Tuesday, December 18, 2007

looking back: 2007 in places

even though i keep complaining that i don't get to travel much, my 2007 record begs to disagree. to keep reminding me to shut my trap and just be thankful about what i got, i decided to write about the places i've been to this year:


susie took me along on his yearly trip to mariveles. while bataan shouldn't be foreign to me, it was actually my first time to set foot on mt. samat and see the cross. we also got to walk along the sandy shores of montemar, and freeze in the chilly waters of the swimming pool. the town of mariveles was a surprise. lovely landscape, that town has.

la union.
going to la union is always a treat. this year, susie and i went and discovered little surf maid, a wonderful new resort in san juan. we caught some of the action during the competition, enjoyed meals in midway, and just simply lazed around. and i even got attacked by a dog. i am ashamed to say that this is my only trip to the place this year, and i haven't gotten on a board for more than a year now. sad. maybe i can do better next year.


hong kong.
one of the highlights of my 2007. since the lunar new year fell on my birthday, i felt it was only right that i celebrate it in a place where chinese new year is greeted with a bang. ayeen and i had a blast exploring hong kong for nine days. we got to meet people, learn new things, pose with disney characters, meet up with the hong kong folks, and eat delectable meals.


casa san pablo.
i decided to surprise susie with a trip to casa san pablo, in laguna, for his birthday. antiques were everywhere, which gave the place a quaint and charming look. we got to stay in the hotwheels room, and eat fresh tilapia and other yummy, yummy dishes. casa san pablo was a great discovery, and serves as the perfect quick getaway. it's now one of my favorite places.

not to be outdone, susie then toured me around casa manila and san agustin church in intramuros one weekend in march. it was a place that i've always wanted to explore, but never got around to visiting. susie served as my tour guide, dishing out information every now and then. thanks to that weekend, i can now take couchsurfers who want to see the walled city.


viaje del sol.
instead of going off to boracay and fighting off people for sunbaking space, i decided to back off this year and do something else. exploring the different places along the viaje del sol route proved to be a more relaxing pursuit. and i even got to see a lot of places in laguna and quezon! fellow explorers were my bratty sister shobe, fellow adventurer zaneh, and faithful driver susie. :D

my first beach trip for the summer, and i got baked pretty darned good. we got to explore megan's cove (we were marooned there for about 3 hours) and climbed up to see the lighthouse on capones island. stayed once again at megan's resort, where the people are accommodating, and the food is good and cheap.


pasig ferry ride.
i remember being grumpy this time of year, possibly because i've only gone to the beach once. so once again, susie stepped up and took me on board the pasig ferry, where we floated along the river and reached escolta in less than an hour. despite the filth on the river, i thoroughly enjoyed the ride. even got to write about it on click the city.

the folks here at work decided that we needed to beat the heat and go away for the weekend. we ended up in el puerto marina resort in pangasinan, where we got to enjoy the pool by jumping and taking photos of ourselves. the food came in droves, too, and we weren't given a chance to actually go hungry. drinking and singing was done at night. a pretty good weekend, all in all.

zambales part two.
yep, we couldn't get enough of zambales, so we went back, this time with des, nico, g, and carlo. we weren't able to check out megan's cove this time, and the others didn't get to see the lighthouse, but we did get to firedance along the beach and spend time playing with hermit crabs on capones island. food was also goooooood!


sta. teresita, batangas.
we were supposed to go and get soaked at the parada ng lechon, but we were tired from the drive, so we stayed at carlo's place in batangas, where the girls and i firedanced some more. that buhay baboy weekend served as our despedida for carlo, who's now in australia.


southeastern cebu heritage trail.
for our anniversary, susie and i decided to explore the churches in southeastern cebu. because we were able to take advantage of piso fares, we decided to rent a car to drive us around so we wouldn't be so tired. we saw churches in oslob, boljoon, alcoy, argao, dalaguete, and carcar. i want to go back and explore argao some more!


punta fuego.
july wasn't my best month. i got so stressed, i lost a phone, and i let go of a moneymaking raket. everything spilled over onto august, but thank god susie decided to save the month by taking sarah and me over to punta fuego. we spent the weekend just lazing about--dipped in an infinity pool, ate chips and cookies, watched the simpsons on dvd, and slept. it's so calming to be a sloth.


i don't know why we ended up going to boracay, but the cheap airfare and cheap accommodation just pushed us to go, despite the storm at the time. we didn't do any of the usual boracay stuff--no swimming, no island hopping, no sunbaking. we just ate and drank to our heart's content, slept when we were sleepy, and woke up for more food and booze. :D


malacanang walking tour.
i haven't gone to malacanang ever, so i decided to join a walking tour by old manila walks. we checked out san sebastian church, a benedictine abbey, malacanang palace, and la cocina de tita moning. i was lucky that i got to do a tour with some nice folks, who allowed me to join their private tour.

casa san pablo.
again, i make my way to san pablo, laguna, but this time, it's for my good friend hamie's birthday surprise! she thought she'll be going on a trip with me, but tanya and izzy are in on the surprise, too! we had a blast doing what girls normally do when they're together--gossip, talk about other people, and catch up on each other's lives. okay, basically, we just talked and ate the whole day. it was fun, and i hope hamie had fun, too!

global fun carnival.
an impromptu get-together of "adventurous" ladies and gents. we got to be there during the opening of global fun carnival, and had a great time being kids again. we all realized we had gotten old when we all got so dizzy riding the swing. i even threw up after riding the flipper. things are not as easy as they seem now that we're in our twenties. but we had fun, nonetheless!


my last trip of the year. decided to use up my mother's mabuhay miles to go to singapore and visit my beloved friends. pats offered her place for me to crash in, and i just had a blast meeting her friends and spending time with friends that i've missed oh so badly! and i now don't wrinkle my nose at the idea of going to singapore. in fact, i wanna go back!

i am almost certain that my calendar for next year will not look like this. i vowed to do less mini-traveling so i can save up for big trips. don't think i'll be doing europe next year, but there are other trips being planned as i type.

how about you? where have you been this year?

Monday, December 10, 2007

i don't care; i want one!

i started the year with a thirst for my own laptop. prior to this, i never had a desire to own one, but with the amount of traveling i do, i thought it would be nice to stay connected, or at least have a chance to be.

my first idea was to get a simple and cheap one, because i had a desktop at home i could use for heavier computing. but then i decided to go full on, to get a laptop that i can use for all my pc needs. i kept hunting for inexpensive ultraportables, but couldn't find one. they were all in the P80,000 and above range, which was out of the question with my current social status. :p

i ended up buying this:

it's a neo empriva 572svb. even with its built-in windows vista interface, i've grown to love it because of its 12-inch monitor. and i like the way it looks, too.

but when i saw this:

photo from www.slashgear.com

i was filled with both anger and excitement. i felt betrayed by technology for doling out this gem this late in the game. just when i've bought my laptop, just when i've shelled out my moolah for other things, they do this.

come on, how can a vagabond like me not want one? display is a mere seven-incher, which means the tiny thing can fit in any of my bags. it weighs less than a kilo, so i can pretty much lug it around without getting tired. batteries can last up to 3.5 hours (depending on use, of course).

of course, with those features, it's only but natural that the storage size is at 8gb at most. if you want something in the 80gb range, be ready to fork over P100,000 for an ultraportable.

but that's just what i love about the asus eee. it's a very straightforward machine. it says, "all i can do is let you use the computer, upload your photos, listen to some tunes while you're on the go. but hey, i'm cheap at P19,000." which is really what i want. i want to stay connected when i'm away, without having to put all my files in danger.

so the plan is, when the price of the asus eee goes down next year, i purchase one. never mind if you think it's capricious, i myself believe i need it. i won't be selling my neo, because that will be my main computer, where all my files will be stored. the eee, on the other hand, shall be my travel companion, because it features a solid-state disk that can withstand bumps that other laptops cannot. i can choose to pack it inside my check-in luggage, or even carry it with me on the plane.

or maybe this is just my way of telling you guys of this travel must-have of every traveling technophile out there. if you're tired of dragging your heavy laptop around, maybe this is the answer.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

what can we really say?

i was watching tonight's episode of imbestigador, hosted by mike enriquez. for those who don't know what the show is, it's a public affairs program that investigates on various issues in the country. most of the time, they cover scams and serve to expose people who take advantage of the hapless. but sometimes, they feature something else that veers away from the lines of exposing and raiding illegal activities.

tonight's episode involved the status of transportation here in the country. mike enriquez went to singapore, malaysia, thailand, and indonesia, and compared the status of those countries' transportation to ours.

one comment he had was about the restrooms in malaysian trains. he marveled at how the train had toilets on board, and compared to our own PNR trains, which, he said, had cars that people treat as toilets.

my mom kept commenting how mike made things sound so bad, and that he just kept putting us down. i thought about it for a moment, and told her that when it comes to transportation, we really can't compete. and that's coming from me, someone who absolutely loves riding public transportation in this city. as much as i love the training that our public transportation has given me (making me a lot braver in trying out public transportation in other countries), everyday, i can't help but lament the state of our transportation system.

everyday, i take the train, the MRT, to work. and as "convenient" as it seems, that rail system is the worst of the three in the city. sure, it takes you from one stop to another in a matter of minutes, but getting to where you really have to be is a chore. moreover, the stations are not that easy to access. sure, they're all along edsa, but have you seen the stairs that lead to the shaw boulevard platform? anyone looking up those stairs will really have second thoughts about taking the train. escalators and elevators aren't that reliable, either, making this mode of transportation almost impossible to use by the handicapped and the elderly.

when i don't feel like getting pushed around a tiny train, i opt for the bus. of my almost-8 years of commuting, i remember only one particular bus that did not deter me from putting my elbow up by the window. most buses here seem to be do double duty as cockroach colonies, not to mention universal trash can, with bus tickets, gum (HATE), paper, peanuts, and what-not littered on the floor.

and should i really get started on the driving, the pockmarked roads, and the utter lack of a proper system of loading and unloading? even with the rails that line the sidewalks, preventing people from just getting on and off anywhere, people still risk life and limb just to get on their bus of choice. drivers seem to think they're maneuvering tiny sports cars, with the way they swerve in and out from lane to lane, further devastating their already dilapidated vehicles.

and that's why i can't blame mike enriquez for saying what he said. because i see it everyday. my brains get banged around in my head on a daily basis, because of the uneven roads. i always have to watch out for whatever sticky thing i might step on when i board a bus. i've gotten used to the long lines that greet me when i get off the train and try to get through the turnstiles.

what's even more disappointing is that i know we can do better, but those in power would just rather not. the MRT can be greatly improved with the addition of more turnstiles at every station, and more vigilant guards who can keep lines in order. old buses should be taken off the streets, and an efficient loading and unloading system can be put in place, instead of just building railings and steel bars by the sidewalks to keep people from hailing public transportation anywhere. regular repair and inspection of road conditions will surely help, too. it will make traveling faster and safer.

and maybe we as commuters can also do our share. stop littering on buses. stop inserting your tickets anywhere inside the bus. don't just spit your gum out on the floor. please stop writing on buses, too. it's not funny anymore. train commuters can do well by not blocking entrances. just do that much, at least. stop shoving yourself in when there are still people exiting the train. follow lines, for heaven's sake. everyone will get their turn to exit the station.