Friday, August 05, 2011


Welcome! Yes, I am now in the Philippines and welcome you to a new chapter in my life!

We have been here for a bit more than a month now and while the first few weeks were difficult for me (they always are in a new place), I am starting to settle in a little and we have been able to expand our circle a bit and see some of the Philippines which I will now share with you.

First, where we live. Makati. This is the "center" of the city, well the business hub at least, and we live in a tall apartment building. Now, I have not lived in an apartment in quite some time so this is a different environment than what I am used to. Many of the residents going in and out are a bit dressed up. There is a "medical center" near our building that seems to do cosmetic surgery rather than true medical care. I kind of feel like I don't really fit in around here, particularly when I put on my camera backpack and flip-flops and head out the door while waving to the concierge. I kind of feel like a slob, but Bryan says I look "artistic". (I have seen some pretty sloppy artists - not sure that is much consolation!) anyway, we do have a nice view:

One direction looks inland towards the hills, and the other side gives us a glimpse of Manila Bay and the occasional stunning sunset.

It is a very different view from what we had in India!!

Bryan and I have been able to get out a bit and see a few things. First was Intramuros, the oldest part of the city that contains the remains of a fort built in Spanish colonial times. This is actually in the Metro Manila area and not actually so far from where we live, though with traffic... yes, traffic. We got it. Now, truth be told, we did not spend a lot of time exploring the area on this particular day as it was a bit hot. Like indescribably hot, humid and wet. It's like that a lot pretty much every day, but this day was exceptionally so! So, a little explore, Bryan got to try out his new toy a bit-

(yes, we now have twin cameras)

Hot hubby

and we did the barest bit of exploring before we dashed back to an a/c taxi. Interesting fact: there is a golf course that runs around the old walls of Intramuros, in what was originally the moat. Not sure you'll find that anywhere else!

Intramuros Golf Course

A couple of weeks later we decided that we really needed to get out of the city and see another facet of the Philippines. Like, how about exploring one of the over 7000 islands! A quick read of a blog-friend's post led me to book at - Coco Beach. It was close(ish), relatively inexpensive and available at short notice. Perfect! We had a two hour drive down to Batangas, and then a one hour boat ride to the island of Mindoro where the resort is located. We were lucky. The weather was cooperative with our trip over and we had no issues. Heard some horror stories from others who were less fortunate, but that's the adventure of traveling by boat during Typhoon-Monsoon season. The first day was relaxing, with a good meal at one of the restaurants. We had a conversation with the chef and it turns out that he drives a "tricycle" during the day, which is actually a motorcycle within a sort of cage that provides a roofed side-car for passengers as well as a cover for the driver. He offered to show us around the island some the next day, so we arranged to meet at 9am in Puerto Galera.

That morning brought some rain, well - a LOT of rain. We took a boat to Puerto Galera anyway,
brave good-swimming souls that we are. By the time we arrived we were wet, but that was just the beginning. We got soaked as it rained and rained. But we trudged up the hill to see the waterfall (hah! water was falling alright!)
And by the time we were finished there it stopped raining for a bit and we were able to actually see some sights!
Bryan and I are definitely not the same size as your average Filipino, but we managed to enjoy our cozy space anyway...We got a quick look at the market...
And greatly enjoyed our tour with "The Cook".
The return boat trip was much drier and more enjoyable and we took a little detour to enjoy it a bit more... really was incredibly beautiful out there.

An enjoyable weekend at a fun and laidback place, we would definitely go back!

So, that's a quick synopsis of our first month. Soon I'll post about my first photo shoot here with a wonderful NGO called Sambat Trust.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mother India

Today, while sorting through and packing things up I came across a brass bell. This is a bell that came from my parent's arts and crafts store from when I was a kid. I seem to recall that it was made in India. I remember when I was a child I thought of India as a very far away and exotic country. Another world from the California suburban neighborhood that I grew up in. I can recall looking at Time-Life picture books that featured images of "native" people from all over the world. I poured over these pictures as a child growing up. Fascinated with the colors of traditional costumes and the wide variety of facial characteristics... human beings were so different the world over! But it was the India books that really grabbed me. There was a richness and beauty there that was captivating.

I know, I am using a lot of flowery language here, but you are going to have to forgive me. For this week is a major one for me and I am grasping at my words, trying to explain how I am feeling. You see, in one week I will leave the place that has become my home over the last 3 1/2 years. My dear crazy India. I may have been captivated with the pictures as a child, but I have fallen in love with the place as an adult and to say I am going to miss it... words can't explain.

The people, its culture, the noise, the cows, the traffic, the autos (rickshaws)... all weave together to create a country that really is like no other. Some don't like it, but I have grown to consider it a part of my daily life. I now get nervous when it is too quiet and the chaos that greets me as I walk out the door soothes me truly.

So, before I wax on to the point of using every literary catchphrase that exists to mankind, I will sign off and simply share some of the faces and places of my dear India. Enjoy.

Oh, and next stop on our life journey? Manila (in The Philippines).