Friday, September 19, 2008

Hong Kong & Macau Photos in Multiply

Finally, after several days of hybernation, tapos na akong mag-upload ng photos namin sa Multiply. Mokong's set are, of course, his photos in the different tourist spots we went to. My set are all the practice shots I made for my photography workshop (sana, tama nga!). Hope you can check out these links:
Francis' Emmanuel's Multiply Site
Byaheng Barok's Multiply Site

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Akin ang Macau

That's exactly how this trip was like. The Hong Kong leg is all for Francis, and the Macau leg is all for me: "Sa 'yo ang Hong Kong, akin ang Macau." Syempre, para di naman ako lugi sa trip na 'to. But being on foot for the entire Hong Kong leg, hindi pa man nakakarating ng Macau, lugi na ako. Still, I tried to make the best out of this trip, since Macau was suppose to be a gift for myself.

Getting into Macau from Hong Kong is easy as 1-2-3. There are two major ports with several ferries that ply the Macau-Hong Kong route. The one nearer the City Econo Guest House where Francis and I stayed while in Hong Kong is located near the Royal Pacific Hotel. Although it's nearer, a Pexer advised me to take the one near Sheung Wen Station instead since I have a kid in tow.

Buti na nga lang, I followed her advise. As soon as we got off at Sheung Wan Station, signages can be found where the ferries to Macau are located. What's even better was we didn't have to leave the building where we got off! The Shueng Wan Station was at the underground level, while the ferry port was at the topmost level. Cool! Puro lang kami escalator.

Schedules aren't a problem too. There are ferries leaving for Macau every 15 minutes! We bought tickets for a 4:45pm trip since we were walking slower than usual (pagod na ang mga tiil namin!!!) and we still have to pass by the immigration area. The 30-minute leeway we gave ourselves was just enough. Five minutes after we got to the pre-departure area, we were already called on to board the ferry.

The ferry is big enough and clean. Unlike most of the ferries here, theirs is, of course, well-maintained. So, even if you book a seat in the economy class, it still feels like you're taking a plane ride unless, you look out at your window. Promise! There's no foul smell of grease or oil eminating in the air or even noise from the machine roaring down below.

There are seat numbers, too, so there's no need to hurry to save a seat. There's a huge area for big luggages as well so you can sit comfortably for the less than an hour trip.

Unfortunately, when we got to Macau, all the banks were close. Nyaiks! I didn't have any Patacas with me. But there's no need to worry, according to the Customer Service personnel, I can simply use my Hong Kong dollars to pay my way to the hotel. Hong Kong dollars are very much used in Macau.

I brought a Chinese translation of the hotel where we're staying so I never had a hard time communicating with the driver. They also have a computation table ready to convert the cost of the fare to Hong Kong dollars. In no time, we were pointed to a street towards East Asia Hotel.

We rested for more than an hour in our room before finally going out to look for a restaurant and have dinner. I brought my camera and my tripod along just in case we pass by something worthy enough to take a photo of.

We walked along the Avenida Almeida Ribeiro to look for a decent place to eat. We still don't have any patacas so we're also on a look out for a money changer.

Luckily, there was one open several meters before reaching the Largo do Senado. While looking at the exchange rates, a man asked me "Ano po ba ang ipapapalit n'yo?" Hayyy, salamat! Pilipino ang guard! We exchanged our remaining Hong Kong dollars to patacas. And then Francis said, "yehey, may pera na tayo, pwede na tayong mag-taxi!" Kawawang bata. He's just as tired as I am.

We saw the "M" signage not far from the Largo do Senado. I think it's high time we have dinner in a place that Francis loves best, McDonald's.

Right after dinner, I begged Francis to allow me to take just one photo along the way. Of course, that one photo became several photos, but it was all the same building, the General Post Office. I wanted to take more photos of the buildings at Largo de Senado, but taking another step farther away from our route back to the hotel is such a painful process. Pagod na rin talaga ako.

My son and I went back to the hotel to have an early rest, dreading the long walks we need to do the next day.

Ocean Park, Hong Kong

If I were given a choice, I would scrap the entire Ocean Park tour and spend the rest of the day in our room sleeping. But I don't. I have already bought two discounted Ocean Park tickets from Miss Jenny of the City Econo Guest House and Francis was already looking forward to going to Ocean Park, even if he has no idea what he would see there.

So, back at the MTR, we took the train to get to the Admiralty Station. We went straight to Exit B and looked for Bus No. 629 that will go directly to Ocean Park. Using our Octopus cards to pay the fare, we boarded this double-decker bus and chose seats on the upper deck.

The moment we got off the bus right in front of the main entrance, I knew this tour would be such a waste. Sana, nag-Ngong Ping 360 na lang kami. Better, we stayed at the guesthouse and slept.

But we're here now, so we'll just have to make the most of our time while we're here.

As soon as we passed the huge main entrance of Ocean Park, the pathway leading to the rest of the park became surprisingly narrow. Hmmm...

We tried to queue up first to ride the Sky Star but when we got in line, we were told by the park attendant that from the point where we were standing up to the Sky Star ride will take out 90 minutes. Ha? 90 minutes? That's an hour and a half! Ang tagal naman. We queued in line pa rin thinking that it might be an exaggeration. But 15 minutes under the sun and we're still moving slowly, we decided to scrap the idea and move on to the next attraction.

We went straight to take the Cable Car so we can transfer to the Headland area of the park. This isn't Francis' first time to take the cable car, but surprisingly, he's more afraid now. He has difficulty transferring from one seat to the next so I can take a photo of him in all directions. I don't know exactly why, but maybe, this is higher than the cable cars in Singapore? Or he's more aware of his fears now? Or is it simply because the windows of our cable car are wide open? Whatever the reason may be, fact is, he now fears high places.

But then, when he saw the Ocean Park Tower, he practically begged me to queue in line so we can ride in it. I really didn't want to since we've already taken this same ride in Singapore and there's really nothing spectacular to see on top. But due to insistent Francis' demand, we took the ride.

Right after this, we ate a bit and rested somewhere near the Boardwalk area. We were killing time since the show at the Ocean Theatre is still an hour away.

"Sea Dreams," the show's title at the Ocean Theatre, is a parade of exhibitions that the park's marine mammals can do. If you have been to other similar parks before, then there's nothing new to see in this show. We waited for almost an hour for the show to start. We were already sitting on the bleachers and it was like a hundred degrees out there. When the show ended, Francis enjoyed it a lot, of course. I did a lot of shooting so I guess I benefitted from it also. But really, we could have done something else.

That's one of the disappointing aspects of being at the Ocean Park. They're not on schedule! Before we took the cable car, we were waiting for Whiskers to have a photo with him near the Lowland Cable Car Plaza. The schedule said 10am to 5pm. We were waiting for 30 minutes and even inquired from the park attendants near the area about the schedule. We were told to just wait. Eh, 10:30am na kaya! We left without seeing Whiskers at all.

And then there's this "Sea Dreams" show. The show should have started at 11:30am, but it started way past 12noon already! Hayyyy! Mali ba ang relo ko?

After eating hotdogs at the Ocean Theatre, Francis wanted to see the Talking Tree he saw in the map. It was kinda far so I told him that it would be the last place that we will go to before heading back to the guesthouse. He's okay with it.

Unfortunately, we got lost and ended up at the Pacific Pier. Since we're there, we went inside to check out what the place has to offer. Well, the pier houses some marine mammals where guests are allowed to feed them. They even have an underground viewing area of the pool. But other than the bottom parts of the sea lions swimming, there's nothing much to see.

Finally, we saw the escalators that wiill bring us down near the Tai Shue Wan entrance area. Francis kept on asking me to hurry up as he was so excited to see what the Talking Tree was all about.

When we finally got there, nyek! Eto lang 'yun? For all the trouble of getting here and walking way past our route, eto lang pala yung talking tree? It's a tree alright, with eyes, ear, nose and lips. It has a cockatoo bird above which did most of the talking. Francis said, "hindi naman 'yung tree ang nagto-talk, 'yung bird eh!" Hehehe!

After resting a bit at the entrance of the Aviary, we headed out to the Flamingo Pond. A few pictures after, we were inside the fully-airconditioned Treasure Place to buy souvenirs... Pero wala namang nabili. Nagpalamig lang.

Finally, we were out. We went straight to the bus stop to take Bus Number 629 that will bring us back to Admiralty Station. Hayyyy... Sayang ang araw.

So, will I recommend this to kids and other travellers? Hmmm... Depends.

Francis and I have gone to Subic's Ocean Adventure, Manila's Ocean Park, Kuala Lumpur's Aquaria and Singapore's Underwater World. Let's just say, I enjoyed them more than I enjoyed Hong Kong's Ocean Park. Here, there are so many pathways where you can see nothing except for galvanized sheets covering the sides. Not much activity to think we were there on a Sunday.

But, if it's your first time out of the country and first time in a marine park, then do check this out.

BUT!!!! Again... If you have a kid, and have already visited Disneyland, try other tourist spots then. For sure, there's a lot more enjoyable things to do even for kids.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Teary-Eyed at Disneyland

When I decided to spend Mokong’s birthday in Disneyland, I was a bit worried that he might not enjoy it. His list of beloved cartoon characters started with Superman way back 2003, then Batman in 2004, then Spiderman from 2005 to 2007. This year, he started going gaga over Pokemon and very recently, Naruto. Disney characters doesn’t seem to have a place anywhere in his system.

But when he saw the Disney-inspired train which we took to get to Disneyland, he became very, very excited. As soon as we got off the Disney station and climbed the stairs to the huge complex entrance, he was grinning from ear to ear and kept on saying, “Wow, Disneyland!” I didn’t even have to say, “Francis, picture.” He was the one who asked me, “Mommy, picture mo ako.” I was so happy because I can really see in his eyes how happy he was. Even when we were already walking towards the fountain area, Francis simply can’t contain his excitement. He kept blabbing how he would like to have a picture with Mickey Mouse, that he would finally get to see Mickey Mouse in person, etc, etc. That’s when I got teary-eyed.

My sister and I grew up with Disney and Sanrio characters all our childhood life. Our father used to work in Japan and all the gifts and pasalubongs we had were all adorned with Disney and Sanrio characters. But we never get to see Disneyland.

That’s when I realized I am a much better parent than my father was. Sure, he worked hard in another country to be able to provide for our needs, but he never really spent quality time with us when he’s here. I am working just as hard, but I also knew when to play with my son. I don’t think I ever felt the way Francis felt today.

Unmindful of how it might affect my son, I told Francis, “See, Francis, you’re so blessed. I never had this when I was younger. Hindi ‘to ginawa sa ‘kin ng tatay ko.” Nonchalantly, he replied, “Yes, Mommy, I’m so happy!” Buti na lang, he didn’t heard the angst from what I just said.

The rest of the day was just like any Disneyland experience. It was exciting and tiring. We lined up for a photo with some Disney characters, got into some rides (even the Space Mountain which Francis now dreads), watched stage shows, etc. The end of the day was capped by the fireworks display behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

When everything was over and we were walking towards the exit, Francis was telling me how much he loved the fireworks display, how he dreaded taking another roller coaster ride, how he liked Stitch talking with the audience, how he liked Tarzan’s treehouse, how he loved the Lion King show… He just won’t stop. If Francis could smile more than his already ear-to-ear grin as he talked, he would have done so. He was really very happy.

And that’s when I got teary-eyed again. Because I, too, was happy to see him THIS happy.

Happy birthday, Francis!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Peak

I chose to go to The Peak because I think the Peak Tram is worth seeing, plus, I know I'll be able to take photos of the cityscape at night.

So, immediately after our stroll at the Avenue of the Stars, my son and I went back to the MTR to get to the Peak Tram terminal. From the Tsim Sha Tsui Station, we took the same Tsuen Wan Line to get to the Central Station. Since the information I got from PEX were so detailed, we went out of the Central Station through the J2 exit.
From there, we turned right and cross through the Chater Garden until we reached the Garden Road. Even the landmarks that we would pass by, the Bank of China Tower and the Citibank Plaza, were all stated in PEX, so it wasn't really hard finding the Peak Tram terminal at all (lakad ka nga lang nang lakad, man!). The signages all over the streets are a lot of help too!

If walking is a bit of a problem for you, I suggest you take a cab from wherever you're coming from. The Garden Road is an uphill so aside from the tired and caloussed feet that you already have from walking all over Hong Kong, sore muscle from walking uphill will further kill you.

My son and I bought the Peak Tram Sky Pass which consists of the fare to take the Peak Tram with a return trip (which is wrong because we could have used our Octopus card for this!) and entrance fee to The Peak Tower Sky Terrace. The Peak Tram Sky Pass costs HKD 48 for adults and HKD 23 for children 3 to 11 years old and senior citizens from 65 years old and above.

Riding The Peak Tram is an experience itself. The tram's design was maintained to look like the one used in the 1800s. Aside from the tram, the ride of going uphill is great as well. Seated on a slanted position, you'll get a chance to see how the view from the window changes from concrete wall, to trees, to buildings, to cityscape. Francis, amazed at the scenery outside his window, kept firing his camera too.

A few minutes later, we reached The Peak Tower. We were ushered into this souvenir store to get into the mall. I was suppose to buy souvenir items during this time, but I thought, it was too early to buy souvenirs yet. And besides, the items might be more expensive here. But, of course, I would regret that decision later on as prices here are relatively cheaper than in other tourist spots area in Hong Kong, plus, I never got to go to any other souvenir shops after this. SIGH.

Anyway, my son and I decided to take a stroll inside the mall. We were taking our time as we were already tired from too much walking. We ate at Burger King because my son's choices of food are quite limited to fastfood stuff. We also went outside the park as Francis was so fascinated with the fountain area. That's when I realized how weird the clouds were. It seemed like they were rain clouds but the heat of the sun was so intense, I'm sure it wouldn't rain. When you look at the horizon, you couldn't see much of the Kowloon side. Is it foggy today? Or is this pure smog? UGH! Whatever it was, raindrops started falling. So, my son and I ran back to the mall.

Saddened by the idea that I might not be able to take photos of the cityscape because of the rain, we strolled more inside the mall, not really knowing where else to go. Tired from walking around, we tried to get to the Sky Terrace and check if there's an area there where we could stay out of the rain.

Syempre, there's none. It was one huge viewing deck and there's no where to run to if the rain pours down. Luckily, the rain stopped. I made a quick "location check" of the entire viewing deck. Ba't ganon? Parang ang kapal ng clouds all over. It really looked like it's gonna rain. And it's really so hard to see the Kowloon side, how the hell I'm gonna take my photos? Finally, I chose a spot in this one corner which I thought would be able to give me a good view of the city. Wanting to reserve the spot, I set up my tripod and waited... And waited... And waited... It was only 5pm then and I thought sunsets will happen around 6pm. Hindi pala. Good thing I brought Mokong's gameboy so he can while away the time as I waited for night fall.

Finally, the sun sets and the influx of tourists came as well. Hayyyy... Buti na lang, I was there early. But really, the clouds are so panget. Di bale, I was here for practice, right? So, practice shooting then! Fire!

Avenue of the Stars, Hong Kong

Today's first in the itinerary is the Avenue of the Stars and the Waterfront Promenade.

I wasn't really hot about Hong Kong movie stars, but it was the only tourist spot I can think of that I can pair with The Peak that wouldn't make me rush from one place to the next. I initially wanted to go to the Ngong Ping 360 but climbing the steps towards the Giant Buddha might be too time consuming and we might not be able to make it to The Peak by sun down. I wanted to take night photos of the city from The Peak and I just deemed it more important than Ngong Ping 360. I'll just have to try it then when I get a chance to go back to Hong Kong again.

Anyway, back to the Avenue of the Stars and the Waterfront Promenade.

Since our guesthouse was just a stone's throw away from the Jordan MTR station, my son and I took the MTR to get to the next station, Tsim Sha Tsui. There are a lot of tourist spots in this area such as the Museum of Art, the Space Museum, etc, etc, but all these fell short on my list of places to go to. I was more interested to make a "location check" of the Waterfront Promenade as it is the venue for the Symphony of Lights by 7:30pm. Again, it's all because of wanting to practice taking night photos.

It wasn't very hard to find the Avenue of the Stars. As soon as we got out of the Tsim Sha Tsui Station, there are a lot of signages pointing us to the right direction. The MTR system is also so effective that some of its exit points are connected to the underground levels of some shopping centers that we didn't have to go out and walk under the scorching heat of the sun. Pero lakad kiti lakad pa rin ang mga tiil! Gazh!

When we got to the Avenue of the Stars, it was a little bit disappointing. I was expecting ala-Hollywood style of Avenue of the Stars, but it was just a very simple waterfront promenade situated behind a shopping center, very much like our own promenade at the back of the SM Mall of Asia. Sure, "stars" are all lined up on the promenade but since Hong Kong actors doesn't ring a bell to me, it wasn't such a thrill being there.

Dying from the glaring heat of the sun, my son and I decided to go to The Peak earlier than what I planned. We stopped by at the Space Museum, not to check it out, but just to rest our legs from the long walk we just had. Sayang, nag-Ngong Ping 360 na lang sana kami.

City Econo Guest House, Hong Kong

I found the City Econo Guest House from PEX. Although Os pointed a nearer guesthouse at the Tsim Sha Tsui area, the USA Hotel, I decided to go for the City Econo Guest House based on the raving reviews from the Pexers who stayed there. I found 1 negative comment though but I figured that was probably from a person who wasn't used to staying in guesthouses.

The City Econo Guest House can be reached from the airport by taking either the bus or the train. According to the guesthouse's website, bus numbers A21 and A22 will bring us to the Jordan MTR Station, the 14th bus stop. But since we couldn't find the bus stops at the airport, my son and I decided to the take the MTR. Although there were four train interchanges, the C2 exit at the Jordan Station was just a few meters away from the entrance of the City Econo Guest House.

The City Econo Guest House is situated near the busy area of Nathan Road. The road where it's at, Pilkhem Street, is very much like any of the streets we have at Binondo. So, if you're looking for hotels found at the Nathan Road, I don't think the City Econo Guest House is for you.

Even the building entrance may be a shock to others with no experience at all staying at guesthouses or pension inns. The entrance was filthy and narrow. The elevator looked like it could never ever get to the 6th floor. Now I understand why one mother in PEX gave negative comments on this guesthouse. It really looked kinda gross.

Trying to keep my spirits up, I recalled some of the reviews I read about other guesthouses in the internet. A lot of foreigners complained about these type of guesthouses in Hong Kong, but there were also some who posted their personal photos of their rooms which I think looked decent anyway. A lot of these guesthouses rent the entire floors from old and not-so-well-maintained buildings and simply beautify their specific floors. I figured, this might be the same case for this guesthouse.

As soon as the elevator door opened, the entire scenario looked different. It was like we were in a different building.

The lobby or reception area, if you can call it that, is small but very, very clean. I was met by Jenny, the one I was corresponding with via e-mail. We were ushered to Room 612 along a very narrow, but well-ventilated hallway. At the end of the hall is Room 612.

Our room is, well, small and narrow. It has a double bed, aircon, a small table, a chair, a TV and 1 bathroom. I really don't want to be anal about the size of the room because, really, when I think about it, the available space to walk around the room is just about the same amount of space I have in our room in Manila. Francis, though, laughed when he saw the bathroom. "Ang liit, Mommy, hindi kasya si Ate Norma!" referring to his yaya (bastos 'tong bata na 'to!)

But the room is comfortable, very cool and squeaky clean, I have nothing to complain (just don't open your windows). It's good enough to stay for a good night sleep, which is our purpose of staying here.

The City Econo Guest House also has a refrigerator along the hallway where anyone can store their bottled drinks (just make sure it's properly named!). They also have their own pantry with microwave, water heater, sink, mugs, spoons, etc. Not bad at all.

As a bonus, they sell Disneyland and Ocean Park tickets at a discounted price, HKD 10 less than the original price.

So, would I recommend this place to other travellers? Yes!!! But only if they're very much aware about guest houses and pension inns in Asia.

First Time Mong Mag-MRT, ‘Neng?

Ever since I booked our flight last February, I've been plotting out our itinerary with more details than necessary. Thank goodness for deligious Pexers who are so familiar with Hong Kong, they have answered all possible questions that you can think of without having to ask it. The specific bus numbers, MTR stations, the look & current design of the Octopus card, where to turn left & right when you're at a certain road, etc, etc. As such, our itinerary was so detailed it could never ever come close to any of the itineraries I've done for the Holy Week Travellers.

I made a detailed itinerary because it was my first time to travel alone in a foreign country. Well, technically, I'm not alone. Pero wala naman kasing mako-contribute ang anak ko for finding directions or even making decisions. Although my son and I already went to Puerto Galera on our own for a 3-day get-away, it was booked through a service-oriented resort. The moment I got to the Manila office of Coco Beach Resort, ni hindi ko na nahawakan ang bagahe namin.

Anywayze, back to our Hong Kong trip. As much as I thought I have prepared myself for this trip, nothing had prepared me for the complications of riding the MTR, Hong Kong's version of our MRT (but a lot, lot better!). Dahil first day namin sa Hong Kong, I made a lot of booboos riding the MTR. Hehehe!

Booboo # 1: "Nothing to declare here." Sucess! I didn't get lost looking for the immigration & baggage claim areas. We’re actually here at the arrival hall! But wait! I need to find the "Airport Express Counter” or the “Customer Service Counter" so I can buy an Octopus card. I saw a kiosk just outside the door after the customs area. Mukha namang bilihan ng card yung kiosk. Kaya lang, may ibang design yung cards, baka generic lang. So I went to the Airport Information Desk and asked the female manning the counter. Sus! Yung kiosk nga na may iba't ibang card ang bilihan ng Octopus card! Anube!

Booboo # 2: "Load 300 please." That's how much I told the female from the kiosk to load in my Octopus card. "300? You can easy load anywhere," says the pakialamerang female in her broken English with Chinese accent. "Yes, 300," with conviction ko syang sinagot. "Even children?" "Yes!" Ba't ba? Eh, mayaman ako! Hehehe! Pero hindi pumayag si pakialamerang girl. HKD 250 lang ang niload nya sa akin, HKD 170 naman kay Mokong. Mahaderang 'to! Hmp! Nilayasan ko nga sya pero with a smile naman and I said my thank you. Nung nakalayo na kami, I took out my kodikong itinerary. Nyek! Oo nga, tig-100 HKD lang nga dapat ang binili namin ni Mokong. Ba't ko ba naisip na 300? Ano 'to, load ng celfone? Duh!!! Anyway, pwede namang mareimburse yun eh.

Booboo # 3: "Mommy, sa'n ba tayo pupunta?" Hayyyy... Hindi ko rin talaga alam. According to the City Econo Guesthouse website, just take bus no. 21 or 22A and get off at Jordan Road. Eh, san ang sakayan ng bus? Nyaiks, anong gagawin ko? “Taxi na lang kaya, Mommy?” asked Mokong. Pero wala akong Chinese translation nung guesthouse namin, baka di pa kami magkaintindihan ng driver, uminit pa ulo ko. Hayyy... Sa sobrang detailed ng itinerary ko, kulang pa din pala! Mga 5 minutes kaming nakatayo sa gitna ng arrival hall trying to figure out what to do. Hayyy... I miss my adik friends.

Booboo # 4: "Mommy, trains to the city o". Oo nga naman, sa 5 minutes naming itinayo doon, nasa harap lang kami ng sakayan ng train. "Ok, anak, check natin MTR map." In fairness, pwede naman talagang mag-MTR going to our guesthouse. Maraming lang kasing MTR interchange kaya hindi ko kinareer yun while I did my research in Manila. Pero dahil hindi ko na alam kung saan kami sasakay ng bus, sige, "trains to the city" na kami. I got myself a map of the MTR system and studied it.

Booboo # 5: Based on the MTR map, 4 times kaming magpapalit ng train. From the airport, baba kami sa Tsing Yi. From there, we change train using the Tung Chung Line to go to Lai King. From Lai King, we change train uli using the Tsuen Wan Line to get to Jordan. Finally, eto na yung last stop. Pero wait, baka naman may iba pang faster route 'coz I can see a nearer interchange. Kaya lang, I also read somewhere in PEX na hindi kayang lakarin yung distance na ‘yun from one station to the next. Hmmm... Tanong ko nga sa Customer Service. I waited until she's not attending to any customer when I approached her. Baka may makaintindi kasi sa amin na shushunga-shunga kami. Hehehe! I asked her how to get to Jordan, pero I also told her how I planned to do it (para mukha namang may alam ako sa Hong Kong). Parang nagtaka sya sa gusto kong gawin sa buhay pero dahil limited lang siguro ang English nya at baka magtagal at lumalim pa ang misunderstanding namin, nag-yes na lang sya. Pero syempre, later during the day (when we went to Central to get to the Peak Tram), nung medyo sanay na akong mag-MTR, nun ko lang na-realize na pwede naman palang lakarin yung mahabang distance na sabi sa PEX eh hindi pwedeng lakarin. Eh, di sana, twice lang kami nag-change trains. Hayyyy…

Booboo # 6: "San sinusuksok 'yung card? Wait, Francis, wala yung magsa-swipe ng card natin?" So, balik uli ako dun sa girl na pinagtanungan ko ng papuntang Jordan. "Miss, I use this for there?" Sabay turo, of course, sa tracks. "Yes" ang very eager n'yang sagot. Pero sa’n ko nga isa-swipe ang card? Syempre, hindi ko na tinanong ‘yun sa kanya. Feeling ko, obvious na obvious nang shushunga-shunga nga ako dahil this is the second time I went to her for a question. Oh, well, pag may sumita na lang sa amin kung pano kami naka-sakay ng train without swiping our Octopus cards, deadma. Finally, the train arrived. Taray, ganda ng seats! Pero sa'n nga ini-swipe ang card? Di pa rin ako mapakali, diba, kahit na seating pretty na ako sa loob ng train! I tried to relax. Promise, pag may nanita, I'll just cross the bridge when we get there. And then, I saw the sign! Free airport shuttle naman pala itu!!! So, kahit magdamag akong maghanap ng card swiping machines, good luck kung may makita talaga ako!

Booboo # 7: Kung nawala siguro yung kodiko kong brochure na may map ng MTR system, maninirahan na lang siguro ako dun! Kahit 1 station lang ang ita-travel naming mag-ina, puro kaya ako double check at triple check kung tama ang ginagawa namin. Maliban sa brochure, maya't maya din ang pagche-check ko sa lighted MTR map system na naka-display sa loob ng MTR. Hayyyy… First time ko bang mag-train?

Booboo # 8: “Next stop: Lai King.” It’s just one station away from the Tsing Yi Station where we can change trains that will go to Jordan. An influx of commuter went straight to the lift. Sunod naman kami ng anak ko. In fairness, I saw a sign at the elevator door that says “Level 1 Tsuen Wan Line.” That’s the train we need to get into to reach Jordan. But when we reached Level 1, parang lahat ng arrows ng trains, pabalik sa taas! Ha? Bumaba kami para umakyat uli? We scouted the area first thinking that we might have missed a different sign. Pero wala talaga. So, I went to the Customer Service Area and asked where the trains to Jordan are. As usual, broken English uli, “that wide entrance, there, far entrance, go up.” “Ah, ok, thanks!” Hmmm… Sa’n kaya ‘yung wide entrance na ‘yun? Eto kayang swiping machine na wider ang entrance than the rest of the card swiping machines? Pero ang layo ng turo nung girl, so I went to the other end. When I got to the end, escalator uli going upstairs! Eh, parang dyan nga kami galing. So, I went back to the card swiping machine with the wider entrance to check it out, hagdan going upstairs din! Hayyy… San ba talaga kami? Balik uli kami dun sa dulo. And during all these back and forth scouting, I was dragging all my stuff around, syempre, kasama din si Mokong. Finally, may naawa na siguro sa akin na kanina pa kami nakikitang paikot-ikot, “Ate, sa’n ba kayo?” YAHHHOOO!!! Pinoy ka, Ate? Eh, kung di ba naman ako isang libu’t isang gaga, tinagalog na nga ako, tatanungin ko pa kung Pinoy s’ya! In fairness, tinulungan naman n’ya ako. Dun nga kami sa card swiping machine with a wider entrance. Hayyyy… Did I say I so miss my adik friends?

Booboo # 8: Finally, we were able to get to Jordan, find our guesthouse, and rested for about an hour. Our first itinerary for the day was to go to the Avenue of the Stars. As usual, we had to go there via MTR. Since I had so many booboos in the morning, I decided to study the MTR map carefully and read all the signs at the stations. In fairness, nakarating naman kami ng Tsim Sha Tsui Station nang walang aberya. We didn’t bother to go to the other points of interest near the Tsim Sha Tsui area. I was more concerned kasi to take night photos at The Peak so by 3pm, we were back in the Tsim Sha Tsui Station to make our way to the Central Station. “O, Francis, alam mo na kung pa’no ‘to, ha. Ikaw na hahawak ng card mo.” When we got to the card swiping machines and tapped our Octopus cards, walang nangyari sa mga harang. Hindi bumukas! Ha? Did I do something wrong again? Kahit ‘yung kay Francis, ayaw din magbukas. Wait, Francis, baka iba ‘yung entrance ng mga Octopus card holders. Ikot na naman kami. Parang isa lang naman ang entrance. Try ulit. Promise, ayaw mag-bukas. So, I went to the Customer Service Area. Ay, ang daming tao… Hiya akong magtanong. Try ko na lang ulit card, pero promise, hindi talaga nag-open! Hindi ko na kaya! I will swallow my pride and ask the guy at the Customer Service Area booth (buti na lang, wala nang pila!). The guy checked the balance of our cards. Syempre, ang dami pang load so imposibleng naubusan kaming mga-ina. Then the guy said, “Tap then push.” hah hA Ha? “Tap,” sabay palo sa desk nya, and “push,” sabay action ng push with both hands. Ahhhh… Ipupush pala ‘yun para mag-open. Hayyy…. Ang tanga mo, Barok!

Booboo # 9: Finally, the Peak Tram. I bought the packaged ticket so we can take the tram to get to the Peak and allow us entry to the Sky Terrace. Maayos naman naming nairaos ang buong Peak Tram at Sky Terrace experience. Nung pauwi na kami and took the Peak Tram again to get back down to the city, naloka ako sa isang girl na forever nakatayo sa likod ng driver. Hindi ba sya nahihirapan na nakatayo forever eh naka-slant pababa ang position ng tram? ‘Yun naman pala, papara kasi sya sa isa sa mga stops ng tram. Ay, pwede pala ‘yun? Oo, naman... Kasi, public transportation din naman ang tram. Hayyyy... At parang with “hallelujah” light ang mga pangyayari nung na-realize ko na public transportation nga ang tram. Eh, di syempre, pwedeng gamitin ang Octopus card! At ‘yun nga ang ginamit ni girl na nakatayo sa likod ng driver.

Hayyy… Unang araw pa lang ‘to pero parang ang haba-haba na nang itinagal ko sa Hong Kong. Ano pa kaya ang ibang pwede pang mangyari sa mga susunod na araw?

Huling hirit sa MTR… Added on September 13.

Booboo # 10: Second day. Disneyland. Pauwi na kami from a long and tiring day in Disneyland. By this time, hustler na ako dapat sa MTR. That’s what I thought. As soon as we got off the Disney train, dali-dali lahat ng tao to get to the other train at the Sunny Bay Station. Kami rin ng anak ko. We were so tired and we wanted to be the first in the train so we can get seats. In fairness, konti lang ang nakipila sa amin. The rest of the crowd are on the other side. Confidently in queue at the Tung Chung Line, my son and I waited patiently for the trains to come. “Mommy, trains to the city ulit o,” pointed out my son at the other side. “Hindi, dito tayo, anak. Ayan, o, Tung Chung.” When the trains came, we were able to seat comfortably inside. Ang konti nalang kasi ng tao. When I checked the status of our direction in the lighted MTR map system inside the train, that’s when it dawned on me that we were in the wrong train! We were going to the Tung Chung Station! That’s the end of the line of the Tung Chung Line! Tama nga si Mokong. Dun kami dapat sa “trains to the city!” Tung Chung Line pa rin’yun pero opposite direction! Di bale, don’t panic. We can always interchange at the Tung Chung Station.

Booboo # 11: Tung Chung Station. Since nasa wrong side kami, we quickly transferred to the other side so we can take the train to get back to the city. Ay, ba’t ganon? Walang pila? As much as I wanted to ask any Customer Service personnel or kahit janitor na nga lang, parang wala nang tao. Parang buong station, sarado na. Nyaiks! Ang layo pa naman ng Tung Chung sa city. Kung magta-taxi kami pabalik ng Jordan, magkano kaya aabutin? I finally saw the electronic signage that flashes “Trains to the city will depart first at platform 1”. Hmmm… Ano kaya yun? Promise, wala talagang ibang nakapila sa kinakatayuan namin. Pero sa kabila, dun sa train na binabaan namin, may mga sumasakay! Hmmm… “Trains to the city will depart first at platform 1.” Ahhhh…. So, yung train na sinakyan namin is at platform 1 pala and it will be the one to go to the city! Hayyyyyy… Buhay!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weather Update

I just came back from the Sto. Domingo area at Quezon Avenue to have my photos developed. Hindi naman masyadong masaya ang maglakad under the rain!!! Will the weather in Hong Kong and Macau be like this too? Hindi 'ata ako na-gets ni Lord. Ang prayer ko, "Lord, have mercy." What he heard ata was "Lord, have marce"... Wehhhh!!! Tama na, corny na ako. :P

Anywayze, despite the numerous weather forecast websites available in the net, we, in production, rely on a few "credible" ones. But, Direk Matthew, being a British, believes more in the forecasts of BBC. And in fairness to him, so far, with all the forecasts BBC had during our should-we-shoot-or-cancel-tomorrow decision-makings, it only failed once.

So, when I got home, I quickly checked all these "credible" websites again. And I really, really love the look of the 5-day weather forecast from BBC.
SIGH... Kino-convince ko lang ba ang sarili ko?

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Rain, rain, go away... Come again late next week!

When "Marce" was reported entering the Philippine responsibility a couple of days ago, I panicked. I quickly counted the number of days when it was assumed to make a landfall. Since then, I've been monitoring the weather reports in PAGASA, Accuweather, BBC, CNN and Daig ko pa ang may shooting sa location!

Earlier this week, I prayed that the rains would come, just so I can have a clear weather by this weekend. But when "Marce" came to the picture, and it rained like cats and dogs yesterday, I got depressed. If "Marce" will be leaving this weekend, than it means it's gonna be in Hong Kong by the time we get there. Waaaahhhhh!!!! Of course, with a different name.

Although I was prepared to tour Hong Kong and Macau under the rain, still, it would be such a hassle. Just imagine, I'll be bringing my camera with me, my tripod, a 7-year-old kid & his change of clothes, an umbrella, 2 liters of bottled water, and all my other kikay stuff! Sa dami ng dala ko, alas-1 pa lang, mainit na ang ulo ko!!! Grrr... And then I won't be able to take photos pa 'cause of the rain. SIGH... Parusa!

But, lo and behold! When I checked the PAGASA website this morning, "Marce" has now moved 230 kms east of Basco, Batanes. So, it has moved north east, away from Hong Kong and Macau! EAST!!!! Yehey!!!

Accuweather also reports of partly sunny and cloudy skies for the entire weekend. I'll take that then get soak under the rain and my son and I won't be able to do anything while in Hong Kong and Macau.

Pray! Pray! Pray! That's what I'm gonna do from this very minute until we touch back down at the NAIA on Monday night. Please, please, please. I've been planning this trip for ages now and I just wanted it to be perfect.

It's my son's 7th birthday on Saturday and since I never had that much time this year and the previous year to spend time with him, I wanted a birthday gift of simply spending great time with him. The last time we travelled together, na kami lang talaga, was in 2005 pa when we went to Puerto Galera. This trip is our first out-of-the-country get-away na kaming dalawa lang. Sure, it's great travelling with the "adikkks", but there's really nothing to beat an ultimate bonding trip with my son.

Rain, rain, go away... Come again late next week!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cosme Was Born Here

Cosme Was Born Here: This set of photos pays "homage" to the very spot where "Cosme" was born.

Way back May 16th this year, my staff and I went to the old breakwater at CCP to check on the setmen around 1am. Our shoot calltime was at 3am but we wanted to make sure that everything was ready at the location by the time the rest of the crew gets there.

As soon as I came out of the van, I knew I had to take a photo of the well-lit images in front of me. I only had my ever-reliable Olympus Stylus 720SW then, but I was able to take photos naman that I am happy with (click here for those photos). However, I also knew I would have been happier if I had a DSLR then.

And that's when I realized I wanted to go back to photography.

"Cosme" was the name of the typhoon while we were shooting Project "Kiss" at the Manila Bay. Yes, we braved and survived "Cosme" because "Kiss" had a scheduled product launch. It was also my talent fee from "Kiss" that I used to buy my Nikon D80 with. So, I guess, it's only right to name my camera "Cosme."

Having bought a not-so-high-end-but-I'm-quite-happy-with-it-anyway tripod and an ML-L3 remote control for my shutter release last week, I decided to go to CCP and take photos of the sunset. Since I didn't have a photo buddy with me, I brought my son along who carried the tripod all the way through (magaan lang tripod ko, ok!).

Click here for more of the photos I took and uploaded in Byaheng Barok Multiply site. Will definitely appreciate C&Cs for improvement.

Mokong & Stariray

Last week, my son and I were shopping for a new pair of rubber shoes. On our way to the counter, we passed by the babies' shoes section and he found this really cute & tiny pair of blue shoes with pink heart at the middle. Francis said, "Mommy, let's buy this... For the baby."

He! He! He! Before you panic, that baby, of course, is Stariray.

So, just this afternoon, Francis & I went to Bang's house so Francis can give the shoes to Stariray himself.

He's so fond of Stariray, but he was also firm in saying "no" when I told him we'll be bringing Stariray home to live with us. Seloso? He! He! He!

Anywayze, here's a peek into their photos (as usual, I brought my camera with me).

Nagchi-chismisan na, ke babata pa!

Turuan bang mag-game boy agad ang Stariray?

More photos are in my son's Multiply account. Click here to view those photos.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cebu Photos in Multiply

Finally, I'm done uploading photos of our Cebu trip in our Holy Week Multiply site. Stories about our trip na lang ang kulang. Yahoo!!!

Hopefully, by next week, I can start fixing our photos from our 2008 Holy Week trip. Sana. He! He! He!

Anywayze, here's the link in our Multiply site for Cebu photos:

This notice is posted all over
Ging-Ging's Restaurant in Malapascua Island

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Don't Panic, Barok

I was suppose to write about hospitals today.

While I was there this morning, I thought of how much I like being in the hospital -- the smell, the squeaky clean surroundings, the white-colored uniform of the people working there -- everything in it. Oh, this doesn't mean that I'm hoping to get sick and be a patient in the hospital. It's just that there's this little something in me that still longs to be a doctor. Yup, I wanted to be a doctor. Seriously. But family matters, health issues and school possibilities "prevented" me from pursuing this path. Instead, I opted for a course that seemed "new" and "acceptable".

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed taking up Communication Arts and more importantly, being a part of Artistang Artlets in UST. If I had not taken up an AB course or joined AA, then I wouldn't be where I am today.

But this entry isn't about my college life. It's about my being in the hospital. I was there for a simple should-have-been-once-a-year-check-up-but-never-really-bothered-to-do-so with my doctor.

I like my doctor... a lot. She's very soft-spoken (being an Ilonggo) and very motherly-like. She takes time in explaining things to me and never makes me panic for anything. As a matter of fact, she gave me permission to travel even if I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. He! He! He!

Anywayze, I went to her since I've been "feeling" something different these past several months. I just really wanna make sure that it's normal.

But it was not.

She checked me up, not once, but twice. She wasn't quite sure with the first one so she had to double check and do it all over again. Really, it bothered her. So, she asked me to have an ultrasound. But, the ultrasound was inconclusive. She now wants to wait for the results of the test she made, which will come out on Tuesday. No problem, I'll just have to go back on Tuesday then. She warned me, though, that there might be a need for a biopsy.

Ha? Biopsy? Ano yun? Of course, I heard about it and I knew about it... But I never really bothered to understand what it's all about. Malay ko ba...

I quickly searched for it in my Blackberry (kasi nasa hospital pa nga ako) so I can learn more about it. It's basically a simple procedure. But you see, I've never really been sick to the point where I need to be hospitalized. I only got to stay in a hospital when I gave birth to my son. Other than that, I just had the typical flu, cough, colds and skin allergies. Nothing serious. So the sound of a "biopsy" is something scary for me.

Without being too medical and technical (haven't talked to my sister about this yet), my cervix has bumps all around the linings of its wall. It should have been smooth, my doctor said. She doesn't know what these bumps are and she's bothered that there's so many of it. It didn't look normal.

The best way to know what these bumps are is by taking a sample. I would have to be put under anesthesia when this needs to be done. (Oh no, not again? Maraming glutaphos na naman ang kelangan ko?) Only then can she know what these bumps are and how it should be treated. Alright then, we'll just have to discuss it when we get the results on Tuesday.

So, I left, feeling weird and bothered. But, I don't think I can do anything much about my situation. Wait na lang ako until Tuesday for the results.

Depressed, I went to Quiapo to buy myself a tripod, a new UV filter, a lenspen and a remote control for shutter release. Weeee!!!!! :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ber is Here

While shopping for a new pair shoes for my son in the nearby mall, I nonchalantly hum to the tune of the song playing inside the mall. When the song ended, it was only then that I realized I was humming "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." SIGH...

As much as I try not to get depressed to the idea that Christmas is nearing, I just can't help but be "worried" that the current year is about to end. So where did I go to this year? What happened to me? Definitely, nowhere. I am still at the exact place where I was last year.

And that worries me a lot... Being stuck.

But more importantly, have I really made an effort to move on?