Thailand 2013 : Indra Regent, Siam Paragon and Lady boys

For Christmas this year (well … last year, since this entry’s 7 months late), our family went to Bangkok.  The last time Ezra and I were there was back in 2009, so we were pretty excited.  Thailand will always hold a special place in our hearts because back when we lived in Myanmar, there were no direct flights from the Philippines and we would always have to spend the night in Bangkok.

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This is the second year in a row where we spent Christmas day at the airport :D We went there early because last time we flew on Christmas day, it was very crowded
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We were pretty relaxed this time since we had plenty of time to spare before our flight.  We took advantage of the airport’s free wifi to surf the net while waiting.

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After a peaceful 3-hour flight, we landed safely in Bangkok.

We booked a shuttle to take us to our hotel, but the van that was supposed to pick us up got stuck in traffic due to the protests.  Fortunately the company had this little lounge where we could wait.

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Garcia girls on their iPads.  What were we so busy with?

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Why Candy Crush of course.

After a short wait our shuttle arrived to take us to our hotel, the Indra Regent Hotel.

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My parents have stayed in this hotel countless times before because of work, but this was Ezra’s and my first time there.

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It was Christmas day so naturally they had this huge Christmas tree in the lobby

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Hallway leading to our room

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My parents booked the Lanna Suite, which was at the very end of the hallway.

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Ezra posing with the beautifully carved door to our suite

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Inside, there’s this little foyer.  If you turn right at the end you have Ezra’s and my room, and to the left is my parents room

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Ezra and I were surprised by how spacious our room was.  You could probably fit two more beds in there.  Plus, we had a queen sized bed each.  Plenty of room to roll around while we sleep :D

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The master’s bed room was even fancier of course.  But it had a lot furniture so they didn’t have as much space to move around.  They had a vanity table, a sofa set and a four poster bed.

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Cute mirror
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The master’s bathroom also had a shower and a tub :D (Our room only had the shower)

Since we haven’t had dinner yet, we decided to walk around outside and look for a place to eat after dropping our luggage off.  Our hotel is actually connected to a shopping mall, which has a nice food court, but they close at around 6pm. It was pretty late so most of the restaurants were already closed too.  We did see lots of these carts selling Thai street food.  We were pretty tempted to try them, only we didn’t have plates or utensils we could use.  I think these are mainly made for take-out customers.

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Eventually we found a small family-owned restaurant nearby that was still open and we had our dinner there.

Afterwards my dad went back to our hotel to rest, but we girls wanted to get a head start on our shopping.  We were in Thailand after all!  Fortunately our hotel is located right in the center of Pratunam Market.  It’s every shopper’s dream to have so many shops outside their doorstep.

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Everything was so affordable.  And we didn’t even have to bargain that much.  I ended up buying 5 dresses and 2 earrings in the two hours we spent there that evening.

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My mom wasn’t that interested in shopping for clothes but she did get excited when she saw these little buko juice.  They’re her favorite.  I expected them to taste like a regular coconut water but I was pleasantly surprised to find out how sweet and delicious they were.  I’m not sure if it’s a special kind of coconut or they did something to it, but it was super yummy.  Ezra and I got soon got addicted to these too and we’d buy one every night.

(I was planning on sharing scenes from our shopping adventures in this entry, but I realized how long it was getting so I decided to make a separate entry about that.)

The next day my mom had to work, so she stayed in the room while my dad showed Ezra and I around the mall.  But before that, we had breakfast at our hotel first.

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The breakfast room was open air, which we enjoyed because the weather was nice and cool.  We just had to make sure to keep a close eye on our food because there were lots of birds in the area waiting to steal them off our plates.

While we were eating, one of the staff came up to us to tell us that we were in the wrong breakfast room.  She told us that since we booked a suite, we should have had our breakfast at their second breakfast room.  We were almost finished eating so we told them we’d rather not transfer.  But after we were done, we decided to go down to the other breakfast room to see what they offered.

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Unlike the other breakfast room, this one was indoor.  I expect that the guests appreciate that during the summer, but since it was December, it didn’t really make a big difference.  And to be honest, the buffet was pretty much the same as the other breakfast room, except this one had an omelette station and bacon.  (Well, I suppose for some people the presence of bacon is enough reason to upgrade….).  But honestly, we preferred the other breakfast room because it was more spacious.

My parents told us that the hotel had a koi pond nearby, so we decided to go and check it out

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We passed by the pool on our way there.

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Ezra and I got all excited when we saw the all the huge fish in the Koi pondIMG_5522a (6)

Look how big they are!  Some of them were longer than our arms!

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After playing with the fish, my mom went back to the room to work and my dad took us to go shopping at Indra Square, which was connected to our hotel.  (You can access it via the 2nd floor).  I picked up a dress and a phone case there.

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Ezra found this giant lolly and she convinced my dad to get it for her.  It took her three days to finish the entire thing.

My parents wanted us to see this mall called Siam Paragon, so we decided to have our lunch there.  We went back to our room to pick my mom up and grabbed a cab to take us there.  It’s actually walking distance from our hotel, but we were really hungry so we wanted to get there faster.

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We found this interesting sign on our cab window.  It’s an illustration of things that aren’t allowed inside the vehicle. Some of them were very clear, but some were confusing.  Ezra and I were laughing at the  the one the middle because we figured it meant “no hanky panky in the cab”, but my mom’s convinced that it meant “no fighting”, lol.  What do you guys think?  Also, the one on the far right has us stumped.  Is that a sheep or a goat?  Ezra says it looks like a ghost.  So “no haunting the cab”?

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SKDR Films : Today is My Day (Santa Monica and Little Tokyo)

It will probably be a while before I have my US 2014 entries up on this blog.  Right now I’m still working on our Thailand vacation from last Christmas, so it’s going to take some time before I make it to our California trip.  Thankfully, Kurt has been working on the editing the videos he took of us while we were there last summer, and he’s posted a few of them on his youtube account.  I figured I’d share them here as well since I love them so much.

Here’s the first one he made.  This was taken on our very first day there.  He took us to Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Target (for some make up shopping) and Little Tokyo.

Thanks for showing us around and for the awesome video Kurt!

PS. Obviously I was kidding about the VHS tape at the end.  I grew up watching movies on VHS, and I would even record my favorite shows on them so I could watch them over and over.  VCDs didn’t come out until I was in middle school XD

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Week 24/52 : Life’s roughest storms prove the strength of our anchors

This manipulation was obviously inspired by the recent weather here in the Philippines. Over the past week, we’ve had two typhoons, and we’re expecting another one this weekend. I’ve already written a blog post about what Glenda did to our house and my grandparents’ house, which you can read HERE.

We finally have power at our house again, yay! Let me tell you, living a week without electricity is no fun. It wasn’t even about not being able to get online or play games or watch TV. I thought that those would be what I missed the most, but I was wrong. I missed our washing machine, our microwave, our fridge and our electric fan. Our dirty laundry piled up because it was so much harder having to wash them by hand. And having to go to the market and cook every day was no walk in the park, but we had no choice because we can’t have leftovers since they would spoil easily in our hot and humid climate. But now the power’s back and I can’t be happier. Hopefully this means I can edit the rest of my self portraits soon.  (Although, looking on the bright side, having nothing to do at home meant I was able to brainstorm and come up with a couple of new ideas for my 52-week project :D)

I had fun shooting and editing this. I had to piece different parts of my body together during post processing since it wasn’t easy to pose as if you’re being carried off by the wind. And I had to paint almost all my hair on since I couldn’t use the fan when I shot this. But I really like how it turned out.

Here are the stocks I used for this image:

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Glenda aftermath

It’s been a week since Typhoon Glenda hit the Philippines, and we’re still trying to recover from the devastation it brought upon us in the CALABARZON region.  Several places are still without power (including our house), and the roads are still littered with all sorts of debris.  The Philippines is known to be visited by several typhoons every year, so I’ve experienced my fair share of them, but this was the first time that I was legitimately scared during one.

The typhoon reached our area around midnight, and by then it wasn’t that strong yet.  I figured it would be another one of our garden variety typhoons.  Two hours later I woke up because our neighbor’s fence had collapsed and the wind was making it trash around and hit the window above my head.  By this time the power had gone out and the storm had gotten much worse.  I tried to block out the sound by wearing headphones and blasting music on my iPod, but I still couldn’t sleep because I could literally feel our entire house shaking due to the wind.  I closed my curtains because the sight of our palm tree convulsing on our front lawn freaked me out.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep that night so I just laid in bed and braced myself for the long and scary night ahead.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this plan.  My sister walked in my room a few minutes later and told me that she couldn’t sleep because she was worried about our house.  We went to our parents’ room to check to see how they were doing and found them lying in bed, wide awake.  My dad’s sisters were visiting us from California and they couldn’t sleep either.  They were so scared and asked us if this was normal. We spent the night making sure all the windows were closed and checking up on different parts of the house.  At around 4am, my room started leaking so I had to move my stuff out, including my mattress.  The wind subsided around 6am, but it started up again around 7am.  It was a lot less terrifying since the sun had risen and the whole house was awake by this time, but it was still awful.  Glenda finally left us alone around 10am, and we went outside to check the damage.

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The palm tree in front of our house collapsed.  It’s been there ever since I can remember and it has survived dozens of typhoons, but it wasn’t strong enough to withstand Glenda

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Poor palm tree

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The rest of our plants didn’t fare too well either:

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Book Review : More Than This

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I rarely do book reviews these days, but I finished this the other day and I still haven’t moved on so I figured I should write a quick entry about it to get it out of my system.

This is a story about how a young girl’s entire world shattered in one evening, and how she managed to piece it back together with the help of some amazing people.  It’s a story about fate, destiny, love, friendship and family. It’s about accepting our weaknesses and finding our strengths and moving on.

From the very beginning, I was immediately intrigued because the main character is part Filipino.  It doesn’t really play a huge role in the story but I rarely come across books with Filipino characters.  I think the last one I read with a character who was part Filipino was from the Georgina Kincaid series, and she was just a minor character.  Then I learned that Mikayla’s favorite book is The Sea of Tranquility, which was my favorite book of 2013.  (You can read my review HERE).  I actually had to put the book down when she mentioned this and tell all the people around me that Mikayla Jones loves The Sea of Tranquility and Josh Bennet as much as I do.  Instant connection, right there.  Throw in a hot guy with a sexy accent to the mix and I didn’t stand a chance.  I really enjoyed the writing too.  It was very enchanting and I felt like I was putting together a puzzle in my mind.  Within the first few chapters, I experienced a whirlwind of feelings and emotions.  Anger, happiness, joy, and pain … so much pain.

I loved the characters in this book.  I admire Mikayla for being so strong.  She lost so much in one evening, and at such a young age, but she managed to keep her head up and find a way to move on.  And I love Jake because, seriously, what’s not to love?  Hot guy, sexy accent, athletic discipline, kind, supportive, caring and a family guy.  I respect the fact that he never pushed Mikayla to do something she wasn’t ready for. He always let her know know that he will be there to support her no matter what path she chooses.  It’s kind of unbelievable that a guy she only knew for 24 hours would take her under his wing and help her get through something so horrible.  But then again, there are genuinely nice people out there.  Jay McLean undoubtedly created Jake Andrews to give female readers someone to drool over.

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Week 23/52 : Amethyst

 

I’m cheating again. This was taken on the same day as my 17th self portrait this year.  Although to be fair, this was shot first, but we had fun with the James Bond exhibit at Madame Tussauds and I ended up liking the other photo more. Since I’m still 5 weeks behind on my project, I decided to upload this anyway.

I look a bit awkward in this shot because I was very self conscious when we were taking this. There were lots of people at the museum and some of them were waiting to take pictures with the wall too.  I’ve been doing this for 4 years but I’m still not used to posing when there are people watching me.

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Week 22/52 : LACMA!


This was taken at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) last May. Kurt took us there one weekend because we wanted to get some footage with these awesome pillars. I want to slap myself because we spent about half an hour at this place and I wasn’t able to get a decent shot for my 52-week project. I took a few photos, but they were mainly snapshots meant for social media and not really self portrait material. However, I am 5 weeks behind on my 52-week project, so I figured I might as well choose the one I liked most and use that anyway. So here it is, another dippy. I seem to be doing a lot of these lately.

(This place supposedly looks so much more magical at night, unfortunately we left early and didn’t get to see it.)

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