Quick Post from Taoyuan

Da jia haaaaaaaaaao! Now is the perfect time to say that. Greetings from the dreamland—Taiwan, specifically in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport!!

Well, I’ve been here for six hours so far, but still stuck in the airport. In a few minutes, we’ll be buying our bus tickets to head to out first stop here. Nothing really has happened yet but I am so excited for what’s in store for the next few days. I actually don’t “feel” that I’m in Taiwan, or in another country at least because of the two-hour distance between the Philippines. But I think that’s gonna change once I ride the bus and watch the views from the windows. As my brother said, just now, “Wow, Taiwan high.” Well, you can’t blame me, I’m breathing the same air as my idols!

Alright, heading out now! Leggo!

20 days of summer break

It’s already been almost a month of summer break so far, yet it doesn’t feel like it at all. As much as I’ve always looked forward to bidding the past chapter of my life goodbye, the fact that it had actually already happened is such a hard pill to swallow, and I’ll be honest about that. I’ve always considered myself to be someone easily attached to people—I might call people I met at a workshop-seminar for five days my best friends; label people from the internet I’ve Skyped and QQ-ed with to be amazing people in my life. But to the ones you’ve practically grown up with during your awkward and pubescent years, well… I pretty much am feeling a mild case of hashtag sepanx with quite a few.

Anyway! Enough rant for now. Jotting down tidbits of my lazy, summer days because this 127-day summer is simply overwhelming:

DSC04471

Day 2. Went up again to the mountains of Rizal to see the Lady on top of the hill. I found out I was going just literally minutes before I was about to sleep (and I wasn’t quite prepared to wake up by sunrise…). Nevertheless, it felt nice to have done a good deed for the Lenten season. Right after, we went to the Cathedral in Antipolo. I offered a prayer for the intercession of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje, which is pretty much self-explanatory. I felt like such a high maintenance kid having done that (well, haha), but nothing better than being guarded by your faith, I say!

Day 4. Had our visa appointment at the very guarded and strict embassy located in Roxas Boulevard. So that’s how an interview felt like!  I was actually impressed by the US embassy’s regulations—everything was so organized, from the lines by the gate to the queue numbers! Oh, and can I say that the married couple just right before us was denied of a visa… imagine what we felt being right after them. I really felt bad for them, but I was more anxious as we were the next ones in line. Grateful and thankful to the consul who even kidded around about what degree I would be taking up as an incoming university student. “What ya gonna do with that?” he said. Biggest blank face of my life ever. What I was supposed to say even? I will never forget that instance. Haha. In hindsight, I should have stated my exact major instead of its “old name”, but with that, I say, thank you. So, Meiguo, see you in a few!

 

DSC04472

Day 9. Went on a daytrip to Tagaytay with my high school peeps! I wasn’t able to join them in the sleepover the evening before that because I caught a fever all of a sudden, and was in the E.R. a couple of days before that. I am so annoyingly high maintenance, I say again. We enjoyed the breathtaking view and awesome sights, played two games of bowling (and yep, I have never been embarrassed in my whole life having dropped the ball as I was just about to swing my hand, hahaha, yep, I got EQ issues), saw little ponies, played that boring fun Aligator toy (as Anna coined it to be), spent quite a while in the quaint wood-walled cottage, tested Anna and Joy’s Tagalog skills on the way home. Knowing how we’re all going to different universities, it sucks to think that this was the “last”. Why am I caught up with the idea that it’d take years for all of us to meet as a group again? Well, enough negativity for now. Can’t thank Anna and her mom enough for the warm hospitality and kindness!

DSC04592

Day 10. Felt like pre-senior year and review classes time. Mariah spent the next few days here. We went to the salon and got our nails done (I got nude polish, while she got a pink-platinum combination on her nails!). Was supposed to have a picnic with my lovely neighbors aka Nitch and Yomi, having chips and that red-checkered tablecloth-turned-picnic-mat ready but life priorities happened (read: college stuff). Well, at least we got to talk to Nitch for like 30 seconds on the street!

DSC04599

Day 12. Spent the day in three different malls in three different cities. Had lunch with my other high school buddies at ATC! It was short albeit sweet. Again, split up into different universities, so it was a sad feeling to part. Gonna miss these people! :( Caught up with each other’s lives (wow, reunion?) over great grub at Banapple. I had to leave right after eating to go to Greenhills and SM North after. Hashtag busy girl, hehe.

Day 13. Went to 168! I am at my happiest when I am here—cheap finds that don’t make me (and my wallet) cry, and for the obvious reason that I am, uhm… in my turf. Overhearing chit-nng-sã convos, familiar tunes playing, ideal venue to practice my reading ‘skills’? ‘Nuff said. Okay, I know. I shall stop. Hahahaha. Everytime I’m here, I order the same dish for lunch all the time, which never fails to make my tummy happy. Order “egg cha fan” at Lanzhou Lamian, 5th floor!

DSC04603

Day 15. Had a haircut, which I liked at first, but really, really regretted a few minutes later. I always get a haircut on a whim, and end up hating it after. I will never have my hair cut ever again. Also, finally had the opportunity to have the point-and-shoot fixed at a service center (after all these years, mein gott). Getting a new and better one isn’t really a good idea (again, priorities). It’s not the best camera, but it pretty much suits what I need. This camera’s been with me for so long that I’d hate to disown it, having gone to many places and having immortalized memories with it. Now that the switch for the video now functions, here’s to more vlogs in the future!! Oh man, I am so excited, nobody knows how I feel.

DSC04600

Day 15 (still). Breathing all the Chinese I can, because, you know. I was studying Chinese as if it were for a legit exam one day last week, and read 70 pages for three hours straight. The day after that, I forgot everything I read. It’s so sad that in these three years of lazily learning the language, I know nothing (okay, I probably know something compared to who I was in grade seven, but you get the point), lol. I’ve been trying to memorize survival Mandarin phrases and photographic memory-ing tones. Concentrating on pinyin now because pinyin = survival. Why does this seem like a chore?! Haha.

DSC04604

Day 17. Witnessed the Washing of the Feet during Mass and did Visita Iglesia on Maundy Thursday with my relatives! No pictures of exteriors of churches because I prefer taking pictures in daylight. It’s been a really long time since I’ve done the latter. Visited the churches of BF-BF-Padre Pio-Eastwood-Nativity-Diliman-Claret in that order (yep, I’m a self-proclaimed Q.C. girl). Joined the bandwagon and tasted the green tea sundae at Family Mart for the first time. Obviously, I’ve failed at the twirl-all-you-can scheme!

Day 20. Not much. Just spent the evening on the laptop video jumping on Youtube. Ended up on radio interview videos of Khalil Fong and Weibird Wei. I always knew Weibird spoke perfect English, but wow, his articulate speaking skills simply astounded me. Aaaaand Khalil Fong, wo zui ai de ge shou, what else? His rendition of G-Dragon《That XX》just raised my admiration level of him a thousand steps higher. How did I not know this video existed? You. are. amazing. And the soulgirl in me says: 小方,很棒!!非常爱你!

 

Survey: 30 Questions

It’s Day 14 of my 127-day summer, and I honestly felt like I haven’t done much. But, well. Haha. Here’s a survey in the meantime. I’m looking forward to next week, for obvious reasons. Here goes:

1. Do you have any regrets?
Definitely. But if there is one thing I really, really regret and would maybe bet my life on it, there is only one.

2. How would you like to be remembered?
Uhm… haha. Nothing grand, really. But I’d like to remembered as someone who is simple, unassuming (wow, this word!), and reliable.

3. Was there one event that changed your life and the way you think?
I can’t think of an exact event, but I think travel-related events often give me a paradigm shift.

4. Are you happy with who you are?
That’s a… funny question! Hahaha.

5. Are you pursuing your dreams?
And I quote, “Far from what I once was, but not yet what I’m going to be.”

6. What is something you would never do?
Kill, take drugs… you get it.

7. What makes you uncomfortable?
Awkward conversations (especially through voice chat), wearing heels for a long duration, and freezer-like temperature.

8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully already a college graduate, taking up a masters degree (yep, dream big), working for dream international organizations!

9. What are five things you want to do before you die?
Visit all the provinces of the Philippines, travel and conquer the ASEAN region, go on a study abroad program anywhere (but Zhongguo and Sverige top the list!), see my ultimate idol (name listed below) live and up close, meet my penpals and language buddies in person. I’m quite boring, I know.

10. Are you scared of the future?
Yes.

11. What are your last five opened tabs?
Must I link? Haha. Google search, Khalil Fong – Dangerous World MV, CollegeFashion (in my defense, I’ve been reading this blog since I was in grade five, haha, what is growing up too fast?), Google Translate, Pinyin Annotator.

12. What is your preferred writing instrument?
Dong-A 0.5 mm black gel ink pen!

13. What is your favorite month and why?
January, because it’s cold? And it’s the start of a new year. Haha.

14. What brand logo is closest to you currently?
HP.

15. Who is a musical artist you love that isn’t well known?
I wouldn’t consider him as someone who isn’t exactly well known, but probably in my country, he is. Let’s just say he’s underrated all over. Khalil Fong!

16. What is your desktop background currently?
A black background with white typography-ish text saying, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, wisdom to know the difference.” Wonderful prayer.

17. What is a color you can think of that isn’t part of the rainbow?
Cyan? Haha.

18. What kind of headphones do you use?
Blue Philips. Not sure what kind it is.

19. What is your inspiration behind your url?
Nai cha, what else. Haha.

20. What is your favorite item of clothing?
Chambray shirts! They are so versatile.

21. What is one book you loved as a child?
The Little Prince. Still do.

22. What did you have for dinner today?
Burger patty, seaweed, sashimi.

23. If you could study anything, what would it be?
Degree-wise, International Relations. Dream course! And of course, languages and culture.

24. Do you use anything on your lips? (eg. lip balm, lipstick)
Not regularly, unless it’s given as a gift. I recently used a lip tint from Face Shop. Too bad I lost it at the mall… sigh.

25. How many devices do you own which can access the internet?
Just two.

26. Is there anything guaranteed to always make you happy?
Trips! Okay fine, travel. :)

27. How about something that always makes you sad?
It used to be school. Wow, used to being the operative words. Haha. This is a joke, obviously.

28. What programs do you have currently open?
Chrome, QQ Yinyue, Notepad.

29. What is the last formal event you attended?
Grad ball.

30. What is your favorite place to shop?
168! Went twice this year, and was just there yesterday! It’s my shopping mecca.

Survey questions from #surveys on Tumblr

When in Seoul: Explore Gyeongbokgung Palace

Missing Gyeongbokgung Palace when in Seoul is like missing Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei or Fort Santiago in Manila. One can’t say he or she’s been to that particular country without visiting such historical landmark—there is so much to see and feel in terms of history, and of course, culture. And for a landmark that’s such a standout in the city, it’s not hard to overlook this piece of history.

DSC02629

I was filled with much awe the moment I saw Gyeongbokgung close up. It was that type of landmark you would see on Korean historical dramas, and it sort of felt unreal. More than the artifacts and ornaments we saw at the Folk Museum, this place truly gave me a chance to immerse myself in Korean culture—minus the hanbok traditional clothing and what not. Nevertheless, it was a lovely feeling.DSC02638

You know, just casually windblown… haha.

DSC02639

The admission fee varies for adults and kids. We got our tickets for 4,500 won each. For a wonderful and maintained landmark like this, it’s hard to believe it only cost around 135 pesos that time! Relatively cheap, if you ask me. And worth it. Korea lead me to a lot of surprises, actually. Surprisingly affordable things are just a few of them.
DSC02646

DSC02648

DSC02649 DSC02653

DSC02654Joy’s baon which she shared with us that day—barley tea (called màichá in Mandarin—yep, I am amazed!) and sweet rice drink.

DSC02655Gyeongbokgung Palace offers quite a lot of traditional activities like monthly tea ceremonies and calligraphy sessions. We experienced neither, unfortunately.

DSC02661When you’ve gone past the palaces, there is this stream you’ll pass by. With the clean, green waters, it was so calming and serene to look at.

DSC02667

And another regret… I swear we only had like less than 10 touristy pictures with our faces actually in it throughout the trip. I don’t know why either. Haha.DSC02672Media men from Korean TV stations such as KBS, MBC and SBS were present during that time for some reason I’m quite unsure about. It was a cool scenario.

DSC02679

I haven’t been to a lot of capitals but I have to say that Seoul is one of the most genuinely beautiful ones out there! There’s always that contrast of tall buildings and towering skyscrapers with mountain views—don’t forget the palaces and temples that add culture and vibrance to the city. It’s a beautiful mix of everything.

Bits + Pieces

Tumbleweeds are all over this place, it’s sad. But anyway, here’s a photo dump of many different things so far:

DSC04063

So there’s a newly-opened franchise of Starbucks nearby. People are pretty much still excited—it’s always annoyingly full—jam-packed with college students, highschoolers, and the like… but, well, it’s not like I’m a regular there or what. It took us around 40 minutes to an hour to get a table inside! Went with a busmate and a batchmate who live within a two-kilometer radius. You see, my school and house are separated by this long stretch of highway, so knowing people who live in the same district is something like… omg, we’re instant buddies now!!

DSC03481

I was amazed with the Philippine map, including its tourist spots and geological formations, entirely made of Lego blocks!

DSC03894

A cupcake-and-Korean-cuisine-kind-of-night with the junior year peeps aka the Soju Crew!DSC03913

I fixed my room and revamped my shelves! Well, to be exact, I simply sorted and rearranged all my journals and books and added some space-occupying stuff like the globe and cameras. This picture was taken a month ago or two, I believe, so obviously, everything’s messed up again, like how it always was, including the plant that pretty much died.DSC03918 DSC03924

We got an ice cream maker! Don’t let its toy-ish features fool you; this little machine can whip up a small batch in 20 minutes. Ice cream making is like baking—the measurements of the ingredients have to be exact, or it would come out as a yogurt texture, like the one above. I promise myself to experiment more this summer.

DSC04202

Green tea overload!DSC04227

My dage’s nüyou went to Hong Kong during the Christmas break and gave me all of this as pasalubong! Everything combined weighs like my brother’s grade school textbooks, I’m not even lying. Imagine what hassle it might have caused her when she had her luggage weighed or something. Didn’t even expect this, so imagine how touched I was! Trash composed of Chinese characters, and I mean that in the best possible way. She even got me two long-sleeved shirts! It’s always a wonderful feeling to be remembered. She is the nicest—nicest sister I never had. Hehe.
DSC04228

She also got us cha! She also gave us tea that sprouts a flower when hot water is poured—not quite sure how you call that.DSC04280

Study well for the UPCAT! Cross one box out of your bucket list and make that dream come true. Make your parents proud and do it because you aim for it. Lift up to God everything. Be a good Lasallian and be of service to others. Don’t care about what other people think of you. Do it for your country.

Just this week, my adviser gave us back the papers we wrote our goals and messages to ourselves on during the first day of school. I honestly don’t remember half of what I’ve placed here, let alone the thought of writing all of this. It’s nice to have a little reminder of the things we aimed and wished for 10 months ago. May it be a good or bad thing, I attained most of my goals, if not all, but I’m getting there… I think. DSC04303 DSC04304 DSC04305

It’s the annual garage sale! I’m not quite sure where the idea of selling pre-loved items to fund future trips was adapted from, but it’s a very practical and resourceful thing to do, I believe. Screenshot-4 Screenshot-5

I’m back to my old self, and that is, being a gamer once again. I’ve been playing The Sims 3 non-stop these past few days! Considering that my one-week break has barely started, it pretty much tells how many hours I’ve already consumed in playing. Here’s to hoping that it doesn’t kill my productivity level. TS3 takes up all my time. It’s very unhealthy.

Well, what else? I’m officially done with high school. Marching on.

Barely six days of school left, five months before university, 127 days of summer, a few more weeks before the trip of a lifetime (as cliche as it sounds), studying in a college I have never even stepped inside for the next few years of my life, permanently bidding my second “home”of 13 years goodbye in 20 days.

Everything is so overwhelming.

Underground springs, carabaos and caves

Five* cities, four towns, three national highways, two regions, one day!

It’s that day when walking on hanging bridges,

DSC03956

doing some bucket list-worthy rappelling on that very same bridge,

DSC03987

or maybe, you know… just casually wading through the cave springs,

DSC03965

trembling twenty feet above the ground,

DSC03981

the sight of war torn, century-old trees,

DSC03950

hanging out with the national animals,

DSC03998

strolling through the lush, green fields,

DSC03996

and going beneath the fields that lead to dark, historical caves (who would have known?)…

 DSC04026

seem to be so normal.DSC04040

*Five cities, including those we passed by en route to the place. Site-seeing and people-watching are always part of the itinenary!

It’s the last field trip in this chapter of my life, and who knows when the next will be… so nope, no regrets.

San Miguel, Bulacan