Archive for the ‘Traveling’
Our friend at Tigerair says they will operate additional flights tomorrow, Sunday, August 18 and Monday, August 19 from Manila to Cebu and back. Their flights depart Manila 1815, arrive in Cebu 1930. Flights from Cebu to Manila depart at 2045 and arrive at 2200. Get tickets at www.tigerair.com or at their ticketing offices at NAIA Terminal 4 and Mactan Cebu International Airport.
Somewhere, someone is already writing a pitch for an indie movie.
The Strange Sexual Quirk of Filipino Seafarers
by Ryan Jacobs
When Norwegian anthropologist Gunnar Lamvik first began living in Iloilo city, a seafaring haven in the southern Philippines, he sensed he wasn’t getting the richest and most detailed information about the shipping experience from interviews with his neighbors, who were home on two-month vacations from 10 months at sea. To crack the cultural mystery of any total institution, you have to go inside, he reasoned. “If you [want] a feeling of a seafarer’s life, you have to be at sea with them when they are open,” said Lamvik, who now studies how cultural differences affect occupational safety at a Norway-based think-tank called SINTEF. “It’s important to be on board for some time, and build trust. That’s the crucial thing to do.”
For the next three years, he was on and off ships, floating with his subjects from port to port and trying to make that connection.
At a raucous karaoke crew member party somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, it began to happen. He belted out the lyrics to “House of the Rising Sun.” Then, he insisted on singing it again. “That was a real ice breaker,” he said.
It was in this type of loose, booze-flowing setting that he learned the most about the lives of his shipmates. And soon, conversations turned to perhaps the most fascinating part of the Filipino seafaring identity, the little-known and barely studied sexual practice of “bolitas,” or little balls.
Many Filipino sailors make small incisions in their penises and slide tiny plastic or stone balls — the size of M&M’s — underneath the skin in order to enhance sexual pleasure for prostitutes and other women they encounter in port cities, especially in Rio de Janeiro. “This ‘secret weapon of the Filipinos,’ as a second mate phrased it, has therefore obviously something to do,” Lamvik wrote in his thesis, “‘with the fact that ‘the Filipinos are so small, and the Brazilian women are so big’ as another second mate put it.”
Thanks to Chus for the link.
Our friend Juan was on vacation in Milan the other week, to our everlasting envy, and he took these fabulous photos. Above: The rooftops of Milan, seen from the top of its most famous architectural site, the Duomo.
At the Milan Cathedral and other famous churches in Italy, visitors are enjoined to wear “proper” attire. The guards turn away visitors who are wearing tank tops, short shorts, and other outfits they deem disrespectful to the sacred place.
Outside the Milan Cathedral—on the very walls—anything goes, apparently.
Milan is one of the world’s fashion capitals, home to Prada and other famous couture houses. Not surprisingly, the natives are well-dressed. It’s a good policy when traveling to try and do as the natives do, so dress up.
The Castello Sforzesco was the residence of the Sforza family, rulers of the Duchy of Milan. The Sforzas followed the previous rulers, the House of Visconti (as in the filmmaker Luchino’s ancestors). One famous Sforza was Caterina, who ruled Milan, defended her castle against the army of Cesare Borgia, and was also painted by Leonardo and Botticelli (in Primavera she is one of the Three Graces, the one on the right).
As with many great fortresses, the Castello now belongs to the cats.
On a side street Juan wandered into a church which, unlike most Milanese churches, did not have a long queue of tourists out front. It was the Church of San Bernardino Alle Ossa, which was built in the medieval period over an ancient cemetery. It contains the Ossuario, “whose every architectural detail is clad in human bones.”
Juan reports that he was the only visitor in the chapel, and it was quite dusty. Then it occurred to him that he may have been inhaling the bones of dead people.
Juan wanted to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper at the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie, but tickets are limited and have to be booked online weeks in advance.
According to the excellent BBC series The Private Life of A Masterpiece, The Last Supper began to deteriorate a few years after Leonardo completed it. Apparently our genius used the wrong materials, plus behind that wall was the convent kitchen so the painting was constantly exposed to heat and moisture. The Last Supper is vanishing right before our eyes. Over the centuries, attempts to restore the work have not succeeded, and some were botched horribly.
Of course, replicas of The Last Supper—in a wide assortment of materials—may be viewed in the dining rooms of many Filipino homes.
Juan did get to visit the Leonardo Da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology, where you can see machines built from the sketches in Leonardo’s notebooks.
Travel advisory: When taking a train in Europe, be paranoid about your belongings. Even—or especially—when you’re in first class. Our friend put his bags on the overhead rack and went to the washroom for a few minutes. One bag contained an envelope with his hotel reservation forms and an envelope of cash. When he returned to his seat his bags were still there. He didn’t notice anything missing until he got to Venice. The police called his hotel and said an envelope containing his hotel forms had been found in the train station.
In the three minutes that he was in the train washroom, another passenger had taken his bag down from the rack and stolen the two envelopes, including the one that held cash. Fortunately his passport and credit cards were not taken.
We’ve heard that this also happens on airplanes.
So lock your bags, especially the outer pockets, and take your valuables with you when you go to the washroom. Yes it’s inconvenient, but times are hard. Butt-bags exist for a reason. Okay, that’s too extreme, yiiiii. Bring a bag/man-purse. It’s Italy, they’ll understand.
In Auvers-sur-Oise in France, an old train car has been turned into a bookshop.
Bad Wolf, via Boing Boing.
Otsu was catching a flight to Zamboanga. At the baggage X-ray machine she was approached by two airport security personnel.
“Ma’am, could you please open this suitcase?” said the female security officer, briskly but politely.
“Is something wrong with it?” Otsu asked as she mentally went through its contents.
“Ma’am, you have ammunition in this suitcase.”
“What!” said Otsu, who opened the suitcase to prove that there was no ammo inside.
“There,” the security officer pointed to a small black bag tucked among her clothes.
That’s when Otsu realized that she did have ammunition in her luggage. The last time she had used that black bag, she had gone to a talk by the Karmapa Lama. She had a souvenir from that talk: a blue Buddha keychain. Afterwards her boyfriend had taken her to a gun show and presented her with a second souvenir: a bullet casing that had been turned into a keychain. The keychain had turned up on the X-ray, hence the search for ammo.
Our friend is really not the type who gets mistaken for a gunrunner. She was impressed that the security check managed to detect a small, ordinary .22 caliber bullet. The security officers examined the evidence: a bullet keychain next to the Buddha keychain.
“Sorry, Ma’am, but you cannot take this bullet onto the plane,” the security officer declared. “We have to confiscate it.” Under different circumstances Otsu might’ve been hustled off to a holding cell and interrogated about the one bullet, but the officers decided that she did not represent a threat to national security.
“Take it,” Otsu said, “As a reminder of how I didn’t shoot my boyfriend when I had the chance.”
The security officers stared at her for three seconds, then burst out laughing. “Si Ma’am naman.” They were still chuckling and repeating the story as she proceeded to the gate.