may we live every day of our lives

A Bitter Taste of Macau

December 13, 2017 0

There is always something.

Whenever I’m caught in the middle of dead-end circumstances, my crunch-time-self believes that a remedy is always out there for the taking. But for some occasions, things really get out of hand and the situation’s blown out of proportion. That includes that piece of misadventure towards that end of our Macau day tour.

It was slowly getting dark when we arrived at that point in Macau where we were instructed to ride the shuttle bus going back to the ferry terminal. But free-shuttle gods be damned, we were not allowed to ride one. For some reason, that same shuttle bus that we earlier rode wouldn’t accommodate us anymore for a return trip to the terminal, which spelled a especially huge disaster on our part since we were already running out of time.

As a normal counter-action, we did try to politely ask to accommodate us multiple times, but to no avail. So we had to explore for other options, which by the way afforded us the same negative result. We were plainly helpless and hopeless in the moment, and the possibility of missing our shot at our pre-paid ferry ride was at all time high. But we can’t lose that ongoing physical, emotional and mental battle altogether, either.

Goodness gracious, Filipinos are everywhere in the world. We came across a group of our kind who eventually helped us figure things out. We truly will be forever indebted to them.

We may not understand why such things happened, “but like so many unfortunate events in life, just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it isn’t so”.

Macau Feels

December 12, 2017 0

Senado Square, Macau – And then I found myself in the midst of a huge crowd in that festive ground, walking around, when I had a short accidental eavesdropping instant over a nearby bunch of fellow kababayans

“Paano ba ito?”

“Kaya mo yan. Dapat lagi lang tayong laban”

“Ano pa nga ba, kailangan na naman magpadala bago mag-katapusan”

As I sensed a small drama about to unfold right before my eyes, I did leave at once to save myself from a threatening emotional imbalance.

That day, I can’t help myself but think about my mum, who is very much like them on the very same foreign land. It kept me wondering if she have ever been to such a situation on some occasions, some time.

That thought and feeling right then, isn’t something I really like.

Getting Around HK Disneyland

December 02, 2017 0

I guess a getaway at the futuristic city of tomorrow would never be the same without paying a visit to one of the deemed happiest places on earth, situated at the heart of Lantau Island. We did go to Disneyland that one fateful day in February, and it honestly felt like it was a good twenty years too late to do so. I am not a Disney fan to begin with since my childhood didn’t allow me to, as I've never seen a single Disney film until I go to college. I initially thought it would be a forgettable trip for an adult who’s so over childhood Disneyland whims (or the lack thereof), but things turned out otherwise.

The Disney vibe officially starts as soon as Sunny Bay happened – the proverbial rabbit hole and gateway to the dreamland. Right there, Mickey’s divine presence could already be felt all over – talk about Mickey-shaped MTR windows and handholds, and the very disney nature outside the windows. We might be running late for our planned day tour but happiness is all over. Eventually, we made it and arrived safe to the famed land, bought our tickets, then good we go. The entire day was full of energy, that there’s no room to feel bad at any moment in any way. And I have here some of my personal favorite Disneyland moments.

Dashing in and out of caverns and rumbling through Grizzly Gulch, an Old American Wild West Town packed with a jail, nuggets, chuckwagons, and geysers. Aside from A Feudin Deluge in which I killed a good 30 minute time watching kids battling and pumping water out, exploring the Big Grizzly Mountain aboard a speeding mine train/roller-coaster was the wildest west ride. Due to the fact that it probably was the most challenging ride in the park, grown-ups would probably like it a lot. And it has fuzzy bears.

It’s a Small World. The entire prod is a joy to behold. The idea of easy watching various cultures from around the world cascadingly unfolds while literally going with the flow, sheen off my enthusiasm to be child again. I never expected such a song would hit me huge, especially because it never occurred to me before that I actually like it. Like, sincerely like it. And what could be more endearing than hearing “O kay Liit ng Mundo..” towards the end of that festive water ride.

Then there’s Mickey and the Wondrous Book starring Olaf. While I was slowly developing a certain connection between me and Mickey for the first time in forever, comes our dear Frozen friend, adorably entering the big picture. It turned out that my love for Mickey was not as huge as my love for Olaf right then. 

Finally, the parade that lead to the firework display along Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. And it was nothing less than a perfect way to end the day. The happiness from everyone freely radiates that day, a happiness damn contagious.

Grand Descent from Lantau Peak down to Big Buddha

November 29, 2017 0

The path towards west side of the mountain was shorter by the numbers, but even steeper than the eastern trail, and harder switchbacks moreso. The trails were mostly made up of stone ladders and unfortunately, these are not the exact things I wanted for my knees, thus, a bit of a challenge for me right there. At that point in time, I already ran out of water, which was not a good thing either. The intensely steep stair-trail down continued and the Big Buddha (Ngong Ping; 昂平) seemed to be within reach.

Not long after, the Wisdom Path (心經簡林) known to be the largest outdoor wood carving in the world, an installation of 38 steles which forms a lemniscate (the infinity sign) that represents verses from the Heart Sutra which is a Confucianism thing I believe, finally presented itself from afar.

There is actually an interesting tale about the Wisdom Path imposing a 2D calligraphy in a 3D architecture. The columns were apparently arranged in such a manner that corresponds to the topography of the landscape, that when you extend the line segments across these timbers, these actually points to specific points with significance to the mountain. The column at the highest part of the hill is also left blank to signify Sunyata or the concept of emptiness which is a key theme in Heart Sutra (心經). Surely, high respects to those people who did such work to put Geometry, Art, and Faith into a perfect combo.

A little over an hour more and we reached the level ground which marked the end of the Lantau Trail Section 3, based on the signages I took photos of. We then had to walk a rough 30 minutes more to get to the Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery. Climbing a little less than 270 steps from where we were, then the Big Bronze Buddha, the 2nd largest of its kind in the world, was closer to me more than ever before. 

Valentine’s Day Climb in Lantau

November 28, 2017 0

Wrapping up our 2017 Hong Kong-Macau Trip (more details later) was this test-of-friendship traverse of the Lantau Peak (鳳凰山) on a February 14. “Lantau” literally means rottenhead, characteristic of the mountain’s double hump. In Chinese, these two peaks are separately named Fung Shan and Wong Shan, collectively called Fung Wong Shan (Phoenix Mountain). But somehow, the English name is the more popular one, so they better yet stick to it, I guess.This, so far, is the only climb I did for this year (aside from that huge mountain I climbed towards being a chemist). For a first hike in a foreign land, this one was very liberating and empowering at the same time as it reminds me of how much I love the outdoors. Needless to say, our climb was under-planned but ended well, to the very least.

I am not entirely familiar with the details regarding the itinerary prior to the climb: I miserably failed to read and take down notes thus I’m a little too clueless of the specifics making me an apathetic freeloader for this particular trip. I remember that we rode the MTR from the nearby station which is a few blocks from where we were staying, then eventually dropped off at Tung Chung Station, rode a 3M bus, took off somewhere down the middle of the road at Tung Chung Au (東涌坳), the end of  Lantau Trail Stage 2 which was apparently a few steps near the jump-off point at Pak Kung Au (伯公坳)Our hike commenced from the east side following the Lantau Section 3 Trail. The initial sign at the jump-off which clearly read 4 ½ km and 2 ½ hr hike, was a clear understatement. Better yet prepare for the worse. 

End of the trail where there are trees.

The start of the ascent was a pretty good one. We were at a good pace, the trail’s comprised of gradual stone-stairs, the atmosphere was a good mix of warm and cold, an apparent abundance of trees all around, and a sylvan terrain.

Start of the trek for the rolling hills.

But not until 20 minutes later when the vastness of the open trail presented itself . I was all pumped up since the hike was my piece of cake, but the same is not the case for the rest of us. We took a substantial amount of rest midway at a view point overlooking Mui Wo town, Silvermine Bay, and the nearby Sunset Peak on the adjacent side.

Sunset Peak on the background.

From there, our pace has suffered a downward spiral although it was a joy to behold. The scenic views up the trails offer a multitude of themes, including the sea backdrop of what I believe to be the Cheung Sha beach (and the rest of the South China Sea), Hong Kong cityscape and skyscrapers, and the grassy and bouncy slopes of the Sunset Peak (大東山) and the trails of Lantau itself. Along the left side of the trail  also was the gully Nam Tim Mun with short upward protrudes like that of a teapot drainage outlet.

Hong Kong cityscape view from one part of the trail.

Overall, it took us longer than the average time to climb the peak but it’s nothing less of a great climb nonetheless. While I’m used to hiking tropical rainforests locally, this one is uniquely homely, surprisingly. I felt that certain connection and belongingness I always feel when I’m in the wild, or in mountains for that matter. Like the usual drill, we dedicated an appreciative amount of time up top to rest and catch more glimpse of the wondrous view up there: Tung Chung and airport facing north, Shek Pik (石壁水塘) reservoir and Keung Shang in the south, and the Ngong Ping and that familiar bridge to Macau and Zhuhai heading west.

At the Lantau Peak (934 MASL) overlooking Ngong Ping in the nearby west. Plus the bridge to Macau from afar.

RCh, finally

November 23, 2017
This card is a partial result of my 5 grueling years fighting in the university; well 10 years if I go strictly by the numbers. I know it’s too long of a time and effort for a card and it’s just relieving that this chapter’s already just a part of my history as a student now.

A huge part of all this is my Alma Mater.

UP dream hasn’t been mine to work-on and fulfill, initially to say the least. From what I remember 10 years ago, UP was never an option for a college education – one, we simply can’t afford it, and two, I thought UP is too much for me to handle. But then universe had other plans – UPCAT and DOST results favored my side – opportunity knocked, I had nothing to lose but everything to gain, so who was I to not give the nod? But the UP ride was not entirely what I expected (or the lack of it) it to be; hard, to describe the entire process, is an understatement. Though somehow I was able to get by, get bruised and jaded from falling and failing for a couple of times, eventually I was able to regain my balance, then bounce back, a cycle and a series of that. The whole course was worth it, and it’s nothing like anything else out there.

So thanks, UP, for the love, kindness, and the privilege to grow well and strong – with your hard hitting fist and around your caring, nurturing arms. This new achievement, no matter how long this has been an overdue already, just means so much to people I love.