Monthly Archives: July 2011

Camera Cafe: Museum Street, London

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Camera Cafe: Museum Street, London

London. Summer 2007

people on museum Street

Cholo and I had just finished exploring a small part of the British Museum*.

We turned right on the main exit and just started walking. I was so amazed looking at the surrounding buildings! Red bricked town houses, well maintained apartment buildings since the early 1800’s. **

In a corner across the road, I saw a store pained in red, teeming with tourists. I asked Cholo if we can check it out.

We crossed the road.

It was a souvenir shop.

We made the rounds inside. Cholo didn’t pick up anything, I bought a number of pencils for posterity’s sake. As we exited we saw this quaint little street lined with small cafes and bookshops. We were at Museum Street.

“This is a nice street!” exclaims Cholo.

We walk a bit further and we choose a small cafe to satisfy the hunger in our bellies. It is a nice place to relax and to go people watching.

having coffee by Museum Street

~

On a separate occasion, Cholo and I visited the British Museum a second time and found ourselves a quaint little coffee shop/camera museum by Museum Street.

It was called Camera Cafe.

It was an instant hit with Cholo.

We were greeted by a Japanese man( a cute Japanese man) who owns the cafe. I can’t remember if he’s an avid photographer or if he’s simply an avid collector of cameras. He told us that he inherited his initial collection from his father and since then he’s been collecting and selling.

When you enter, you will see different kinds of cameras for sale and for your viewing pleasure. Everything is about cameras from ceiling to floor.

Don’t be turned off though, even if you detest cameras, this cafe has a warm ambiance that makes you feel at home. It’s friendly atmosphere and laid back approach  is a nice break from going around hectic London.

he found a pleasant spot

love this place

WiFi is free, but do order a cup of coffee or a sandwich as a gesture of good will.

***

for reviews about Camera Cafe, click here.

*Accessible via The Tube station of Tottenham Court Road on the Central and northern Line or via The Tube station Holborn on the Central and Piccadilly line.

Click here for more details about the London Tube.

**I have learned later on that most buildings in London are well preserved. You are not allowed to remodel the building or even drill holes to attach an antaena until you ask permission from the city first (subject to approval too!). You will notice too as you walk about, these buildings have markers on the very top of it that states what year it has been erected. Amazing.

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“Samantha Brown’s Asia” Airs Tonight

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“Samantha Brown’s Asia” Airs Tonight

It has been advertised on TLC for the past few weeks.

Samantha Brown has a new show called Samantha Brown’s Asia (click for specific air dates about the show including reruns).

She’s done Europe, The States, Latin America.. she’s been everywhere except Asia! It’s about time!

She’ll be exploring Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Bali, Malaysia, Singaopre, Hong  Kong, Macau and Japan. I what order? That I do not know. Just watch the show.

I was a bit disappointed that she bypassed the Philippines. Who knows she’ll make an entire show out of the country. After all we have 7107 island to choose from.

Samantha Brown’s Asia starts airing tonight at 10 pm (Philippine Standard Time) on TLC*.

First stop, Vietnam.

TLC is under Discovery Asia. For specific air time and air dates in your country (limited to Asia only) you can click here.

The London Eye

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The London Eye

Summer. July 2007. South Bank. London.

There we were, looking up at this majestic ferris wheel. It’s huge. I bring my eyes back to the ground, glare got in my eye. I look at the long line of tourists before me, trying to discern where the line starts and ends.

Cholo says, “The Line’s long.”

I open my guide-book, Fodor’s London’s 25 Best, and started reading about the London Eye.

“Would you like to ride?” I ask, lifting my head from the guide-book.

“No!”

I forgot he’s scared of heights.

I look at the ticket booth to check how much the rates are. I say to Cholo, “We don’t have to! It costs 14.50 Pounds (at that time around 1450 Pesos)!”

That’s just for 30 minutes.

The awe left as fast as it came.

We snapped a few photos of the London Eye and decided to walk towards Westminster.

~

We emerged earlier from The London Underground Embankment Station* that summer afternoon after spending our morning at the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. We got “museum-ed out” and decided to just relax and headed for the South Bank of the River Thames.

After spending an hour or so, relaxing by the gardens near the Embankment* Tube Station, we crossed the Golden Jubilee Bridge and saw the London Eye looming before us.

Surrounding the London Eye is a nice park where the locals walk about, pushing babies in their carriages.  Others give their kids some coins to drop in a hat by the foot of an actor. The kids squeal and laugh in delight, as if they have discovered the magical key to make the marble statue move. You hear a scream,or two, of fright and see some kids bursting in tears. They seek refuge in the arms of their fathers.

Walking a bit further, We stumble upon a carousel by the London Eye. The warm afternoon sun made the carousel burst into vivid colors. Pinks, reds, blues and greens. It just hooked me. You hear the children laughing and you see them smiling.

What a pretty sight.

I called out to Cholo and we continued walking towards the London Eye.

……………

*Embankment Station is accessible via the Bakerloo Line, the Northern Line, the Cirlce Line or through the District Line.

Click here for more details about the London Tube.

Flight Control App

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Flight Control

There’s this cute game that I’ve been playing on my ipod touch recently. It’s called FLIGHT CONTROL. I downloaded it and bought if off the itunes store for 99 cents (the US dollar 99 cents), and I’ve been hooked!

You are presented with an airfield (a choice of 5) and you are to assume the role of an Air Traffic Controller. You are to land airplanes, choppers and  prop planes with the aid of your finger. All you have to do is to guide them in landing safely without crashing into each other. It will bring out the competitive spirit in you!

You have to land red airplanes unto the red runway, yellow planes unto the yellow runway, blue choppers into the blue helipad, and green Chinook army choppers unto the green Helipad. It’s stupidly easy until after you land 15 planes!

Flight Control Screen Shot

One cool aspect of this game is you can use bluetooth technology or WIFI to play with a friend or online peer. Just land the aircraft of your color to safety.

And, the OST is nice too! *laughs*

This is a great game to play to kill time before boarding or to pass the time in-flight!

Essentials: Travel Wallet

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Essentials: Travel Wallet

August 24, 2005

Ngurah Rai International Airport

(Better known as Bali International Airport)

I had just been through the immigration officer and was making my way to the gates. In my left hand was my wallet, a pen, my ticket and my boarding pass. My mobile phone was on the right, texting my cousin Bing. Dean, the guy I dated around that time, wanted to venture to a different part of the terminal. I just wanted to go straight to the departure gates and rest.  I ended up walking around anyway.

I found my self comparing the airport to that of Mactan-Cebu International Airport. They almost feel the same, except that Ngurah Rai is bigger. The check-in process reminded me of the old Manila Domestic Airport,a bit crowded and confusing.

I found my departure gate and settled into a chair. I placed my boarding pass in the seat beside me and started putting all the things I held in my hand into my bag.

In a split second, a wave of panic washed over me. I lost my ticket.

I stood up and retraced my steps. I went as far back as the immigration windows, went past them and ended up back at the Malaysian Airlines check in counter.

Still no ticket.

I finally met up with Dean at the departure gate and told him I had lost my ticket. He assured me that as long as I had my boarding pass I’ll be fine.

Boarding time came. My name was announced over the public paging system. I say to my self, “They found my ticket!”.  No they didn’t find my ticket. They just asked for my boarding pass, threw it to the garbage and handed me a new one.

Dean pulled some strings. We flew from Bali to Kuala Lumpur on an upgrade to first class.  Thanks Dean.

~

Since then I always been very careful about handling my travel documents.

Since then I have been in search of a travel wallet.

~

Two years later.

my travel wallet

I found my travel wallet  (left) while walking around in Rustan’s department store in ATC. As you can see it is perfect for traveling. you have an area where you can place your passport, your airline mileage cards, some cash, an ATM, and a Credit Card. I’m not saying that you should migrate the entire contents of your personal wallet to your travel wallet. Only the essentials for traveling are needed. This includes a pen.

Yes, a pen. How many times have you experienced borrowing a pen from a co-traveler? How many times have you panicked because you needed to fill up a form and no one with a pen was in sight? How many times have you let others borrow your pen? Bring a pen. ALWAYS.

travel wallet (back)

The reason why I also like this wallet is because it has a compartment at the back where you can place your ticket, boarding pass, disembarkation and arrival cards. This minimizes incidents such as, tickets falling from your hands.

Having a travel wallet is essential in keeping all your travel documents in one place. It helps keeps a traveler calm and collected.

Luggage

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July 1, 2007 Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

My first International flight longer than 4 hours.

Cholo and I were checking in at the Qatar Airways Counter bound for London. Gave our passports, our tickets and our ID’s. The girl then told us to load our bags into the weighing scale.

We went passed our baggage allowance of 20 kilos each.

Cholo asks how much would it cost for us to bring all of it to London.

$500.

We move to the side and Cholo says to me “We have to lighten our load.” I called my mom and told her to come back because she needs to bring our “extra load” back home.

Right there, in the middle of NAIA 1, Cholo and I opened our luggage and started unpacking.

2 kilos of whey powder. Shampoo. Bath Gel. Clothes. Even more clothes. Shoes. Even more shoes. Books for school… et cetera.

I felt so embarrassed! I look around and I see we are not alone. There were other OFW’s doing the same as well. Unloading danggit, bagoong, corned beef, even rice.

That sight didn’t make me feel better.

Cholo then says to me, “I forgot the fact that we have to weigh our bags before leaving.”  That remark was then filed into the back of my mind, ready for future use.

We were going to be in London for two months. Vacationing and schooling at the same time.  So, we had to bring things that we felt we needed for that whole duration. We brought too much.

We put our luggage back on the scale and it meets the baggage allowance. I then put the rest of our “excess baggage” on a cart and drive it to my mom who was waiting for me outside the entrance gate. She was laughing.

~

I would never want to pay $500 for baggage!

~

Since then, I have always weighed our luggage the night before a flight. I would always borrow my mom’s industrial weighing scale since a normal weighing scale does not do the job.

One thing I have learned from that experience is not to fill up my luggage to the brink of its baggage allowance. Example, if I have an allowance of 20 kilos, I make sure that my luggage would weigh at around 15 kilos (17 kilos max). If I am only allowed 15 kilos, I make sure my baggage weighs at 10 kilos. Why?

Here’s why:

  1. You are bound to go shopping. Shopping for memorabilia, shopping for clothes, shopping for anything. If you leave some room in your luggage, you will have more space and you won’t be overweight. Saves you the extra cash.
  2. Shampoos, soaps, and even whey protein powder can be bought in a local supermarket in any counrty.
  3. Clothes can be bought if you need more.
  4. Laundromats are available for you to wash your clothes if needed.
~

When buying luggage, I suggest purchasing one that is made of a lightweight plastic or metal material. I am not really fond of those luggage made of reinforced fabric. Those kinds of luggage are not very strong. Aside
 from the fact that they rip at the seams, they can’t really protect whatever you put inside them.
To the left is my luggage that Cholo passed on to me. He bought this in Central Chidlom in Bangkok. I tell you, it is quite durable. It’s durability was tested on our trip home from Paris. I was so shocked when I retrieved this from the conveyor belt at NAIA 1 because there was a very deep dent on the upper right hand side of the luggage!  This just comes to show how your baggage is handled. This incident broke a small plate that came with an espresso cup I bought in a flea market in Rome.
Cholo hammered the dent back to its original place.
One more important aspect that you have to consider when purchasing luggage is to  get a one with four wheels. Unlike the traditional two-wheeled luggage, a four-wheeled luggage doesn’t put as much strain on your arm and shoulders when traveling around because it doesn’t employ a pulling motion. It stands at an upright position and you just gently push.
Which reminds me.. I believe Cholo and I need to get new ones.

Stazione Ferroviaria Santa Lucia

In a lavanderia

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in a Lavanderia, Via Del Servi, Florence Italy

I love washing clothes in a laundromat.

I have even fought with an Italian man who owns the laundromat I used to frequent in West Kensington, London.

I even had to help a Spanish couple how to use the machine in a laundromat in  Florence.

Nothing eventful happened in a laundromat in Paris.

You see many different characters and  meet different people in Laundromats. I remember meeting two American women of a certain age washing their knickers to the machine next to mine. We were talking about the regular 411’s of people traveling (i.e. where you from, how long you’re staying..yadayadayada). What struck me the most is that they said that they have a luggage full of dirty laundry. After their stint at the laundromat, they’re off buying new luggage and clothes! I said, “You girls are gonna be paying a hefty fine for excess baggage!” One replied, “We don’t mind paying.”

It’s true friends, they live in excess.