Categories
South-East Asia (2019) Thailand

A bash in Bangkok

A capital over-flooding with traffic that peak hours cause overwhelming traffic jams bringing the whole city to a hold with taxi rates inflating. Smog is now the air you breathe. Popular streets are crawling with people. Stands and stalls and drivers and vendors everywhere, actively selling you stuff that you most likely do not need. Food at the ready wherever you go. With the slightest downfall, streets are filled with a lingering river of rainwater. Music bounces through the thick, humid air amassing the tourists as a single dancing crowd. Bangkok, A city where sex sells and alcohol flows.

Whether this sounds like your worst nightmare or a paradise of debauchery, if you have been to Bangkok and thought it to be dull, you haven’t truly experienced it. Often, I am the advocate of quiet towns, breaking free of the crowd and being away from the noise. But these nights, we jumped right into it. We found ourselves wandering around in the AM with a glass too tall and too many munching away on what seemed to be a fried cricket and maggot before hopping onto separate reckless Grab motorbikes. We flew over the near empty roads as our chauffeurs did all but obey the laws, flying over bumps and shooting through the lights illuminating the road in red. We cackled in the wind and blessed the drivers for their speedy drop-off before ambling back to our hidden hostel. The day before, we danced in the rain, flopping our slippers through the stream of rainwater and shuffled with the crowd. Laughed at the wristbands and shirts with lewd words on them and sipped the cheap cocktails – seemingly more sweet than alcoholic. These streets were filled with smiles and joy and it was a blessing to for a day be part of it.

On days of sobriety, we scuttled to the many temples and did all the tourists are meant to do in Thailand (apart from anything elephant related). We even got a Thai massage from a parlor hidden away, thus we knew, with the lacking of an active salesperson, to be getting the real deal – no surprises. We cruised wet markets and food markets and the exclaimed largest market there was. Admittedly and without loss of face the Baht flew as fast out of our wallets as it came sliding from the ATM. A cutesie souvenir here, a new accessory there and double the lunches.

Then we changed residency and moved to a cosier accommodation shockingly bargained. Heck, our surroundings were of fancy restaurants and apartments with hefty price tags filled with businessmen. And in between we sat, at an incredibly comfortable room bearing a price budget-traveller-friendly. We loved it, though it meant long walks to get in range of the affordable diners. When the evening came, we ambled the pink streets with bare women tipping about and signs luring you in with a witty, slight offensive joke. The ordeal was a bewitching, short alley for the businessmen as they came in packs feasting like ants on a syrupy picnic. We, however, knew to leave with a pace as the flirty ladies were touchy and the men in the back had stares of dollar signs.

In short; Bangkok had it all and within the downward of a week we had, we attempted to experience as much of it as we could would want to. Bangkok was fun. Not simply for the visit and a picture or the sights, but the full package. Bangkok brings the true experience.

Categories
EU

Amsterdams allurement

The thought of a plane awaiting her at the runway loomed over her as our final month had commenced. Sudden combustions would ignite her mind and cause her eyes to bawl tears of sadness with the passing of days. Her eyes plead and begged for her, as they expressed melancholy and simultaneously anguish for the long and tiresome flight taking her away from the Promised Land to sit forlorn staring out of the small window and weep as paradise sadly, for the two of us, comes with closing hours. As I had once sung during her gloomy days of dysphoria: “I’ve got two tickets to paradise”; duo tickets turned out ridiculously optimistic. With regulations and visa’s keeping us captive from being with one another, we required an entire box of entree tickets. To tease and perhaps with genuine intent I suggested hopping the fence or digging a tunnel. But when one returns to reality, how does one hop a fence from the Philippines to the Netherlands and in such a way she can still return? Releasing herself from my grip, she snivelled once more before wiping away the wetness from her cheeks reddened by the Dutch cold.

I bemoaned the whole ordeal too, however the rainy days remained rather intern. Only days after the take-off of the plane I’d lose my sanity attempting a panicky depart like a rat in a lion’s cage that is on fire. However, the exit-strategy, nor the doleful distance that was an onset imminent is not today’s story. We had found solace in my abundance in free days which was the genesis of a trip to what every tourist considers to be the Netherlands; Amsterdam! To me it’s known as a city compulsory to pass by when bound for the airport, others viewed it crucial for a visit, though these are interchangeably drunkards partying in Amsterdam with only remembrance a hazy state and those that admired the awing parts of the capital whilst oblivious to there being anything within the dot of a country besides it. But besides passing by and waving, the city already had given me some memories before the arrival of our train.

One was a young boy staring into the daunting eyes of a police officer seated on his tall horse preparing for battle and a bloodthirsty hound with darting eyes held by his fellow soldier on foot. The kid in me got filled with excitement and I stepped forward as my father and stepbrother bounced back. I peeked passed the horsed men and saw a tank of water rolling by shifting its gun towards the congregated hooligans spewing words of fury and nastiness ready to destruct, cause havoc and if possible beat the man responsible for this uproar to a pulp. They were out for blood and the men in blue stood ready to fight the chaos brought on to the calm square. A square which ought to have been one of serenity for another hour as all the shouting and spilling of beers should have been inside the arena whilst men and women enjoyed a game. That remained until a man of low intellect had attempted to plant his flying foot into that of the goalkeeper’s neck, failed and received a pounding in return with a result of a red card for the goalie. What followed was a team protesting, a crowd howling and roaring and taking their anger forcibly outside in hopes of finding the arrested wrong-doer and showing their maliciousness to the town’s property. At last, my father’s words had reached me and I turned my eyes from the chaos to walk beside them as we retreated the battle ground.

A second had been waving my sister off on her brave endeavours to the great Canada. With my little brother, mother and stepfather we wandered into town in weak attempt to broaden our world. Though this story revolves around young me finding a longed for KFC to have my first ever indulgence in their chicken coming from small towns previously lacking such extravagant chains, it is one bearing value for me as it was one of the few I have of the man that charmed my mother’s heart before he tragically ended his life. Full of character and spirit he had often gone out of his way to please us. Mention an interest or liking, and the weekend to follow he is smoking up the kitchen with a spicy marinade to douse the spareribs during an hours-long recipe. And thus, we skipped through the busy streets to find me my chicken and then we munched them away on the steps of a fountain.

Those where all my memories and I was keen to extend the list, by meandering the streets and alleys with red ears tipped with lewd excitement, or face painful history within the tiny hide-out of a well-known girl carrying naught but a diary, but also take a walk in the park and imagine the life my father and grandmother and so on had in this bustling city. Though indeed, Netherlands has far more to offer than this capital of coffee-shops, red light district and drunkards, a trip to this world of imaginations is one to be unforgettable. Architecture, though far from the view visitors wish to gaze at, remains beautiful. Canals, though familiar throughout the country, remain picturesque. But there is also an ambience to a place no longer hiding behind pretty words and throwing away its prudeness as signs no longer leave a subtlety with “gentleman’s club”. No, buildings shout “SEX” as red lights paint the streets, shops endorsing and displaying toys large and larger and museums shamelessly depict a history of sex and rock & roll and drugs not minding the nudity coming with it. I find it fascinating when men push a young boy with loud cheers into a door where he will begin his journey to manhood whereas it usually is an activity meant to be hidden away.

But please, for the sake of the Netherlands, when in this wonderful country, leave the capital in search for towns nearby. Take a tour to the Zaanse Schans, quickly visit the Hague or Rotterdam and buy all the cheese you can at Gouda before heading North. There are too many towns that have their own little allurement and are worthy of a visit from the ogling folks. But, so is Amsterdam.

Categories
South-East Asia (2017-2018)

A MARBLE-OUS ISLAND

Romblon, known as the capital of marble, is home to a mesmerising marine life, picturesque beaches, a historic fort and over 38,000 people that are all but rude. It being one of the few islands with an actual tourist office, standing lonesome on the main square near the harbour, it is actually welcoming. Welcoming in the sense that a friendly – and chatty – woman awaits you with with advice on all surrounding islands, but also that wherever you venture off to, you are met with the smiles and waves of the friendly locals. Though the globetrotters come in scarce here, there are a plenty foreign, usually European entrepreneurs, having their business here. Therefore, even those that get overwhelmed by other cultures can find their peace here and enter a restaurant for a chewy German schnitzel or have a chat with the friendly Brit and Italian next door. If you wish to do a bit more than amble from diner to diner, worry not as this tiny island will surprise you with the beauties it beholds.

Now, aside from a presence in the cuisine, Europe has wiggled its roots in the history of many a island including Romblon, leaving various historical and heritage structures after Spain’s reign. The historic fort San Andres stands out the most as it looms over the city and sea, making it the absolute perfect spot for a sunset view. Since the climb there is on a set of tall, steep steps, the time the sun sheds its final lights is indeed best, as these steps paired with the Asian heat can be more than harsh. Expect to be met by the head of the organisation for reparation and maintenance, aka the guard and his friendly pup. This man, indubitably, will welcome you and if the place is not too hectic give you a free tour – but do tip. He will show and tell you all about the crumbling fortress that due to the massive and diligent restoration with the help of copious local as well as foreign volunteers remains to be a highlight of the petite island.

Of course, one does not go to these parts of the Philippines to solely admire the remainders of European influence. Though we did not get to experience the outer islands or any water-based activities due to harsh weather, we did get to tour around the island. On this ride-around, we came upon what in my opinion is, after Cresta de Gallo, the allurement of these waters; Bon-bon beach and Bang-ug island. Depending on which way you go around the island, this is either the final or immediate stop being close to the main city Poblacion. After stalling the scooter we rented for the day, we arrived on a long stretch of glistening, white sand. Sauntering along the water, the two of us headed for the island. Since the stretch is a fair walk, a ton of sunscreen is necessary to leave unscathed. Because the sun shone bright, at times feeling like a scourging whip of heat, but adding to the picturesque view that was sand, sea and sky. As if it was not enough, a rocky island of greenery fills the view with a breathtaking walkway of sand leading you through the sea at the right tidal. To our surprise it had been us, and us alone to admire the piece of art and without a queue or wait we took some of my favourite pictures before continuing.

Though this visit will leave the stops to follow in the dust, it is worthy to follow the not-so descriptive map and try to navigate yourself around the island in the search for the competing beaches, a lighthouse, a waterfall and to pass by the quarries before making your way back to the city or your accommodation. Romblon, of the Romblon province is a challenge alone to get to, but aside from dismaying the mass, has got an arsenal of sights. And upon departure, there is a world of souvenirs to take with, as the islet brings a strong game in the marble universe with competitive quality and for a reasonable price. Time to stuff your bag with gifts for the family!

How much effort would you put in to getting somewhere lovely but hard to get to? Or are you one that would put in effort not to have to go there and rather relax at the beach of your hotel?