Adventures in Asia: Onwards to Manila

It took us four days to get from New Jersey to Manila – via Honolulu and Guam, but we made it! If a little late.

Having slept the entire way from Guam to Manila, I was awake and alert for our adventure in Manila. Sure, we finally made it to Asia, but since we had a three-day delay, we missed the first part of our trip and had to reorder things, so we only had one night in Manila, the next day we were headed to Malaysia where the real vacation began. You think this is tiring? Try living through it!

After clearing customs, we went to the information center where a lovely lady assisted us in getting to Clark. First, we had to take a fixed rate cab to the bus terminal where we needed to hop on a bus to Clark. Then, we had to take a tricycle to a car park where we took another cab to the airport. If you map out the distance between these two airports, it’s only about an hour and a half, but to traverse that we basically took all the different transportation options (except a jeepney).

Our bus conductor didn’t speak English well, so when we told him we needed to get off at Clark we were worried that we wouldn’t know where to disembark. However, when it was time to leave he came to our seats and indicated to the door, then he said, “tricycle” and we were stumped. I didn’t understand what he was telling us, and though Eve understood that he was saying “tricycle” she thought she misunderstood. Once we finally got that sorted we walked in the direction he pointed to the tricycles – a bike with a sidecar.  I got the sidecar, Eve got to ride behind our driver. She was asking him questions and he was very chatty, so that was entertaining. I had the job of making sure our luggage didn’t fall out of the car when we turned corners.

Once we were deposited at the car park, we took a fixed rate cab to the airport. I had read about haggling prices for cabs, but I would never work up the nerve to do it, and I hadn’t yet passed this piece of information on to Eve, so when we got in and I asked the driver what the cost would be, he quoted us a high price (by their standards) and Eve, who had asked our tricycle driver about the cost told our driver that we were told a lower price, so he lowered it to match that.

me: Did you know about the haggling?
eve: What haggling? I just asked the tricycle driver what the cost would be.

But, the story doesn’t end there. It’s night, our flight isn’t until the next day and the only reason we took a cab to the airport was to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. We also didn’t have a hotel reservation, so we asked a local about hotel recommendations. He asked me if I wanted a friend. I promptly pretended to misunderstand him. But, he still managed to give us some tips and get us into a cab, with many smiles.

Our new cab driver decided to take us through the scenic route of Clark. “This is where you come if you want to have fun.” he said, while showing us the red light district.


Welcome to Clark!

The next morning, I asked our hotel concierge about sim cards and where to buy them, she asked one of the workers to take me to get a one, this involved being on the back of a motorcycle.

As we snaked through the streets I saw people already up and about, and as we passed, many of them stopped to stare. “Surely this isn’t an oddity, a girl riding on the back of a motorcycle”, I thought, and it wasn’t. It was only then I realized the theme of our trip, we will be stared at, we will have to deal with it.

I got my card activated at the airport, a lady helped me with it and saw the background of my phone (I just want to say that I borrowed this phone from a friend and forgot all about the background), it was a picture of a man without a shirt. She smiled at me. I groaned internally, trying to tell her that it wasn’t mine. I’m quite certain she believed me. Or not.

Check-in at Clarke is strange. Security starts at the entrance of the airport. I had to check my bag because I had an umbrella and they don’t allow such things as carry-on! Then you have to pay terminal fees because that’s not included in your fare. Then we had to go through exit immigration to leave. It was one of those small planes, so we walked on the tarmac to get to it, oddly enough, they had umbrellas that you could use to get from the terminal to the plane.

We were on our plane to Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, here we come!

And the Gold Medal Goes To …

Some of the memorable highlights of the opening ceremony!

The theatrics in the beginning… I especially loved the Maypole and the different scenes in the grass – picnics, rugby … and the transformation. It’s a shame that NBC didn’t do a good job showing the different scenes depicted in this display of historical Britain before the introduction of the industrial revolution. I mean, real sheep on the set? What’s not to love?

The forging of the rings. Definitely a fan of this! Flying rings of fire gets the gold for sure.

The world’s greatest nanny – Mary Poppins – coming to save the day! This tip of the hat to the NHS and to famous British children’s literature, a segment that started with J.K. Rowling reading from Peter Pan was fun to watch. Especially identifying the different villains. Of course, it’s not without it’s controversy as some  – who will not be named – seemed to believe that  it was a blatant political move. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, all I saw was some very lucky kids having a lot of fun at the Olympic opening and some hard working doctors and nurses honored for their work and Mary Poppins (my favourite nanny), a symbol of imagination. Also, some really awesome umbrellas that I kinda want.

The Queen and James Bond and some cute doggies. Oh that Queen, shocking the world with her sense of humour.

Mister Bean and Chariots of Fire. In true Mr. Bean style, this segment had me laughing at his hilarious facial expression and running scene.

The way the torch was lit!

What a way to light the torch! Why isn’t there more talk of the symbolism behind this? One torch lit by 200 and some tiny torches, burning brightly for the remainder of the games!

Of course, there were some huh moments, like the cover of Come Together, was it just me, or did they sound a little low energy? And, Hey Jude, I mean,  I love The Beatles and great for Paul McCartney for singing at the ceremony, but, I am sure there were many more songs that he could have sung than Hey Jude. And please don’t say it’s for the sing-along value, a lot of people in the world know many more songs and if they wanted people to sing along they just had to put the words up somewhere. I mean .. they have the entire stadium lit, it’s not impossible!

Overall it was enjoyable. Different. Unique. A great display of history. And of course, it was also fun to watch it while having a running commentary on Facebook with a few friends. My status because Olympic size, totaling 1006 comments. Not bad for seven or so people.


Images from Reuters

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

Take a walk down 7th Street and find Big Gay Ice Cream Shop between 1st Ave. and Avenue A. Continuing our Saturday outing, my friends and I stopped by this shop for some desert. There are a lot of interesting concoctions to try – Vanilla Ice Cream with Toasted Curried Coconut might not sound appetizing, but you wouldn’t know for sure until you’ve tried it!

I’m not usually an ice cream fan, but once I saw this unicorn, I was sold! Surely a store with a unicorn mural will have the most out of this world ice cream? I was not disappointed. I got the American Globs – Vanilla Ice Cream, Pretzels, Sea Salt and Chocolate Chips, and it was delicious. I loved the vanilla flavour, it was clean and smooth and everything vanilla soft serve should be.


Lobster Rolls at Luke’s

After creating our own fragrances, some friends and I continued our East Village adventure with a late lunch at Luke’s Lobster, a tiny little store on 7th Street, between 2nd and 1st. You can get the regular Lobster Roll with a pickle on the side, potato chips and a drink, or you can get some creative combos that include things like shrimp rolls and crab rolls.

We were lucky to get in ahead of the rush, by the time we were finished there was a line, almost out the door. The demand  for these delicious lobster rolls is not without reason, each bit was filled with yummy, buttery goodness on a warm, toasted bread – no soggy roll here!  Luke’s Lobster probably has the best lobster roll that I’ve tasted to date and it’s in the East Village so it’s easy to get to!

The Fragrance Shop

Down in the East Village of Manhattan, on 4th Street (between 2nd and Bowery) stands a little shop called The Fragrance Shop. What’s special about this little store is the fact that you can create your own signature scent and make your own perfume, scented oils, lotion, bubble bath, bath oils, anything scent/perfume related.

Some friends and I took a trip there this past weekend to create our own scents. The owner, Lolita, was very helpful and has a knack for blending different fragrances to create a unique and lovely scent. She told us to chose four fragrances that we wanted to use and then added a few of her own suggestions, mixing it together and letting us test it out on our arms to see whether we liked the way it smelled. If we did, she would re-create it in a bottle of our choice that we could purchase. If we wanted, we could also get it as a perfume, a lotion, or any of the former mentioned forms.


You could also get decorative bottles to hold your oils and perfumes, I fell in love with the purple bottle with the tassel and decided to buy it, I thought it would go wonderfully with the scent I created – a whimsical, flowery smell with a lavender base.

For my scent, I chose the Ambrosia, Hibiscus Passion, Heavenly and Pink Jasmin while Lolita added Lavender. After mixing everything together she made a flowery, yet subtle scent, the kind of scent that I love. I got to name my scent, so I decided to call it Fleur du Ciel, or Flowers of Heaven, inspired by the Ambrosia and the Heavenly scent.

It was very exciting to have my own fragrant oil on hand, and the great thing is, when I run out I can always go back for more as she writes down the ingredients and the quantities and keeps it for the next time we might need it. Another thing that was interesting was the fact that no one else can go in and ask for my scent, not unless I give them permission. It makes it feel exclusive to just me.

It was a wonderful experience and my friends and I had a great time mixing our own unique scents. I’m definitely going to go back for some more!