I had an out of country trip last weekend to Kuala Lumpur to play Magic, but I was a bit tempted to not write about it all. The reason being that inevitably after one of these MTG-related trips the first thing people ask me is “Nanalo ka ba?” (Did you win?) and this time, the answer was sadly no. (Let’s get the spoilers out of the way early shall we.) However, I realized that not all stories have to have happy endings.
I took a 5-day trip to Singapore last weekend, mostly to play in the Grand Prix, but the opportunity to get away from the country for a while was appreciated. These are some notes and anecdotes from the trip. (Not about the GP itself, that’s a separate post on its own.) By my count this would be my 5th visit to Singapore. That means Singapore now ties Hong Kong for my most visited foreign destination.
So last April my friends and I took a second trip to Japan. This time we mostly stayed around Tokyo, while taking a few days off in-between to visit Fuji, Hakone and Nikko.I went to Fuji, but that’s not in Tokyo! I like Tokyo, so I’ll talk about Tokyo for now. I’ve only been here twice, but I could imagine myself living here for an extended period of time. It solves my top three problems with Metro Manila: overly hot weather, poor transportation options, and poor internet.
A couple of years ago, two friends and I were being tourists in Barcelona. With its wide, spacious streets and strangely uniform city blocks, we walked around a lot. During one of our tourist days, we decided to eat some _paella_ on the way back to our AirBNB. Who comes to Barcelona and doesn’t eat paella right? We ended up walking for quite a while. Every time we came upon a new restaurant that served paella we would consider the price and the restaurant and would think, hey maybe we can find somewhere better or cheaper further along the way.
As I write this I am at the airport, trying to kill time. As per usual, I am more than an hour early before the check-in time for my flight. It’s a thing I do, no matter where I’m travelling, that I put in lots of buffer time so I will more often than not arrive way too early and need to wait. It’s not just for flights either – I have a tendency to arrive early for any sort of time sensitive appointment.
Previously: Overview | Barcelona Part 1 | Barcelona Part 2 | Rome and Vatican City | Rome Part 2 and Paris Part 1 This series of posts has taken longer than I thought it would, and I grow weary on it. We’ll cover things a bit faster from here, less of the daily stuff and we’ll stick to the highlights. This will be the final entry! Sunday March 15th This Sunday we took a long walk to visit the famous Louvre museum (why go to Paris and not see the Louvre).
Previously: Overview | Barcelona Part 1 | Barcelona Part 2 | Rome and Vatican City Friday March 13th This was our last day in Rome and we were planning to visit the Colosseum and the nearby Palatino Hill. It was a long walk and we passed by a few palaces and the usual open plazas, many of the landmarks identified by Egpytian obelisks placed there by the Roman emperors. Rome is chock-full of cobblestone roads and plazas lined with souvenir shops and pizzerias and buildings fronted by 12-foot-high steel doors with large lion-head knockers and churches liberally sprinkled every other block.
Previously: Overview | Barcelona Part 1 | Barcelona Part 2 Wednesday March 11th It’s early in the morning when the shuttle picks us up to take us to the airport for our flight to Rome. When we first planned the trip a few months back, only Spain and France were on the itinerary. But due to a last-minute change in circumstances, we decided to add Italy to the trip. We had also acquired a railpass and were planning to travel by train between Spain and France, but given the change of plans we decided to refund the railpass (up to 85% of the cost can be refunded) and we literally booked inter-Europe flights during our layover in Singapore at the start of the trip.
Previously: I went to Europe, decided I should tell you more about it and started talking about Barcelona Monday March 9th For today, we had decided to visit Park Güell, a Barcelona tourist spot created by this old-timey big shot to display the works of well-known Catalanion architect Antoni Gaudi. I say “well-known” but I’ll be the first to admit that my culturally-ignorant self had not heard of him before, but he’s kind of a big deal in Barcelona with many souvenir shops sporting some thing reminiscent of his works.
My previous post only skimmed my trip to Europe. I did not want to write too much, partly because I was uncertain at how many would be interested to hear the sordid details and partly because while I was writing the post, the words did not flow as freely as I would have wanted. Despite this, I have received good feedback and more than one person had asked for more details.
My friends know how stingy I am with money, and my family knows I’m not much of a tourist, so some might have been surprised that I took the better part of two and a half weeks off from work to travel around Europe with a couple of friends. It was my first trip outside of Southeast Asia and the first time I took a long haul flight. Other than my concerns regarding the possibility of my luggage getting lost, the trip was relatively smooth and the Singapore Airlines plane had relatively decent food, service and in-flight entertainment.
I was in Singapore from June 2 – June 6, mostly to visit friends who are getting married and compete in the MTG Grand Prix held there last weekend. I like bullet points, so here’s a summary of my trip: Props: public transportation. One thing Singapore and Hong Kong have in common: well-defined, convenient and tourist-friendly public transportation systems, namely trains and buses. It makes our local buses and trains here pale by comparison.
It’s 8:30 pm on Friday. I step out of Maxim’s, a fastfood place near the office in Hong Kong. I flew in to HK the morning of the day before, and had given a presentation over a conference call on Thursday night. This was the only free time I had during the entire trip since I had to fly back the next morning. I decided to take a walk for maybe an hour or 30 minutes, to savor the cool night’s weather before going back to hot and humid Manila the next day.
I’m blogging from an airport; I feel like such a seasoned traveler. Actually I’m writing this post just so that I can claim to post on the internet from airports.
I am of course flying back to Manila after a short 3-day visit to Hong Kong. People always ask me where I plan to go while in HK, even though I always come here to work. It’s even worse this time, as I flew in Sunday evening, attending a three-day seminar until Wednesday, working during the evenings then flying back Thursday morning. Not much time to do anything really.
Traveling by land sucks compared to traveling by plane. So for our weekend trip to Albay to visit our new sister-in-law’s family, I booked 3 two-way Cebu Pacific tickets for my brothers and myself. Our parents would take the bus since it was slightly cheaper and they didn’t mind sleeping on the road. The other reason was that my two brothers had never ridden a plane before – this would be their first time.
It’s a bit strange, but somehow Hong Kong is becoming a bit familiar to me by now. This is only my third time here of course, and I’ve spent less than five weeks here in total since 2004. Still I find that certain things like ordering at restaurants and riding the MTR have started to become a bit more “normal” for me. Originally when I was told that I would be staying in HK for two weeks, I was a bit depressed, as I didn’t really enjoy the prolonged stay last time.
I’ve been asked if I would be willing to be temporarily posted in another country, halfway across the world, for around half a year. On the surface, it seems like a good idea – I don’t have any definite plans for the next few months, so there’s nothing in the way. It would be new stuff, new places, people, experiences, etc., a most welcome change of pace. But the first emotion that grips me is fear.
I’ve been meaning to write more about my time in Hong Kong. One of the many new things I experienced there was the food. People who’ve eaten out with me on a regular basis know that I’m quite the picky eater. In general, I dislike eating veggies and seafood (yeah, I’m an unhealthy carnivore). In Hong Kong, you cannot avoid vegetables and seafood; every meal comes with some form of green stuff or shrimp or whatnot.
I remember looking for the signs that would tell me where to find the A11 bus that could take me to North Point. My instructions were to find the McDonald’s inside the airport and look for the exit nearby. Sure enough, the signs pointed me to the bus terminal. I bought a ticket, and as I arranged my luggage for easier carrying I didn’t notice that I had dropped the just-purchased ticket to the floor.
Yeah I know, Hong Kong is technically a part of China, but my feet actually did manage to walk some non-Hong Kong Chinese territory. Too many stories accumulated in three weeks to tell in one post though, but to say the least I actually got to experience a bit more of Hong Kong this time, as opposed to the five-day almost-all-work schedule that I had last time. Unfortunately, I did not get to experience any kung-fu in the streets, although I did manage to get a picture with Jacky Chan.
So much for my nefarious plan to take it easy until I can get a Christmas break. I leave on the first available flight Thursday, and they plan to keep me there for around three weeks.
Looking Out Over Punta Fuego Originally uploaded by zroytang . <p> This is the photo I decided to put on the front page of http://roytang.net while I wasn't sure yet what to put there. </p> <p> We were at Punta Fuego in Batangas last Jan 30-31 for our coincidentally-coinciding-with-the-HK-Chinese-New Year-weekend annual company outing. Those who know me in person might be aware that I'm not really big on out-of-town trips.
As I’ve mentioned before, Daet is a small town. When I was there, I was mentally comparing it to the UP Diliman campus. Main reason being, we had a tendency to walk everywhere we went. Just like in UP, everything was literally within “walking distance” – the beach, the church, the cemetary, etc. So in my mind, the UP Diliman campus and Daet, Camarines Norte occupy roughly the same area, even though technically, one is a university campus and the other a full-sized town.
Well, not really, seeing as how there aren’t really any mountains anywhere near here. I’m in Daet, Camarines Norte, if that means anything to you. It’s great to be back here — apparently the last time I was here was in 1996. Some things have changed, but mostly things are still the same. There’s some sort of minimall now, and a Shakey’s, and a Jollibee. 😛 And there’s internet! I’m posting right now from a dingy internet cafe near my grandmother’s house.
I need to escape from this madness, this constant flow of unfinished tasks. I am leaving for the land of my ancestors, returning to my roots, seeking the tranquility that has eluded me these weeks past. For seven long years have I not ventured there, and yet now I find myself seeking its warm comforts. What will I find when I return to those shores? Will it be the same simple, quite town I once knew?
As I’ve mentioned before, I was sent to HK a couple of weeks back, for the rollout of a project I’ve been involved with for about a year and a half. I’m not sure if it’s right for me to be talking about the project here, so I won’t delve into any specifics. I will however, bore you all with stories from my first trip anywhere remotely far from home.
Yup. This week, for the first time ever, I’m leaving the country, and flying down to HK to provide support for the rollout of the project I’ve been with for the past year and a half. First time to leave the country, and I’m gonna be flying alone to a country where people speak a language I can recognize but not understand. I’m understandably a bit freaked out; who wouldn’t be, right?