knowing is half the fun

last time out, i talked about how i was hearing voices.
and indeed i was: it was the voice of the receptionist telling us our room was ready.

so with our luggage in tow, we follow her to the villas.  i was hoping we'd be at one of the villas like this one, which i was told has two floors and its own private jacuzzi.  nice, i thought.

one of the sea-view villas at nusa dua
but we walked right past it, and so, disappointed, i asked my wife "why didnt we get one of these sea facing villas?  i could use a dip in the jacuzzi."

she shrugged and said "we can upgrade for an extra 800 USD a night if you want."

nuts.  i need that dip in a jacuzzi the way i need an thousand dollar hole in my pocket.

so after giving the villa a final longing glance, we walk past it and through a series of hallways.

the place felt empty (not that i was complaining) as it was one quiet hallway after another.  we later find out that it was (relatively) off-peak season in Bali and we almost (but not quite) have the resort to ourselves (with an estimated 7 million visitors a year, sharing a bali resort with just a few hundred people is as good as it gets).

eventually we make it to lovely garden view room 3109.

intricate wood carving here, but you ain't seen nothing yet
in five minutes i'm on the bed, commenting about how nice and soft and comfortable it is.    that's about the last thing i remember, and my wife tells me i was snoring quite soon after that.

we wake up after a few hours (the bed was that comfortable), grumbling stomach and all and make our way through the lounge.

what's for dinner?

but decided to be a bit more adventurous (read: cheap; every good tourist knows that hotel food is ridiculously over priced), and opted to have dinner in one of the restaurants outside the hotel.  

we took the scenic route and passed through the grounds and took in a bit more of the sights

dining al fresco in bali is a must try

a number of quiet little alleyways dot the hotel grounds

Relax, with a capital R.  the seashore is about just a 100 yards away so imagine sleeping here...

finally after a multitude of distractions and taking the long way around the hotel grounds, we make our way to the hotel exit, ready to wander off into the streets, but not before a customary pic at the hotel's signage  (just in case we forget the name of our hotel)

so, with a sense of adventure, google maps, the name of our hotel, and our rumbling stomachs to lead us, we ventured forth into the streets of nusa dua.

[to be continued]

getting there is half the battle

The secret of success is to be in harmony with existence, to be always calm to let each wave of life wash us a little farther up the shore.
-- Cyril Connolly

garuda indonesia.
the whole bit about threes.
and the exquisite doorway.
and finally, this last bit about harmony.

and so the reveal: my wife and I had a wonderful and relaxing getaway to the enchanting island of bali.

what a trip it was.  It certainly was enchanting enough that I just went crazy with the photos and my wife went crazy with the shopping, (as you will see), and we both went crazy over the whole experience.

so here we go, starting at the beginning, which is as julie andrews rightly points out, a very good place to start.

5am on 13 January, my wife and i drag ourselves out of bed.  (here's something i learned: regardless of where you're going, it's still a pain getting up in the morning.)  we haul our luggage to the airport, check in and spend a couple of hours waiting for the flight and i'm off on my picture taking frenzy.

one of the first i took was of my wife, who tried her best to remain calm, knowing bali was just two and a half hours away.

we were one of the first through the gate and i saw a row of nice row of chairs

right across from me was a man and his wife.  i noticed that the man kept looking off into the distance in a rather dramatic and melancholy fashion.  and the way the light softly highlighted his face just enhanced the drama.

there were other people in the lounge of course, and they too were two and a half hours away from paradise.

i thought the windows in our lounge lined up in a great way.

soon we boarded, and i immediately settle in hoping to sleep through the flight.

turbulence was a killer though:  a few passengers behind me were yelping with each sudden bump.  i was too busy cursing myself for not writing a will to bother finding out.

two and a half hours later, we land in bali in one piece, safe and sound and i being such an accomplished procrastinator, once again put off writing my will.  our guides (Mr. Lucky and Mr. Made, more on them later) pick us up and whisk us off to our hotel, the Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa.

we check into our hotel a bit earlier than expected and wander around a bit while waiting for our room.  and immediately, you just know you are in another universe.

coming from the urban jungles of manila and singapore, bali stands out in stark contrast.      all thoughts of work slipped my mind, my blackberry stayed in my bag (not even my pocket!), ignored despite the glaring red light that kept blinking and warning me that something blew up at work.

everything just slows down to a wonderful, laid back, easy going pace: there are ponds everywhere, koi swimming lazily, and for the most parts, all you can hear is the sound of trickling water.  (i used to scoff at the thought that trickling water can be relaxing, up until the point where i fell asleep on a divan beside the koi pond.)

just beyond the lobby and the allure of the koi ponds was a beautiful courtyard with what i thought must be a temple.

it turns out to be a gate, with a door that, i am guessing that must have taken a century to carve.

so after the photo frenzy and repeated futile attempts to stop drooling, we go through the gate and into the beach and pool area.

i could swear the lounge chairs had our names on them.

...and i heard the pool calling us...

but it turned out to be the receptionist, telling us that our room (room 3109) was ready.

with our reverie snapped, we grab our luggage and head on up to our room...

[to be continued]

somewhere i have never travelled

somewhere i have never travelled
gladly beyond all experience
your eyes have their silence;

-- [e.e. cummings]

so on to a third round of teasers, with three pictures again.
and three lines too, from a poem that blew me away when i first read it.

i remember the poem, because i remember too the sensation of being struck by something so beautiful, that all brain activity stops, your jaw drops, and you (re)discover religion.

i know i did, because at one point in our trip all i could mutter, again and again, was "oh. my. god."

and so more clues: we did go some place we have never been.  the strangeness makes it exciting: seeing new places, trying new things brings an altogether different kind of rush. we travelled across foreign landscapes and heard unfamiliar words (though every now and then our reverie would get cut by the occassional mcdonald's).

indeed, it was an amazing experience.  my wife had called the place enchanting and
she could not have described it better.  i'd have said a word or two in agreement, had i managed to pick up my jaw from the floor.

all throughout, the place made me feel like i wanted to keep something of it with me.  Other people buy souvenirs. i took a thousand pictures, and that's after throwing out the bad ones.

the poem blew me away when i first read it: there was nothing quite like it, in the way it flows and speaks.  i had never seen language crafted, molded and shaped like that.

likewise there is nothing quite like the place we had snuck away to.  

it truly was adventure: at times it was intense, and others, laid-back.  it made me forget, but also helped me remember.  coming here felt like crossing a threshold and discovering a secret kept on the other side.

it's been fun, all this teasing.  i think enough mystery has been built.
but enough stoking now, no more teasers because third time's the charm and the teasing has to stop.

wanna guess where we snuck off to?

you have (you guessed it) three guesses.

all good things come in threes

"First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin.
Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less.
Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three.
Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three.
Five is right out.
Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

the three musketeers.  the rule of thirds.  there are three wise men, not five.  there is that bit about goldilocks and the three bears, and the pythagoreans would have us believe that three is the noblest of all numbers.  we all get three strikes before we're counted out, and mothers always count to three (although sometimes, when they're really pissed, they can forget about one and two and immediately jump to three).

on the other hand, we don't always get second chances, and there are four horsemen of the apocalypse.  coincidentally, "four" sounds like "death" in some asian languages.   five, as the grenade's manual says, is right out and six is the devil's number. plus the gates of hell open on july, the seventh month.  and let's not even get started about the number thirteen.

three it is then.

so on to more teasing, this time with three pictures, because one is such a lonely number and two is just too square, too perfect.

teasing in threes, though, makes it a good kind of teasing.  not too little, not too much.
it is teasing of just the right sort, because indeed good things do come in threes.

the ones that got away

that would be us, my wife and myself.
we're the ones that got away.

or i should say, we're the ones who went on a quick weekend getaway.

quite obviously, this entry's just a quick teaser.  
you can think of it as antipasto, something to whet the appetite.

i think of it as a way of buying myself some time.

we just got back from wherever it is that we went to, and i had dumped more than a thousand photos into my laptop and i haven't gotten around to even sorting the pictures out.  and i have not posted anything for more than a week.  bad blogger.

hence, a teaser entry.  i get to post an entry and absolve myself of whatever guilt has been burbling, and you get a picture.  it wouldnt be a proper teaser if it was any more than that.

so, come back next week.  hopefully by then we'll have more pictures, more stories, more clues as to where we actually got away to and what we got away from.

a trip to the edge of my (singapore) universe

on the first weekend of the new year, i managed to convince the wife that a walk along punggol beach would be a great idea: i get to take pictures, we both get some exercise.

there was a catch though: i had no idea where punggol beach was, except that it was somewhere near an yet-to-open train station somewhere in punggol town.

but when did ignorance ever stop anybody?

so i pack my camera bag and haul off the missus, reassuring her that we'll be okay ("it's impossible to get lost.  we're in singapore and i have a perfect sense of direction, and google maps on my phone.  yes dear, the phone's fully charged.").

we make our way to the train station, where promptly we end asking the train officer how to get to punggol beach ("exit the train station, bus station to your right, take bus 82").

bus 82 arrives and takes us to punggol beach without incident and i scramble off the bus, certain that the next pulitzer winning photo has my name on it, just waiting to be taken.

then, with just the right amount of dread and forboding, my wife goes, "we're at the edge of the world."

i look at the sign and tell her, "look it says 'outward bound singapore'. the edge of singapore is still in singapore even if--hey is that malaysia?!"  she checks her phone, "at least my carrier is still singaporean.  i wouldn't want to be paying roaming charges."

so we walk around (actually, she's was walking.  i was scrambling about snapping photos left and right, getting sand in my sandals, on my tripod, and on my shorts) and take in the sights and sounds and smells of punggol beach.

while i wouldn't exactly call our punggol beach trip an adventure (it was a little too laid back for that), it did have its moments, like when something cold and wet landed on my wife's foot (it was liquid, but we couldn't tell much more than that), and when i very nearly stepped on a rather large and very dead fish being eaten by ants (i didnt have the heart nor the stomach, mostly the stomach, to take a picture)

we also had moments that did not involve anything cold and wet and dead

along the way we saw a number of like-minded souls (or like-souled minds)

and all in all it was a good trip but it was soon time to head home

on the way home, we decided to drop by this restaurant that was smack in the middle of nowhere, figuring, we'll have a quiet dinner.

only problem was, it seemed like half the people in punggol thought of the same thing and we ended up having to line up for what felt like 10 million years before getting just some of our food (we had to wait another 10 million years for the other half).

so we were hungry, wet, cold, and tired, and were waiting for our food in a crowded restaurant, and it didnt help that this girl kept coming by asking, "are you philippine? can you speak english?" (i wanted to reply "no, as you can see i am not a country and yes i can speak the language just fine, thank you").  not quite the quiet dinner we had hoped for.

we made it through somehow, without being overly nasty to the other half a million people inside the restaurant, and finished our meal in relative peace.

not bad at all, for a trip to the edge of the universe.  and i didnt even have to look at google maps even once.

[repost - i am a cybersquatter]

here is the original blog entry i had made at, reposting it here for posterity as i am taking down the old site (quite appropriately) this sunday.

i was trying to get my adsense account approved and just received an email from the adsense team over at google.  the message in part reads:


Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. Unfortunately, after
reviewing your application, we're unable to accept you into Google
AdSense at this time.

We did not approve your application for the reasons listed below.


- Page type


Further detail:

Page type: Your website is a type of website that we do not currently
accept into our program. Such websites include, but are not limited to,
chat sites, sites that drive traffic through cybersquatting, and sites
that use excessive keywords in the content or code of their pages.


so initially, i was thinking:  "eh? what the duck?"
i went over what they said in my head:

  • chat site? my blog most certainly is not a chat site (it's a blog with more pictures than words)
  • cybersquatter? surely you jest. the name was available on blogspot, i claimed it first, fair and square, right?
  • excessive keywords? after promising how i was going to post more pics and less words? do i need to relearn what "excessive" means?

so i wrote back, asking the adsense guys, nicely i might add, what's going on? i'm not a chat site, i wont have a lot of words (keywords or any other kind of word, come to think about it) and i most certainly am not a cybersqua--waitaminit.

i did sort of think i was too lucky to have gotten "".  i mean, think about it, it's the perfect name.  it's a play on my name, and it's has a nice sort of twisted/ironic/selfcontradictory ring to it: frantic sunday, sort of like "wet fire", "friendly cat", and "happy funeral".  it hits just the right spot because i had planned to make mostly weekend updates to my blog, and have sundays as my deadline, but sundays are supposed to be the most relaxing time of the week (unless, say, your production server blows up on saturday night because somebody ran a script you wrote), and deadlines are hardly ever relaxing, otherwise, they wouldnt be "deadlines", they'd be more like "suggested compliance dates."  and who complies with suggestions?

so the thought of a frantic sunday was just like, well, mind blowing if you think about it, but you're not supposed to think about it or about anything because in my happy place, all thinking has to stop.

so, "frantic sunday". with just enough passive-aggressive, controlled-panic, subtle-and-brash wordplay action going on, and with just enough coolness to it, it's the perfect name for a blog, right?

which is why i was suddenly worried.  because it was too perfect, and i was too lucky, and it was all too easy.

so i googled it and said, "cmon baby, give me 0 results.  give me a dead link.  heck give me a link to a battered old garden gnome statue someone drunk on too much eggnog thought to name 'franz sundoze'.  just nobody famous. please.  i'm sure nobody's thought of frantic sunday."

and right there, bam.  frantic sunday.

and apparently "they" are a famous swedish band. who knew? certainly not little old me.

i mean, come on, what are the odds that i, a filipino in singapore writing an english blog will come up with a name chosen by a famous swedish band.

at least i was right about it being cool: no band, especially swedish ones, would give themselves an uncool name.

this is a conspiracy.  it has to be.  how else can it happen?  i know nothing swedish (except maybe ikea but that's only because they make good furniture and serve great meatballs but lousy pasta.  i mean, seriously, have you tried the spaghetti at ikea?  that's a great business plan though: you go to ikea, they get you so high on their meatballs that you end up buying their furniture.  it's a plus if you eat their pasta too.  brilliant.) and wouldn't be able to point out where sweden is on a map if my life depended on it.

now, as to who is conspiring with whom to do what where and when, i'll have to have a think about that.

but not before i got to thinking "oh my god.  i'm a cybersquatter."

not that i meant to cybersquat.  all i wanted was a nice name for my blog (yeah, i know what the road to hell is paved with).

phew.  that was frustrating.  i kinda liked franticsundays.  i spent a weekend agonizing, internalizing, pondering, ruminating.  heck, yeah, i spent a weekend thinking about it.


in my happy place.

where i was supposed to stop thinking.

i prolly will have might have to give it up.  because i wouldn't want one of their fans threatening me with bodily harm.  in swedish.  for one thing, i wouldnt understand it.  nothing is more dangerous-sounding than getting threatened with danger in a language you don't understand:  you wouldn't even know you were getting threatened with danger.  that's what's dangerous about it, never mind the actual danger you were getting threatened with in the first place.

and because last i heard, there is no cybersquatting allowed in happy places.

[my happy place 2.0]

okay.  after much grieving and agonizing and thinking, my new blog is up.
goodbye [], hello [].

ill be the first to admit, it's not as catchy as my original site, for reasons i had previously described here (see entry about how i am a cybersquatter).

i've copied my old text blog entries, left out the pics because you can get to them from flickr anyways.  i figure, ill just post new pics and adventures.


i'll be laying my old blog to rest this weekend, and delete the site, and save myself the heartache trying to understand colorful swedish invectives hurled at my direction (note, none have been hurled as yet, but it helps to anticipate these sorts of things.)

please do take a look at the new site: it doesn't quite have that lived in feel yet, and it does look a tad different from the old site i've grown to kinda like.  over time, i'm sure it will be just as comfy, just as cozy as i grow into it, and it grows into me.

the same rules apply: more pictures, less words, and still no brainy stuff allowed.

please leave your thinking caps at the door; these will be returned to you when you leave.

[hello world 2.0]

so let's find out what this thing doesn't do.
set the ground rules, manage expectations and all that.

i started out wanting to learn photography, because i wanted to move forward from looking at pretty pictures to actually making some pretty pictures of my own.

but you know how trees don't make sounds when fall they unheard?  (my personal take on that is when trees fall and no one is around to hear them, they get up, dust themselves off, wait till an unsuspecting passerby is within earshot, and then they try again with greater resolve.  it's all about being appreciated and getting some validation).

so, is a picture still a picture if no one is around to see it?

yes, i have heard of flickr and picasa (shameless: but i figured a blog would compliment flickr nicely.  and my wife agreed and thought it was a great idea since i take great pictures and am wonderfully gifted with words.  (i have since told her i wasn't going to let what she says get into my head because she's my wife, of course she's going to heap praises upon me, worship the ground i walk on and make sure my ego is well fed.  it's been a struggle, i can tell you that..)

and so that brings us to, what is this thing anyway?

  • it's a photo blog: short sentences, more pictures. (the sentences will get shorter, i promise).

and what it is not:

  • it's not a techblog: no product reviews, no salivating about the newest gadgets.  (okay, maybe just a little.)
  • it's not a developer diary: that's called documentation and i do enough of that at work as it is.
  • it's not facebook: no minute, detailed updates about what i am thinking, what i am going through, my rants, my raves, who ate what, who married who, who broke up with who, and what is the latest expensive thing that i bought that i want to show all 1,352 of my friends so they can publicly be happy for me but be green with envy deep inside.
  • it's not a diary: having my name on the blog is already a big step,  no innermost thoughts, no ruminations, no reflections, no confessions of secret crushes.
  • it will not wax philosophical: no deep pondering about what is the ultimate secret meaning of  life, and what it has to do with the uttermost Truth of the universe.
  • it is not a political or religious platform: sure i have political / religious opinions.  but those are best kept to myself.  i do not want to get burned, lynched, drawn and quartered, nor do i want to incite rebellion.  this is my happy place, not golgotha.
  • it will not have pictures of cute baby animals, unless i took the pictures myself.

there you go.  nice and clear.  this blog does pictures.

unless i ask it to do something else.

[hello world]

mike test.  hello.  is this thing on?

ever tried something new?  of course you have.  exhilarating, isn't it?

i'm trying something new right now.  yes, blogging is new for me.  and no i haven't been living under a rock for the past decade or so.  i'm a slow starter you see.  i take time to adapt to new things and i like taking things slow.

it took me years to get an email and buy a cellphone, and  one of my friends remarked, "don't you find it strange that you're in IT and you don't have an online presence?"

i did, now that he mentioned it.  but finding something strange and doing something about that strange something are two different things.  i make it a point to ignore any elephants in my room whenever convenient, especially if it is convenient.  heck, i would have ignored gregor samsa, had he woken up in my house (not that he not had gotten the proper attention -- ignored -- when he woke up in his, but i digress).

so finally, after an inordinate amount of time finding it strange that i did not have a cyber presence,  i've taken a teeny tiny step, and created a blog.

actually, not only have i created a blog, but i have managed to: reactivate my flickr account, create a facebook account (actually, my wife created my facebook account, more on that later), and create a blog.

how's that for doing something?   i may take baby steps, but i take lots of them all at the same time (lots of baby steps still count as baby steps).

talk about biting more than i can chew.  but it's a new year (spanking new, barely an hour old), and nothing like starting a new year doing something new eh?

so, hello world, nice to meet you.  mike test, yes this thing is indeed on: let's see where this blog takes me, and see how far along i manage to sustain it.