Things that I am thankful for this week.

Today, I decided to write something completely uninformative and ultimately personal. I believe that if you recount all the things that you are thankful for, you are spending less time thinking about unpleasant things.

So this Sunday, as I drove back to the province, I was extremely happy for everything that happened this week and I couldn’t wait to get home to start listing down things that made me this appreciative and content about how my life went one day at a time.

-I was able to have a good mid week catch up and drink with my urban friends. Met new people, Gil from Icon and Ciella the Cinderella.

Mic treated Gelly, Ara and I, a midnight burger before going home. Thanks Mic! The burger from URBN might not have been so good that time but how can you beat something that’s free? My turn when you visit Balayan bro.

-I was finally able to submit my visa application for Chile, which will really give me a breather since I’m completely running out of time before I leave for South America.

I had another chance to visit Hooch, which, by the way, is my favorite 12-6pm place for their 50% off on all drinks during that time frame. And was finally able to introduce my 2 favorite alcoholic friends, Yama and Margaux, who are really cool despite actually getting married soon, I really love you guys. Ciella the Cinderella was present too, and she was a completely agreeable person, considering the ridiculous amount of alcohol Yama, Margaux and I were consuming. We had the loudest voices in that place, we made friends with all the bar tenders, free shots, and a lot of things I couldn’t remember.

By 7pm of the same day, we were totally smashed as we headed for dinner in I’m Angus. We each ordered steak, which was on special that night, paired with a really good Malbec from Argentina. Lovely!

Being a responsible driver, I decided to park my car in Lakandula Street, Salcedo village for a 5-hour sleep inside my car before waking up at 2am to drive safely back to Batangas.

I was able to work and be productive, an important element in life. There must be a balance between pleasure and responsibilities. And whenever I get to balance that equation, I am extremely happy.

I am also thankful for some alone time I’ve had during the rain. I felt bad for all those affected people but I am comforted by seeing the strength of our country’s spirit amidst everything.

One of my blog posts have been shared by Our Awesome Planet, which is awesome in the most superlative word, being one of the most followed blogs in the Philippines. It was such an honor Anton Diaz!

-I finally got to explore Maginhawa and found a really interesting hang out place called The Zone. It had a hip-Brooklyn feel, some Williamsburg type neighborhood. 

-That night, Cinderella and I tried this restaurant called Van Gogh is Bipolar, for good reason. First, you have to leave your shoes at the door. Second, you can wear hats, write curses on walls, and leave kiss marks on the ceiling. Third, you’re absolutely bullied by the chef in the most interesting and fun way by not being able to know what food you are going to have. The level of novelty in this place is beyond the roof.

Finally able to visit 801, Dana’s place, besides from being super cool, is also one of the best hosts in her hospitable and generous nature. Mic sorry if I fell asleep mid-sentence during our serious conversation. You can ask Wanda, Nikki, Karla, Margaux, Yama my sister Jazz, and her fiance Archie, how surprisingly common I do this.

-Sunday and my alcoholic friends took another visit to Hooch. Being mature adults that we are, we didn’t get as smashed as we would normally prefer, but then there never really is a bad time here so I’m still thankful for that.

With all these in my mind on Monday’s eve, I am just so excited to go back to work tomorrow, balance equations, to workout, and to live some more. Happy new week ahead to everyone! Smile and be light!

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Seryna, a Japanese love affair.

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I’ve been hearing from my foodie friends that Seryna is not somewhere us regular earning people come to eat every weekend, or whenever we impulsively crave for sushi, but what made me decide to go was when a Japanese friend of mine mentioned this place to me. Japanese people understand quality, and they would pay for it too. So albeit pricey, I’m extremely excited yet a little apprehensive for the experience.

So I arrived in Little Tokyo, a small neighborhood in Makati, rightfully named for ubiquitous Japanese restaurants that surround it. Outside the restaurant, I noticed a significant number of chain-smoking skimpily clad women, always a sign of a good Japanese meal to come. Ethics has nothing to do with food, you connect the dots.

Once inside, being a solo diner, I thought of them generous to offer me a table as it is a packed tuesday night, but I asked to be seated by the bar, as I would like to watch well trained hands prepare my meal. I order an imperative beer before anything else, crucial element to having a better observation of the place. Halfway into it, I am starting to be in unison with the rest of the happy diners, I am ready to order. A confident server arrives, hands me a hot towel, opens the menu to me as I asked to have the food explained to me. I ask for their Omakase, specialty in Nihongo, which she understands, plus 1000 points. I told her I wanted to try their sushi and she recommended I get the special platter called Matsu. Its not the most expensive platter they offer, which is good, because I hate it when a server instantly points to the most expensive dish in the menu. And for the astounding price Seryna charges for each piece, I would rather get the platter and save myself from having to know the price of every bite.

I smile as I observe the hands of the person making my meal, every rolling, slicing, pouring, and patting, the usual hand movements in making a sushi. I look around the place, appreciating the modern Japanese interiors. I eavesdrop on Japanese conversations that I would never understand but they sounded pleasantly drunk anyway and that I understand. I also noticed they have private tatami rooms for bigger groups who want privacy within those Japanese paper like walls, expecting some one will just accidentally roll away tearing down those paper doors laughing. Ahh.. God believes in my undying pursuit of happiness.

A $20 sushi platter

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My plate comes and it looked like an asian renaissance artwork. I ordered a hot sake which I think is a perfect accompaniment to the cold food I’m about to cure my hunger with. Each bite was a revelry, lightly damped with sauce and maybe a little more wasabi here and there. The best part was that having been seated at the bar, I can easily ask the person responsible for my meal things about my food, like types of fish used, a hint of spring roll perhaps? Or the origin and freshness of my uni, which made my meal quite educational. What a way to learn! If only academics can always be this pleasant.

Reasonably sized and priced hot sake

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Things worth mentioning about my food, tamago/egg sushi was sweet and delightful. Maguro/tuna and salmon were average, the habachi (the palest one) was my favorite among the three. The ama ebi/shrimp was glorious, it felt like cream as it went through my mouth. The only disappointing part of my plate was the uni/sea urchin, already having seen what a freshly opened urchin looked like, I knew this creamy melting brie-like uni (a fresh uni is soft and solid) has been standing here for some time.

Over all, it was a pleasant experience. Its a fun place to be in, people talk and laugh loud enough but not raucous. The owner seemed to be having just as much fun, at times I caught him leaning to the right while walking. Oh how I love an owner representing what it means to be professional (he sometimes went to the kitchen and fiddled with his staff) but not hesitant to join in with his happy drunk diners. The damage? Well its definitely not cheap but my curiosity paid me well. Kanpai!

My top 25 at 25.

Being 25 is fun. You are independent enough to do what’s wrong but you’re mature enough to know consequences. So you weight down which highs you want to chase, and when it comes to chasing the next high, travel is my choice of drug. At 25, I may not always know what I want to do in life, but at least I know where I want to go.

25. Dubai (U.A.E.)

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Perverse and boastful show of wealth and a nightmare for eco-tourism advocates, with its indoor ski park, one of the world’s largest indoor aquarium, etc., Dubai has it all. From a simple fishing community, it has emerged as one of the richest oil producing middle eastern countries. You are never far away from a Lamborghini or a Rolls Royce wherever you are in this city. Go to any hotel and surely there’s a Porsche (cheapskate) parked somewhere.

Glitz and glamour aside, there’s one road called Al Dhiyafha where a melting pot of blue collars, the backbone of any society, gather and exhibit specialty cuisines from their respective home countries. If you want real food in Dubai, its the place to be.

24. Seoul (South Korea)

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Already having lots of Koreans in the Philippines, its a wonder why I even went here. But to my surprise, Seoul turns out to be a one stop shop of Korean culture which I never really was curious back at home. Amidst skyscrapers, suit clad businessmen and efficient modern public transportation that smells of kimchi during the day and soju at night, massive shrines and temples located on prime real estate locations have been left untouched by city developers. A visit to these shrines automatically and surprisingly drown out the usual city sounds, a place to slow down your pace.

23. Bruges (Belgium)

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Old town Brugge gives you what most European old town squares offer. Everything is built around the town’s main church, where Jesus christ torned blood stained cloth is purportedly stored. Specific shops selling different things are organized and concentrated on their respective places, bierhaus (if you need translation for this, I am not talking to you) being the most popular of course. Equally famous for their chocolates, expect to find lots of overpriced chocolates here.

22. Nuremberg (Bavaria)

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Nuremberg is located in Bavaria, which is a part of Germany, but when I was here, everyone bragged about being Bavarian first, only then they are Germans. Proud people, these Bavarians are. Nuremberg is most famous for its Christmas market, or Christkindlemarkt in German, it is outlandishly cute. Although it may feel like you’ve just missed the party if you visit outside the Yule season, but this city is alive, thriving with history and students alike. Hungry? Try those tasty little Nurnberger sausages.

21. Hallstatt (Austria)

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A short train ride from Salzburg, Hallstatt is a small town that became opulent once from the salt trade, now, its nothing more than a postcard town. Although residents still cling to the narrow strip of land between the mountain and the lake, I actually don’t remember meeting any local in my short time there. The most interesting part of my visit is that since real estate is remarkably scarce, there is a limit of 50-year lease for a spot in the minuscule but quaint grave yard. After your golden death anniversary, some family member gets to write your name on what used to be your forehead and stacked up among the rest of the oldies.

20. Venice (Italy)

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Venice, a once powerful kingdom and a symbol of opulence just a few centuries ago, now suffering from the negative aspects of tourism, is sinking from its fame. There is no shortage of tourist influx here, rain or shine, for better or worse. But I can hardly blame anyone who goes to visit Venice, even if they make the place sink deeper from junk, waves coming from wakes of tourist boats and cruise ships. You have to see it at least once. Oh the grandeur and renaissance. Interestingly, Marco Polo, probably the worlds most famous traveler (not just a chain of hotels), was a Venetian. He somehow made it to China through the silk road, rubbed shoulders with Kublai Khan, and made it back to tell the story.

19. Jungfraujoch (Switzerland)

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I started my journey to the top of Europe from the small, cliche of a German speaking Swiss town in Grindelwald. Jungfraujoch is the highest point in the Alps, hence, the rest of Europe, with an elevation of 3,471 meters above sea level. Beyond the prized title of being the roof of the continent, it is also really expensive to get here. But the fun really is in getting here. You take a really cute train that gives you a view of the quintessential Swiss country side, slowly making elevation, change trains a few times, until you get a peek of the snoq capped mountains. Bring sunscreen as UV rays get really harmful with the elevation. When it gets too cold, you can always have the most expensive lackluster cheese fondue you’ll have in Switzerland at the restaurant on top.

18. Vienna (Austria)

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They say Vienna is for old people, I don’t always disagree, especially if you’re young with hormones running wild. But I enjoyed Vienna. I spent Christmas here, away from my family who were comfortably warm at our home in the Philippines. I loved Vienna for probably the most different reason why people come here. I came here for my favorite philosophically romantic couple, Jesse and Celine of the Before Sunrise series. I walked their walks, rode the creaking ferris wheel where they first kissed, because Jesse was too shy to do it on the booth at the record store, the cafes and the rest of it.

17. Bratislava (Slovakia)

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It does sound familiar, heard it somewhere once, where the hell is Bratislava? In the film Eurotrip, Bratislava is presented as a drab communist dead end town. Sure it does, once you cross the bridge with a weird looking UFO bar in the middle, it is the epitome of communism with its tenement housing, much like SMDC really. But if you arrive here by train, you’ll see that it must have been habituated by rich, cultured people once. The old town is just as beautiful as any other Eastern European old towns, with an overlooking upturned table-like castle. Its mystical and almost deserted in winter, but that’s where the charm comes from perhaps?

16. Pokhara (Nepal)

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Kathmandu can make you crazy after staying there for too long, and that’s what Pokhara is for. Get away from the city, take the nerve racking highway that falls a few hundred meters into a river that’s dotted with, wait for it, ill-fated buses. I personally just closed my eyes, prayed to the universe that should my time come, please please let me see the Himalayas first. The mountain gods must have heard my appeal and I was able to reach Pokhara, white knuckled, but safely. The city has a picturesque lake, and hordes of hippies that comes with a super laid back place. From here, I rented a plane to see the Himalayas, the rooftop of the world. Let’s just say I would more likely forget my first sex, god knows how bitter sweet that was, than my face to face experience with the Himalayas.

15. Krakow (Poland)

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Schindler’s list anyone? Save one life, save the world? Yes, Schindler’s enamel factory is located in Krakow, a 15 minute walk from the main square, Europe’s biggest square. And where else better to spend New Year’s eve than Europe’s biggest square? Yup. Spent NYE here and was rewarded threefold. Different stages for different bands of different genres, an intoxicated, super charged hormones of a crowd and you get the picture. To equalize the fun, a visit to Auschwitz concentration camp, around an hour by local bus from the square, is a never fail depressant.

14. Oxford vs Cambridge (U.K.)

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Let me tell something personal to you, sure, I like beautiful and intelligent students, but I like beautiful schools more. Professor Charles Xavier graduated here, prince Charles, also that egotistic physical theoreticist (clue, not Sheldon Cooper) named Stephen Hawking aka wheelz, and the infamous philanderer, Lord Byron, to name a few of my favorite, albeit one is fictional, alumni. In my next life, I only want to study here, graduate and become a fellow and tenured professor in either Universities.

13. New York (U.S.A)

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From JFK airport, I took the train to Bronx where I was staying with a friend in his flat. On the way, I had to transfer overland from one station to another, it was just before mid town, around the 30s when I got overland, luggage rolling and bouncing on rough and uneven pavement, Jay Z and A. Keys, as my friend, Angela, who, mind you, is personal friends with, even followed her back on Twitter, started playing in my head “Neeew yooooooork”. I love New York. There’s America and there’s New York. Its a city that’s got something going on at some place at any time of the day, and night. People from all over the world, with different ethnicities, from all walks of life, they’re all here, trying to make it big. As a result, really damn good food, cheap and expensive, so many interesting people, so much quirks.

12. Amsterdam (Netherlands)

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Amsterdam has an unfair reputation of a place where people go to for legal dosage of drugs and lenient bureaucracy. Sure, you get taxed for prostitution and marijuana, but the city itself is gorgeous on its own. With canals that smell so much better than those of Venice, low rise buildings with curious ground floor life size windows (wink) and the only place I’ve seen that’s got more bikes than people. Park your black, nondescript bike in some corner, when you come back, its impossible to tell which one is yours, hopefully not the one floating along the canal. I’ve never felt so short in my life than when I was here. The Dutch have the award for being the tallest people on Earth. It must be the cheese, that world famous Edam cheese. Spent two nights here, watched a sex show, got drunk, smoked a joint, passed out, magically woke up in my room, with pictures to show for. On the second night, got a tattoo. The following morning, really glad to have left.

11. Siem Reap (Cambodia)

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I’ve never been more humbled by this feat of mankind. The Khmers built something so vast and grand in the far east, that until now, the very basic maintaining of upkeep still puzzles the best archaeologists. Such colossal strongholds and places for worships, mysteriously abandoned, reclaimed by the forest, lost for generations until a French explorer chanced upon it. Wow is definitely an understatement. I don’t think there can be any superlative adjective used that will ever be an overstatement when describing Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, and the rest of the structures that dot the rest of the once powerful kingdom.

10. Edinburgh (Scotland)

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Before becoming part of Great Britain, Scotland was a mysterious land of rolling hills, foul weather and inhabited by fierce mythical creatures and hell of a tough Scottish folks. Now, Edinburgh, its capital, is truly one of my favorite cities. The only reason its in number ten is because I didn’t like the food here that much. It still retains its foul weather, tough folks with very weird accent, hence, do not ever get into a bar fight in Scotland. Like the rest of my favorite cities, literature is always an inspiration to visit. For Edinburgh, there’s Trainspotting (“it sucks being Ska-ish”) and The Da Vinci code (Rosslyn chapel). Regardless of inspirations, it is a must visit city for any self respecting traveler. To see the old town from the Edinburgh castle, walk the Royal Mile, and a real Scottish pub crawl are experiences that are truly YOLO-ing.

9. Bled (Slovenia)

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I arrived in Bled when it was winter, dark, and empty. Its a sleepy lake town and the fog that blanketed the whole place didn’t afford me to see beyond a few meters from me. Its the perfect setting for Silent Hill. Upon checking in at my hostel, the receptionist informed me that I was the only guest and that she was glad that I have finally arrived so that she can finally go home and leave the whole 3 floors of that damned building all to myself. Needless to say, I did not sleep well. Making it alive and unscathed come morning, I am a different man after that. Anyway, the only exciting thing about this place, is not the church planted on a small island inside the big lake, but the Vintgar gorge. A 1600 meter walkway made of sleet covered broken wood planks on top of a gushing river and in between wet mountains. I was the only traveler in town and had I fallen into the river, at least I meant that goodbye hug to my parents when they dropped me at the airport.

8. Tokyo (Japan)

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Tokyo, its easily the most shocking place I’ve ever been in my life. There seem to be an electric current running from the buildings to the neon signs to the people and food. Everything is alive, even the food you’re about to eat was surely living just a few moments back. You only have to see the famous Shibuya crossing and the morning auction in Tsukiji market to know what sort of energy and pace I’m talking about. During the day, everyone’s busy with work, the ideal Japanese salary man, at night, all fetishes are catered for. From Pachinko parlors (casinos), Purikura machines (a photobooth that’s girlishly blown out of proportion) to dive bars that fit 3 people the most. Food? Its all about sushi. Tuna is king and O-toro is gold.

7. Hong Kong (Hong Kong)

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Upfront, I would tell you that what moves people here is money, it is the catalyst in this city. People are flashy, Rolex stores are as abundant as 7elevens, but they are hard working people who know exactly what they want in life, except maybe that they have really really small expensive hotel rooms, but the rest, they’ve figured out perfectly. Duck rice, that’s what I go to Hong Kong for, that meal I cry myself to sleep at night when I want it and can’t have it. The Avenue of The Stars, the Victoria Harbour, the skyline from the opposite side of the river, shopping, nope, I’m skipping all that for all the Duck rice in Hong Kong.

6. The Sahara Desert (Disputed between neighboring North African countries)

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The Sahara, extends from Morocco to Egypt, Tunisia to Sudan. In English, its vast. Caravans of the past crossed this arid, uninhabitable, interminable landscape after landscape to do trade from Asia to Africa. Even Islam crossed this desert from the Middle East to reach Africa. Spending a night here will make even Bear Grylls humble about his self preservation instincts. Between the punishing mid day heat and chaffing camel ride to the campsite where we’d spend the bone chilling night is a moment spent siting down on top of a really tall dune, watching the most glorious sunset that nothing will ever compare to, slowly giving way into the moon and the stars to paint the sand silver and the make the rest of the desert seem like a violent ocean frozen mid wave.

5. Varanasi (India)

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Basically, Hindus go here to die. If you don’t get an instantaneous heavy dosage of culture shock with that, you are one tough bastard. You are in the holiest city in India. Expect to hear chanting everywhere, poor people resigned to their fates and get cremated and the remains thrown away in the Ganges river, where supposedly, the act of reincarnation will end and your samsara, over. Literally, where fire wood are stacked, you will see dead bodies being burned open air by the river. If that’s not enough, the Ganges is popular, aside from being one of the holiest rivers, but also the dirtiest. It makes Pasig river look like Evian. But in Hindu belief, a dip here will clean up all your karma, a sort of soul cleansing, and as weird as I am, I took a not so refreshing but inner cleansing morning dip.

4. Marrakech (Morocco)

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Dictators, colonialists, and governments may change with time but Marrakech will always be what it is, a hub of trade, culture and energy. Marrakech is damn sexy. A veiled woman walks by, taking with her the mystery of whats hiding underneath her perfect form, the way her hips sway when she walks, intrigues you like a mad lover. The constant sound of pounding metals, shaping them, gilding them to become something so exquisite, be it a lamp, a figurine, or any other Islamic art. The curious looking conical shaped pottery from which they stew their food, when opened, explodes different aromas of cinnamon, to olives, dried citrusy fruits and animal protein. Mud brick kasbahs, riads (guesthouses) mosques and shops form the labyrinthine medina. Come night time, a visit to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square is like an assault on the senses. Everything moves, some things bite, some dance, some sing, but mostly, they cook. Its the biggest open air stage I’ve ever seen in my life.

3. Penang (Malaysia)

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From Indonesia to Singapore, there is a general consensus that Penang is the food capital of the Straits. It used to be frequented by the British colonialist for Penang Hill which offers refuge from the damning heat, overlooking the sea. I’ll give it to Penang, the island is beautiful, but nothing of the landscape and the sea can beat what the island offers when it comes to food. Let me tell you straight, you need a local friend here to know which places to visit, and how to get there. The best Nasi Kandar, Nasi Lemak, oh and the Laksa! I’ve tried them all here. This place is second only to, you guessed it, San Sebastian in Spain, when it comes to concentration of so many good food in one place.

2 San Sebastian/Donostia (Spain/Basque)

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San Sebastian is the food capital of Spain, there is no contest. And if Spain is, arguably the food capital of the world, then logic follows that San Sebastian serves the best food in the world. Its got more than 3 michelin star restaurants concentrated for its small size than any other place in the world. But food doesn’t have to be expensive here. Nightlife here is a system of Pintxo (tapas) bar hop. You go to one bar, order the best Pintxo (normally advertised), drink just enough wine or Txakoli (sparkling dry white wine), then move to the next one. That sounds good enough on its own right? But did I tell you the buildings have very alluring old world appeal, the people are so beautiful and there’s a long stretch of beach, actually, two or three coves that stretches long enough to cover so many good looking people.

1. Hanoi (Viet Nam)

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Of all the places in the world, this is where I had the most fun. I found the perfect ratio of strangeness and familiarity in Hanoi. From the moment you wake up in the morning to eat Banh Mi (French baguette with fillings) while you sip that strong dark and gooey Vietnamese coffee, and then you head to watch people from all walks of life and generations exercise around Hoan Kiem lake to make room for all the delicious food to be had. Then you start looking for lunch and of course, its going to be Pho (rice noodle), the only choice really is if you’ll have it with beef or chicken. Alternatively, you can dine on some authentic French cuisine, but I’d rather explore more from Vietnamese cuisine like the Bun Cha, Cha Ca La Vong, and etc. up until you walk along the old quarter to look around old French colonial architecture, while somewhere in the corner, propagandas blast from a speaker on top of an electric post.

What you have to know about India

Its the most dazzling, puzzling, beautifully disorganized, and irresistibly chaotic set of places I’ve ever found myself in. From the ethereal and omnipresence of honking 21st century caravans to since-the-time-of-age camels in Delhi, my James Bond dreams in Udaipur, the withstanding merchants of Jaipur, the holiest place in Varanasi, and of course, to that postcard, desktop image, and posters we’ve all seen, the majestic Taj Mahal.

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You’re no longer just a desktop background!
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Breaking presumptions about India

1. It doesn’t stink and they don’t all wear Lungis

I took the metro in Delhi basically everyday, except when I’d get home late and its closed. I don’t want to sound unpatriotic, but to break our racial discriminative ideas about India, our MRT smells worse than the metro in Delhi. I’m not saying people from Delhi, or the rest of India, doesn’t reassure me once in a while of what I used to think about it, but its not any worse than the metro in Paris, infact most of them smell great.

They dress ridiculously well. No short pants here and the rest of India lest you want to look like an overgrown boy who never outgrew his age. Dressing up is a form of respect here, partly more for self respect really. You wear short pants/shorts in India and you’re literally looked down upon as an eight year old boy.

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Its sweltering hot and they don’t mind

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2. They are scammers

Only if you’re a fool. Scams in India are not so much worse than seasoned frauds in South East Asia. Agree on a price, check the quality, and count your change. Its not so different from Binondo or Bangkok when it comes to getting short changed, hustled or pick pocketed. Like the rest of the world, common sense rules. Which is not so common as I would find out as I got out of the airport, 12:30 am, bought a prepaid cab ticket, short changed by an innocently smiling cashier, hopped in the cab, counted my money, didn’t feel right, got out just before my cab left, got back to the counter and the cashier instantly gave a smile that says “you’re not as stupid as you look after all” and gave me the rest of my change. I arrived in NAIA once and got hustled by a cabbie who wanted to charge me more than what I knew was a generous fee, I got off in the middle of EDSA, not paying him a miserable cent. Sometimes its more about the principle. To be honest, next to Japanese folks, Indians are the nicest Asians. I’ve met the nicest people I’ll probably ever meet in life in India.

3. Food will give you constant indigestion

I love Indian food, I love street food wherever, even so, I experienced a tolerable Delhi belly. Okay. Most indigestions come from unfamiliarity with the spices used in your food than from hygienic reasons, even if you eat in fancy looking restaurants. So when I developed a tolerance with the spices, I had the best time eating whatever I wanted, so long as I see Indians buying food even from the dirtiest looking places, I grab the opportunity and reap rewards. Let me tell you one thing, Indians know how to eat. Follow their trail, never eat in any restaurant or food stall that only serves tourists (its the dirtiest food you’ll eat, trust me), apart from that, have the guts to eat along with white and blue collars, homeless people, holy men and the rest of them. I had my best meal in India from a stall that opened up at 8pm, a 15 minute queue, and worth 10 rupees, about 7 Philippine pesos.

I see a queue and I know I’ll eat well

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My 10 rupee meal!

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A plate of food here looks like an artist’s palette

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What you should know when visiting India

1. Book trains way ahead

Its not easy to get tickets from the Indian website called IRCTC. You have to provide a local Indian number, which, guess what, you can only get in Indian land, even then it still won’t be easy to get one. They start selling tickets 2 months ahead of your planned date of departure. Trust me, its worth setting up an alarm in your calendar for. You don’t want to take a regular class ticket traveling by rail in India more than once. So I suggest you spend a little more for getting a 1/2/3 AC berth when traveling long distance. I missed my train from Agra to Varanassi for a ridiculously rookie mistake, the only way to make it was to get a general class ticket. It was one of the highlights of my trip to India, but I would probably never do it again. Its masochism.

Traveling around India through rails

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Bed for the night

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Mornings in general class compartment

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2. Stay in guesthouses owned by Indian families

For me, the best way to do it is through Airbnb. Read the reviews, if most of the reviews mention anything related to food, book the damn place. I’ve never met an Indian mom who doesn’t cook well, with recipes at least from 3 generations past. Indian moms would never let you out of the dining table without a bursting tummy, so a word of advice, bring bigger sized jeans. if you ever plan on eating your way through India, with all the generous use of Indian butter called ghee, carbo loaded flat breads and those sinfully succulent sweets eventually take its toll.

3. Its all about romance

I made the unfortunate mistake of visiting India alone. PDA is an understatement in India. People make out in every dark corner, an alley, Vishnu knows what’s happening down there. I stayed in an apartment in Delhi and the newly weds on top of my room kept me from ever having a peaceful sleep the moment the husband gets home at around 3am from his call center job. I’ve concluded that Indian structures are earthquake proof because that couple would give it a definite rocking night after night.. I can easily tell you the sequence from my deduction. First there would be loud noises from water pipes, shower time! Then there would be closets opening and closing. A few minutes of gentle but audible movements, then its bring-the-house-down, wake-all-the-fucking-neighbors time. I feel a little bad for the new bride though because from the moment of audible rocking, 5 minutes after, its all silence.

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They say “There’s the rest of the world, and there’s India.” I cannot agree more.

Why is traveling good for you?

DSC_1993They were looking at the Taj Mahal during sunset.

Every time I leave our front door, airport bound, giddy with excitement for all the new places, people, and food I will get to see, meet, and eat (not always in that order), I take a good look at our home, and imagine how different I will be next time I enter this door. In so many ways that you can educate yourself, to improve ones personality, gain confidence, and learn to love, I find traveling to be the best way to get it. 

From my first bus tour, more like a blitzkrieg around Europe, I learned how to trust myself to be able to organize my own trips next time because depending on others to arrange your trip is why most people come back home completely disappointed in Paris, or swearing that pasta at home tastes better than in Italy. With confidence in the bag, there seemed to have been infinite possibilities for improvement. I learned to cook, hand wash, be organized, converse, say hello, sorry, and thank you in a dozen different languages, etc. I developed patience, acceptance, forgiveness, and appreciation with fervent passion. From interminable waiting for connections, the haunting punctuality of German trains, from the omnipresent crying infant in economy, the ill fated ordering for a cup of espresso against all these hand waving Romans, are just some of the moments that caused such personal developments.

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My favorite app that tells the schedules of most trains in Europe!

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The horror of taking your first intercity train ride.

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You hear them in movies in every scene from economy.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you rich.” Obviously, after plane tickets, daily food consumption and museum tickets, this is not true in the most literal sense of the phrase. Traveling is not like buying stocks at their IPO, its not a financial investment. It is though, an investment for your self, in the most philosophically existential way which is what I want to share with you here.

1. To find courage

People who never believed in themselves, who shied away from the world, intimidated to take risks and opportunities, will discover the strength and courage they never knew existed within them. Leaving the comforts of home, the familiarity of your city, and your wolf pack friends is not easy. To find yourself in a strange city with not so much an understanding of their inaccessible language, and suddenly you’re hungry as you try to choose which food to order from the indecipherable hieroglyphic menu (yes I am afraid of hunger), pressured by the impatient underpaid waiter, you will take a leap of faith. To expose yourself, to get out of your daily state of normality, to me is what real courage is. To put yourself out there to the unfamiliar, not between your group induced testosterone, is what real courage is. 

IMG_1344Awhile back, I showed some friends this photo and they were mortified. Its ridiculous!

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Stuck in the middle of an Indian crowd, alone, and blending in!

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Got a tattoo from Amsterdam, not exactly sober, not that courageous then yet.

2. Learning acceptance and forgiveness.

When you lose your passport, pocket money stolen, memory card crashed, misread the 20:30 train departure, and a whole lot of other regretful events, at the moment, anger fills you up. Its so predictable, “Why me, of all people?” as if it would have been less worse ethically if it happened to the person next to you. Or “How could I have let that happen?” as if you had control of all the things that could go wrong in your life. Travel often and you’ll experience enough of this to get over that initial anger and regret. 

What better way to learn how to forgive people than by starting with yourself? Serious travelers know that there is nothing else to do in life’s irreversible lapses but to accept them, and as time heals all wounds, make a good story out of it. 

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I’m so sorry Brix, my man! First time to admit that Cherry and I instigated this. Time heals all wounds! 

3. To appreciate beauty.

No, I’m not talking about you, Angela, back from kindergarden! I’m talking about breaking our preconditioned idea of beauty, dictated by media, ethnicity and society’s bigotries. For example, Asians mostly dream of having fairer skin, while Caucasians take so much time getting a tan. People grow up basically dictated which details to admire. But after seeing some parts of the world, I learned to appreciate everything I encounter. The painfully pallid details of a Japanese bamboo forest, women of North India, Moroccan Kasbahs, German Christkindlesmarkt, and maybe hopefully someday, Italian wines. 

Beauty is everywhere. Everywhere you go, at home, a block away, halfway around the world, queuing at the bank, in your office, always find something beautiful to look at and devote your attention there. There are endless bad things to complain about, but you could be spending equal amount of time talking about things you appreciate. 

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Slender and graceful North Indian woman.

 

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Irresistibly cute Christmas market in Nuremberg. 

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Majestic Sahara sunset.

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A Russian roulette of a ferris wheel ride in my town of Balayan. 

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Picture perfect postcard shot of Hallstatt in winter.

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Japanese bamboo forest.

4. You’ll become an anthropologist.

Okay, maybe traveling doesn’t come with a degree, but you’ll build up enough curiosity that different people and cultures seem to be like a writing assignment. You will learn that douche people come from a certain background that when understood, they’re really not as douche as you have originally thought. It must be the circumstances of the lives they live in. People from Batangas speak loud, oft mistaken for having a verbal argument until they smile and wrap arms around each other’s shoulders. New Yorkers are always mad at tourists but try to imagine having leisurely walking people encroach on your office’s sidewalk when you’re running to make it on time for that life changing presentation. Hell the French eat everything, from tail, entrails, to head that will make the lousy American run for, wait for it, Golden “Mcdonald’s” Arches. You can easily be the second-rate tourist and simply just pass judgement, or you can be a sponge and learn why people are like that in those parts of the world. Perhaps when you get home, you’ll understand why your neighbor has the money to drink alcohol and rent karaoke but never pays the money he owes you.

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NY protesters screaming “Get out of our sidewalks!.” I kid!

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A sinister looking sausage, bland pretzel and a liter of beer for breakfast in Munich.

5. Learn to love.

You’ll meet a lot of things and see a lot of people (there is a joke somewhere inside). You’ll find a certain set of people that you had so much fun with but only have 3 hours before you have to part ways. Love at first sight, but never meant to last. The beautiful lady in La Maja Des Nuda, or the gothic church in Prague, you’ll understand that you can fall in love with these people and things, but ownership unnecessary, if not impossible. Suddenly, loving becomes easier, simpler. Understand that goodbyes and farewells are the norm but although some may stay, time is relevant, eventually, everything goes. Instead on focusing on how to prolong relationships and precious time with desired things, it’ll be about how can you make every moment special. Remember John Green? “Some infinities are just bigger than other infinities?” When you look at it this way, every moment becomes precious and spent with more quality.

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Jesse and Celine, total strangers, had to part ways before sunrise, ended up together 10 years after.

Haven’t found what you really want yet? Having trouble with your identity? Travel my friend. Explore your local neighborhood, allocate budget for a plane ticket, do whatever it takes to travel. Hustle, fight, take! Make it a priority, no one ever said on their dying moments that I wish I traveled less. 

A Manly Way To Eat Cupcakes

Cupcakes must be one of the smallest, simplest and most joyful things man (more like woman) has ever made. Those irresistible bundles of joy light me up every time as I close my eyes on every sinfully sugary bite, the world ceases to exist, as if my cupcake and I are alone in a void. Oh those endless possibilities! Imagine if world and religious leaders settled disputes over a box of colorful vanilla sunshines, cupcakes might have succeeded where politics and war failed in attaining world peace. It may seem that even real estate developers fashioned our lives in cupcakes as they try to fit our lives in 40 square meter boxes.

If heaven existed, it must have took in a form of a cupcake frosting.

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But let’s face it. There is no manly way to eat a cupcake with colored frosting that befits a unicorn. You will not see Vladimir Putin eat one in public lest he loses his machismo, or imagine Fidel Castro sneaking one every after meal time, carefully wiping his mouth from frosting stain just before he takes another photo with a tobacco between his lips. Its not like simply devouring them in the most carnal way makes it any more manly than using a delicate knife and fork. Gentlemen, heaven that manifests itself in a form of a cupcake must be appreciated. The least a man can do when eating his cupcake is to be systematic about it, like maintaining a car, disassembling a gun, running an empire, etc.

So here’s what I devised about the art of devouring these euphoric little pieces of paradise.

Step one: Peel off the paper.

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Step two: Slice the bread in half.

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Step three: Miserably eat the bottom half and UTTERLY RESIST the temptation to get some frosting, its called delayed gratification.

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Step four: Selfishly gorge on the 2-1 frosting to bread ratio with reckless abandonment!

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Go ahead and savor your cupcakes shamelessly but always keep in mind that article 12 of the Bro Code still states that “Bros don’t share desserts.”

A romantic Moroccan table in Boracay

Image     White sand on your toes should get you giddy enough for your expected visit to Boracay. Visitors of all nationalities seem to be attracted to the sunset view from this island as moths are to the beauty of flame. Aside from its natural beauty, it has a wide selection of restaurants to cater all sorts of taste and cravings. From the famous street food called “Chori Burger” a bun with chorizo sliced in half and slathered in your choice of sweet or spicy sauce, to quality Mediterranean goodies.

Apart from these quality competitive choices, secluded from the rest of the crowd, you will find the only true Moroccan restaurant in the Philippines. Welcome to Kasbah, Flavors of Morocco. Located towards the end of station 1, its far enough from the raucous parties the island is famous for. Its right in front of the beach, so you can enjoy ambient waves, while your toes dig playfully on powdery sand as you gaze on the clear night sky and its silvery reflection on the beach.

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On a special night for my partner and I, who have deeply fallen for the diverse and exotic beauty of Morocco, what better way to reminisce our best moments together than dining in one of the two small tents where you sit on really comfy pillows while you eat on a requested rose petal dotted table lit by a lamp with really intricate metalwork. With a complimentary bottle of rose to ease the flow of conversation, it was indeed tres romantique! We may or may not have secretly gloated on envious stares from passing couples.

As for the food, I ordered a Moroccan staple of a lamb with dried fruits and almonds tajin while my partner ordered a coastal street grub of grilled tiger prawns marinated and seasoned in herbs and spices. “Tajin” being the conical clay pot from which Moroccans put all the ingredients, as they amazingly stew it without stirring, opening it only when its cooked. It tastes sweet from the honey and prunes, while the almond gives a pleasant texture, but the real star is the succulent lamb that explodes exotic flavor in my mouth from every devouring bite.

Drunk and satiated from food, happiness and romance, we bid their extremely pleasant staff good bye and always with much appreciation. As we slowly swayed, carefree along the shore, we were reminded we are still in Boracay after all.

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The northern road to Hanoi

We were staying in Hue for a night to trim the train hours to Hanoi. Hue, pronounced as huwey, was once the capital of Vietnam, and a center of power for the French. It gives an air of imperialism with its mighty and historical citadel, with its forbidden city, meditative gardens and lakes fit for kings, it was a staging ground, a rallying point, a witness, and unfortunately, a casualty of many battles. There are also those larger than life tombs of proud feudal lords of the past.  Arriving here just after dusk, the city seems to be brimming with activities. There are night markets not unlike those we have at home. The riverside is lined up with expensive hotels, entertainment centers with bright neon lights, even one of the bridges here are colorfully lit and quite famous for young lovers. There are also some exquisite street food action, making this lane bright, safe, and fun to explore come night time.

Riverside bazaar

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Plan of attack

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Mighty gate to the citadel

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Imperial garden

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Lake fit for kings

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Tallest flag pole in Vietnam

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     The following day, our train wasn’t departing until later that afternoon. In preparation for our impending doom, we rented bicycles, explored the city on our own, tiring ourselves in hopes of sleeping out the whole train ride. Just as Hue was a staging ground for many battles of the past, it felt like one for us too. Come afternoon, we checked out of our hotel, had our last supper, drank minimal amounts of liquid, and headed for the station. The familiar sound of train coming in, we searched for our car amidst chickens running loose, and unreserved ticket holders elbowing each other for pole position when the train comes to a halt. Thankfully, we booked one of the best cabins you can get, a couchette of four. Upon finding our car and cabin, as expected, bed linens and pillows were not for the faint hearted, its exactly what my dorm bed looked like back in college after a whole semester has gone by and linens still unwashed. We were sharing this cabin with an old, friendly Vietnamese couple who looked like they started the trip from Saigon, you know what I mean. The toilets, sad to say, for 14 hours, we never ventured into the deep unknown. When the train started moving, we wore our rain coats for protection, like lab gowns are for laboratories, our packs for pillows, as we began our descent onto our beds. There was no standing up, no moving, no talking, no nothing. From my understanding of Einstein’s theory of relativity, time gets slower when a person is in motion, for those who disprove it, they have yet to try this 14 hour train ride for an experiment! Innumerable hours later, I woke up to the sound of our train breaking into a halt, to me, it might have been the sound angels singing. It was then that our friendly old Vietnamese cabin mates animately informed us we can now get off the train. Some ways of saying things are just universal. We have arrived in Hanoi.

Impending doom

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Rocky is not impressed

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Reminiscent of my unwashed dorm bed linen after a whole semster back in college

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     Getting off the train station, you get a different feel from all the other capital cities you’ve ever been, but you do get a feel that you arrived at the center of culture. Its not a backwards society, but its not over commercialized, pushed to its maximum potential. Instead, in the old quarter, you get streets of colonial style two story houses, its no surprise because it used to be the capital of French Indochina. The usual tells are the wrought iron balcony railings, and those chic French windows, and more architectural flourishes that contrast the later communist ideology.  Stores that are properly categorized according to their merchandise, as it has been hundreds of years ago. Brave a dark and narrow alley, if you’re lucky you can get to see functional communal houses. Loud PA devices installed on electricity posts from almost every corner of the old quarter, making announcements. Its early in the morning and there’s a community of joggers, and Tai Chi practitioners around Hoan Kiem lake, while close to it, shop keepers are dutifully opening shops, not without having that sweet but strong Vietnamese coffee or perhaps a Banh Mi, a sliced baguette with meat, greens and sauce inside, the inevitable child of French colonialism and Vietnamese resilience.

French colonial architecture in a photogenic state of disrepair

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Ladies getting in shape

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My company doing yoga around Hoan Kiem lake

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Barber street

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     After walking around the old quarter guidebook, in hand, visiting those historical sites, giving respect to one of the good hearted communists by visiting Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, the opera house, and more museums, we’ve had enough history, propagandas and  boring bureaucracy. By now, we were starving. In Hanoi and much like the rest of Vietnam, the food they eat reflects their culture and their lifestyle. You will notice that there are thriving street peddlers selling food from a cart served on children’s tables and foot stools. Mainly because Vietnamese people have a dining culture. My theory is because the working population, including women,  doesn’t have much time left beyond their working hours to cook at home, its just more practical to eat out. And with a wealth distribution that doesn’t always equate dining out with eating in western style restaurants, or fast food chains, alas, street peddlers thrive.

Street peddler

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Street food action

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My company getting lost in the goodness of her pho from a street peddler

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      With fairly equal opportunities, making for a tough competition, only  quality street peddlers survive. The best guide will always be the number of locals who dine, or even queue. If street peddlers aren’t your thing, there are some long standing restaurants, barely meeting our ideology of what a restaurant should be, that serve some of the best meals I’ve had in the whole trip. Cha Ca La Vong at Cha Ca Street, serves only one dish for decades now, you simply walk in and order how many orders you want. The best bun cha, a perfectly grilled meat eaten with rice noodles, mixed with some fish sauce and light greens, served from an institution of a place aptly called Bun Cha at 1 Hang Manh Street. Glorious meat filled rice paper by Miss Ann from 72 Hang Bo. Although in general, you would be hard-pressed to settle for a bad meal in Hanoi. After our long and arduous journey through Vietnam, it taught us that food is better from carts than those cooked with roof above their heads.

Reusable wooden chopsticks. Yum!

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Bun Cha from 1 Hang Manh Street

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Meat filled rice paper by Miss Ann from 72 Hang Bo Street

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72 Hang Bo Street

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Street party in Hanoi

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We found Bobby Chinn

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      After a much deserved overnight cruise to the mystical Ha Long bay, we bid Vietnam farewell. When it was time to catch our flight bound for Manila, I reminded myself that just as all good things come to an end, the most underrated thing about traveling is coming home.

Ha Long Bay

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Ha Long Bay from our junk boat

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First taste of Vietnam

We entered Vietnam via Cambodia through a convenient tourist bus company, apart from our door collapsing in the middle of nowhere which caused a delay,  eventually making us miss our bus connection and forcing an overnight stop at Phnom Penh, at least immigration went smoothly.

     With no shower and a clean toilet for almost 48 hours now, my company and I met up with a friend who is a long time expat in Saigon. Saigon because only foreigners call it Ho Chi Minh. After all the pleasantries and the much needed shower, we headed for our first experience of a proper Pho, a Vietnamese version of noodle soup, from one of the many interesting restaurants along Pasteur Street. Like among every city I’ve been, I usually get to know the people with what they eat. I find that what people eat has a direct relationship with their lifestyle, culture and history. But more of that in a while, let me take you to my first legitimate Pho experience. My friend and I ordered two of the classic Phos which you will encounter in any self respecting Vietnamese restaurants, the Pho Ga, meaning with chicken, and the Pho Bo, with beef. Pho is served with greens on the side, which tells me that the Vietnamese are humble people because they allow you to adjust the taste to your preference. Phos arrive, clueless on how to start, our friend taught us the universal Truths. First, you taste the broth, only then do you add those curious greens on the side. Basic greens consist of basil, bean sprouts, and the most distinguishable taste even after mixing them together, cilantro. As for my personal experience, I would not advise adding that tiny looking chili on my good friends, it might have ruined the whole experience for me had I not been warned against it. Instead, i was told to try it on a separate bowl to my good fortune. To the Vietnamese, the broth is always the star of the show, not the rice noodles, which are almost always perfectly cooked anyway. Each sip of broth, mixed with rice noodles, and the occasional bite of distinguishable cilantro was  worth the trip in itself. We would also later discover that Phos made from street peddlers are so much better than ones that come from kitchens with roof above their heads. There are also other staples that do not cross Vietnamese borders, like Cha Ca La Vong, a restaurant that has been serving only one dish for decades now, also that Bun Cha, a perfectly grilled meat in tube form, and my favorite breakfast, Banh Mi, made with sliced baguette with some meat, mostly greens and lightly added with a mayonnaise like sauce, a positive offspring of the French colonialism and Vietnamese resilience.

Pho Ga and Pho Bo

Pho Bo and Pho Ga

Cha Ca La Vong

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     After that glorious first meal, we decided to learn some history at the graphic, albeit biased Museum of American War Crimes. It was the saddest thing we have ever done in the whole trip. In hopes of clearing our minds from haunting photographs of human atrocity, we decided to go for some bright architecture that surrounded Ho Chi Minh square. The French definitely left better buildings than what has been destroyed during the war. The central post office on one side of the square, and the Notre-Dame Basilica, a stone’s throw away, are true testaments to French colonial architecture.

Museum of American War Crimes
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Around Ho Chi Minh square

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Notre Dame cathedral of Saigon

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     The most obvious problem you will have in Saigon is crossing motorcycle plagued streets. In my pedestrian judgement, there seems to be more motorcycles than people here. Take note, Saigon might be a pedestrian nightmare but there is a brave solution on how to maneuver the dreaded crossing of busy streets and intersections. Once you’ve made the first step away from the curb, you don’t stop, hesitate, or avoid motorcycles, they will avoid you. Live by that rule and you will live. Reminds me of Bruce Lee’s famous lines, “Be like water.” It took a while before my sense of self preservation got used to turning a blind eye on motorcycles that seem to be gunning after me. So when I finally had the chance to rent a motorcycle along Pham Ngu Lao or better known as backpacker district, it was finally my turn to instill fear on some unfortunate and innocent tourists, so says the man who said “if you can’t beat ’em, join them.” My Mad Max moment ended our momentous and gratifying city tour of Saigon.

Motorcycle plagued street

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My turn to harass innocent tourists!

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     Next on our itinerary was a day trip to the mighty Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta is a river that stretches over around 4,500 km, all the way from the Himalayas to Vietnam, passing through different countries of Indochina, making those fortunate lands fertile for agriculture due to its abundant source of irrigation, making Vietnam one of the top producers of rice. Our day trip only allowed us to visit certain areas, which would be a speck of dust compared to its vast totality. After a 2 and a half hour bus ride from Saigon, we arrived at our first destination, a tourist stop where you can sample exotic delicacies which include some local rice cake which is very comparable to our bibingka, which wasn’t a surprise because we are both rice growing regions.  Also some rice wine with the usual suspect of a baby cobra inside, supposed to make you more potent. Take it with a grain of salt, I always do. If everything I’ve taken where I’ve been told will make me more potent, I should have an indefinite sense of sensuality. After those tastings, we finally got in on our man powered boat, wearing cone hats that the Vietnamese people are almost known for. Curious enough, it was the woman’s legs which were doing the rowing. While she rowed gracefully, we were cruising and snaking along some beautiful tight mangroves, narrow enough to touch the greenery that surrounded us. It wasn’t the best experience we’ve had, factor in the unforgiving sun, humidity, the persistent mosquitoes and the almost unpredictable chance of a shower.

One narrow mangrove of the interminable Mekong Delta

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Rice Wine

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     The following day was spent on another day tour to the mighty Cu Chi tunnels. Made by the Hanoi backed Viet Cong, the armed resistance during the Vietnam war, these tunnels were dug to conceal and protect them from the US backed Saigon army and more especially, from their aerial supremacy. But what goes beyond amazing is that they have made communities out of these tunnels. This will be your first hand experience of real Vietnamese resilience. Besides the fact that these tunnels have functional kitchens, toilets, bedrooms, and most of the basic necessities for living, these tunnels stretch for hundreds of kilometers, giving possibility for the Viet Cong to travel in safety. With these tunnels, the Viet Cong employed guerilla tactics against their southern nemesis. Giving them enough perils regardless of how much more advance they are in terms of technology and fire power, to make them decide to give up and end one of the most atrocious events of the 20th century.

Cu Chi tunnels

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      In contrast of all the violence involved in our previous destination, we visited the curious Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh afterwards. I do not always encounter a religion that’s got some interesting selection of patron saints such as, Victor Hugo, Joan of Arc and Winston Churchill, to name a few. We then got a timely chance to watch what seemed to be like a mass. A pleasant contrast of the colorful temple and white robes of its members. Its architecture just as its beliefs seem like a mix of different religions, making it seem familiar but still strange enough for imagination.

Cao Dai temple

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Contrast of white robes and the colorful interior

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     When it was finally time to leave Saigon and the rest of southern Vietnam, we were armed with basic Vietnamese survival skills taught by our most precious almost local friend. He taught us words for bargaining, lying, gratitude and some really really mean words. From here, we’re going nowhere but up.

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Prologue

To my readers,

My lust for life is a platform from which I intend to share my favorite, most passionate, and eventful moments in life. Be it my travels, my restless hunt for good food, my moments of deepest inspiration, and almost always frozen in time with every captured photograph. Basically anything to break away from the superficial, constant, day in day out kind of life. It is my intention to rekindle the flame of those passions buried deep under the burden of responsibilities, or simply to take you with me on my search for the extra ordinary.

It will be fulfilling to be able to share to a wider audience, my experiences as I paint them with my words. And I hope that you may find as much pleasure in browsing around, as I have in writing them.

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      If in any way you felt moved, elated, encouraged, inspired, dissatisfied, or *bleep*, feel free to post comments. I impose a strict democracy in my website, will tolerate foul language as long as you hide a few letters in @#$%^. Now let me take you in to my adventures of past present and the future and hold on for the ride.

Rocky