Saturday, February 28, 2015

[SINDHUPALCHOK] Jumping Off a Bridge

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 this bungy package offered by The Last Resort, and eventually knew what I wanted to do.

Friday, February 27, 2015

[KATHMANDU] Good Morning, Mount Everest

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.

[PARO] Budget and Itinerary

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

[PARO] Journey to the Tiger's Nest

As much as I hate those who often say that you haven't really been to this or that country if you haven't visited this or that attraction, yada yada yada, 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 most likely posted a selfie with that temple in the background. Be warned, though, it requires an uphill climb that usually takes two hours for a normal person. If you are not that fit, this might be challenging for you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hindsight: Episode 8

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.

[THIMPHU] Budget and Itinerary

WEDNESDAY: 25 February 2015
7 Brothers Tours (2-Day Tiger's Nest Tour Package) - 440.00
7 Brothers Tours (Tourist Visa) - 40.00
Drukair (Dhaka - Paro) - 235.70

[THIMPHU] Land of the Thunder Dragon

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.

[THIMPHU] Why Drukair Is So Expensive

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.

[VISA] Bhutan (Single Entry)

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

[DHAKA] Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: 22 February 2015
Embassy of Bangladesh (Single Entry Visa) - 2,900.00

Tiger Airways (Singapore - Dhaka) - 198.00

CNG (Airport - Gulshan) - 300.00
Rickshaw (Gulshan - Golpata Eco Tours) - 400.00
Golpata Bread & Breakfast (Basic Single/3 Nights) - 4,800.00

[DHAKA] Somewhat Pink, Somehow Scented

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 been converted into a museum while the parks outside are 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 isn't the case. The ambiance of the place is somehow scented with an air of history and pride for this young nation.

Monday, February 23, 2015

[DHAKA] The Old and the New

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!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

[VISA] Bangladesh (Single Entry)

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.

[SINGAPORE] Budget and Itinerary (3)

FRIDAY: 20 February 2015
Travel Tax (NAIA 3) - 1,620.00
Cebu Pacific (Manila - Singapore) - 2,494.50

Saturday, February 21, 2015

[SINGAPORE] The Hanging Gardens of Singapura

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

Kingsman: The Secret Service

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.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hindsight: Episode 7

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

[TARLAC] Budget and Itinerary

SUNDAY: February 15, 2015
Mt. Pinatubo Day Tour Package (Tripinas) - 2,090.00
Double Cheeseburger x2 (McDonalds) - 196.00
Total - PhP2,286.00

[TARLAC] Wearing Your Wedges to Pinatubo

“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

Before Midnight

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.

Before Sunset

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?

Before Sunrise

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

Time Stands Still (Red Turnip Theater)

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.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hindsight: Episode 6

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

That Thing Called Tadhana

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

Project Almanac

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

รัก ลวง หลอน (The Couple)

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?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hindsight: Episode 5

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.

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