Friday, April 13, 2012

River Village

Yangsu-ri 
Gyeonggi-do, Korea


As we were driving along the expressway by the edge of one tributary of the Great Han River, I noticed several little houses like miniature communities in little valleys sandwiched beneath gentle slopes by the river. What a wondrous sight! That scene is forever etched in my memory.


Jolted

Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo

Being in the Ring of Fire, Japan is jolted by earthquakes everyday although some of these tremors are too faint to be felt. It was summer. I was in Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku for a business meeting when I suddenly felt nauseous. I saw things shaking and wall decors swaying. My Japanese hosts remained on their desks unmoving but alert. I stayed calm. After things have settled, I let out a sigh of relief and exclaimed, That was an earthquake!

They nodded Hai! Hai! Then got back to work.
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Coyote

Yellowstone
Wyoming, USA


We were driving towards Grant Village on Lake Country when a coyote loped across a meadow. We stopped. But not long enough to see him find and catch his dinner. What could it be? And what could he be thinking of our sudden intrusion into his peaceful world?
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Imagine

Australia

Imagine, the song that immortalized John Lennon was sang by this man. And man, did it fit, and poignantly so! You can’t watch it without choking. He lives in Australia, in his twenties now, with a handsome face, twisted limbs, deformed body and walks askew. He was born at a time Desert Storm made landfall in his native country Iraq. He has no legal identity, only a haunting image! But he instantly became a poster boy of humanity torn by war, a poignant reminder of what we have become as citizens of the world. Whew.

=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Race

CA-2 Highway
Glendale, California


How do sperms speed up towards the egg? I watched a perspective of it right in front of my nose while driving in the rain with a broken wiper. It’s that kind of day when your speed is measured by how fast raindrops in the windshield climb up towards the roof. They look like bubble heads leaving thin water lines as they race on slippery glass.

The fog was thickening now. I slowed down. Red lights flashed in the distance. An accident? Yes! And by the way that’s also what some people call when a sperm reached the egg…. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kiddush Hashem

South Sudan
Africa

After years of civil war South Sudan seceded and became an independent state on 9 July 2011. At the moment, the relative peace is so fragile that another war could break out anytime. Kostas is here working with Doctors Without Borders. His Trans-Siberian adventure is put on hold. He said, “I have seen so much strife and hunger here. I would be selfish to go now.” “Such a big heart”, I told him. “What you’re doing is a Kiddush Hashem! He said, “Kid what? Stop fooling around naughty Filipino!” I laughed and said, “I’m just proud of you man….”
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Dark Sliver

Lake Duminagat
Mt Malindang

We looked up. There. A sliver of dark cloud clawed its way down towards the forest canopy just above the crater. We became quiet. For a while it hovered as if waiting to strike. Silence descended upon us. We were still. Unmoving like the rocks we sat on. We only stirred when the menacing dark cloud slowly dissipated in thin air. Then we gathered our things and left…. gently, with only our eyes talking. It seemed that if we tripped on the tree roots and stumble, the lake will open up and swallow us alive.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lightning Bugs

In The Farm
Philippines

Nature awes us by its suddenness and vivid imagery like the flash of lightning in a thunderstorm or the rush of water in a flooded river. But it’s not all violence and destruction, sometimes it’s mellow and quiet, but fascinating just the same. Just like one night in the farm: There was no moon. Under a starry sky, trees were mere silhouettes except one that sparkled and glittered with a thousand fireflies. Legend has it that taking a twig off the tree brings good luck to anyone. I took one.

As with the luck, well (sniff)….

Out For Lunch

Shangri-La
Manila



Out for lunch a sign says. I sat and waited. I was deliberately patient in an attempt to beat Murphy’s Law, which rule our lives most of the time. But thirty minutes passed! So I decided to buy phone cards somewhere else. I know it’s pointless but just to drive home the idea I came back just after a fleeting five minutes or so. There, as clear as daylight, by the counter, behind clear glass, she was fixing her hair admiring herself, turning left, right, eyes glued at her pocket mirror; she pouted her lips, blink blink. Murphy’s right!
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Sexy German Girl

Hanmaum
Korea

Sexy German Girl was a little tricky in a game of charade. The sexy girl part was easy, but how to act out the German word gets everybody going nuts! Then I suggested the Fuhrer salute. Nobody else noticed my suggestion but Roman, and he is German. We locked eyes and I understood. “Nazism is a shameful German past”, quips Ina who is half-German, half-Russian. “Europeans harbor a quiet animosity towards us since German forces destroyed much of Europe during WWII.” This leads to inconveniences when traveling around the continent she confessed. When asked about her nationality Ina replies, Russian.”



=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Talk When Your Mouth Is Full

Dongdaemun
Seoul

Christophe educated me on his flag’s story: it was during the Battle of Lyndanisse in the 13th century when it fell from heaven and the Danish King took it to rally his troops to victory. Then he told of Vikings and fearlessness of exploration. Not one to be outtalked I said, Ferdinand Magellan was out to conquer and prove the earth was round, right? Before completing the voyage we killed him. It’s a historical fact of course but told with the fiery stance of a debater. As if in competition, we bragged and talked and laughed as we walked on the streets of Dongdaemun all the while munching on Korean street food…. 

Mighty Wind

South of Manila

At first I thought fog descended on the valley, but the haze was rain, a drifting curtain of wind-blown rain. Strong winds blew ripples appearing as white patches running across water-logged rice paddies. Decaying thorny vines on the branches were now heaped on the ground. Then a thud. The bunk house shook. There was a loud crack. Another tree fell. On the roof! Amidst nature’s fury is a water buffalo grazing silently on a grassy knoll oblivious to all the destruction around as it continued to chew on grass, and perhaps twigs, and maybe fallen tree barks.

EU's woes

Moalboal
Cebu
Rogier complained about the European Union’s effect on Netherlands. He said their earnings and benefits are slashed by subsidizing poorer members such as Spain. Daniel who’s Spanish was extremely agitated by the comment but just laughed about the “whining Dutch”. The English played coy about it. Having chosen to keep the English Pound, they are not directly affected by EU’s woes. I listened in fascination while preparing my gear for our reef check in Moalboal. It was 2007. But Rogier’s point is made relevant with what’s happening in Europe today, particularly the Euro and the future of the European Union.
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================


Friday, April 6, 2012

Lost In The Moment

Yellowstone River
Yellowstone National Park

On the way to Lower Falls, we have to pass by Yellowstone River. We stopped for a while and indulged in its soothing sound. I found a rock for a stool and prepared to skip a few flat stones on the quiet eddies when a trout rose to nip an insect on the water. Then it disappeared. It was one of those fleeting times when you are totally lost in the moment. As if woken from a dream, I suddenly became more aware of the sound of running waters. I stood up. It was time to go.
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Georgia On My Mind

Sete
South of France

We were driving back to Paris with Shorena from the Republic of Georgia. She said that Ray Charles’ hit song Georgia On My Mind does not refer to the American State of Georgia but to her Georgia in Europe. I was taken by the melody, which made me do a little research and found out that this song was written by Carmichael and Gorrell in 1930, and in 1979 it became the official state song of Georgia in the United States. That means, Ray Charles neither wrote nor composed the song. Hmmm, Shorena….
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Black Feast

Quiapo
Manila

It was getting dark but people still milled about on the street which was closed for vehicular traffic. I casually walked around with the others. Then it came, slowly, silently. People threw handkerchiefs, and shawls and shirts and had them rubbed on the image. It’s The Black Nazarene! In daytime, it’s almost impossible to touch it, and devotees would have to wrestle and shove their way just to get near it. But there it was in front of me. I suddenly had the strange feeling of being chosen as if The Black Nazarene was saying, Yes you, you’re the one!
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Coffee & Traffic

Hanoi
Vietnam

Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world and it has a unique way of serving coffee: In a personalized coffee maker, condensed milk is placed at the bottom of the cup to which brewed coffee slowly drips. When the cup is full, stir, then drink. It’s Vietnamese coffee, a taste like no other. And there is no better way to taste it than at the downtown market. But to get there, we had to pass through traffic…. of the Vietnamese kind. Take a look!
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Monday, April 2, 2012

Walking Backwards

Kangwon University
Korea


One foggy morning, I saw a man coming down the slope in my direction. At first I thought my vision was faulty because instead of a face, I saw broad shoulders of one’s back. On my way back, I saw another man emerged from a distance. We made eye contact before he turned around to walk backwards himself. I was totally surprised. I learned later that walking backwards is a common form of exercise especially with the elderly. I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting a cultural lecture on Korean tradition or voodoo stuff.


=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

An alternative to being a tourist is to be a volunteer in workcamps. It’s a cheap and practical way to travel. Check NVDA for workcamps in Asia, ALLIANCE for workcamps in Europe and VFP for workcamps in the USA. 

The Line

El**s Street
San Francisco

This is San Francisco: Home of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, of Alcatraz and picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf. This is also San Francisco: El**s Street. It has pimps, vagrants, prostitutes and drunks. They loiter. They shout. They fight out in the open in broad daylight. Then I saw a line of young and old, of mixed races and sexual orientation, but homeless just the same. They were lining up for free meals. That line was the only hint of order in that neighborhood.
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Dugout Canoe

Doot Poctoy
Lanuza

A dugout canoe is fashioned by hollowing a log; no outriggers for balance; very shaky to the uninitiated; so, we flooded it twice! Everybody jumped out. Fore and aft, we pulled the sinking canoe back and forth in rapid succession. This pulling motion causes inside water to jump toward both ends of the boat. The canoe slowly rose as inside water leapt outside. We kept pulling until it was dewatered completely. Then we crept back in, very slowly, and we talked in whispers, as if our words would sink the boat again.
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Sun Fish

Salinas
Monterey

Monterey has Fisherman’s Wharf, Old Cannery Row and a museum dedicated to its famous resident John Steinbeck who wrote Of Mice And Men. I haven’t read the book but watched the film starred by John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. Monterey also has a huge aquarium. Among its famous residents are sharks, tunas and a three-story high kelp, a giant sea-grass. For the first time, I saw sunfish here. It looks like a huge fish-head swimming about, yes just a head, no body, no tail. It’s mind-boggling.

=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Parisian Vagrant

Paris
France

A hulking vagrant dressed in rags hopped in from a station. Wafts of the most disgusting odor came from this guy. I avoided eye contact and held my breath hoping he will pass me by quickly. But he stopped, faced me squarely and asked for money. I almost vomited at his face. The smell was strong like a mixture of decaying organic matter of the grossest kind; it almost knocked me unconscious. I felt relieved when he moved on to other passengers. On the next stop he was out, but his filthy smell hung in the air like a nightmare!
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Spiked Sea

Capitancillo
Cebu

At the dive boat’s vantage point, the sea was creased and wrinkled by movement underwater. Like a spiked surface created by drops of rain on flat water, spiked sea looked like playful waves at a distance but it’s a school of fish directly beneath, said Pagoy. After a while, Roque bellowed at another spiked sea appearing on the left, and then another on the right. A gang war has erupted among schools of jacks and fusiliers as they battle for prey.
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Trail

Baybay
Leyte

We followed a trail leading to the forest as the sun came piercing through thick foliage.  We crisscrossed the river through these mountain trails and cool ourselves with river dips. At trail’s end was a gorge with thundering waterfalls. Amidst the agitated pool was a huge rock we used as a platform for daredevil stunts then we passed by windy ridges on the way back. Deep gorges dominate the landscape. Blocking the trail was a mammoth, moss-covered log – it was a branch that cracked loose from its gargantuan great-granddaddy-century-old-tree!
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Flip the Coin

Hanoi
Vietnam

The war museums in Hanoi showcase remnants of fighter planes, bombers, tanks, artillery and images, painting a Vietnamese perspective of the Vietnam War, which they call the American War. It succinctly tells a harrowing story of a tiny nation’s fight for survival. It speaks of anguished cries, and torn limbs from small frames and chinky eyes. Of carpet bombings and Napalm burnings. Then I came face to face with disfigured third and fourth generation Agent Orange victims in an orphanage. What a haunting sight! Like ghosts of a lost generation, they are breathing testaments to the atrocities of the past.
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================

Hightened Senses

Tanzawa, Kanagawa
Japan




Constructed on a bluff overlooking a confluence of two rivers is a cabin linked by a hanging bridge to the other side. I crossed it and climbed the pathway up into the woods. I was basking in this vast expanse of wilderness when I saw the sign. It was in Japanese, with exclamation points, and the unmistakable picture of a BEAR! My feet, which by now suddenly acquired a mind of their own shuffled back to the cabin in no time. Was I afraid? No, just a heightened sense of awareness….
=============================================================================
100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100 anecdotes 100
=============================================================================