Monday, October 16, 2017

AMAZING CRAZE

bananas, coffee, and maize
the people's choice of value chains 
rice, palm oil, and shrimps
the rich man said we should engage

so I took off with my bike, went to the market, brought all the crops, and dropped these on the pavement  


why don't we just sell rice cakes
paint them in gold and purple
forget all about the vampires
who sucked the ricefields dry

there the farmers whither, people with names like Santiago, who wore hats like Katipuneros, they who don't eat cakes 


better to get lost in Binondo
drown in dimsum and spring rolls
dream of winning the lotto
quit and just go loco

because emperors don't die, they wear new clothes and become angels, winged but nude and neutered  

Monday, October 09, 2017

HAI[na]KU 5 & 6

1.4.2. K.M. 
calories burned and sweated
12 beers brought it back 


whiskey on Thursday
guns and booze on Saturday
reset by Sunday

Monday, October 02, 2017

5 DAYS, 3 HOTELS, 5 MEETINGS

the CHATRIUM (Days 1 and 2) 
indeed decadent in buffet and palatial in rooms
pluses of an otherwise boring neighborhood
just Charlie Brown and a beer tower playing pingpong
as the Bhoman-Khunaram Temple whispered echos
while the ASEAN locked with SARC in a tango 




the AMARI WATERGATE (Day 3)
cavernous like the the pomp and g[l]or[y][e] of CSR
four food stations interpellating high-powered forums
like Indian creamed with gender or Thai sauteed value chains
esoteric bit coins strewn along a roadside saloon
where carcasses got hanged, chopped and devoured



the PICNIC HOTEL (Days 4 and 5)
as layman as the chaos of eclectic Pratunam
as cool as the towering elegance of Baiyoke
cold beer, grilled meat and the bounty of the sea
sustenance in between PSC, SIDA and UNDP
a great view overshadowed by a lousy breakfast


Monday, September 25, 2017

7 DAYS

behind the bikes
are 142 kilometers pumped
for every letter in a Theory of Change
every page in an interim report
and the rainbow colors of a budget proposal
tasteless beer freezing on Saturday
pulled pork and briskets hissing on Sunday  


like the Tuesday night of the 7 days
warm beer chilling in ukelele songs
friends gathering for the rock band
50 birthday songs for the funny man
50 beers for every story told
50 plates for the roasted carabao 
and 50 kilometers to burn all that   

Monday, September 18, 2017

THE MAKKASAN CONSPIRACY

the demons that possess the value chains must be exorcised 

by us sorcerers and dreamers and pretenders

who conjured magic spells in colored post-its and sheets of paper      


we who conversed in skyped voices and emailed letters

charlatans unmasked during a fancy Thai dinner 



in Makkasan where the conspirators gathered

subdued murmurs compete with hushed whispers

conspiracies disguised as dinners and consultations 



until finally the bell chimed for a dose of the elixir

a tavern piercing the sky where happiness spew out of fountains

to toast, to celebrate, and to forget Makkasan



but I am just a conspiracy of one among many

severely infatuated with Manila's old streets

shooting churches [and bicycles], eating noodles [and lechon kawali]  


Monday, September 11, 2017

THE BREAK IN THE WALL

finally found a hole in the wall on september 3
that wall that stretched from hanoi to jakarta
stretched from august 22 until the 31st


finally bought a new sprocket on september 5
that sprocket that brought me to san beda and mendiola
mendiola where barbed wires encircle a protest camp 



got a grab car to a summit at the marriott
the marriott near resort world casino
that casino jessie carlos burned on june 3 


got back on the saddle on september 8
the saddle that burned the time spent with oskar
oskar who i left in manila for nueva ecija



went on a night out with masons on september 9
masons who would pound the wall after the wife
the wall stretching to bangkok on september 10 

Monday, September 04, 2017

THE PINK HOTEL


It's not exactly slathered in pink but enough of it in the facade, in the rooms and in the furnishings except that there's no miniature Pink Cadillac or a Pink Panther pillow, and it's right across that Red Hotel that looks nice but actually isn't, room so bare it's almost a prison cell, internet weaker than their anemic coffee, cable TV so limited they dare call it that, and breakfast so so-so I decided to skip it, which spawned an interest in the Pink Hotel across the street where I eventually got booked with no regrets, it's pink-themed rooms are indeed hotel rooms, stable internet, a cable TV with more than 5 English channels, and the breakfast buffet a marked improvement with its iced fruit juice and milk, a choice of coffee or tea, cereals, withering vegetable and fruit slices, vomit-thick rice porridge, and an assortment of local breakfast choices served in the hotel's rooftop restaurant that offers a 360 degree view of the Jakarta skyline, and that can compensate for any downsides in the overall service and at night, the restaurant transforms into a bar with pricey drinks and food, like steaks with +++ added in the price which turned me off after almost giving in to a roasted lamb platter that segued into a wagyu beef burger, not so bad but not so good either, until the next night where I finally got to walk to the Kampung Kemang Food Court and dined on glorious sambal-ed fried duck, and the next night at Food Garden Kemang where I feasted on a sublime piece of sambal-ed beef rib, so delectable and so affordable the wagyu burger is indeed a crime.     



I am tickled pink by my nights in Kemang even if my search for that big satay place Oskar said is supposed to exist remains futile, or I was always too early, perhaps too intimidated, for the street food in the corner that I am still not able to sample its satay ayam or discover what was that in the bowl being shared by a young couple, but there was the seclusion of the Bremer Beer Garden with its candle-lit tables and eternal Beatles music that is anesthesia to the aches of the daily grind, and that for me is enough redress for those aspired but so far remains unrealized.  



But the first two paragraphs should not steal the equal glory of my lunches outside Kemang like that memorable first experience with Indonesian carinderia buffet on Monday which I realized was the origin of the superb fried chicken-veggie-rice wrap from my previous Kemang week, my induction into creamy soto ayam on Tuesday in the orange house where I suppose Oskar also gets his late lunches, and the Manado-inspired spread prepared by KIARA on Wednesday --- chicken, fish, kangkong and papaya flowers, corn fritters --- the fish topping it all in terms of taste although the three other dishes are equally delectable.    



And so this fourth paragraph that was inspired by an old bike hanging in front of the fried duck restaurant at the Kampung Kemang Food Court 700 meters away from the Pink Hotel which is 75 meters away from the Red Hotel which is 2,875 kilometers away from home in Bakal 2 where Ariel Guieb Tangilig is parked idle for 2 weeks until that Sunday morning when we got reunited to burn all that accumulated calories from the bottles of Bintang, the wagyu burger, the fried duck and beef rib, the carinderia buffet lunches, the cups of white wine I drank to bear with the airline meals, and of course the gluttony in Hanoi a week ago.  


Monday, August 28, 2017

LAKE OF THE RETURNED SWORD

Once upon a time in Vietnam, the Golden Turtle God gave King Le Thai To a magic sword to help drive away China's invading Minh army which the King did after 10 years of fighting.

One day, the King went boating in a lake where a giant turtle appeared grabbed his magic sword which the King never saw again.

He realized that perhaps that was the Golden Turtle God who came to reclaim the sword that was lent to him so to commemorate that sword-grabbing event, the King renamed the lake as the "Lake of the Returned Sword".

That lake today is a landmark that announces the entrance to the Old Quarter from Hanoi's downtown through Hue and Hang Bai which is 2.1 kilometers by foot from my hotel in Bui Thi Xuan, and nearby along Le Thai To is the Lotus Water Puppet Theater where  plays on the sword-grabbing incident might be showing.    



Some 880 meters away via Le Thai To, Cau Go and Dinh Liet will be a welcome arch that announces Ta Hien, Hanoi's beer street for the tourists, where a photographer poses at the entrance as a sexy Asian tourist walks into the strip, though rows of yellow plastic stools and folding tables, the same entrance where a Tuborg promo girl in her sexy green dress crossed later in the night through Hang Bac.   




I walked back later in the night, the lake a mirror of lights, the shorelines a virtual festival of hawkers and curious tourists and the local population just wanting to relax as I made way this time via Dinh Tien Hoang before turning right to Nguyen Du, left to Thieu Viet Vuong, right into Tue Tin, then another right to Bui Thi Xuan into "The Coffee Shop" where I had my first encounter with Vietnam's iced coffee with condensed milk.



In 2011, a giant turtle with a head as big as a human's and presumed to be at least 100 was caught in the lake. 

Some 2.3 kilometers away along Le Van Huu is the Bun Cha Huong Lien where Anthony Bourdain treated then Pres. Barack Obama to dinner.

Bun Cha is the food of the Golden Turtle God, and Bourdain and Obama actually dined on turtle eggs.


But no, I made that up while having breakfast at "Ka Tunying's Cafe" in Quezon City and added the turtle eggs part while lunching on an over-creamed pasta at "Sizzling Steaks" in Cabanatuan City. 


Friday, August 25, 2017

THE BEERS OF HANOI

Happy Hanoi.

That's what I heard from Riza as I embarked on my first trip ever to Vietnam, and I am of course excited as can be upon deplaning at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan So Nhat International Airport, so eager that I stupidly clambered up an escalator going down and instantly became a star of sorts to all those queuing at immigration as I kind of somersaulted in an awkward way.

But I made it to the domestic with only a light limp and bruised knuckles, and that's how I arrived in Hanoi, picked up by Trung's favorite airport shuttle service, and advised by the hotel front desk to walk to Ta Hien Street in the Old Quarter to quench my thirst for a cold Vietnamese beer.  

Walk I did, in the middle of a scorching and humid afternoon sun, all 2.7 kilometers and more as I search for Ta Hien in a jumble of souvenir shops, cafes and a horde of scooters, finding it, going back and forth as I let instinct decide for me which is the best place to sit and enjoy a beer.

That's how I found the Pasteur Street Brewing Company, advertised to be the makers of Vietnam's finest craft beer, right on happy hour [two beers for the price of one] and fully airconditioned too!

So I pretended to be a connoisseur, swirling samples in a glass to rouse the beer spirit, slowly inhaling the aroma set off by breaking beer bubbles, and then taking a long sip to fully discern the flavor, the way I saw wine tasters do their stuff on TV, before asking the bar tender to "give me your bestseller".

The lager was good and complemented the local cheese platter that I ordered with it, and cold which is the most important thing to me, but the dark ale is simply overwhelmed by the laced coffee flavor, and I don't like mixing my drink with my coffee.



That was cool and refreshing but I came for the local beer, and I mean those that are readily available in any ordinary store, so I walked more of Ta Hien Street before settling on a sidewalk restobar where I ordered my first Pho Bo [Vienamese beef noodles] asked for a local beer.

And I was so extremely disappointed when I was served with a bottle of Danish Tuborg which, except for the color of the bottle [Vietnam military fatigue-green], does not have anything to do with Vietnam.

Perhaps Trung sensed my disappointment and asked me after our meetings if I want to sample a really local brew which is an offer I can't refuse, so off we rode on his scooter to a popular watering hole for the locals, as zero tourists, where I was introduced to the Bia Hao, the "soft beer for hard times" that was created in war-time conditions, brewed daily, supplied by the barrel to local joints, and served draft-style.

It is how fresh a beer can be, lesser alcohol but yeah, refreshing indeed. 



I consulted Trip Advisor for dinner the next day and that was how I came to Cong Caphe which is just literally behind the Oxfam office and in front of my hotel along Thai Phien, right on happy hour [two bottles and get a third one free], and finally got introduced to Hanoi Beer and the petite Saigon Special, both from the pale lager family and perhaps appropriate representations of Vietnam's beer culture from the North and South.

For my free beer, I opted for another local brew, the Truc Bach, also a pale lager which I found leading the Hanoi and Saigon brands by a bit in terms of that "happy feeling" factor, perhaps because it was my third bottle in an hour and it's free, but interestingly as light and fresh like the lowly Bia Hao. 



But in deference to Hanoi where I am being hosted, I raise a tall glass to its beloved brew and declare Hanoi Beer as my official poison for the duration of my stay which rightfully culminated in a dinner of the equally beloved Bun Cha right where Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama had theirs, the now [in]famous Bun Cha Huong Lien which has lost its name to Obama Bun Cha.