Wednesday, January 30, 2013

back in Manila

Back to Manila, sprawling city with lots of people. Friendly people! With really great English (one of the PI's national languages). I learned a few phrases of Tagalog but even Tagalog is only one of the many languages and is not spoken everywhere.  
 Sewer wanted.
 Vegetarian food was kind of hard to come by in PI (most of the food is very meaty). However, one place we found was the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital cafeteria. A weird place to eat on vacation, I know, and kinda hard to find, but I was really happy once we did. The entire cafeteria is vegetarian, and included many veg versions of local dishes. Score!
Manila, you are pretty. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


We decided to try Boracay, from reading the tourism bureau's recommendations as the place that locals favor. We arrived to find that this is decidedly a resort island, with a few grand hotels and lots of touristy restaurants. While some (not all) parts of the island were sanitized and resort-y, I did appreciate the availability of food options.

An aside: I don't like pretending that I'm not a tourist when I am. When I'm traveling I try to give my money to people who will notice it and use it in their local economy, just like I do at home. I try not to use big international chains especially when I travel. But I am still a tourist and a stranger and someone who is not fluent in the language and culture. I try hard to be thoughtful and have a low impact and considerate of others and mindful of my surroundings, but the fact remains that I am a relatively privileged person with the means to travel. I know there is a pretentious notion against being a tourist, of being a "traveler" instead and hating on other people who have the gall to visit some secret place that the traveler feels they are the first outsider to have ever visited. Suck it up. If you don't actually live there, if you are not from a place, if you are visiting not because of work but because you have the relative freedom and money to travel to somewhere you don't live, you are a damn tourist. Fine, don't be a loud obnoxious person in Tevas and Bermuda shorts, but you are not a special snowflake. Be kind and learn things and get over yourselves.

Boracay is just beautiful. Beaches, sand, a few restaurants, a few moto-taxis, but it's not over the top. There are plenty of places to get away with just a short taxi ride. 
All I wanted to do was drink calamansi juice.
Lots of boats on the clear water.
 Grilled vegetable sandwich at one of the cafes in town.
Beach treasures
Toilets are euphemistically known as "comfort rooms" in the PI.
This is what it felt like. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

winter is coming

Finally got some snow. Yada. I'll take the sweat and humidity of summer any day.

Monday, January 14, 2013


It occurs to me that I never talked about my trip to the Philippines. I think because it was the fall of 2010, and I didn't get around to sorting the pictures right away, then the holidays, then the earthquake, and then we were all pretty busy for awhile.
The Philippines in kind of in our neighborhood out here. It's another archipelago in this neck of the ocean generally, and you could just about island hop down there from here. In fact, the very bottom of Japan is only a couple hundred miles from the very top of the Philippines. If you could drive across the ocean, you could do it in less than a day. If you count all the tiny islands (and whether you do depends on who you talk to), it's about 240 miles between the two countries. That's less than from the top to the bottom of Oregon.
Here in Japan, we get a lot of our tropical fruit from the Philippines. Some stuff is grown down in Okinawa, but it's really common to see stuff like bananas and pineapples and mango with PI labels. Stuff that in the States comes from Mexico, in Japan comes from PI.
It turns out that because it's so close, air tickets there are relatively inexpensive. I regularly see deals going for around ¥30,000 ($300). It also means that the cost in miles is pretty cheap. A intra-Asia ticket costs the same as a domestic US ticket at about 20,000 miles.
For the first hotel night too, I was able to book a place using some miles rattling around in a different account for an airline I never use. Not enough for an air ticket and about to expire.
The hotel was fine. I almost never stay in big chain hotels like that unless someone else is footing the bill. I'd rather spend my money elsewhere but also I don't have enough money to give it to places like that. 
The next night, we moved to a pension in Malate. The building was beautiful, old dark wood, with friendly staff and in a pretty, if gentrified, neighborhood. There are a lot of small businesses and lots of street life, night life. Big grand old churches.
Food is kind of hard for vegetarians in Manila I think. Seems like a very meat-centric cuisine, but Manila also has an international streak and I managed to find stuff to eat. Most of it was not very traditional. Something I did manage to get though were these cassava fries. Delicious.
Took a walk by the ocean.
Took in a free concert in the park. Pinoys love music, people are doing karaoke and jamming all over the place.
Love this sign.
Next stop: beach. This is a country made up of over 7,000 islands. We have to visit at least one of them.

Monday, January 07, 2013

flix and fam

I was able to go to Oregon for a few days over the holidays to hang out with the fam. One cool thing that we did was hire a friend who has a freelance photography business to take some family shots. We went to the park near the house with the dogs and took a bunch of pictures. Snapshots are great but it's nice to be intentional sometimes and make pictures with everyone present and accounted for.

Thursday, January 03, 2013


Happy new year peeps. Hope this one is better than the last.