Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Constant Travel Companion

Meet Peggy, my trusty luggage. She's the one constant in all my travels, save for trips to Boracay and Macau where an overnight bag suffices. She's even better than a dog--she doesn't shed and slobber, she sits quietly in the corner, I don't have to feed her, and I'm not in danger of a broken heart in the event she dies. True, she doesn't dance like crazy to meet me, but she's more than I could possibly hug.
the ever-reliable Peggy
Some well-meaning friends voiced their disapproval for a pricey luggage (hello, Samsonite ito, hindi Chanel). They also pictured scenarios of my Peggy being tossed around in transit. But she has proved to be hardy, and checking-out is a breeze since she stands out in a sea of somber-looking bags. Good thing I'm too lazy to scrape off the travel stickers slapped on her, because the last time she came out in the conveyor belt with a twin, I knew from one look to tell them apart (I still have to check, though, when I get back home--I haven't unpacked since yesterday's flight). 

She's a beauty, no? I lied when I tell everyone I'm incorrigibly single. Without knowing it, I have already met a (travel) mate for life. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Palo, Leyte's The Oriental Hotel

I travel a lot for work,staying mainly in hotels. I guess I'm lucky, since only a few get the opportunity to travel and experience the myriad beauty of our country like I do. Recently I was more fortunate than usual, since we secured the services of The Oriental Hotel.

The hotel, now on its soft launch, is near the Leyte Landing Memorial and is located along the beach. It was love at first sight--the hotel would not look out-of-place in Boracay. All day you'd hear the crash of the waves.

I appreciate the effort to build around the existing trees.

This row of the rooms face the beach. One participant remarked that she could imagine Zuma rising out of the sea not far away.

This compound is already beautiful, but more so at night with all the lights.

The view from the second floor in the first light of the morning.

Indigenous orchids are everywhere in the grounds. 

a closer view of the orchid

Our welcome drink, with cucumbers, was very refreshing. 

They also served us with a drink made from kamote (sweet potato) tops.

The rooms were roomy and bright, which I prefer.

The early evening sky was a brilliant shade of blue. 

The hotel is indeed, lovely, the service more than adequate. I just wish they do something about their food--it's the usual hotel food. And I may still be persuaded to return on my own account if they beef up the wifi connection in the rooms. It's non-existent in the beachfront rooms.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

At the Suvarnabhumi Airport

I love Thailand's Suvarnabhumi Airport because it's huge, airy, and light. Its size could be daunting, but adequate signs abound in English, and I stayed close to my colleagues. The language barrier is less daunting when you're with a group.

Before our departure, we took time for souvenir shots, like this one with a yaksha demon warrior statue. It would have been a crime not to. These warriors are said to protect the good and kept away evil spirits.

During our arrival a few days earlier, I was fascinated with one wall filled with paintings. These were courtesy

of the members of the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture, and Graphic Art, of Silpakorn University. There seems to be a world-wide trend to bring art closer to the public, such as in airports.

Again, airy, bright, and modern.

Pictures of the king greeted us as we were about to leave the country.

I'm a fan of Thai food. Even those in the airport were good.

after immigration
From immigration, it was a long walk to the departure area. Shops were everywhere, and I had to restrain myself from spending the last of my money. I made a mental note to buy pastries exclusively sold in the airport. Fortunately we reached the gate minutes before boarding.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Basey, Samar's Woven Products

Until my trip to Leyte last month, I've always associated woven products with Bicol. We made a side trip to Basey (pronounced Basay), Samar, and we were lucky the family of our host, Judge Estorninos, is one of the main producers of these, supplying malls in Manila with their products. In this trip I scored banigs, or handwoven mats, for my home.

A quick online research yields that Basey used to be the capital of Leyte during the American Period. Basey is based on the Waray word, "mabaisai," which means beautiful. The town is indeed quite lovely. For a related post, go here.

Below are some of the products on sale at Delza's native products, from bags...

to mats...

bought the orange and maroon ones for my house
these were just lovely
to wall accents...


Add caption
and more wall accents.

Judge Estorninos shows us the raw material that they use for their products. Tikog is a grass that grows along rice fields, and slippers made from this grass is much sought after.

dried tikog
When in Basey, do drop by the store. I went crazy with my purchases, and I resolved to return.

Delza's Native Products
San Fernando Street
Basey, Samar

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Scenes from the City of Pattaya

After the first day of the conference, my colleagues and I took a tour of the city proper. We were billeted in the quieter side of the city, and so this was an opportunity for us to see local color and perhaps buy a souvenir or two.
except for the thai script, this look like it was taken from quiapo
see the "jeeps"?
this is a common mode of transportation in pattaya. cheaper, too
looks like manila bay, no?
i wonder if this was what the beach along roxas bouelvard looked like ages ago
souvenir shops line the streets
kiosks selling more souvenir shops

When I look hard enough, Pattaya seem to be an amalgam of the familiar cities in the Philippines, but with more people of South Asian descent. I wish I had more time to explore the city--two nights were not enough to get a sense of the place. A compatriot studying in Thailand speaks highly of how laid-back the people were, and how easy life is in the country. I'm definitely intrigued. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Imelda Walking Tour

History was not my favorite subject, and I'm not saying this with pride. Looking back, I should have given it more attention. As a nation, we seem to be running in circles, choosing the expedient over the long-term. Through history one gets to know why things are so.

I've always wanted to experience the walking tours of  Carlos Celdran, and I readily accepted an invitation from a mutual friend to his 3-hour Imelda Walking Tour. Carlos describes the tour as a little bit disco, a little bit New Society, and completely Imeldific. We met at the Little Theater Lobby Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the centerpiece of the CCP Complex, one of the projects spearheaded by the former First Lady. From there we proceeded to other parts of the CCP. 

We then boarded the orange jeeps to the nearby Philippine International Convention Center.

Drawing on his experience as a performance artist, the hours zipped by unnoticed. Do book for yourself one of his tours and get re-acquainted with "one of the most controversial periods in Philippine history as seen through the life and ambitions of the lady who defined it for the Philippines."  

For tour dates and rates, click here.