January '12 musings

The first month of the year is barely over and so much has been transpired. I am enveloped in gratefulness with the blessings that has been showering me.

With travel (my vision board is filled with places I want to visit) and projects (work and hobbies that equate to moolah), along with good health (excess baggage, the tangible one aka fats, on the body I can do without), on the top of my 2012 wish list, everything jumpstarted as soon as the first minute of the new year struck.

Jotting down my aspirations for 2012 & beyond in Singapore's Chinatown.

Popping up on the travel calendar is the invitation of Sharon Cheong of Tiger Airways to revisit Singapore and immerse in the different cultures of the country. By immersion, it meant staying in the “village” and exploring the area on foot minus the rush of the tourist pace.

Far East Hospitality put fellow pressman, Kenneth, & I on this tricshaw (tricycle + rickshaw) from Landmark Village Hotel in the Arab quarter to Albert Court in the Indian Quarter.  Two dinosaurs aboard= poor driver.

Hosting was Far East Hospitality, owners of the strategically located Village Hotels around the Lion City, who planted me at the center of the Arabian, Hindu and Chinese cultures of Singapore. Though I have been to these areas, this is actually the first time that I have “seen” it. 

Far East Hospitality's newest property in Novena, Singapore, the Oasia Hotel, is one hip, chic, modern Japanese inspired/designed hotel.

A few days after, I flew to Thailand and was amazed at how quickly the place jumped back to its upbeat state of a top SEA destination. It was as if no catastrophe struck that turned the country into a ghost town for a little more than month. Tourism Authority of Thailand’s International PR Division’s man, Gun Puntuhong, drew a clear picture why Thailand is truly amazing. 

What’s more exciting was my stay at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (where each floor has a butler, where I drifted to sleep and woke up with the river smiling, where I got serenaded by the “Buffalo choir”, where the award-winning spa was heavenly….). I believe fate has its ways of turning everything to the favorable. After a couple of years, I finally met Susie Hansiriwasdi, Director of Public Relations, and Karn Puntuhong, the Public Relations Secretary, who gave me a quick tour through the property’s history. Finally, my story of dining on a fancy joint by the famed waterway of Thailand will find its words. 

A welcoming smile & a refreshing drink from the butler. How can you beat that?

The hall leading to Mandarin Oriental's historic rooms.

Ice, one of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok's  popular figure, & his "Buffalo Choir" serenade me at breakfast.

Designing jewelry as a hobby afforded me the chance to meet and collaborate with several talented designers from this city. Just when I felt my search for new suppliers was in a slump, I chanced upon one atelier that turns silver into a fine art. I am excited to work with these young siblings and have more people appreciate this metal. 

Some things are just meant to be. Discovering fantastic talent in the Land of Smiles & taking it home.
The Liza Scarflet from the Mesh Collection of Argento del Salvador

My wish list does include my love for leather accessories, thus I came up with three bags I would love to have. No sooner, I came face to face with one on the list. The next day I had breakfast with Hubert G.’s nightingale by the river. How sweet it sings! 

and, I heard Hubert G.'s Nightingale sing......

Back in the country, after a night’s sleep, I was on my way to another place in my bucket list- the Banaue Rice Terraces. This was fated. A series of incidents brought about this chance and I got more than what I expected. The sight of the “eighth wonder” was awe-inspiring. This was just the prelude to an action-packed trip. Sagada is a nest of natural beauty and trekking its caves, dipping into the cold pool by a waterfall, catching the sun setting by the lake and rising over the mountain range will give you a thrill like no other. 

Got what more than I asked for.... Sagada was more than just the Banaue Rice Terraces.
Trekking this cave was exhilarating!

A three hour ++ trek was nothing in the company of crazy, fun people.
An hour on foot will take you to this hidden oasis.

As the sun rises over the mountain ranges of Sagada, it slowly reveals the  terraces on its slopes.

And Baguio. The city has grown and the rust-colored roofs have taken over the green panorama. But there are some areas where you can still bask in its verdant glory. Food tripping is good at this place and the BenCab Museum is a must-visit. Luckily, he was there and obliged us with our photo request. The art house is fantastic! And since his works are too rare to come by and running on the seven-digit scale, I was happy to own a more affordable version in print. As per Vita S. of Finale Gallery, it’s a good buy from the source itself. 

Meeting Sabel once more...

And the man (& National Artist) who transformed the bag lady he saw from his window in Tondo to an iconic  figure  of art.

Owning a print.... at this point.

Now, I am back in the city and smiling at how generous the Universe and God can be. I am blessed. I am grateful. I know I will see the island I call home next month but there is this feeling that something more will pop up. I won’t say no.