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Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

If you find yourself in Manila, rather than hit up all the shopping malls (it’s pretty much the thing to do for locals) visit Corregidor Island instead.

It’s a day-long journey (but you can stay the night too) taking a ferry across Manila Bay and back.

Corregidor Island (also called Fort Mills) was General MacArthur’s headquarters during World War II and the place he snuck out of the Philippines in 1942. It was the last bastion of defense of the Philippines and the US forces before Japan conquered the islands. But the defense lasted for over 5 months, severely altering Japan’s plans for conquering the rest of the Pacific.

The island (about 2 miles long and shaped like a tadpole) is covered in crumbling military barracks and installations (and a movie theater!). It also has hundreds of tunnels and fortifications, one of which – the Malinta Tunnel – housed all the people living on the island during the Japanese invasion. There are 24 branching tunnels (called laterals) off the main tunnel and additionally a major barracks and a military hospital (see the map below).

Here are a few photos…

Gun

Japanese Memorial

Mile long barracks! (Because it’s 1/3 of a mile long and three stories high)
Mile Long Barracks

Mile Long Barracks

An old movie theater!
Movie Theater

Movie Theater

Movie Theater

An old battery.

Battery

Battery

Gun

Mortar

Super selfie situation.

Mortar

Battery

Battery

Malinta Tunnel Entrance

Malinta Tunnel Map

Malinta Tunnel

Malinta Tunnel

Gun

Japanese Memorial

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Victory!

My goal in October and November was to visit a ton of new places. And I did it! So I say. Chalk one up to persistence.

I went to a fair number of new places in DC, mostly restaurants, and I discovered many more new places in Chennai (India), Manila (Philippines), New Orleans (LA), Montauk (NY) and Frederick (MD). I traveled a lot…I explored a lot. So now I’m resting a lot while I write.

October/November Goal: Visit 32 new places (70% have to be in DC)

Result: 32 reached and plenty more!

  • 23+ in DC
  • 9+ elsewhere

New places in DC:

  1. Fathom – A nice space for a wedding.
  2. Radiator – A nice bar for an after wedding party.
  3. The Haymaker Bar – Updated space (formerly The Atlas Room) on H St NE. Not a huge fan.
  4. Seoul Spice – Korean tacos, if you like.
  5. BKK Cookshop – Decent Thai food.
  6. REI – The new flagship store! Your outdoor gear fix is here!
  7. La Colombe (at REI) – Coffee with your outdoor gear!
  8. Walmart (on H Street) – I finally went inside. And now life continues.
  9. HalfSmoke – If you want a half smoke, hit Ben’s or Meats & Foods.
  10. Library of Congress Tunnel – Went on a private tour…secret things happen down there. Very bookish secret things.
  11. Sonoma – UW reception with wine and sliders.
  12. Smoked and Stacked – Good sandwich with DC prices!
  13. Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden – A poet, and you didn’t even know it.
  14. Spanish Steps – Supposed to look like the famous steps in Rome. Okay.
  15. Soho Tea & Coffee – Coffee they have, did not confirm the tea.
  16. Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop – The Bobbie because it was close to Thanksgiving!
  17. Zero Milestone – Just a thing to commemorate the center of the city.
  18. Renwich Gallery – Very cool art museum brought to you by the letter ‘S’ (for Smithsonian). Surprised it took me this long.
  19. Thip Khao – Laotian food. I avoided the ‘Jungle Menu’ but could be convinced next time.
  20. All Purpose Pizzeria – Oh yeah, they do pizza here. Try it.
  21. Peirce Mill fireplace – For starting fires in Rock Creek Park post-hike.
  22. Donburi – Curry katsudon. Katsudon with curry.
  23. On Rye – Reubens with a some sort of bread!
Just a sampling of the new places I visited while traveling. I whittled it down…
  1. People’s Palace – (Manila, Philippines) A cool Thai restaurant in the heart of the trendy Greenbelt Park (in Makati).
  2. SM Mall of Asia – (Manila, Philippines) The second largest shopping mall in the world! And by mall standards (which I try to avoid if possible), it was a good one. Manila loves malls. Loves them!
  3. Ente Keralam – (Chennai, India) Serving food from Kerala, they love coconuts. It seemed like everything was peppered with coconuts. Most of it was good, all of it was interesting.
  4. Cane & Table – (New Orleans, LA) A boozy brunch to start the day before the real weekend drinking starts.
  5. Mercedes-Benz Superdome – (New Orleans, LA) Seattle Seahawks lost to the New Orleans Saints, but it was still fun.
  6. Courtyard Brewery – (New Orleans, LA) Post-game beer sipping.
  7. Montauk Brewery – (Montauk, Long Island, NY) A brewery at the end of the Earth.
  8. Goldberg’s Bagels – (Montauk, Long Island, NY) Needed bagel sammies at the end of the Earth.
  9. Sabor De Cuba – (Frederick, MD) Tasty cuban food right in the middle of Frederick’s downtown.

Peace out!

Kerala foodKerala food in India

 

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I haven’t been writing much here on A Random Journey in 2016. Feel free to slap me around a little.

Yet, I have been writing, don’t worry, just more on the blog Parklife DC, about happenings in Washington, D.C. Go have a look see, I’ll be here when you get back. For example, things about beer and breweries or concert reviews.

Maybe I’ve forgotten what it means to write/post here. What does Random represent now? The future is still new and bold, we’ll find out.

Since I’ve failed to post my monthly Five Random Photos all year, let’s get frisky. How many photos from 2016 so far should I post? 1000? 50? 10? Yes, zero is an acceptable answer, but too late, I already did not go with that number.

Let’s say…20.

Skiing!

Right Proper Brewing

Hot Chocolate

Halo-Halo>

The Capitol Stone Yard
Kirin and Blossoms

(more…)

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I’ve missed the boat and failed to share five extremely useless photos. Are you sad?

No? That’s what I thought. Oh well, no time like the present to correct such an egregious error.

P.S. No 4th of July photos, because that’s been done.

P.S.S. No good photos, because I don’t do those.

 

Some beer I needed to drink.
Beer

 

Mudhoney screaming at me. Read about their show if you dare. Mudhoney

 

Use the ‘trike’ and you know you’ll be safe!
Trike in Boracay

 

This existed for a brief time in the Seoul Airport, but unfortunately went in my belly. I still don’t know why.
Tasty?

 

This exists. Humanity has won. Their contribution to this planet has reached the pinnacle.
Philippines Toilet

 

Bonus? Bonus.

 

Witnessing the Presidents race on the 4th of July.
President's Race

 

Good tip.
Atlas Brew Works cans

 

 

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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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(Originally sent via email on December 24, 2006)

Merry Christmas! I trust you had a good year.

Some of you may have fallen off my keen radar, as I’ve often been remiss in keeping up with email. Some of you may be new to this venerated list of annual happenings. Either way, fret not my friends! I wish to give your mind a spellbinding journey into the sublime world that I have been traveling this past year (yeah right). Sit back, strap in, secure your valuables, position the barf bag and get ready for the ride.

What have I been doing, eating, smoking in 2006? Read on for the highlights:

Sabang Beach, Philippines
A boat is the only way to get there. The only way to get off the boat is to get wet. The only way to get to the nearby village is to stroll along the beach, avoiding the surf. The only reason to go is to scuba dive, laze about the beach and eat mangos.

Mamma Mia! (Musical in Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
This is an example of how the entire musical oeuvre of ABBA can be transformed into a singing, dancing musical about the Greek Islands, long-lost love, and getting married simply as an excuse to sing ABBA songs. They pulled it off like dancing queens.

Jimmy Buffett (Concert in Virginia, USA)
Parrotheads rejoice! Jimmy’s fans are as crazy and strange as ever. Cars transformed into volcanoes, sandboxes and gigantic umbrellas washed up on the parking lot, shark hats, shark cars, shark stickers, surf boards, tropical shirts, sandals, parrots and pot. Lots and lots of pot (I merely assume – how else can you explain the rest?). And then Jimmy did oblige us a bit of music to sing along to.

Scuba Diving
I took a class, spent money, read the manual, spent money, got some basic gear (fins, mask, snorkel), got in a public pool (after hateful kids made toilet), spent money, passed a written exam and a pool skills test, went to the Cayman Islands, spent money, did nine dives from a boat, completed the skills test, saw an octopus and a dead shark, watched in disbelief as our boat almost got swamped and other people’s expensive stuff vanished into the sea and then got certified as an Advanced Scuba Diver! It only ends because I ran out of money.

Great Ocean Road (Victoria, Australia)
Scenic. Vast. Impressive. Windy. Twelve Apostles. Koalas. Surfboarders. (Actually, do you really need me to continue? The name says everything you need to know.)

Battlestar Galactica (TV show on DVD)
If you’ve never watched this show, you need to take a long hard look at yourself. You may have your reasons not to. Yet your reasons are lame. Trust me. The show is timely and engaging and so much more than the original TV series or anything before it. Stop being lame.

Wine Tour (Virginia, USA)
A group of us did a little jaunt around scenic Virginia to sample vintages from the local wineries. We managed to have tastings at three: Three Foxes Vineyard, Rappahannock Cellars and Oasis Vineyard. The first priority was to drink (in quick, non-stop sips), yet surprisingly you gain a bit of wisdom about wine along the way. Alas, the wine ensures no wisdom is retained. Burp.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
You already know the city slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, so don’t ask questions.

Bill Bryson (Author)
Simply for the book “A Short History of Nearly Everything” is sufficient reason to list him, but I also had the pleasure to read “In a Sunburned Country” and “I’m a Stranger Here Myself”. He’s a travel writer mostly, but “A short history” makes learning seem fun! He also can make you laugh out loud.

Kangaroos (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
These guys look ready to fight! However, I won them over with my charming wit (or because I was their source of some nasty food pellet thingies that they seemed to love. Actually, one wasn’t too impressed so I put some on his belly to which he defiantly fell asleep to.). Also, emus are mean and ugly!

No More Car
Got rid of my car (was crumpled like a used pop can). Now walk and skip and whistle to work.

Sting Ray City (Grand Cayman Island, Cayman Islands)
Stingrays suck! No I mean literally, they suck. They don’t have teeth so they catch their prey with a powerful suction mouth. My arm discovered the joys and wonders of this process. They also like to swim all over you (well, if you tease them with squid chunks, what do you expect?).

Shakira (Concert in Washington, D.C., USA)
I think simply to ogle all the Latin girls in attendance is sufficient reason to list this. Plus she’s hot and her hips don’t lie. And did I mention the Latin girls?

World Cup Fever (Washington, D.C., USA)
Yes, soccer (err…football) is not America’s sport (not even in the top 6 or 7), but it was still fun to go to various bars around DC and catch the action. Some fans are fanatics (that means you Brazil) and some are just plain exuberant (viva Italia). Got myself on a TV newscast by waving tiny Italian and US flags during the USA vs. Ghana game. It sucks that the US did nothing, but the ride was worth it.

Danube River Cruise (Budapest, Hungary)
Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, separated only by the Danube River. Taking a wine and buffet cruise at night is one great way to experience both halves of Budapest. The other ways involve exploring during the day (riding the Funicular!) and cavorting at local clubs until all your compatriots have exhausted themselves drinking and dancing. Hypothetically
speaking.

MySpace.com (website)
I was pressured to get onto MySpace so I did it kicking and screaming. Check out my space and then sign up so you can be my friend. Or not.

Charles Bridge (Prague, Czech Republic)
Prague in general was a fantastic place to walk around, but the Charles Bridge (or ‘Karlùv most’ if you’re Czech) gets a special mention for the view of the Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) (one of the world’s biggest) as it crosses the Vltava River. If that means nothing to you then book a ticket and get off the computer!

Harper’s Ferry (West Virginia, USA)
Located at the convergence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers where the US states of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia are poking each other like siblings is Harper’s Ferry, a historical town of some significance way back in the day when history actually mattered and people cared to know about it. Whew, whatever, I hiked around the town and the surrounding ridges and tried to avoid the idiotic and vocal KKK rally, the police perimeter and equally vocal protesters. Hatred is not pretty. Harper’s Ferry is.

DC Movie Club
A group of us see a movie each month. We take turns choosing which one. Then we pontificate about the movie afterwards in ways that would make most film critics blush. The best selections this year: Thank You For Smoking, Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed.

Guinness Storehouse (Dublin, Ireland)
Aaah, to see how the fine brew of Guinness is made and then wind your way to the top of the storehouse with a 360 view of Dublin while enjoying a complimentary pint. Yes, you should do that.

Television
For the naysayers, television is great. If you fail to watch some of the shows currently on (or on DVD), you have only yourself to blame. Frankly most are better than any movies you care to name. Great right now: The Office (US version), Lost, The Shield, Arrested Development (alas, gone!), 24, Veronica Mars, Entourage, plus I already mentioned Battlestar Galactica. It’s so easy to catch up on DVD, it’s almost a crime to deny yourself.

Beer
Since I did a bit of globetrotting this year (13 countries by my count), why not spend most of that time imbibing beer in all its majestic forms? From the ever tasty Guinness in Dublin to the refreshing Pilser Urquell in Prague to unpronounceable Zywiec in Warsaw to the meatless Wieselburger in Vienna to Carlsberg and Tuborg in Copenhagen to San Miguel in the Philippines to Foster’s in Melbourne to Dreher in Budapest to everything in Berlin to Super  Bock in Lisbon to Singha in Bangkok and finally Stella Artois, Sierra Nevada and Dogfish 90 Minute IPA at Brickskellers right in my own backyard of DC (which has the largest selection of beer in the US), I managed to have it all. Well maybe not all, but there’s always next year.

Ice Bar (Warsaw, Poland)
Everything is made of ice! The tables, the bar, the shot glasses, the chairs, the sculptures. The bartenders are on the warm side though. They keep the temperature at a brisk -8 Celsius and give everyone a stylish Eskimo parka. Complete body shut down happens after 30 minutes of exposure or two strawberry vodka shots.

Chicago, Illinois, USA
In trying to think what specifically I should tell about Chicago, nothing really came to mind. Then I realized it was the whole thing combined, the L train, the neighborhoods, the bars, the deep-dish pizza, the restaurants, the view from the John Hancock Building and Wrigley Field (from the outside). Next time I’ll get on the inside.

Good Books
“Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell” by Susanna Clarke and “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire.

iPod (Music)
I got myself a 60GB, video iPod then uploaded all my 350 + CDs to it. Then I scoured iTunes for even more music! Then I listened to it all until my ears bled. I spent more time doing this then almost any other single activity (except maybe one, which shall remain nameless). The five songs I listened to most: “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson, “Everything I’m Not” by the Veronicas, “Cessie La Pluie” by Anggun, “Caraluna” by Bacilos and “Old Town” by the Corrs. Also download: “Over My Head (Cable Car) by The Fray.

Pena Palace (Sintra, Portugal)
After spending the morning in Cascais, a coastal town, I took a last-minute bus to Sintra. Upon arrival, the tourist info lady warned me not to walk up the hill to the castles (too far), a few cars stopped to see if I needed a ride (or to see if I was crazy), the bus to the top whisked by every 20 minutes yet had I done any of those things this would just end up as another one of countless sightseeing trips. How fantastic to be walking along a winding, uphill country road for 30 minutes with the palaces and mansions of Sintra visible distantly through every gap in the trees, only to come around the corner and have an imposing 9th century Moorish castle looming overhead. All the better for not even knowing it was there until that very moment! Then I hiked the rest of the way up to the strangely yellow, red and blue Pena Palace, the workings of severe human eccentricity. Once it started to rain, I took a different path down to the Old Towne. With a few large trees and eventually a doorway of a church I managed to be only mildly damp and not disappointed.

Alas, the list has come to an end. Maybe you can hold out until next year, but in case you can’t or you don’t have anything better to do, have a peek at some photos.

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