Archive for the ‘Traveling’
Saffy: That’s what happens when you’re away on my birthday. Saffy turned 16 last June 15.
The day after ASEAN foreign ministers took a swipe at Beijing and then took it back because the Malaysians didn’t want to offend Beijing, I found myself in a taxi in Beijing, in the middle of a quarrel that started over nothing. The quarrel was instigated by the taxi driver, compounded by our inability to understand each other’s language, and aggravated by everyone’s tendency to start yelling as if turning up the volume would bring clarity to the issue.
In short, I had landed in a metaphor.
My two colleagues and I had gone to the Circle Market to buy souvenirs and Mao kitsch. The doorman at our hotel had called a taxi for us. It was past 6pm, rush hour, and the doorman said it might be difficult for us to get a taxi back to the hotel. The fare to Circle Market was 13 Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY, the exchange rate today being PHP7.07 to CNY1).
Circle Market looks like Virra Mall in the 90s. I was kicking myself for overpaying for a Vladimir Putin T-shirt for my sister that I could probably get cheaper in Greenhills, but I was in a hurry. Also, I just wanted the seller to get out of my face. We got our shopping done in an hour. There was a taxi on the curb, so we piled in and showed him the hotel card. So far, everything was fine.
A few blocks from the hotel, our companion, who was the designated wallet, noted that the fare on the meter was already CNY28, more than twice what we’d paid earlier. The route had not seemed longer this time around. “Maybe there’s a rush hour surcharge?” I said, not wanting to assume that we were being cheated, though the evidence was right there. Also I did not feel like having an argument in sign language.
A block from the hotel, the taxi driver stopped, pointed to the meter, and said, “Give me 100.”
From the BBC: South China Sea: The mystery of missing books and maritime claims
Random snapshots while I recover from a week of trudging from one site to another.
Fried scorpions! Not.
Fat cat in a houtong.
The Condom People. L-R: Edna Abong and Lucien Dy Tioco of the Philippine Star, our director Pepe Diokno.
Ooh la la.
The antique market. Where being duped is part of the experience. I found a Victorian brass mariner’s telescope that may be overpriced and fake but I like it.
Sleeping cat at a gallery at 789.
And of course we looked at maps. Ancient maps. Lots of ancient maps.
It’s been 14 years since we went to Prague with our sister. We’re old. We saw a hotel called Metamorphosis. Cracked us up. Check in as a person, check out as a cockroach. It was snowing in late March. A man on the street sold us cheap tickets to the opera. Our seats were just below the ceiling and we froze our butts off. People were eating ice cream in the snow. It was supposed to make you feel warmer. Not true. We had an attic room in a pension—Airbnb had not yet been invented, so we found it on a site called Eurocheapo. Our first choice was a converted mental hospital turned Soviet torture chamber but someone had already booked it. Our landlord wore a different costume every day. It made him happy. A typical meal consisted of a slab of meat, breaded and fried with cheese, with an egg on top. That made us happy.
From 2013: Turkey Travel Diary, featuring some of the handsomest cats we’ve ever seen
From 2008: Sad, Sadder, Saddest, in which we wound up at a “Lost 80s” concert.
Either all the ticket-holders had already gone inside, or they were all late, because there were no queues of any sort. Ernie went up to some people standing by the flower beds and asked them if they needed tickets.
Sad: They all said, “Hindi kami manonood niyan (We’re not watching that),” with matching expressions of loathing.
Sadder: A woman glared at Ernie and said, “I already have tickets.” What she meant was, “Extra tickets to an 80s concert is a problem I don’t need.”
Saddest: Later, Grungella realized that they probably mistook Ernie for a scalper.
Positively funereal: Being mistaken for a scalper to A Flock Of Seagulls show.
Lugubrious: They literally could not give the tickets away!
From 2012: Let’s Buy Spain. We can afford it, it would be our revenge for three centuries of colonial oppression, and we can call them our muchachos and muchachas.