Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Shimmering Shanghai

I'm blogging from Shanghai and there are Chinese characters on my screen. Good thing I've memorized the blogger New Post page that's why I can survive based on symbols alone.

I'm here to attend the World Travel Fair at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. After my friend and I arrived at the hotel, we took an adventure trip around the city and were lost in translation with the taxi driver. We ended up at The New Bund area (definitely not where we asked to be brought, but it was ok). We saw a breath-taking view of the buildings surrounding the Huangpu River. Some call this area "a gallery of world architecture" and count it as one of the Ten Best Scenic Spots in Shanghai.

It was a blessing in disguise that our cab driver did not take us to where we pointed at the map - which was an area within walking distance from our hotel anyway. At least without intending to, we got a glimpse of the crystal lights at the New Bund and its multinational-design buildings. We got to feel the rhythm of the city and got excited at what was in store for us in the coming days. We had a walk at the People's Square and People's Park and took each other's pictures.

Tomorrow we'll be working hard so I'd better get some shuteye. I'll upload photos soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Six Out of Seven

I have actually seen only six out of the different lists of Seven World Wonders. These are:

1. The Grand Canyon (U.S.);
2. The Golden Gate Bridge (U.S.);
3. Hoover Dam (U.S.);
4. The Petronas Towers (Malaysia);
5. The Banaue Rice Terraces (Philippines); and
6. Sydney Opera House (Australia).

I have places to go and people to meet. I gotta go!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Kayaking at the Hundred Islands

My friend is organizing this. You may want to confirm early, limited slots only.

Philippine Kayaking Association (PKA)

in coordination with

Hundred Islands Eco Tours Association (HIETA)


and to explore the gems of the HUNDRED ISLANDS


This will be our first trip to offer a well-rounded kayaking course and adventure experience in Hundred Islands. Be among the first to experience our safe and quality trips. This comes complete with lessons conducted by a fully-trained team, kayaks, masks and snorkels, trip leaders and guides, all meals and snacks, and a motorized support boat to tour the remaining islands. Personal accident insurance coverage of P750,000 included.

Our schedule for this trip is as follows:

First Day

7:30 am Assemble and board motorized banca at Lucap Wharf

8:00am Arrive at Governor’s Island/ Breakfast

9:30am Start kayaking lessons

12:00pm Lunch

1:30pm Continue kayaking lessons/ Practice drills and runs

5:00pm Head back to Governor’s Island

5:30pm Wind down with a glass of red wine, cheese and cold cuts

7:00pm Dinner/Camp out on Governor’s Island

Second Day

6:00am Trek to View Deck (optional) to see your kayaking route

7:00am Breakfast

8:30am Continue kayaking lessons

10:00am Head out and do practice runs to different Hundred Island Gems (white sand beaches, caves, giant clams, mangroves, bird watching)

12:00pm Lunch in one of the islands/ Swim and snorkel

2:00pm Graduation run

5:00pm Arrive in Quezon Island/ Prepare to head back to Lucap

5:30pm Leave Quezon Island

6:00pm Arrive in Lucap

Rate per person : P5,000.00

Manila to Alaminos City to Lucap, our jump off point, is a five-hour trip by car. You may opt to take air-conditioned buses (Victory from Cubao) to Alaminos City, where we will meet you for a15-minute jeepney ride to Lucap wharf. You have to leave Manila Friday 11pm.

Details : Please contact Felix Baguilat 0917-8856299

Monday, March 5, 2007

Balut Factor

I am Filipino and I eat balut.

A balut is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. It is considered a delicacy in the Philippines and other parts of Asia.

The sight, taste and texture of the embryo could be a challenge to foreigners who do not always take a liking to this Filipino street food that was recently featured on two American shows, Survivor: Palau and Fear Factor, where the contestants were made to eat balut.

I once attended a party in Arizona where a Filipina told her American boyfriend, "If you love me, you will eat this." The poor fellow did as he was told - he knocked the egg on the table, cracked it open, put a pinch of salt inside the small opening, slurped the juice until it dripped off his chin, and ate the entire contents of the shell, with his eyes shut and his shoulders crunched. We Filipinos cheered him on and gave him San Miguel beer as his prize.

A month ago, an Australian friend attended a party where my aunt served balut. He told me that he had tried the delicacy before and he was willing to eat it again. I dutifully plucked a warm balut from the buffet spread and handed it to him. He survived the juice-slurping part; at the mere sight of the duck embryo, however, his face turned absolutely red and he said he had never seen anything like that in his life. He could not finish the balut and apologized profusely for it. I think he was too polite to admit it, but he obviously looked grossed out. Maybe it was penoy that he ate before, which was just boiled duck egg and was nothing like the real thing. Everyone around him was eating balut during that particular party.

Last Sunday, I met two French mathematicians. After a hearty lunch, we gathered for drinks at the tree house that my tito built. They appeared to be an adventurous couple and my family encouraged them to try the balut. We warned them that it could be an unpleasant experience and assured them that we would not be offended if they backed out from the challenge. Our guests gamely watched my brother's balut-eating demonstration and then followed our directions. We clapped as they both finished one balut each. I fetched ice-cold San Mig Light for them to wash it down with.

I have to admit that I'm not a 100% balut-lover. I don't eat the baby chick. I can't. I usually give it to someone or throw it away. I don't tell it to the ones I challenge, however, to inspire them to go for it all the way.

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Excuse for Not Writing Here

I started this blog thinking I needed another outlet for my idle mind, but shortly afterwards I started on a project that involved traveling and writing. I realized I could not write about what I did, because almost all the experiences I went through had to go to the website I was helping to build, and my blogs could only catch the leftovers, so to speak.

I used to be a voracious reader, but after entering law school where we were made to read reams of photocopied material every week, I had little energy left to devote to bedtime reading.

My mom, a piano teacher, is sensitive to noise and hardly listens to the radio. She says after listening the whole day to all sorts of sounds from her students, her ears needed to rest. Papa would be the one to play records (before) and CD's of his favorite classical tunes. About the only time Mama listens to the radio is when she irons clothes on Sundays.

So now that I have to write for a living, I'm finding it hard to write for leisure.

That's my excuse.