Witt's Twaddle

Shanghai Short Story

Posted in Fests, Food, Trips by Witt on June 19, 2010

The family celebrated the 34th wedding anniversary of our parents in Shanghai, China. Here’s a few snaps I took with my Motorola Milestone.

Not very pleasing experience here that I will not be divulging. The Consular Section is at the World Center, 330 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City. Come early and take a number. Business hours begins at 9:00am. Requirements: New Visa Applicant – Completed application form, passport with a least six months validity, birth certificate, marriage certificate (if married), NBI clearance, bank certificate with OR and P50k show money. Previous Visa Holder – Completed application form and bring the old passport with the Chinese Visa.

Yes, they have flights to Shanghai. I think they just recently added Beijing to their new destinations. On time, maybe even earlier at times. Cheap. No food.

We arrived at Pudong International at around 11pm. Had some cash changed to Renminbi or Yuan (¥). They can also change your Peso, so you need not have to change it to USD ($) back home. Our chauffeur was there. It took us over an hour to get to our hotel. A series of skyways and flyovers. Simply spectacular. The moment we got out the van, cool breeze. Around 18-21 degrees Celsius. Very nice. Chun Shen Jiang Hotel is situated at East Nanjing Road in the heart of Huangpu District. Where everything is. Food, shopping, everything.

I suggested we eat something familiar for breakfasts so as not to upset our stomachs for the day. They try to be as environmentally sound as possible, no plastics or styrofoam here. No rice though, but they do have strawberry jams for pancakes and ground black pepper packets which I particularly liked.

When in Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl Tower is a must see. Fastest elevators I’ve ever ridden. Don’t forget to check out the Sight-Seeing Deck. 360 degrees of clear walking glass.

Same taste.

The Shanghai World Expo opened on the 1st of May 2010 and will run until the 31st of October 2010. ¥160 for a standard day pass, ¥100 for seasoned citizens. Luckily, we have two. Security was tight. They even held me for some time due to the Starbucks Shanghai City Mug I bought for Abbie. Expo hours begin at 8am and closes at 10pm except for times when there are special activities which can go on until midnight. The park is massive, as in colossal. Like a small town with hundreds of thousands of people. It’s impossible to scan the whole park in one day that’s why they’re selling 3-day and 7-day passes at ¥400 and ¥900 respectively. We just breezed through some. There’s a number of electric cars which serve as free ride in the long “highway” of the park. The longest queue: USA Pavilion. It has three short movies for its presentation mostly themed on saving the environment. Of course, we definitely have to see the Philippine Pavilion but unfortunately it was just a so-so. As we entered, a male vocalist sings Freddie Aguilar’s Anak followed by a lady singing a “kundiman”, a Filipino serenade. Then followed by a DJ… a DJ?! WTF! The pavilion showed the immense influence our conquerors. There is “hilot”, a Filipino massage/therapy, of course with pay. And the only one with a restaurant inside. Filipino food at skyhigh prices. The only thing good about the Philippine Pavilion, Pinoys need not queue. Another thing I noticed, Filipino travelers are one of the snobbish bunch there is. Don’t be like one, smile back. Did I say the park was enormous?  Huge portalets. Food is everywhere. Expo goodies galore. Everything is 20-30% more expensive though. Tip: Wear you favorite, most comfy footwear.

Some of the best authentic dimsum I’ve tasted are found here at the Shanghai Tea Houses near the Yuyuan Garden, center of the Old City. My favorite, the “Soup Siopao”. You stick a straw in it and sip its juices, tastes like “balut” soup. Yum!

The nearby Yuyuan Shopping  City is the “Divisoria” of Shanghai. Haggle-fest! Sub-story: Dad and the rest of us had a miscommunication on where to meet up after an hour of shopping. Hence, we waited and searched for him for four hours. We even summoned the assistance of the police. Tin went on the PA system which was funny-cool. Later he claimed that we’re the ones who got lost 😀

Boxing Cat Brewery‘s Knockout Stout. Two of this and you’re done. Crazy soccer hooligans pack the place at the time of the World Cup mania. Located at the French Concession, 82 Fu Xing Road West (Near Yong Fu Road), Xu Jia Hui District.

Xintiandi is a small district in Shanghai where old China and new China meet. The best restaurants can be found here. One is XinJishi Restaurant located at Building 9, Xintiandi beili, No.2, Alley 181 Taichang Road. The tofu is my favorite.

The vacation would not be complete without a trip for the faith. St. Peter’s Church is situated at 270 Chongqing Nan Lu. English Mass at 5pm every Saturday and 12noon on Sundays.

Free. ‘Nuff said.

Before flying out, I had a bowl of beef ramen from Ajisen Ramen at Pudong International.

To end, Shanghai is a beautiful megacity. You cannot capture it using a Motorola Milestone. Do not be discouraged if the locals turn you away when you ask them for directions or what not, they just do not speak English. Shanghainese are kind, welcoming people. Would love to go back and have more fun.

7:52am, 19 June 2010.


Run for your Life!

Posted in Everyday by Witt on February 4, 2010

Park hours: 6am - 10pm

Early this evening, I went for a stroll going towards Abbie‘s workplace. This time, I walked on the other side of Paseo de Roxas and stumbled upon a small park located at the corner of this road and Makati Avenue. I haven’t really seen the park up close so I decided to walk through it. First impression, if New York has Central Park, Makati has Ayala Triangle Gardens.

A definite plus for a park, it was well lit. Clean and smells fresh. Close to a hundred of runners, joggers, walkers and dog walkers were present. Like a fiesta at night. Security guards roam the park freely, so you feel safe. Free Wi-Fi, on limited access.

This inspired me to go back to running. Tuesdays and Thursdays, after work. See you at the Triangle 🙂

11:08pm, 4 February 2010.

Tagged with: ,

2009 All Saints’ Day Road Trip

Posted in Trips by Witt on November 2, 2009

The family was supposed to stay home this All Saints’ Day due to the recent weather condition, mom’s runny nose and the car issue.

First issue, weather. The sun shined brightly that Sunday morning. Sky was high and blue. Typhoon Santi was long gone. After ravaging the Southern Tagalog region, she left with at least 14 dead and millions worth of damages. At least she was quick. Like what I tweeted a couple of days ago, “#Santi is like most men. They come in quick, do their thing & leave without saying goodbye. Most times, they don’t even remember your name!” – @witt24, 6:48pm October 31st.

Second issue, mom’s runny nose. For starters, she was scared not to visit her parents and in-laws. Terrified, actually. The night before, she had a dream. It was so vivid that she can see all the characters in it very clearly. Her story: “You (that’s me) were with me and Nanay Bireng (her mom) and we saw Lola Choleng (her mom-in-law) across the road. You (me again) ran up to her and everybody was happy and smiling.” A simple dream undeniably forced my sick mom to go visit everybody.

Third issue, the car. Our 12 year old Honda City was in the shop, having a badly needed paint job. She was starting to look like an old lady with bad patches of grey hair. My brother Jeng was keen on having the car refurbished. He even put up the money for it! Good son, good brother! Anyway, I was the one who frequently use the car to work in Calamba and since my timely new assignment to our Central Office in Makati (a place where I cannot afford to take the car regularly to) led to the “checking-in” of the car in the body shop. After more than a month or so in the shop, too many pending jobs there at Precision Spray but excellent paint job though so it was sort of worth it, it was released on the 31st of October. Just in time for the Day of the Dead.

All was set. Weather’s fine. Mom’s nose still running, still cracking stupid jokes. Car was semi-okay, having some trouble with idling and the fumes of the new paint still lingers inside. We headed out at around 8:30am. First stop, Cavinti. Mom’s hometown. A small community atop a mountain in Laguna. We passed through Pagsanjan and we saw this:

Back to normal?

AFP Rescue Team helps clean debris along Pagsanjan National Road

Mud everywhere!

An old house scavenging what's left

Swept Away

A pick-up truck swept by Santi's flash floods


Metal road railings uprooted by flash floods and strong winds


Jollibee-Pagsanjan not spared by Santi's wrath

All photos taken while in a moving vehicle by Tinay.

Good thing, local chief executive Mayor E.R. Ejercito was on top of things. He was definitely hands-on. He was out there directing clean-up drives with the help of the armed forces, the police and local volunteers. Assisting in traffic management and abating the residents and visitors of his town that everything’s gonna be alright. The boatmen were also back at work, flagging-down would be customers. The famous rapids was murky brown though, I don’t think anyone would like to shoot it that day. In the latest report, one death was recorded in Pagsanjan.

The zig-zag climb to Cavinti was a breeze. Normally, we are accompanied by a number of other vehicles racing towards the towns of Luisiana, Lucban and Cavinti. But this time, we found ourselves alone for most of the zig-zag. Maybe people decided to stay home this time in view of the events that occurred. Some fallen trees along the way, most of them were cut and placed on the sides of the road.

Welcome to Cavinti

Welcome to Cavinti

At our ancestral house, we ate dinuguan and pritong tilapia prepared by my uncle, lazy but a superb cook, before leaving for the cemetery. The cemetery in Cavinti is on top of a hill. Very perilous during rainy days. Muddy slippery slopes, next thing you know your left foot is in an open grave. It was hot as hell that afternoon. We stayed for a few minutes, said our hellos and goodbyes, and left.

Next stop, San Pablo. It’s been a while since the last time I was in San Pablo, the Coconut Festival in January, I think. My two passengers were asleep as I traverse back via Calauan. I wanted to pass through Liliw, Nagcarlan and Rizal but mom and Tinay said we do not know what happened in those roads in the past 48 hours, we might get stuck. So we took the high road, uphill road of Calauan to San Pablo. My dad was anxiously waiting for us to get there, he was there first. We let him take the bus at Turbina for the reason that he wants quality bonding time with his two celibate (unmarried) sisters. This trip is on a time constraint by the way, hence the swift visit to the cemetery. I had little to eat back in Cavinti so I ate some more when we got to the house in San Pablo. My tita cooked chopsuey, fried chicken and menudo. I was expecting paayap which was the usual there, nevertheless, everything was yummy. After the banana I had, I decided to stay home and not join them to the cemetery. I was up at 2am that day and a short nap was what I’m yearning for. Slept on the all too familiar couch, where I rested a number of times before. At around 515pm, after a few chit-chat, we left San Pablo for home.

The trip home was fairly smoother via Alaminos and Sto. Tomas. All roads are go. No slow traffic whatsoever. We were home by 630pm. A total of 175 kilometers registered on my trip odometer, Pacita-Cavinti-San Pablo-Pacita.

11:46am, 2 November 2009.

Tagged with: ,