Saturday, August 31, 2013

The first lesson reading teaches is how to be alone

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The electronic apotheosis of mass culture has merely reconfirmed the elitism of literary reading, which was briefly obscured in the novel's heyday. I mourn the eclipse of the cultural authority that literature once possessed, and I rue the onset of an age so anxious that the pleasure of a text becomes difficult to sustain. I'm not sure I'll last long myself without buying a new one. But the first lesson reading teaches is how to be alone. 

~ Jonathan Franzen, How to Be Alone: Essays, 2002

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Birthday Climb

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Last January, my siblings and I thought of a special and not very common way of celebrating my birthday. We spent it climbing a mountain: Mt. Gulugod-Baboy in Anilao, Batangas. 

Here are some photos:

Spending my birthday climbing Mt Gulugod-Baboy in Anilao, Mabini, Batangas

Friday, August 23, 2013


Friday, August 23, 2013

There is a month to go before we leave for our trek, and I grapple with questions like Do I wear my trusty convertible pants, or do I go for that cute hiking skort? Or maybe I should just bring them both?  For who says I cannot climb a volcano in both comfort AND style?  I know I should be preparing for or worrying about the rigor and danger of the climb, but my mind refuses to focus on THAT.  Immersing myself in the trivial and the superficial keeps me from having cold feet.  So for now, I will think about what I will wear during 9-hour 60-degree ascent over rocky terrain and not about how difficult and terrifying it could be. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

I felt despair

Friday, August 16, 2013

I felt despair.  The word’s overused and banalified now, despair, but it’s a serious word, and I’m using it seriously.  For me it denotes a single admixture – a weird yearning for death combined with a crushing sense of my own smallness and futility that presents as a fear of death.  It’s maybe close to what people call dread or angst.  But it’s not these things, quite.  It’s more like wanting do die in order to escape the unbearable feeling of becoming aware that I’m small and weak and selfish and going without any doubt at all to die. It’s wanting to jump overboard.

~ David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, 1997.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Than a Place to Sleep

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I do not understand why, in choosing travel accommodation, some people would say dismissively, “oh, we’re just sleeping there anyway.”  Hotels, inns, bed-and-breakfasts, hostels, homestays – are they nothing more than places to sleep?  I think not.  They are an essential part of the whole travel experience.  In fact, some of my memorable experiences on the road involve--and revolve around--the places I stayed at.

Here are my favorites:

Teresek View Motel, Kuala Tahan, Pahang, Malaysia

This inn is included in the tour package for Taman Negara National Park that we got so I had no idea how it would be like.  It turned out really crummy:  the smell of durian that pervaded the place and engulfed the senses; a bathroom you wouldn’t want to set your foot in without slippers on; the smell of moldy linens camouflaged by perfume; a ‘private’ balcony that turned out to be not so private after all.  But our stay at Teresek View became the highlight of our trip. The sheer shabbiness of the place changed the way I look at life on the road and life in general.  It taught me that when I’m in a foreign place I can’t afford to be fussy and fastidious, and yielding to the place and to the moment is the best way to have fun. From then on, travel became less of a ‘vacation’ but more of experiencing both the niceties and nastiness of every day.     

Umaid Bhawan Hotel, Jaipur, India

Umaid Bhawan is a favorite for how it looks. I felt like a maharani staying in such a swanky place.

Royal Suite, Umaid Bhawan Hotel, Jaipur, India

Hotel Centre Pointe Silom, Bangkok, Thailand

It was my first time to go to Bangkok when we stayed at Centre Pointe.  I thought at that time that the high-rise hotel with its sanitized feel and modern facilities looked incongruous with the chaos that surrounded it. Stepping out of its doors, we were greeted by the ceaseless tumult of everyday life: colorful tuktuks all around, people walking to the Saphan Taksin pier to catch a riverboat taxi, street vendors hawking charcoal-grilled fish, yen ta four, rompers, dragon fruits, lottery tickets—an entire world of goodies that enchant wide-eyed tourists like me. Without this incessant commotion in its surroundings, Centre Pointe would be like any other nice yet dull hotel.

8 Auspicious Him View Hotel, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India

I am not a religious person, but I loved how this inn named and decorated their rooms with the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism. We stayed at the White Conch room wherein I can see the stunning Dhauladhar range without having to get up from bed.
White Conch Room, 8 Auspicious Him View Hotel, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India

The Green House, Urubamba, Huaran, Peru

The Green House remains my favorite among all the hotels and inns I’ve stayed. Let me quote from a post I’ve written earlier:

 The Green House offered us a restorative sojourn. Located in the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley, this bed-and-breakfast became our sanctuary from noise and disquiet, a place where the din of hooting horns, screaming brakes and prattling tourists is refreshingly absent and the modest sound of the stream behind our room blended with the place’s tranquil silence.

Its splendid isolation, away from life’s daily disruptions and distractions, rewarded us with the rare chance to be together - to go on quiet walks, discover the depths and delights of the community, picnic on freshly baked bread and fruits in the middle of harvested corn fields and drink in the magnificence of the Andes.
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