, Bhutan is not really notorious for giving the world a big headache. People there actually value happiness a lot, even having their own Gross National Happiness thingie. Anyway, how do you even start planning for a trip to the last Shangri-La? No need to worry, everything is online nowadays.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The highlight of the day was Ahsan Manzil. Once the European inspired residence of one of the most influential families in the region, the interior of the palace has since been converted into a museum while the parks outside are usually maintained and serve as a popular hangout spot for locals. With the very active Buriganga River in front, you’d think that the place would somehow stink, but this is not the case. If anything, the ambiance of the place is somehow scented with an air of history and pride for this young nation.
Monday, February 23, 2015
I said bring me to Dhaka, NOT Manila. What? Oh, we’re here. Ah, okay, I see lots of Bangladeshi now. But what’s with the eerie resemblance, seriously? Congested roads! Sidewalk vendors! Suicidal tricycle drivers! Sari-Sari stores! Gated establishments! It’s as if I never left home. There is just this feeling of familiarity, yet also that feeling of weirdness. The people dress differently, though. All the travelogues I’ve read have been right so far. Dhaka is colorful. Dhaka is chaotic. Welcome to Bangladesh!
There aren’t so many options when it comes to accommodations in Dhaka, well at least according to Hostelworld. And so even when I saw that average prices were hovering just above USD20, I thought I had no other choice. And so I selected the one closer to the airport and ended up with Golpata Eco Tours. It turns out to be a good choice after all. I got a single room with bathroom en suite and it feels just like your very own room in the city, in an apartment shared with roomies from all around the world.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Among South Asian nations, only Bangladesh and Pakistan would require a trip to the embassy if you are planning to get a tourist visa. What most people do is include an obligatory stop in Calcutta, through which Philippine passport holders could enter India with visa-on-arrival, then stay a few days while waiting for their passports to be released by the Embassy of Bangladesh there. The process is well-documented online, but not everyone has that luxury of a Calcutta stopover.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
The name of the place is actually Gardens by the Bay. Why so straightforward, Singaporeans? We are Southeast Asians. We are expected to beat around the bush. They could have also referred to it as “Those Gardens across the Three Buildings with a Surfboard on Top” if they wanted to be really descriptive. It does not get any less creative than that. What about something that sounds gimmicky like “Merly the Merlion’s Gardens” or something epic like “The Hanging Gardens of Singapore”?
Friday, February 20, 2015
Eggsy (Taron Egerton) grows up without a father, not knowing that the untimely death would be his ticket 17 years later to an elite secret intelligence agency called the Kingsman. Recruitment is highly competitive and only happens when one of the agents is killed and needs to be replaced. Eggsy is scouted by Harry Hart (Colin Firth) as an act of gratitude for the fallen comrade who saved his life and three others in a failed mission almost two decades ago. His protégé meets another half a dozen or so recruits all vying for that sole spot among the veteran Kingsman agents. Meanwhile, American billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) plans a technologically induced genocide that would heal the planet of the virus that is killing it: human beings. It is up to the Kingsman and their new recruit to make sure that such plan does not come to fruition.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
13. Mama's Here Now
Bonnie takes over as Annalise sulks in her room out of guilt. Her mother, Ophelia Harkness (Cicely Tyson) comes over to take care of her, and the two square off regarding some past issues they have yet to resolve. She asks her if she knew about Uncle Clyde raping her, but she is adamant that he got what he deserved. She later reveals that the night their house burned down with him on it was no accident. The firm takes on the case of a nurse being accused of raping her male client while he was sedated. Bonnie is off to a shaky start, losing her client’s confidence, but bounces back with everyone’s help and wins her case fair and square. She then openly makes out with Asher at the parking lot. Wes and Laurel track down Rudy Walters, the guy who lived in his apartment before him, revealing that Rebecca might have been keeping secrets from them after all. Annalise visits Nate and relies on theatrics to mislead the surveillance camera, slipping a paper in his hand instructing him to fire his lawyer and call the number written on it.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
7. The Cranberries
Becca hooks up with Sean. Despite thinking that she has made the right decision, things just never feel right like they used to, no matter how much she tries to convince herself that they are. The Kellys come over to the Bradys’ to celebrate Thanksgiving. The atmosphere is still awkward between Andy and Sean, and Becca and Melanie. Andy proposes to Melanie in front of everyone, and Becca is really affected. Andy tries hard to keep his distance from Becca, but obviously still has feelings for her. Jamie is chastised by their dad for screwing up his college life. With the mounting pressure, he copes by ramping up his drug dependency. He leaves for the Dominican Republic, which was the same trip in the future that eventually led to his overdose. Phoebe arrives late, with her future husband Courtney. Sean leaves Becca for Paige. Kevin finally visits Lolly, but it is Becca who gets the door. Her eyes light up. With certain events happening and not happening in this timeline, she is more confused than ever, and just gives up trying to play god.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
“Some people actually come here in wedges,” the tour guide said before rolling her eyes and adding, “Shopping?” When I hear the term “wedges” what really comes to mind are those scrumptious slices of baked potatoes drenched in cheese and mayonnaise that KFC serves whenever I am in Malaysia. She had to be talking about some sort of footwear, though. Since Google is my friend, I figured out later that wedges are that kind of women’s shoes with a flat and rather inconveniently elevated base.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Jesse (Ethan Hawke) accompanies his teenage son to a Greek airport for his trip back to America, while Celine (Julie Delpy) waits for him back in the car with their twin daughters. It has been nine years since they took a chance on their second meeting in Paris, with his missed flight becoming the start of their life together. Their discussions about life are now more oriented towards family, the constant source of their conflicts being his preoccupation with his son and how he could not be with him back in the US to make sure he grows up with a father in these crucial years. Their six-week vacation culminates in a heated argument about their status as a couple, as well as the other complications that their current setup has brought about for both of them, hinting that they might well be on the path to calling it quits.
Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet again, this time in Paris which serves as the last stop of his book tour. Married and now a father of one, he has made a bestseller out of that one night in Vienna. She, on the other hand, has studied in New York, finished her master’s degree in Paris, and even volunteered in India for a while. This is their first meeting in nine years, and another chance encounter at that. He did fulfill his promise to meet her again in Vienna in December of 1994, but she was not able to make it because her grandmother died and was buried on the very same day. What starts off as catching up digresses to mini debates regarding the current state of the world, but eventually leads to talking about what could have been and what should have been had they met again six months after their first encounter. He is, once again, hounded by limited time and the plane he has to catch before sunset. Would rekindling the old flames be enough for him to miss his flight this time around?
Celine (Julie Delpy) avoids a bickering German couple on the train by transferring next to Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American traveler on his way to Vienna. They initiate a conversation and are soon talking about anything under the sun. The themes they tackle somehow give a glimpse of what they have been through with life as well as their beliefs on matters ranging from religion to philosophy of life in general. Boarding a plane back to the US the next day, he convinces her to accompany him in Vienna where he plans to just enjoy the city overnight instead of hanging out at the airport. She agrees and decides to go back to Paris the morning after he leaves. Knowing that they only have one night, they try to make the most out of it, not really sure if they should capitalize on the instant connection that they have and pursue something more concrete or long-term.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Sarah (Ana Abad Santos) returns home after waking up from several weeks of coma caused by a roadside bombing in Iraq which almost took her life. James (Nonie Buencamino), her live-in partner of eight years, is excited for them to start anew, far from the dangers of covering a war that has brought about irrevocable pain and loss to everyone involved. As a journalist, his objective is to make the world aware of such occurrences through words, which are supplemented by the vivid photos she takes as an award-winning photographer. The accident has put some things into perspective for them, including some sort of semi-retirement as well as their stance on their relationship as a couple. He is willing to give up his passion for a life of convenience back in the States. She, on the contrary, misses field work so much despite her near death experience. One of them has got to give at some point, but perhaps some opposing fundamental beliefs in life are just not meant to be reconciled.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
12. She's a Murderer
Annalise’s clients get cold feet due to her current dilemma, while Hannah is hell bent in incriminating her sister-in-law. They take on a mob case involving narcotics, despite all of them being shaken by news of Sam’s body being found, making Annalise the new prime suspect in the murder. A search of the house does not reveal any DNA traces, thanks to them cleaning up well after the deed. She confronts Connor and tells him that he won’t ever trust her, but assures him that their odds are better with her. She slays in the courtroom and proves her mettle as a defense attorney despite being under pressure. Bonnie figures out things on her own and catches up on what really happened. She tells Annalise not to ruin herself protecting the real killers. The cops find Annalise’s ring in the woods where the four were to dispose Sam’s body, Nate’s fingerprint along with it. A flashback reveals Annalise instructing Frank to plant said evidence, showing that she’s orchestrating all of it as a way out for her students, whom she promised to save.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
6. Tragic Kingdom
Becca blames herself for Andy’s car accident, while everyone wonders what he was doing at the Jersey turnpike. Her dad finds out about her thing with him and he consoles her. Lolly continues to give Jamie the cold treatment, then bails on him to be with Becca at her time of need. She suggests that Becca take a gamble with Andy and tells her that maybe it’s not her fault after all. Melanie then blames herself for the accident, telling Becca that Andy was going after her to her parents’ house when he had the accident. And now Becca is more confused than ever, not knowing what was going on in Andy’s mind before the accident, until he admits to her that he WAS going to the Lakehouse. She then tells him that he’s better off and safer with Melanie. He doesn’t take it well, but decides to move on, and apologizes to his girlfriend. Lolly breaks up with Jamie, but he still pursues her. It doesn’t work. She calls Kevin. Paige and Sean bond over her play rehearsal at his place. He promises to go see her play, until Becca shows up at his doorstep.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Where do broken hearts go, can they find their way home? Perhaps the better question is do they have enough baggage allowance to even board the plane. Mace (Angelica Panganiban) struggles to get rid of all the extra weight preventing her from getting on her plane back to Manila from Rome. Good Samaritan Anthony (JM de Guzman) offers to help, a gesture which serves as the beginning of an unlikely friendship between the two. She has just broken up with her boyfriend of eight years, while he has just posthumously fulfilled his mother’s wish for them to visit the Coliseum. But she just could not move on from the pain of a broken heart. What starts as a melodramatic One More Chance marathon on the plane extends to an impromptu lunch date in a Japanese restaurant, until she manages to convince him to go through the whole process of moving on with her: belting it all out at a Karaoke bar, traveling to Baguio, and eventually ending up finding herself in Sagada. He begins to fall forher, but could mere attraction really turn into something palpable for two people who have just met?
Friday, February 6, 2015
David (Jonny Weston) discovers his father’s old video camera in the attic and watches clips of his 7th birthday party, in which he sees a split second shot of his 17-year-old self. Amused, he tells his sister Christina (Virginia Gardner) and best buds Adam (Allen Evangelista) and Quinn (Sam Lerner). As they start to unravel clues as to how he managed to make a cameo in a video recorded 10 years ago, they are eventually led to the basement where his father apparently hid an important device central to the creation of a time machine. His longtime crush Jessie (Sofia Black d’Elia) walks in on them as the experiment finally begins to work, sending a toy car back a minute or so in time. The quintet soon find themselves time hopping farther back in time and taking advantage of the knowledge they already possess in order to make their lives at present more convenient. What they did not intend to happen, however, is create small ripples in the flow of time, causing irreversible damage to the people around them.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Young couple Karn (Golf Pichaya) and Aom (Sushar Manaying) exchange their I Do’s in a lavish wedding ceremony. Looking forward to married bliss, the newlyweds have no idea that they are about to face a lot of family drama that has been unfolding in the sidelines without their knowledge. The family business is almost bankrupt, forcing the siblings to form a deal with a dangerous politician. Did I mention that the bride finds her sister-in-law’s corpse in the bathroom during their wedding night? To further complicate matters, she starts behaving strangely after that, borrowing mannerisms from the dead in-law. The family nanny thinks she is possessed, and the spirit invading her body will not stop until it gets rid of unfinished business. Would she be strong enough to resist once her loved ones’ safety are put on the line?
11. Best Christmas Ever
Annalise spends a week in a hotel room binge eating and drinking before finally facing her sister-in-law, who lobbies hard for her brother’s innocence. Back for 2nd semester, the firm takes on the case of a woman whose husband is keeping two girls captive in their basement. They work on getting her a good plea deal. Hannah follows Annalise around snooping for clues. She still hooks up with Nate anyway. Holiday flashbacks reveal: Laurel not having a good relationship with her family; Connor trying to woo Oliver into having a relationship, and getting his car stolen; Asher and Frank in a bro-down at a bar; and Michaela acting weirdly around Aiden that he decides to postpone the wedding. Laurel tries to keep the group together, but Connor just can’t trust anyone at the moment. Annalise throws Hannah off course by having Frank send her false clues. It works for a while, but she proves headstrong in finding answers. The evening news reports the discovery of human remains in a landfill, identifying it as Sam’s.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
5. ...Then I'll Know
Becca pitches an interview with REM to her boss and is assigned to write the article for it, which means dragging Lolly along to Chapel Hill for their concert. Paige joins the fun, getting them the tickets through her personal connections. The interaction in the car gets awkward when certain issues are brought up. They crash Lolly’s dad’s place for the night, unearthing issues between the two. She later meets her chidhood friend Kevin (Steve Talley). Becca and Paige head out to grab the tickets, but run into into trouble with their bickering. They eventually bond over Alanis after being stopped by a police officer. Jamie brokers peace between Andy and Sean over a few beers and some Dungeons and Dragons tutorials. When Melanie joins in, she and hits it off right the way with Sean over a game of pool, making Andy uncomfortable. He leaves the bar alone half-drunk. After Becca writes her REM story, they pass by Spring Lake on the drive home and she remembers Andy. They stop by the lake house and she invites him over, but a car accident gets in the way.