…to ending the first half of the year 2009 with pictures i have long promised to share with you guys but never have. until now. sorry gyud na bahaw na ning uban. pero kaon lang gihapon, or tan-aw, or basa, or whatever because this metaphor is not working anymore. 🙂
JUNE 10: The Lion King with Ate and Mama
Saw The Lion King musical in Sacramento with Mama and Ate Freya. Three words: Pretty darn entertaining. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the theater, so you'll have to make do with this shot instead.
JUNE 6: Lunch with my Lapalala Friends
My friend Manu, who's a game designer for EA, just finished his latest project (Sims 3, which was launched last June 2) and we wanted to celebrate. So Alnie, Arman, and I headed over to Manu's pad for some good ol' conversation, a little bit of gaming, and of course, lunch: Manu prepared an entire Indian menu, I brought sparkling cider, and Alnie and Arman got ice cream from Mitchell's (p.s. Nalingaw ko sa Mitchell's kay they also had flavors like langka, ube, macapuno, and even halo-halo; later found out from their website that they get most of their fresh ingredients from the Pinas; since I wanted to try something new, I got myself a cone of Thai Tea and Lucuma–omigod, ice cream heaven).
MAY 22-23: Boating with Mackie and Lieza
Before his weekend of debauchery on a houseboat, Mackie stopped by Davis to spend some time with his boring non-alcohol consuming friend (me). In return, I had him drive me to the welcome dinner for the Sison Family Reunion at Tita Mitzi's house. After eating our fill, Mackie, my cousin Chris, and I left the party to watch the new Star Trek, which is so good I'm going to resist making fun of the Trekkies in this post. Or not. The next day, Mackie and I went boating (paddle boating and canoeing) at the country club where I have a membership (apil na sa akong room rental). My friend, Lieza, joined us. Because exercise is pointless if you don't follow it up by eating something fatty, we ended up having a quick snack at a taqueria (I had a horchata, which was pretty good) and eating some ice cream I made earlier in the day (watch out Mitchell's!).
APRIL 18: Picnic Day
UC Davis students' annual excuse to start drinking at 9 in the morning. Oh, and parade the farm animals and bikes of course. Spent this day with the Chapmans: Ate Freya, Adam's sister, Angie, and the kids, Eric Anthony, Nathan and Alyssa. Highlights of the day include seeing some of the biggest dogs ever and eating deep-fried snickers. Pictures are here and I also posted videos of the parade, the Mondavi Symphony and ice cream (of course!) made from liquid nitrogen (here and here).
APRIL 4: Dinner with my Comm. grad friends
After Mackie's objections and Andrew's protests, finally, nakakaon na gyud ko sa Hooters, a place where grown men bring their 12-year old sons to eat (I kid you not—we must've seen at least 3 father-son diners in that place). The food was okay, but a little underwhelming, the view even more so (I guess orange shorts and hooters just don't do it for me). The fried pickles were good, though, which is something I never thought I'd say in my life, me not being overly fond of pickles (strange that each of my posts so far always seem to include some mention of food).
APRIL 3-4: SMS Mini Reunion
Among laag-laag uban ni Isra na nalagpot sa Bay Area adtong April. Hung out with Isra, Joanna, Sho-sho, Sho's husband, Jake, fellow St. Marian's, Sean Thommes and Jedi, Joanna's brother, and some of Sho's friends. We toured Isra around San Francisco, had dinner at Gerry's Grill, and then hung out at Sho's house till 6 in the morning (feeling high school lang gihapon bisag tigulang na). In the morning, we were joined by Brian Cagadas, Mabelle, and Mabelle's daughter, Yvanna. I had to split at 8 a.m. to meet my mom and join my Comm. friends (see above) but despite the 2 hours of sleep and hangover, it was the most fun I've had in ages. I know they're never going to read this blog but thanks everyone! Gi mingaw gyud ko sa high school. You guys are the best (and this includes, of course, the people reading this blog). Pics with Isra are over here.
MARCH 3: Hanging out with Lesley
Lesley Docdocil visited me in Davis and we went out for Thai food at Sophia's and caught a movie, Confession of a Shopaholic, which is an okay movie (thanks to Isla Fisher) based on a really crappy book (sorry Sophie Kinsella but "Confessions.." was one of the worst books I read last summer, along with the four equally horrendous books in the Twilight series).
JANUARY 3-4: Tahoe Trip
The Docdocils were kind enough to let me tag along on their trip to Tahoe, post-New Year. I am not a big fan of the cold but the snow-covered slopes of Tahoe sure were pretty. Highlights of this trip include 1) having my picture taken with Elvis (wahahaha), 2) Mackie getting caught spying on a drag queen, 3) learning how to photoshop this and this, and 4) sledding down part of a hill (or something equally puny). Pictures are also up on my Multiply page.
DAY 6 is supposed to be the day we head to San Diego but with my mom's eye still healing and Mackie's
car in the repair shop, obviously we couldn't go. I'd booked tickets to watch Kimmel's taping early on but because we'd planned to go to San Diego, I had to cancel them as well. So instead, my mom, Carlo (who passed the NCLEX; Yay!), and I spend the day watching at the Americana where we sample some Pinkberry yogurt and catch two movies (but only pay for one. Haha). After the movies, we join my aunt and uncle for Carlo's celebration dinner (on right).
DAY 7: While my mom visits an old friend in LA, Mackie, Carlo and I gallivant around downtown Los Angeles. First stop is Mama's, which Mackie swears has the best tamales he's ever had. Then, we visit the LACMA, which I'd visited before, but has a contemporary museum I'd never been to. After LACMA, we head to Rodeo Drive so Mackie can visit his beloved Prada and we can gawk at one of the wait staff who Mackie thinks looks like Ethan Hawk (I'm not sure I agree but the guy's definitely not bad looking). A dozen pictures after (but sans any shopping bags), we line up at the Beverly Hills branch of Sprinkles, which supposedly serves some of the best cupcakes around. Though I don't generally like cakes and their related cousin, the cupcake, the ones at Sprinkles are pretty good, I'd say. Definitely worth waiting in line for, if you really like cupcakes.
Just when we're about to cal it a day, my mother somehow talks us into having dinner at her friend's house for a belated birthday celebration where surprise, surprise, a karaoke mic was waiting. I'd post a video right here but I'm having difficulty uploading the rather large file so you'll have to settle instead for a screenshot of Mackie happily singing to Boyz II Men's Four Seasons of Loneliness (Note: Padili-dili pa gyud siya sa sugod pero pagkakupot lagi sa mic, dili na diay niya pabuy-an).
DAY 8: My mother and I drive back to Sacramento. Thanks again to Carlo and Mackie (and their respective 'rents)! I had a great time. Hopefully, on my next visit, we can finally go to San Diego—because I'm definitely getting tickets to the Comic-Con.
DAY 3 is eventful, to say the least. It starts at around 3 a.m. when Carlo and I bring my mom to the emergency room of the nearby hospital to have her eye checked out—she'd been trying to get out her contact lens for the past couple of hours and complained that her eye was stinging. We're only in the hospital for a little over an hour till the doctor releases my mom, now wearing one patch over one eye. She says they flushed out the contact lens and put in some medicine to help with the pain but it should take a few days to completely heal. Exhausted, we all head back to the house to try and catch some sleep. I think I've barely gotten a few winks when Mackie and his mother arrive to pick us up (we'd previously agreed that Mackie would use his car for the trip to Vegas while my mom would drive us all to San Diego). I'm a little bit tired and feeling more than a little bit guilty about last night and having bothered Carlo, who's supposed to take his NCLEX exam in the afternoon. But after reasoning to myself that Carlo's pretty much brilliant anyway, I soon start looking forward to the day ahead.
Unfortunately, an hour into the drive, the car starts to overheat and despite our turning off the Ac and giving the engine a break, it looks like we're not going anywhere soon.
The tow truck guy is kind enough to let us all hitch a ride to the auto shop, which is near the car rental agencies. At the auto shop, while waiting for our rental, Mackie consoles himself by having his picture taken. Of course.
After a couple of hours (okay maybe one hour but it feels like forever), we're back on the road and on our way to Vegas. We get to our destination past 8 in the evening and since we have tickets to watch the Cirque du Soleil: LOVE
show at 10 p.m. (Thank God, they were all sold out for the earlier show), we decide to forego dinner to get to the theater in time.
How can I describe the show we see that night? A video would be helpful, but we're not allowed to take pictures, much less film the performance. And it wouldn't have done much good, in any case. There are so many things to see, all at once that a second show is practically mandatory—and would've been on the menu, were I a couple hundred dollars richer. If you've seen the recent Olympics opening ceremony in China, then you have an idea of what the show looks like. With a couple dozen people (instead of the 2008 performers China employed) for each segment, it's obviously on nowhere near as grand a scale as the one China put on but is no less beautiful for it. And the music. Well. There's a reason why The Beatles are so popular.
After the show, we take more snapshots (on right); I swear, with Mackie around, you can't go 2 minutes without a picture being taken; and we, or some of us anyway, begin the gambling.
DAY 4: After a buffet breakfast and quick show at the Circus Circus where we're staying, we visit the Docdocil's former CDO neighbor, Norma Navarro, owner of an employment agency in Vegas and one of the most lavishly decorated homes I've ever seen (that wasn't on TV). After a couple of hours of chitchat, we're off to wander The Strip and a mini world tour of our own, starting with…
After gay old Pa-reeh, we head on to Greece, where silliness ensues:
On DAY 5 we leave Europe to go feast in Mandalay Bay for another eat-till-you-drop buffet. After brunch, while the moms hit the slot machines again, Mackie and I visit England (Excalibur), Egypt (Luxor), and New York in a matter of hours.
If that sounds exhausting, well, I guess it is. Which is why after our world tour, Mackie opts to take a quick nap while I wander into a testing room that gives volunteers a sneak peek at upcoming fall shows in exchange for early reviews. I wish I could say I got to see the first episode of Fringe or Dollhouse, but no such luck. Instead, I got to watch a reality competition program called The World's Most Difficult Jobs or something like that. It was okay, I suppose—they had a Fil-Am contestant who, at least, was one of the better contestants—but it wasn't particularly interesting and I wasn't so generous with my review. In any case, a couple of hours after, a couple hundred dollars less in our bank accounts (for some of us anyway) and about the same amount of pictures more in our cameras, we bid goodbye to Sin City and head back to LA.
DAY 1: Road trip to LA! It's supposed to be an 8-hour drive but with my mom driving, it only takes us 6. This time
around, I'm staying at my 'Uncle' Carlo's place in Glendale. When we get there a little past 3 in the afternoon, I'm the only one not exhausted (since I haven't been driving for 6 hours straight). So while my mom starts watching Enchanted on Blu-Ray, I call up my other driver Mackie who lets me tag along on his social appointmentfor the evening–hanging out at the festival in Sta. Monica. At the festival, I get to meet Mackie's BFFs Sahar and um, Michelle (?), and later on, Victoria and her boys. We would've hung out some more with Victoria and her British-posing friends, but Mackie didn't want to get sand on his shoes (seriously). Because there really wasn't much to see at the festival, here's a pic of Mackie and I shopping at the mall.
DAY 2: Carlo, Mackie and I bring my mom, who's never been, to the Getty Museum. While Carlo photographs every rock and fountain in sight (for Kuya Bang who's always looking for landscaping ideas), the rest of us get busy having our photos taken.
The day ends with our grabbing a late lunch at some really great Chinese restaurant and topping this off with ice cream sandwiches at some place really popular (if the line outside the shop is anything to go by).
DAY 18: Another Do-Nothing-At-All-Except-Shower-Sleep-And-Eat Day. And watch DVDs, of course.
DAY 19: I know I said before that I was too cheap to go on the Statue of Liberty cruise but curiosity got the better of me, so I decide to just go. First stop is historic Ellis Island, one of the main entry points to the States in the past. The port, now a museum, is really the only place you can explore but it's pretty interesting; you can even look up relatives who arrived (apparently a Sylvia Gabe made the journey to America).
Next stop: Liberty Island. Since my ticket included a Monument Pass, I got to go (climb, really) up to the Statue's base. Unfortunately, my camera's battery died on me so, sorry, no pictures. I did get great Statue shots earlier though, courtesy of a cruise guy who let me into the restricted section by the ship's prow. After my cruise, I stop by this doughnut place I heard about on the Food Network which is supposed to have the best doughnuts ever (better than Kripsy Kreme pa daw) but when I get there, the guy in the shop tells me to come back before noon tomorrow since they were all sold out. 😦
DAY 20: I entertain the thought of going out for those doughnuts but…nah.
DAY 21 is the day I finally make it to The Met, home to thousands of priceless artwork and hiding place of Jamie and Claudia Kincaid. As it turns out they've been doing some renovation work on the front steps where the Gossip Girls hang out so, sadly, there's zilch chance of any Ed sightings. No matter though. I'm well prepared for this day: Met podcasts are loaded on my ipod, my shoes are comfy, and best of all, I managed to line up earlier at The Doughnut Plant and buy a few of their bestsellers. When I get to the Met, I decide to have myself a little doughnut breakfast first and…they're good. Really good. I can see why a lot of people like them; biting into the dough is almost like eating a cake. But that's the thing. Strange as it seems, I'm not really fond of cake, at least not the kind made from flour. So there you go. Overall, I'd say the doughnuts were on par (not better) than your average Krispy Kreme.
At 10 am, I join a free Met tour. It's led by a "volunteer," this elderly lady who reminds me a little bit of Angela
Lansbury. She's wearing expensive designer clothes and has a French accent so thick I don't really follow everything she's saying (and I'm too scared to take her picture). But I do learn how to pronounce the names of the fancy French painters. The second tour I catch is by a student intern who introduces himself as Alex Benepe (pic on right).
I wander the Met till closing time and then I head straight to another place I heard about on the Food Network. This time, I go to Levain Bakery, reputed to have the best, thickest chocolate chip cookies this side of the earth. And oh my gosh, if that isn't the absolute truth. I took photos of the ones I bought of course, but the one I'm pasting here is better; though trust me, the photo doesn't even begin to describe how good these cookies taste. Because Levain cookies are just SCRUMMY! If you're ever in New York, got get some. Pronto.
DAY 22: I sleep off all the calories I gained eating those doughnuts and cookies.
DAY 23: It's the Fourth of July! And my last full day in New York. And there's only one thing left to do.
DAY 24: I fly back to Sacramento. Thank you to everyone who played host to me! (but sadly, will never get to read this blog)
DAY 15: I catch the 8:30 a.m. bus to Washington D.C. Or at least that was the plan before I got friggin' LOST!! Let me explain. You see, I've been wondering the streets of New York by myself for, around 3 weeks now and I've been feeling pretty smug because in all that time, I've never ever gotten lost. Confusing, crazy, and dirty as the subway system of New York maybe, I've always managed to figure it out. Until now. Because the subway system wasn't the problem, really. It was the address the bus company gave me. Note to future travelers of NYC, if someone tells you to go to the "6th." A good question to ask would be—"6th Avenue or 6th Street?" And then, just to be certain, look it up on a map because if the GPS you're carrying leads you to a non-existent intersection between two parallel streets, and you find yourself in Chinatown where no one who knows where they're going speaks English, well, then…you're pretty much screwed. To keep a long story short, I missed my bus, couldn't find the bus station AT ALL, was thisclose to just chucking my prepaid tickets and going to Matt and Ben's hometown instead (Ironically, I managed to find a 'To Boston' bus stop), but decided to give it one last go by calling my friend in D.C. who looked up the address of the other bus stop (turns out Bolt doesn't even list its phone numbers on its website). Once I got myself to the other, easier-to-find, bus stop—2 hours late–I was praying for some other misguided fool to miss their bus (since tickets are for reservation only and all the buses that day were full). Miraculously, my prayers were answered and after hearing my sob story, the bus driver didn't even make me buy another ticket! So, all drama aside, by 10 a.m. I was on my way. I arrived at around 3, didn't get lost in Washington's transit system, managed to see 2 of the 17 Smithsonian Museums in the area, meet up with Nicole and Richie, my friends from Ateneo, tour Georgetown University (why is it whenever I visit a place, people always bring me to see their alma mater?), have some cheesecake at the Factory, AND visit the Iwo Jima statue in Virginia. Whew.
DAY 16: Nicole, Richie, and I take a day trip to Annapolis in Maryland where we go on a short cruise and sample the
local seafood. After lunch, we drive back to D.C. and visit the rest of the other tourist spots I missed yesterday: the amazing Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the White House (hangtud gate lang since they only give tours to groups of 10 or more), Jefferson Memorial, and Capitol Hill. Because that morning Richie also just opened a Facebook account, we spend most of the day trying to take the perfect photo for his Facebook page. The one on the left isn't the one he put up, but personally, I like it better just because "malaswa" kaayo iyang dating, murag ga pose for a Harlequin cover of The Bodyguard. Haha.
DAY 17: My last day in D.C. starts off lazily with breakfast with Nicole and Richie, followed by mass in Georegtown, and lunch. Since my bus leaves at 2 p.m. and I don't want to miss it (again), my friends drop me off early. I arrive back in my Uncle's place in Jersey at around 8 p.m. to find that not only did they wait to have dinner with me (aww), my Uncle made one of my favorites—roast potatoes and steak! As much fun as I had, I have to say, it's good to be back.