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Archive for July, 2015

Let’s go to the beach on the island of Boracay, Philippines!

White Beach has been named among the top 10 beaches in the world.

White BeachWhite Beach

White BeachWhite Beach

White Beach

White Beach

White BeachWhite Beach

White BeachWhite Beach

White BeachWhite Beach

There are other beaches on Boracay…
Puka Beach
Puka BeachPuka Beach

Puka BeachPuka Beach

Puka BeachPuka Beach

Puka Beach

 

Bulabog Beach

Bulabog Beach

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That joke bombed.

That joke bombed.

Manila. You are one frustrating bastard.

I recently visited Manila for the third time. Only this time I went with a positive attitude. Looking for anything worth doing in the city. I was there either way, so why not?

My standard description of Manila, is that it looks like it was built 50 years ago, and then mostly allowed to slowly break-down and crumble. There are a few bright spots of new development here and there. I haven’t visited every part of the city, but from what I’ve seen thus far, it hasn’t grown on me.

If you go to the Philippines, go everywhere but Manila.

Let’s run through some keen observations.

Commuting/Getting Around

  • The elevator situation at my hotel was remarkably nonfunctional. They had even opened the service elevators to guests. Most days the commute from my room to our meeting room (floor 27 to 4) was longer than my commute in to the office in DC. The most fun was a cathartic 12-minute wait-athon, punctuated by a dose of cleverly parlayed verbal abuse at the unyielding elevator door.
  • Traffic is shit. No, it is the perfect storm of terrible. No, it is terrible shit.
  • Driving in actual lanes does not exist. Cutting slower cars off and not giving two shits* about other drivers is the norm. If you are prone to road rage, your head will explode in Manila.
  • Uber can’t find me.
  • Uber can’t find the place I want to go.
  • The interest in pedestrians borders on malfeasance. The sidewalks, where they exist, are sketchy or so narrow that walking on the street is the only option. Urban planning did not touch this city with a 10-foot pole. And step lively or you may get sprayed by the random dudes using the sidewalk as a urinal.
  • Don’t grab a map and think you can navigate from Point A to Point B. Not a chance. You will need to detour to Points Z, Y and probably Pluto in between. If the way through isn’t blocked by design, it is under construction. Or it doesn’t exist.
  • Don’t try to jog here.
  • Terminal 1 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport is a soul sucking, festering wound on society. It has the highest level of clusterf*@kedness attainable. Its literal only redeeming quality is that there is a Starbucks. If you have a choice, go to the newer and fairly decent Terminal 3.

Other stuff

  • Balls. Home of the biggest sporting events in the world.
    What could be a better name for a TV channel? Yet, the only sporting event I saw on it was women’s volleyball…
  • At a restaurant, the band could not sing Toto’s ‘Africa’ worth a damn. It was painful. But then they dropped a pitch perfect rendition of ‘Just the Way You Are’. I thought Billy was in the house.
  • All the fast food restaurants are open 24 hours. And loads of people are out late/early on school nights. Consuming McDonald’s and Jollibee’s. There are also still Shakey’s here!
  • Malls. The national pastime.

 

Stay classy Manila!

 

* Number of times I used the word ‘shit’ in this post (if you count these two additional instances of shit) = 5

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I recently journeyed to the Philippines and back. All manner of movies were at my fingertips. Although, flying Korean Airways for the first time, I was slightly disappointed with the selection of (a mere) 35 or so movies. Thanks Emirates for tainting my expectations. I still watched. Of course I did.

I coincidentally witnessed two movies with Oscar Isaac. Who? Well, this guy is having his moment, because he’s also in the upcoming Star Wars movie AND he plays the villain, Apocalypse, in the next X-Men movie. Well played sir.

There were a few other movies I was eyeballing, like Big Eyes and Still Alice, but they seemed to be more ‘think pieces’, which I just didn’t need as I slogged through 14 hour flights.

 

Flights: IAD-ICN-MNL

Kingsman: The Secret Service – Cracking. As in skulls and bones. A fine entry into the spies and gadgets film canon.  (Grade: B+)

Ex Machina – Eerie. Oscar Isaac as a reclusive genius trying to create life-like artificial intelligence. You won’t like what’s inside his head. (Grade: B-)

Jupiter Ascending – Turd. I’m being kind. Dear Wachowski brothers…err, siblings…thank you for a pleasant dilemma. Should I stop watching and make this the first movie I ever failed to power through? Almost. I finished it. But I feel dirty. (Grade: D-)

Run All Night – Same, same. Liam Neeson in an action movie with a special set of skills. His 300th take on Taken. (Grade: C+)

 

Flights: MNL-ICN-IAD

A Most Violent Year – Snooze. A most boring movie. Was Oscar Isaac trying to channel Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone or some such? Not really his moment, this. (Grade: C)

Casablanca – Usual suspects. No need to review this, kid. (Grade: A)

While We’re Young – Limp. There are good Ben Stiller movies and there are very bad ones. This fits firmly in the latter category. Not funny, if that was at all any part of the point. And not dramatic, if there was even a point. (Grade: C)

The Avengers: Age of Ultron – Hulky. The second time I’ve seen this. I just needed to round out that last few hours of my trip. Serviceable superhero stuff. (Grade: B-)

Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac

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I have a bit of travel coming up in July and August (some of it will be vacation!) and will need to eat. In theory. There are also a fair number of restaurants I want to check out in Washington, D.C.

Since I’m short on new goal ideas, why not recycle another one I did last year? Why indeed.

 

July/August Goal: Eat at 22 new (to me) restaurants (at least half should be in D.C.)

 

It would be fairly easy to go to new restaurants while traveling, so I added the twist at the end.

Good eating to all!

Refresh your memory on last year’s (same, same) goal: 10 for November/December: New Restaurants in D.C.

Maybe the food will look like this?

Maketto

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