Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Notes on a photo

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I realized the only remaining hope for snail mail to exist is a postcard. It’s fulfillment is only upon the travelers. Its the most obvious thing.

Postcard 1

I don’t think there’s anything digital that will replace both charm and convenience of picking up a printed photograph, scribbling a quick message, pasting a stamp and dropping in a mailbox .

There’s also nothing like holding a postcard stamped by a post office in Athens and perhaps dog-eared on the edge on its way from Beijing.

Postcard 2


Written by markus

July 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Photography, Travel

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In the morning sometimes I immediately make my bed but I mostly wait for half an hour or longer before I do. There’s something about unmade bed in the morning that’s both wrinkled with last night’s memories and unsettled with today’s promise.

Written by markus

July 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Photography, Travel

One day a random solo

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One day I will just wake up and book a connecting flight from Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan. In subsequent days, I will be booking a tour in one of the Bhutanese tourist companies where I will carefully plan my trip with a personal tour guide. I will sigh from time to time because of a hefty $200 daily tariff that I need to pay during my visit. Then I will shrug it because a) that’s all inclusive (food, accommodation, everything) b) I’m finally travelling to the happiest place on Earth!

Visiting Bhutan from T+L

“To Western tourists who breeze through on tours, all this seems exotic and romantic. Fortunately, the Bhutanese, besides being good-natured and good-looking, are charmingly eccentric—a trait that saves their country from preciousness. Consider this: though they’re devout Buddhists who hold all life sacred and don’t kill animals, the Bhutanese happily eat meat—and carve up and cook any animal that’s already dead. In almost every house, we saw gristly strips of yak meat hanging to dry (a sight that almost turned me into a vegetarian).

Or this: there are only a few dozen personal names in all of Bhutan, and they are used for both men and women as first or last names, in any combination.

And then there’s the matter of the penises. Painted in full color—and in full, um, bloom—on the façades of houses, or carved of wood and dangling from eaves, they are considered good luck, all because of one of Bhutan’s most beloved figures, the Divine Madman, a libertine monk who, according to one version of the legend, vanquished a terrifying female demon by dragging her clear across the country with his you-know-what.”

Written by markus

July 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm

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Bay Area museums

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Bay Area museum

I’ve seen 5 or 6 of them here in the Bay Area in the past 4 months. For free. Yes. No small thanks to Bank of America whose cardholders get free museum passes. On the first weekend of every month, all I had to do was come to the admission counter, wave my BOFA debit card and in I go.

Trivia: Did you know that most museums will ask you to not wear your backpacks? You either wear it in front of you or carry it by hand. I think it’s because we’re not cautious about our backs and a worn backpack may accidentally scratch paintings or topple over bust sculptures.

Anyway, with the BOFA card, I visited the following museums –

April – De Young Museum, San Francisco

May – Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco

May – Cantor Arts Center, Palo Alto (Free for everyone, all year long)

June – Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

July – Legion of Honor, San Francisco

I enjoy going to museums. I tend to like both classical and modern arts. Renaissance paintings have a special place for me though. I end up lingering longer in galleries of medieval painting and sculptures. I love ogling closer as I can to the nearly chipping oil paint on the canvasses. I like black and white photography in modern arts, too. At the War Remnants Museum in Saigon, I expected to just see pictures or preserved ammunitions and war whatnots but I surprised myself by stepping out of the museum with a new world view about America’s meddling into other countries’ affairs.

This reminds me…

I have the following museums to check out when I go back home to Manila –

Ayala Museum (I’m even planning on getting an annual membership, which is just P500)

Metropolitan Museum of Manila (didn’t know we have one!)

National Museum (again! unguided!)

Mind Museum (brand new)

All other museums in the city

Written by markus

July 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm

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Pride and spectacle (part 2)

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That night ended without G and me kissing anyone at all.

Block party officially ended at 11am. But the real party, perhaps to some, was just starting. They probably went to the many gay bars in town and sustained further their pride night stupor.

Meanwhile G and I aimed for the train back home. On the corner of Mission and 16th, where the train station is, a muted-down, no nudity, all-walks-of-life street dancing party is beginning to wind down. The homeless. The nomads. The travelers. The neighbors. Michael Jackson was the theme. We couldn’t pass that up. We danced with a beautifully dressed black lady.

We may miss our train, I told G. We left against our hearts’ desire.

The next day we went back to the city for the Pride Parade. I’d never seen the train that full. Everybody was going to San Francisco. We emerged from the subway and a sea of happy people on Market Street welcomed us. It was a gorgeously sunny day.

On my left, someone was standing on a stool with a sign that reads: “Homosexuality is a national security threat.”

The parade began. Men and women wearing pink costumes with protruding elongated balloons that look like tail feathers pointing to the skies smiled wide to the cheering crowd. They waved and crowd waved back, clicking shutters. A middle-aged lady a couple feet from me was shouting something I couldn’t hear but it looks like she’s cheering them on, like a mother to her daughter during a ballet recital.

Then it happened. I didn’t expect it to come. But it came from somewhere. A question came and I knew the answer but it’s an answer still hard to face and accept. It’s a question that made me cry.

Why need Pride?

There’s no day to celebrate and be proud you’re a guy who likes girls, or girls who kiss boys. No day to come out and actually prove to the world that being straight is a natural thing. There is no need to be extravagant, spend millions, to stop traffic, to draw thousands of people, goggle at the people on the parade like it’s a freak show.

A preacher in the next block was exhorting the immediate onlookers in front of him “Only Jesus can save you!”

Why did we invent a day like Pride?

Because we have to. We need to. We weren’t treated equal. We have to put on a show, like circus came to town, dress funny and bend backwards just to send a message. We have to be naked on the street and be looked down upon as a filthy weirdo. We have to bring out “role models” among ourselves to say, it seems, look we are good, fine people. It’s as if we have to justify every damn purpose for existing: we are in your entertainment, we are in your government, we are in your coffee, we are in your fashion, we are in your military, we are in your dream of better world. And still, it doesn’t seem enough. We still have to do something like this every year, every where in the world.

This question and this answer made me cry while most people were cheering, clapping and greeting each other “Happy Pride!” I wasn’t expecting that for my first pride parade.

But I’m grateful for that moment. Despite the spectacle, I thought my first pride was quite meaningful.

Written by markus

June 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm

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Pride and spectacle (part 1)

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It was a very hectic weekend. My old friend G from Arizona visited in time for the pride weekend. San Francisco is your mecca, she’s told me more than once. And there’s no better time to be gay in San Francisco than on pride weekend.

On Saturday, we spent a good long hour trying to locate one freaking parking spot around Castro. When we’re about to give up and go home, we found one. We walked about 4 blocks and found a nice, local coffee shop called Four Barrel. Interiors are that of a rice or coffee bean mill warehouse. They serve from two counters – one where people just want their coffee simple and ready to go, the other counter was for real coffee connoisseur where, at least to me, a caffeine fix is complicated. I had iced coffee, which tasted like nothing I’ve tried before: it’s rustic and deep (there I risked sounding pretentious; I don’t really know what I mean by that!)

G and I watched the people milling around outside the huge glass windows. We were seated at a bar that looks out at the sidewalk where there is an extended al fresco bar that spills over the sidewalk onto the street. In one of the al fresco bar was this romantic gay couple who couldn’t keep their hands to oneself. We could not decide if they just met each other and was excited about their new explorations or was breaking up  and was doing some, you know, breakup cuddle? G thought they may have been far apart for a long time and just got together again. The other guy eyes tell me he loves the other more. Those were some dewy, sweet, kind pair of eyes.

That night Castro was practically closed to traffic. There was block party. I knew it as street party. But there was really no centralized musical or party event. People just put out some blasting speakers and played party music. The gays just went on finding a favorite spot and partied on, with or without clothes. Apartments looking over the streets have their window blinds opened to topless men or women gyrating to the crowd, even in playful competition with the boobs from the other window across the street. I saw a man perhaps in his 70s strutting his shrunk stuff (it was a cold night). My night need not have that memory when I want to look back a few prides later, I thought to myself.

We met with G’s lesbian Vietnamese friend who was with her other Asian fusion lesbian friends in a – you guessed it – Vietnamese restaurant to have dinner. I wasn’t hungry though I should be. Too much new things make my digestive system act weird. I had Saigon beer and some egg rolls (both were amazing). We went back to the street party, found a bunch of people dancing, no, wasted-dancing in front of a Victorian house. I let the lesbians hump and thrust their crotches into each other. I watched them hunt their preys. Not two seconds passed and their already feeling up stoned chick. Stoned chick would later ask to the entire town if anybody has water. Apparently she was feeling hot because when she came back, hello titties!

Lesbians continued on their rampage and moved on from the stoned chick to a couple of goths. One was Asian, which my Asian companions apparently don’t dig as much. They aimed their crossbows to the white, goth girl. I swear I just blinked. I blinked and G’s Vietnamese friend was deep in the goth’s mouth already. And they frenched and frenched forever the French may have recovered from recession after.

Don’t you dare let me derail your adventures girl, I told G when we were waiting for the tongue-tied to breathe for air. You go on and kiss a girl, too.

Written by markus

June 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

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Sunrise, roads, blood

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Today I had the whole day all to myself. I woke up before 6AM to take my roommate to the airport. I will not sleep anymore later when I go home, I told him on the way. I went back home, reveled at the sight of the rising orange sun. I was on my way to the bathroom to shower but my foot took me to the bed and off I dreamt of lovely things happening.

I awoke an hour or so later. I showered, donned a new pair of board shorts and walked to a restaurant for a sumptuous (oily) breakfast. I don’t know why I keep ordering pancakes. I never finish them. I walked back home. Sun was bursting. It must be approaching 90 degrees, I said to myself. I noticed in the horizon streams of jet smoke with indistinct patterns. Someone decided it’s a good day to drive an aircraft and play. It was.

Then I took the car, loaded a bit up on gas and aimed at the Pacific Ocean. I drove for miles and miles of lovely seascapes and landscapes along the coast. I stopped to ogle at the majesty numerous times.

I thought of the Philippines, how equally beautiful its coasts and mountains are. I thought of solo travel, how that’s the only real way to travel and explore. I thought about the speed limit, how no one follows it. I thought about the seagulls, how they’re so many and noisy when they hover past above you. I thought about the seal resting on the rocks on the shore, how they stare adorably at us humans.

I thought about writing, how I’ve missed drawing blood.

Written by markus

June 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Travel