Sleeping in Siem Reap

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Sleeping in Siem Reap

September 1, 2013

Golden Temple Villa

Siem Reap, Cambodia

11 – ish pm

~

The ice is melting inside the silver cup in my hands, the water condensing around it is making my finger tips numb. It is filled with lime juice. I bring the straw to my lips and suck in the cool liquid. I didn’t realize how thirsty I was until the freshly squeezed lime juice slid down my throat.

I bring the cup down to its holder, sit back on the cushioned sofa and relaxed.

I had just checked in at the Golden Temple Villa a few minutes prior and I am currently in the restaurant enjoying my welcome drink. I wipe my dirty hands on a cool towellete before I started munching on fried peanuts.

I start spacing out.

The restaurant is lit up with warm lights, and I am starting to feel sleepy. I wasn’t expecting this place to be very cozy.

~

A month prior to my trip to Siem Reap, I browsed through tripadvisor.com looking for an affordable place to stay near the city center.

After searching through possible choices, Golden Temple Villa caught my attention. I browsed through the photos and read a few reviews and I was impressed.

I am a gay traveler and I would prefer to stay at a “gay friendly” or “gay exclusive” bed and breakfast because I’d be more comfortable, plus I wouldn’t be making other people uncomfortable. I tried google-ing for gay bed and breakfasts around Siem Reap, The Golden Banana and the River Queen Guesthouse came through. I now had more choices.

I am a relatively easy traveler and I don’t really fuss over amenities I don’t need because I’ll be out most of the time. Big hotels and places that appear too extravagant make  me uncomfortable. All I need is a comfortable bed, a fan and a working toilet and I’ll be fine.

I chose Golden Temple Villa because it was small, affordable and conveniently located near the center of town.  That way it would be very easy for me to get a sense of direction.

I was traveling during the low season, so I got a $15 room and added $3 to include breakfast. I stayed for 5 nights.

~

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the mess on my bed

My room was located on the first floor. The room I initially wanted on the third floor was already taken.

The room was warmly lit. Very Cozy. A wooden sculpture of Buddha hang on the wall while the curtains billowed in the wind.

My bed was one of the softest beds I have ever laid on. It’s just like I’m melting into it. Here’s the thing with me, I’m like a dog when I’m in bed. I keep moving around, shifting from one side to another trying to find my sweet spot. It wasn’t the case for this bed. I swear,  as soon as my head hit the pillow I’m out. The bed covers are remarkably fragrant too.

 

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the dresser blocks half the window

 

My only qualm about this room is the window. Half of it is blocked by the dresser. I usually keep my windows open because I’m not a fan of air conditioning. I also like natural light to come in.

The room is relatively small. But if the proprietor would move the bed under the window and transfer the dresser to the other side of the room, it would completely open up the room and make it more airy. I wouldn’t mind if the bed would be the first thing you’d see when you open my door, especially if it’s under the window.

That would be a better visual than the dresser and the television set.

 

~

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view of the garden from the restaurant at night

 

I liked the small garden of Golden Temple Villa. It reminds me of my grandmother’s garden while I was growing up, except for the statues of Hindu deities of course. My grandmother used to have banana trees, flowers and lots of orchids in her garden. I used to spend my afternoons watering the plants with her.

I really felt at home.

 

 

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Durga

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Deva

 

When you enter from the street you are greeted by the Hindu goddess, Durga ,before entering the living quarters / front desk of the bed and breakfast. It protects the entire place. A Deva also stands on one side of the garden while dozen of statuettes are displayed at various places around the garden.

It’s a perfect introduction to Cambodia, its culture and religion.

 

 

~

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putting my tired feet up one sunny day

 

Golden Temple Villa has created a nice retreat. It doesn’t feel like I’m at the center of town, when in reality it is less than a 3 minute walk.

There is also a hammock under the trees where you could just lay down and relax.

Early in the morning, when there is nothing to do. I just rock under the trees and look up at the tree tops while butterflies and dragon flies zip through the air. And in the afternoon, I lay there for a short while when I just want to stretch my back after a whole day of temple running. I end up dozing off.

 

~

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as you enter the restaurant

 

The restaurant is quaint. It doubles as a hang out area where you can have tea, coffee and bananas at any time of the day – all on the house!

I usually have a huge serving of baguette, scrambled eggs, freshly cut fruits mixed with yogurt for breakfast. It’s so huge, I couldn’t finish it.

The restaurant also serves Khmer food at affordable prices. They also get a price cut around happy hour!

 

 

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with some of the crew of Golden Temple Villa on my final morning in Siem Reap

I especially enjoyed my time with the people who worked here. They  were very accommodating to every query. May it be about the nearest ATM machine, the best temple tour to get (especially in the terms of distance and time management), or if it’s an easy bike ride to the temple complex.

They were the first Khmer people I interacted with. And every interaction always involved laughter. We just laughed and laughed. I have realized that the Khmer were very light hearted people despite their history.

Arriving in Siem Reap

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Arriving in Siem Reap

September 1, 2013

On a tuktuk

Siem Reap, Cambodia

10:30 pm

~

I had just exited Siem Reap international airport an hour after I landed.  I spent a good deal of that hour at the missing baggage counter because my umbrella didn’t show itself on the conveyor belt assigned to Cebu Pacific Air.  I was a little pissed off because it was rainy season in Southeast Asia. I needed that umbrella and I didn’t want to spend unnecessarily for something I already had.

The man at the counter wanted me to file for a complaint, but I didn’t want to go through the lengthy process. After sending a prayer to heaven, asking it not to rain the entire week I was in Siem Reap, I decided to just let the matter go with a sigh.

My pick up was holding my name printed in bold letters. I quickly went to him and apologized for making him wait. I explained to him what happened while he walked me to his tuktuk.

~

We were now speeding through the highway and I was lost in thought. It has been a long time since I have traveled alone and I was looking forward to it.

There have been many times I have wanted to visit Cambodia. But getting there was the main problem. It was either via Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh, and that proved a tad too expensive. So Cambodia has always been left to be discovered some other time.  That changed in April of this year when Cebu Pacific Air started flying straight out from Manila.

And now, here I am.

Cambodia has been one of those countries that has been fabled. Distant and remote, shrouded with promises of  adventure… thanks to the image of Lara Croft being burned into my brain when I used to play the video game when I was in High School. Cambodia became a fantasy when I saw Angelina Jolie run through the temple ruins of Angkor Thom on-screen.

I have seen Cambodia being featured on TV, a war-torn country that has left its people physically, emotionally, and mentally crippled BUT always FULL in spirit.

I look around as the buildings blur before my eyes, I am realizing that they are slowly waking up. I hope they wake up on the right side of the bed!

I see a motorcycle in front of us flanked by two bicycles. One on his left and one on his right. The guy on the motorcycle is speeding on a slow pace while his friends (on their respective bikes) are holding on to the drivers shoulders while their foot are anchored to the foot peg on either side of the motorcycle.  My driver decided to over take them. As I look back, I see them laugh over a joke.

I took this as a good sign.

~

New York Day 2 : Finding The Flatiron Building

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IMG_0297August 3, 2012

3ish PM

Flatiron District

New York

 

~

 

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Calvary Church at the corner of Park Avenue S and E21St

I was walking a few blocks up from Union Square.

The Flatiron Building is on 23rd street.” Silently reminding my self while looking at the street signs.

I wasn’t able to enjoy the view much because I was more worried of missing 23rd street.

I was walking and walking and walking but there was still no sign of the Flatiron Building. I stopped and decided to double check the directions and map on my Lonely Planet Discover New York City guide book. I stood under one of the construction awnings, composed myself while Constantine Maroulis passed by. Yes, that guy from American Idol.

I must have groaned audibly because a passerby looked at me.

According to the map, I was on E21st street corner Park Avenue South. The wrong side of the block.

 

I walked westward on E21st street with the map in front of my face.

~

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The Flatiron Building Stands at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street

The Flatiron building has always appeared phallic to me. I don’t know if it has something to do with my gay mind, but it does stand tall, erect and proud! Depends on the angle actually.

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Plantsa de Uling

 

It’s true what the guide book says about it, the building does look like the prow of a boat. But being Filipino, it looks like a giant plantsa de uling to me. A charcoal fueled flat iron that my grandmother used to iron my school uniforms.

It also looks like a huge slice of cake.

It can look like anything triangular depending on ones very vivid imagination.

I think this is a stunning piece of architecture with clever design based on the land area where It stands. I wonder though, how the does the office spaces look from the inside?

Tourist were busy having their pictures taken with the Flatiron building looming behind them. The tourist bus stops on a red light and you can hear the tourists snapping photos. Then there are the native New Yorkers cursing at foreign tourists who block their way.

And I am falling asleep on the bench I’m sitting at.

I stood up and slowly started walking back to Union Square. Nat was to be off by 5pm and I was to wait for him by the park.

 

 

New York Day 2 : Finding Queens

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August 3, 2012

10ish AM

Union Square

New York City

~

I had just dropped off Nat at Sephora Union Square and went my way to buy myself an American SIM card at Best Buy Mobile for my old Nokia phone. I am to be in the United States for two months and It would be impractical if I would be using my Filipino mobile service.

I had to trace my way back to Starbucks where Nat and I grabbed coffee earlier to use the WIFI to activate my mobile number before heading to Queens.

~

The night before, my ATM card was  not allowing me to withdraw money. I was a little bit worried because, I was down to my last $50. I initially thought that it was an ATM machine glitch because I had a similar problem when I was transiting through Tokyo two days prior.

“There’s something wrong with my ATM card Nat.” I said. “I am not able to withdraw money. I need to contact my bank.”

“What’s your bank?” asked Nat.

BPI.”

“There’s a BPI in Queens! Why don’t you go there tomorrow to have it checked out. I think it’s along 72nd av.”

~

After going around in circles looking for the Union Square subway station and consulting the subway map application called NYC Mate on my Iphone, I hoped on the E train after changing at Lexington Av / 51st – 53rd St and headed for Queens.

~

Nat said that my stop would be at 71st Av and it would be easy to find my way around.

The train ride was very interesting and so was the view. I was looking at the buildings emblazoned with graffiti when my attention was diverted back to the carriage. The people riding on the train at that time was quite diverse.

There’s the Chinese couple beside me speaking in their native tongue, reminding me of my childhood studying in a Chinese – Jesuit school.

I hear Spanish drifting across the carriage intertwined with laughter. I am reminded of my days listening to Thalia hours on end playing on my walkman.

The two Italian men in front of me are speaking 100 miles per hour with fingers in the air trying to prove a point about the weather. While the tall Russian boys beside them are sitting silently zoning out to space.

And I exchange a smile with a black woman. I think she noticed the sly look of observation on my face.

The two Filipino women who were speaking in Tagalog were now standing up and heading to the doors as the train slowed down.

“This must be my stop.” I said to myself.

It wasn’t so hard finding Queens.

~

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A typical Phil – Am store

From the corner of 71st Av, I was amazed to see that there were lots of Filipino stores and restaurants. I saw familiar brands of canned good being displayed through the window. A pack of instant noodles I had a week prior to my arrival, is being lifted off the shelf and placed unto the shopping bag. At that moment, I wonder why such little stores exist when all I hear from returning Filipino workers is how great things are in New York. Then I realized, these stores and these restaurants are the closest thing they have in remembrance of home.

I stared walking towards 72nd Av and made a mental note of eating lunch at Krystal’s Cafe once I’ve sorted my ATM card issues.

I found 72nd Av. No banks.

I walked further.

I must have reached, what appeared to me, a Little India of sorts. I decided to retrace my steps all the way to the corner where I first stood. I might have just passed it by.

I saw a Metrobank across and a PNB behind me.

Still no BPI.

Will kill Nat later. *Laughs*

~

I was getting a bit hungry because it was already past 1pm. I decided to attempt to withdraw one last time. I saw an ATM machine by the entrance of a Chinese convenience store manned by a old Tai Tai. I was hoping that her Feng Shui would usher the qi of my money out of the machine.

Alas it did not.

~

I made my way to Krystal’s Cafe and was instantly relieved when I saw the sign board that said “Credit Card Accepted. Minimum of $10.”

Adobo and Rice

Adobo and Rice

I lined up and was greeted by a friendly Filipina at the counter. In rapid fire English, she told me about the specials of the house today, the buffet on the second floor and the array of desserts to choose from. In rapid fire Tagalog, I told her I wanted some Adobo, a big plate of rice and some Sprite.

The look on her face was priceless.

“Are you Filipino?” she asks.

“Syiempre! Bat ako mag ta-Tagalog sa iyo kung hindi.” I replied. Translation : “Of course! Why would I speak to you in Tagalog if I wasn’t.”

“For real?” she asked in disbelief.

“Yes, for real.”

I do look Caucasian. Being half Filipino (with diluted Italian blood) and half English, countless of times I have been mistaken to be Latino, Italian, Moroccan, Arabic, and even half Black. It always delights me when I travel and meet Filipinos. Its quite a shock for them to hear me speak fluent Tagalog, most especially when they find out ImageI’m Cebuano.

I signed my receipt. Replaced my card on my wallet and took my tray of food and sat down in one corner.

I enjoyed my lunch while watching Eat Bulaga‘s Pinoy Henyo on TV.

~

I am now back in Union Square standing in front of Barnes & Noble. Nat informed me earlier that if ever i was in dire need of WiFi, it was free on every nook and cranny of any Barns & Noble bookstore.

I had to call my bank.

It would be very impractical for me to use my newly activated American mobile service and  my Philippine mobile service to place an international call. God knows how much the call would have cost me while waiting for the service agent to pick up the phone. It’s a good thing I bought £10 worth of Skype credits before I left for New York, just in case of emergencies.

Once I secured a WiFi connection, I quickly opened my Skype on my Iphone and dialed my bank’s international access number.

It turned out that BPI or Bank Of The Philippine Islands had a new ruling. Before a client would travel out of the Philippines, that client should first inform the bank. A safety precaution against fraud.

Now that my ATM card issue has been settled, all I had to do was to wait for the international withdrawal capability to be approved. Which was to be activated by 9 am Philippine Standard Time.

It was 3pm EDT in New York. It meant I had to wait for 6 more hours before I could get some money.

I sighed my frustration and relief away. Armed with my Lonely Planet New York City guide,  I decided to head for the Flatiron District.

Arriving in New York : Day 1.5

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August 2, 2012

8 pm-ish

Nat’s Apartment

Hell’s Kitchen , Manhattan

New York City

~

“Pssssssssst!”

“Pssssssssst!”

Was all I heard, as I started to peel my eyes open.

“Halloooo! Welcome to New York!” exclaims Nat!

I gave him a huge hug while still laying on my back.

He had just awakened a few minutes earlier. He decided to doze off for a bit after Kyrk left the apartment because he couldn’t rouse me. *laughs*.

I dunno what time Nat made it to the apartment from work. I think he came in just as I was about to fall asleep because I do have a vague memory of seeing him come in through the door and talking to Kyrk in kitchen. If my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, I think Nat was wearing a dark blue cardigan of sorts.

He told me to get up because it was already 8 pm and if I sleep any longer, I might not be able to sleep later that night. It was also time to grab some late dinner. So I stretched by jet lagged ass awake. Put on some shorts, brushed my teeth and off we went in search for dinner.

Earlier that afternoon, after dropping by my school, I begged Kyrk that we head back for Nat’s apartment. I was getting quite tired already. Having been awake for almost 24 hours was making me cross-eyed as the afternoon continued on.

Not five minutes into getting into the apartment, I told Kyrk that I was about to pass out.

Indeed I did.

~

Nat and I headed out, crossed 9th avenue and started walking down. He was busy pointing me to various restaurants, various bars, the laundromat, the way to the subway, and the café he frequents.

“Let’s have dinner here in Vynl*. This is where we usually have dinner.” says Nat as he gently opens the glass door of the restaurant. I was surprised that we only walked 2 blocks down to the restaurant.

IMG_4003 As I sat down on the table we chose, I was amazed by the decor on the wall.

I see dolls.

No, not Barbie. But dolls made to the likeness of Cher and Elton John. There were other dolls displayed around the restaurant but I couldn’t remember who they were. I think the rock band KISS had their own dolls on display too.

So we had a hearty meal mixed with stories of life. I can not remember what I had, but I distinctively remember how friendly the staff were. Nothing beats a restaurant with friendly staff members.

We were about to finish dinner when I excused myself to go to the toilet.

“You’ll enjoy the toilet. You’ll see why when you open the doors.” said Nat as he pointed me to the right direction.

IMG_4002I got a bit confused when there were three doors to choose from. I couldn’t remember which door I opened first, but I was quite surprised to see a mosaic of Cher in front of me. After getting over my initial shock, I heard Cher’s song “If I Could Turn Back Time” playing through the speakers. Now I understood what Nat meant.

I went to the next two bathrooms. One belonged to Elvis and one belonged to Dolly Parton.

I pissed in Dolly’s bathroom.

~

“Let go have some “Welcome to New York” drinks at the bar near the apartment!” said Nat.

“Yes, I need one!” was my enthusiastic reply.

So we started walking up 9th avenue. Much to my surprise and to Nat’s amusement I had just realized the bar is located right at the corner of  9th avenue and 53rd street. Which is like, a stone’s throw away from the apartment.

We were now lining up at the entrance of the bar called “Flaming Saddles“**. What apt a name for a gay bar right? As we neared the door, Nat told me to prepare some I.D.to prove that I am over the age of 21 to be allowed to enter.  This has been a common thing for me to do every time I entered a bar or a club for my entire stay in New York. And I always pity the man by the door trying to locate my birth date on my Philippine drivers license. Took one guy more or less 5 minutes to find it.

IMG_0265Country music was playing from the jukebox as we entered and the bar tenders were dancing on the bar. With their skin-tight jeans tucked into their cowboy boots, it’s no wonder the clientle were cheering them on and making cat calls towards the bar.

I have never been exposed to anything Country prior to entering Flaming Saddles. Well, maybe except for a few songs from Dolly Parton and Shania Twain plus the occasional western film I’ve seen made during the 50’s I’d see on TCM. But never like this.

A Western film was showing on the two big plasma TV’s. I dunno what the title of the film was, but I sure do know Doris Day when I see her.

There were boys talking to each other with a southern twang. Boys in trucker hats. Boys who look like lumberjacks. Men in suit and tie.

And then, there’s the occasional tourist, me.

IMG_0260Nat and I found our way to the bar as the dancing bartenders were making their way down from the bar. We ordered some Vodka Redbull ($10 each plus $1 tip quite cheap for around this part of town I’ve been told.) , found a nice little spot while we enjoyed our drinks, enjoyed boy watching and cheered to a fabulous 2 months ahead in New York!

*Vynl

754 9th ave @ 51st, NYC
212 974 2003

www.vynl-nyc.com

**Flaming Saddles Saloon

793 Ninth Ave
between 52nd/53rd Streets
New York, NY 10019
1-212-713-0481

www.flamingsaddles.com

Arriving in New York : Day 1

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August 2, 2012

12ish PM

On a Yellow Cab from JFK to Manhattan

New York

~

The cab was now zooming on what appears to be a freeway.

I am holding on for life.

“This cab driver must be Italian.” I said to myself. I subtly stole a look of him through the rear view.

He had bushy eyebrows and dark eyes.

He was multitasking.

He was busy talking with someone on his phone via a headset while he snaked our way through cars down the thoroughfare. A morbid thought came to my mind, I just came off a 14-hour plane ride and I might die of a car crash. I silently rolled my eyes and decided to enjoy the view. After all a meteor can strike Manhattan in the next 5 minutes.

~

We crossed over a bridge and I expected to see The Statue Of Liberty.  Thanks to my lack of geographical knowledge, I was disappointed. I just saw rows and rows of decrepit warehouses.

“Where was the address again?” he asked in a heavy accent, which I could not place.

“West 53rd between 9 and 10.” I replied in a casual voice, feigning to sound like a native New Yorker.

We must have been in Manhattan already because I saw that the streets were already numbered and red brownstone townhouses were around me.

We passed E10th Street.

Through E25th street.

And finally he turned left unto E53rd Street.

“We must be close.”, I assured myself.

I continued looking outside the window throwing my worries to the wind.

Skyscrapers towered before me, its reflected white light bearing down on the street.

I see people. Lots of people and lots of pigeons.

I see a vendor peddling his goods on the pavement.

A tourist buying an NY cap.

A man in a suit gobbling up a hotdog on a bun.

A dog pissing on the “No Parking” sign while the owner waits for it to finish.

To my surprise we passed by the MOMA. I made a mental note that it was just along the street where I will be living for the next two months.

After a block or two. Or three.

“Where here?” asked the cab driver, snapping me out of my reverie.

As instructed by Nat, my best friend, I gave him the instructions in verbatim.

“By the green awning at the right. Beside the construction.”

~

My cab driver helped me unload my luggage and makeup kit. I handed him 60 bucks (the standard rate plus a hefty tip) and, out of curiosity, asked him “Where are you from?”

“Russia.” Was his only reply.

Toink.

I gave him my thanks and bid him goodbye.

I stood on the spot for a minute and looked around my surroundings. It’s exactly how it looked like on Google maps. *I laugh*

I slowly made my way to the door of the apartment building and pressed on the button that marked Nat’s apartment.

“Yes?” came a voice.

“It’s Mon!” was my reply.

I’m finally here after 12 long years of waiting.

~

Friends I have known below Fourth Year High School know me by my childhood nickname, which is Mon. And Nat knows me by that. Hence everyone I’ve met through him in New York knows me as Mon.

Kyrk, one of Nat’s New York friends, met me at the bottom of the stairs. I’ve only seen him in pictures. Nat was right. He looked like a supermodel version of Rhianna. Svelte, amazing skin tone and legs from here to eternity.

Nat was at work and he couldn’t meet me when I got to the city, so he asked Kyrk to hang around his apartment until I arrived. He also asked Kyrk to bring me to school for I needed to “show” myself to complete my international registration. Standard operating procedure as stated on the letter entitled “arrival procedures”.

After settling down for what seemed like five minutes, Kyrk and I went to lunch. Following his lead, we walked down 9th avenue.

I was giddy with excitement. I felt like a young child with eyes wide open, trying to let everything soak in.  We passed a number of restaurants, cafes, and a variety of shops. We just kept on walking and walking and walking.  After what seemed like an eternity to my jet lagging body (looking back I just realized we walked 8 blocks), we arrived at a restaurant named Southern Hospitality (645 9th Avenue between W45th and W46th streets).

“Justin Timberlake owns this restaurant!” said Kyrk as he opened the heavy wooden door. Well I’m not really a fan of Mr. Timebrlake, but I don’t mind sampling some of his barbeque.

We got to know each other over a HUGE serving of grilled chicken burger (which was left half eaten), fries and a TALL glass of Coke. I needed my carbs. The meal cost $50 for the both of us. A relatively expensive restaurant, but hell it’s my first day in New York! Might as well splurge.

Before heading to school, Kyrk suggested that we pass by Time Square as my first touristic landmark. Since he used to work for the Official Tourism Bureau of New York City, I was in good hands.

~

ImageStanding in the middle of Time Square is like being in a New York movie. Everything is a blur as the camera turns in a full circle.

The lights from the huge screens are flashing and changing colors by the second.

The huge number of people concentrated at such a space sound like bees buzzing in a hive.

A horn from a yellow cab blasts through the air and I swear in shock.

The “hop on hop off “ tourist bus passes through and you can hear “oohs” and “aahs” coming from the top of the bus.

“I should do that. Must be a different view from up there.” I said to myself while making a mental note of taking the bus tour of New York City within the next few days.

Kyrk then points me to Sephora. Apparently that was one of the stores that Nat frequents for work.

Nat, at that time, worked as a Retail Executive for Miracle Skin Transformer and Hydroxytone. These skincare products are carried in stores like Sephora or Bloomingdales for retail purposes.

“Would you like to go inside? Nat might be there.”

“Sure!” was my reply.

Nat wasn’t there. He must have gone on to a different Sephora.

~

We started walking to what seemed to be the general direction of the subway. We were now heading to my school, Makeup Designory, in Soho. To this very day I couldn’t remember which station we went to. My mind was in a haze because of a combination of jet lag, excitement and sensory overload.

Kyrk brought me to the ticketing machine for the subway ride. I bought a 7 day ticket. Which cost me around $29. It was a relatively easy purchase. I intended to buy a 30 day unlimited ticket but I was short on cash.

We then went through a maze of stairs, through a rush of people, waited on a platform and got on a train.

I was silently holding on to the handrails when Kyrk said, “You don’t look like a tourist at all.”

I turn to him and said “I try not to look like a tourist. I prefer to blend in.”

Actually, I was spacing out trying my best to keep myself awake while the subway car rocked on its tracks all the way to Soho and Kyrk’s statement got me thinking. Does this mean that native New Yorkers have this “spaced out / trying to stay awake look”?

Will find out soon enough.

An “AHA” moment aboard ANA

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An “AHA” moment aboard ANA

August 2, 2012

ANA Flight NH 010

Some where over the Pacific Ocean near Russia

~

The plane is now flying over the Pacific Ocean and according to the map we are about to cross the International Date Line and I am having a moment.

I have been wanting to Visit New York ever since Nat moved there some 12+- years ago.  Now, I am eight hours away.

I etched into stone my desire to visit New York a year ago. This was the time when I felt that there was a need in me to refresh my skills as a makeup artist and at the same time the need fulfill Nat’s 12-year-old invitation. So instead of going on a mindless vacation, I decided to study at the same time.

Getting to the point where I am now, I have just realized, is a very humbling experience. I have never worked so hard to try to fulfill a dream. I asked for money from my parents and I even borrowed money.

Trying to come up with money was tough.

It got tougher when I began to doubt myself. It got a bit tougher when other people started doubting me. It became stressfully tougher when I had to wait for 4 months for word from the school that I got accepted and on when I can move forward with my enrollment. My nerves went out the window as soon as I walked into the doors of the US Embassy for my M1 visa interview.

How stress was I, you ask? My right eye was twitching for 2 months!

It’s a good thing I am a very patient person with impaired hearing and a crazy mind! *Laughs*

But I do have to admit. I have never been so scared in my life. After all this is the biggest monetary expenditure I have ever made.

To experience the realization of a dream slowly unfolding before you is a profound gift. It gives you knowledge. The knowledge that you can do what ever your heart desires as long as you work hard for it. I cried with relief and gratefulness inside the lavatory of ANA flight NH 010 bound for New York from Tokyo.

~

May I be liberal in quoting Judi Dench’s character named Evelyn in the film “ The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel For the Elderly and Beautiful” that I saw on board the flight , for leading me to this “AHA!” moment:

“The only real failure is the failure to try.

And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must.

As long as we try.

Can we be blamed that we are too old to change?

To scared of disappointment to start it all again?

We get up in the morning and we do our best.

Nothing else matters.”

Thank God for old people, for they do speak wisely.

Packing According to Louis Vuitton

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Packing According to Louis Vuitton

June 22, 2012

Nat’s Facebook page

~

I was keeping tabs on my best friend, Nat, by checking out his Facebook page.

He shared this video on his wall.

After playing it, I just had to feature it in my blog.

This my friends is how to pack.

I have discovered that Louis Vuitton has a page dedicated to the art of packing in its website. It features ways on how to pack your things into a Alzer, Pégase, and a Keepall.

It’s interactive, informative and fun! You click on different items and it will show you where to place it inside the luggage to maximize its space and on how to arrange your things beautifully. It shows you how to fold two long sleeve dress shirts properly, how to neatly roll your cardigan and sports shirts and it even shows you inter fold a number of clothes together.

Feel free to discover The Art of Packing from Louis Vuitton by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

Stilts

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Stilts

May 23, 2012

Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort

Balayan Bay

Santa Ana, Calatagan

Batangas

~

The sudden rocking of the van woke me up.

I rise from my not so pleasant position from the chair.

“Where are we?” I asked myself.

I looked over to Cholo and he is looking out the window, the sudden movement must have woke him up too. By now Miss Des is giving instructions to Noriel, the driver, on what to say when the security personnel questions our very early arrival.

I turned on the illuminator of my watch. It is now 1:45 am. We have been traveling for two hours.

As I peered into the darkness, I could see that we are going through a dirt road lined with trees.

“We must be near already” I told myself.

A few minutes later, the three of us are being ushered to our rooms. We walked down a cement path and down a flight of stairs.

As soon as my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I saw before me; cottages on stilts across the water.

“Wow!” we all exclaimed.

We were now walking on wooden planks that leads to our cottage. I peered over the railing and see that the water is quite high. It must be high tide.

The sea breeze continues to caress my skin as I  walked along, making me more sleepy in each step.

I then hear our usher, “Once again welcome to Stilts. This is your cottage, Cebu. Please sleep well and enjoy your stay.”

I’m home.

~

The alarm of my phone woke me up. It was now 5:45 Am.

I turned over and grabbed it from the night stand and shut it off. I could hear the swallows darting underneath the cottage and the waves crashing upon themselves.

I shifted on the bed and looked at the white curtains flying in the air.

It was now breaking dawn.

I slowly stood up from the bed and made my way to the toilet to pee. As soon as I parted the curtains, this is what I saw.

Miss Des had some water boiling when I made my way to the kitchen. I decided to have a cup of coffee.

With my steaming cup, I walked outside and sat on the terrace. Enjoying the view while the sun starts to illuminate the world.

Too bad I had work today, it would have been lovely to just jump straight into the water and laze around all day .

I gulped down the remaining contents of my cup. It was now a little past 6 am.

I rushed to shower for I need to be on location by 7am.

~

click here to be brought the official STILTS website

Elizalde Beach, Burot Calatagan

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Elizalde Beach, Burot Calatagan

May 23, 2012

Elizade Beach

Barangay Burot

Calatagan, Batangas Philippines

~

It is now almost 7 am.

The van is winding through a dirt road surrounded by lush mangroves.

I hold my makeup kit in place preventing it from toppling over.

I could see fishermen starting their day. They haul their fishnets unto their backs while their dogs walk beside them.

Father along the dirt road, I see other fishermen selling their catch of the day.

In a second or so, I see some umbrellas and tents.

We have arrived on location.

~

I am grateful that sometimes my job brings me to places I don’t know about.

A places like this.

We were shooting at Elizadle Beach (also called Burot Beach) which is located, approximately 2 hours and a half from Manila. Okay, 3 to 4 hours on a bad day. It is a private beach located in Barangay Burot, Calatagan, Batangas. Elizalde beach has been rented throughout the years for shooting purposes.

I don’t really know if this beach is open to public*. I have heard that a big real estate company bought the land and will be developing it soon. It became private property and there are security personnel at the gates leading up to the beach. The production house had to ask permission to shoot there.

Elizalde beach is very beautiful and underdeveloped (which I liked!). There are no cottages, there are no lights**. All you do is swim in the warm waters of the sea, lay on the sand and watch the ships go sailing by. The beach is small, maybe +/- a kilometer wide with rock out crops at both ends. It is a fairly easy walk especially when you want to find a spot along the sands to watch the sunset.

I felt a little spoiled coming here for a shoot. There’s catering, there’s a portalet, and there’s a generator for electricity. The only down side was that I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the beach because I had to work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I am thankful for the opportunity to work and to experience places like Elizalde beach.

I LOVE my job!

*Just as I was to publish this blog I found out that Elizalde Beach is still open to public. It costs Php 140 pesos per person to enter.

** It is best to bring your own food when going to Elizalde beach. If you get hungry, there is a small sari-sari store a few meters from the beach front.

for a map to Elizalde Beach click here.