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Archive for July 2010

Movie Review: Salt, which you should take with a grain of salt.

So, thanks to Nuffnang.com.ph, myself and two other friends got a chance to watch Salt for free last night! No spoilers below unless specified :)

It stars Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer, used to being in the field. So when a walk-in informant told the CIA that Evelyn Salt was a Russian spy and was intending to kill the Russian President, she was the subject of suspicion. So, who indeed was Evelyn Salt? This was the premise of the first hour or so of the movie. Was she as she says she is - an American CIA agent, or was she really a Russian spy as stated by the informant?

After that first hour of guessing, which made me feel like I'm watching an episode of Lost, because I kept changing my mind on my theory. Which was fine. Then the last hour started, and I got bored.

Sure, there was a twist at the end that I was totally not expecting.  [Expect a red herring moment!] But then again, it was not enough for me. This movie was too overhyped and did not live up my standards and what I thought this movie would  be.

As a friend of mine said, "this movie is like Bourne, with a girl on it." So, if you like movies with a lot of action and/or would just want to see Angelina Jolie, then by all means, see it. If you're choosing between Salt and a bunch of other movies, I'd say, go watch Inception instead. Inception is more worthy of your time than this flick.
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Macau: an Introduction

As promised to my friends, I would try and chronicle my travels. So, for 2010, I decided to go abroad and fly back to Hong Kong and make a side trip to Macau as well. 

Macau has three islands Macau Island, Taipa, and Coloane. However, recent developments in Macau meant that the Cotai strip - a manmade reclamation area that houses some of the biggest casinos in the area, joined the Taipa and Coloane islands. Why is this Special Administrative Area of China so unique and popular to tourists? Well, first off, its got a ton of casinos -- something that Hong Kong and even the mainland lack. Some locals go to Macau for the weekend so expect hotel rates to rise! Some parts of  Macau are also World Heritage sites - well, I think that's enough for me to go, right? History, history, history! Its got old churches, and other places worth mentioning.

Planning Your Trip and Tips

When I booked my tickets, I just had some dates in mind. I decided to book immediately because a local airline [Cebu Pacific] was holding dirt cheap airfares! Anyway, I went there around July -- which is a boiling hot time to go, so not very ideal if you hate the hot weather! Try going there in the colder months, October-March!

How many days is ideal to stay in Macau? It totally depends on you! If you want to just check out the historic center, then a day is enough, but if you want to check out some of the casinos out there, then two days would be more than enough. In my case, I went to the historic areas in the morning, whilst going to the casinos at night. If you also want to check out the other islands, Coloane and Taipa, then three days at the most. I wouldn't recommend staying in Macau for more than three days because I got bored. If I were you, I'd want to plan a trip to Zhuhai [if you have a mainland China visa], or to Hong Kong too. Most visitors tend to go to Hong Kong as there are far more activities and tourist areas to go to!  
Getting There

There's three ways to go to Macau: you could go by land, air, or sea. Macau is easily accessible from Hong Kong, and you have the option to enter through Hong Kong and take a ferry to Macau [which lasts only for an hour and the option that most people do], or to ride a helicopter from HKIA to Macau's airport or the heliport near the ferry terminal. Macau is also accessible from Mainland China - via Zhuhai. Just taking the bus from Guangzhou [Zhuhai] into Macau is a breeze. And the last option: by air. There are several airlines flying to Macau. I come from Manila so Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines land there. The airport is in Taipa, which is around 30 minutes to an hour away from the Macau Peninsula.

The airport - do note that the airport is very, very small! Once the plane lands, it taxis for around 10 minutes before it reaches the airport terminal. Once you alight from the plane, it's a short walk and there's customs! Normally there's loads of people around, which could take you around 30 minutes or more to clear. After customs, you can claim your baggage, and you're finally off!


Unlikes the other tourist destinations, Macau has no MTR! To get around the city, you have to walk, take the bus, or hire a taxi. Or there's the open secret of using the free shuttle buses offered by the casinos and walking to the nearest sight! teehee. Thing is, you've got to plan your itinerary and where you're going very, very carefully to make the most out of your time and money! =)

Getting Around, Research, and Resources

When I arrived in Macau, there are no maps in the airport. So, how would you get to your hotels? There are three options: 1. Hotel pickup. I'm not sure if all hotels do this, but this is not the option we took as our hotel has no option for this. 2. Taxi - too bloody expensive for me but it is the most convenient and 3. Take the AP1 bus somewhere and transfer to another bus or just walk to your hotel. The latter is the one I chose, as its very, very cheap - 4.20 MOP from Taipa/airport to the Ferry Terminal in Macau Peninsula!

Anyway, I also survived by downloading and printing a map of Macau from the Macau Tourist Office.

You could download the maps here --> http://www.macautourism.gov.mo/en/download/map.php

Both the Macau and Taipa/Coloane maps are made of four pages each, and you have to assemble each of them like a jigsaw puzzle. You just need a bit of patience, a table, and some sticky tape and you're on your way! This way you could get a birds eye view of Macau and plan your trip accordingly.
On another blog, I'll try and group together all the activities you could do so you won't have a hard time to do so =)

Other information, you could download/get from the Macau tourism website --> http://www.macautourism.gov.mo/en/discovering/sightseeing.php

If you're bloody obsessive-compulsive like I am then it's also worth research, research and research!!

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Anglophile and Inception

Whilst I was surfing Wikipedia looking for anything Inception-related [read: actors, plotlines, related movies], I saw an article about Joseph-Gordon Levitt and how he is a Francophile - a person with a strong positive disposition to France. Anything about France, its culture, history, the people.

Hmm... which got me thinking. For followers of my blog, I dunno if there are any, you probably notice that I tend to write in British spelling, rave about anything British [especially the bands], and loooooove London so much that I'd want to go back and maybe live there in the future. And yes, even the World War II stuff, I find myself rooting for the Brits [the Allied troops] instead of the Americans, who liberated us. Teehee. Colonial mentality, call it, but I still love Britannia!

Turns out, there is such a cultural appreciation term for me! It's called Anglophile!! A certain love for anything England. Woot Woot. This started when I was in 6th grade, I think, waaay back in 1997, when I discovered my favourite band of all time and got absolutely obsessed about London.

Don't get me wrong, I was born here in this island country in Asia called the Philippines, but there was something absolutely different about me. I was brought up in a Western sort of way, with relatives from America, and also well, the blood of my Spanish ancestors also run in my blood. I think.

Anyway.......... enough of the Anglophile talk. I just wanted to say I am an anglophile. teehee.

On other news, I've just seen Inception last Sunday and all I can say is WOW. One of the best movies I've ever seen so far. The plotline is absolutely complex, it's hard for me to think how Christopher Nolan wrote the screenplay for it. It was excellently done too. And Leo.. oh Leo. Why is he so freaking hot??

With the girl from Juno + Joseph Gordon-Levitt [I'll always associate him with 500 days of Summer & the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun - one of the best tv shows of all time], the ensemble cast is great!

And... Cillan Murphy.... he's Irish, you know? Adds all the more to his charm! teehee. I think I've seen him before in a British-produced movie but I'm racking my brains where and I'm too lazy to check on IMDB or wikipedia. teeehee.

Back to regular programming now - I'm back at work, and my commute to and from work is taking forever!!! I've packed my book light with me so I could work on some notes and maybe read a little while on the way home. The traffic going home [I live in the south of the metro] is absolutely unexpected - sometimes the commute takes less than 40 minutes, sometimes it takes more than an hour in the expressway. I love my Energizer book lamp. I got it for free from my Citibank credit card rewards points too =) Retail price is around P400+!

I'm still finalizing the itinerary for the Macau/HK trip that I plan to put up here sometime soon. Woo!

And yes, the blog has just officially gone from a book blog to my personal blog. AGAIN.

Blame the laziness in me to maintain 3 separate blogs.

Good news all around!

Good day everyone!

I've been out for a week whilst I'd been touring Hong Kong and Macau. It's a yearly event of mine now - to take a holiday off work and life and just see the world. It's my third time in HK and my first in Macau. Trip has been very successful and I've uploaded my photos in my facebook account. I dunno if I'll write a blog about this trip sometime soon but maybe when I'm bored and I have a lot of time in my hands you'll see it here too :)

I just read the most amazing news today: Take That are reuniting as a five-piece! Ayeeee! *squeals* I love, love, love, love Take That. Actually my love for this boyband had been rekindled when I was in London back in 2008. I hoarded their DVDs and CDs and now... Robbie Williams is bacck! They're a five-piece again. *flails*

I wish I could go back to London or some country where they'll perform in just to watch their concert!!!

Puts TT and BZ concerts back in priority.

Anyway..... I've been to Powerbooks Alabang Town Center yesterday and tried my best not to walk out with anything! Hah. Good thing TT and BZ and travel are on my mind so I came out with nothing.

But the sale is from July 15-August 15, 2010 anyway... sooo.. more time to go back when I've changed my mind.

Then there's the Fully Booked Sale, the National Bookstore Sale, and the Manila International Book Fair. 

Plus travel. Must always remember to travel.

Okay, enough rants now, I'm going back to my regular routine [work, read, watch stuff] in hopes of traveling again.
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Live blogging from macau

Hiya! How's everyone doing? I just wanna say hi and test out blogging via my
mobile device :) I'm currently enjoying my travel- I just came from Macau and today I'm heading for hong kong Disneyland. Awesome stuff.

Now I'm thinking about blogging everything I've done whilst in this trip to help others too :)

Haven't been reading much lately but maybe when I get back home ;) tah!
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Guest Post: Barbara DeShong, author of Too Rich & Too Thin

Hiya All! 

I'd like to welcome Barbara DeShong and thank her for writing the guest post below =) 
Feel free to leave comments or ask questions after the post!

How Far Is Your Body from Perfect?
 And Why You Don’t Need to Know

Barbara DeShong

The Story Behind the Story: TOO RICH and TOO THIN, Not an Autobiography

On a Saturday afternoon when I was fourteen, my older sister invited me along on a guest pass to the fancy spa where she was a member.  The idea appealed to me as a kid who spent fifteen to twenty hours a week riding horses, but had no experience with the more glamorous side of exercise. I donned my shorts and T-Shirt, excited and ready for my introduction to the world of women’s fitness.

On arrival, my sister greeted her spiffy pony-tailed trainer and I tagged along, spasmodically trying out a variety of machines that looked suspiciously like some I’d seen pictured as favorites of bitter European queens during the Dark Ages.  But, I was having a good time, all and all. With my outdoor schedule, I wasn’t likely going to end up a regular at the spa, but I was enjoying the heck out of my guest pass.

At least I was having fun until a spandexed trainer roaming the spa with a clipboard spotted me floundering naïvely amongst the equipment and offered me a free body appraisal.  Free being in my price range, I jumped on the opportunity to add value to my guest pass. The pretty lady led me into an office and whipped out a tape measure. As a fourteen year old with the above mentioned lack of spa sophistication, I sat, stood, turned, held out my arms, and offered up my sunburned neck. She was at least twenty-five and had instruments.  Thus, I obeyed. Also, remember, at fourteen free was still a big draw.

Then the woman took the page off her clipboard and made entries into a calculator on her desk. After a few minutes of electronic humming, she swiveled her chair to match up her knees to mine. She knitted her forehead with great importance and proceeded to inform me that: my upper arms were 1.4 inches too big, my forearms and wrists were slightly out-of-sync, but perhaps, acceptable given my overly large hands. My waist-to-hip ratio was off by 2.4 inches, my neck was .4 inches under-sized which could be my age, and my ribcage was too large for my breast size. I lost conscious attention before she got to my thigh and lower leg deformities. 

Amazingly, after informing me of the specifics of what was wrong with my body, with an absolute straight face the woman looked me straight in the eyes and asked if I would like a copy of the information.  A free copy.  I declined. Talk about some information a fourteen-year- old doesn’t need.  Something no woman needs. 

We have mirrors.  We have clothes that fit and those that don’t.  I couldn’t possibly think why any woman could possibly benefit from to the decimal records on how her body differs from the “ideal.”

When I chose the cover and the title for the humorous mystery, TOO RICH and TOO THIN, Not an Autobiography, I reflected on my teenage spa experience. The women who come into my psychology office, like the one who peers at me out of my mirror, tend to see a face and body worse than the reality. The cover for the book shows a regular-sized, normally saggy, middle-aged woman with un-fussed-over hairdo painting a self-portrait using a mirror.  On her easel she has painted a slender woman with great hair. Studies show that people who over-estimate their physical and social desirability have more fun in life.  Knowing those studies, I’ve often thought, “What if, as a psychologist, I could help people see themselves as better-looking than they are?

To approach the body image issue a bit differently through fiction, one of the lead characters is so obsessed with the way she sees herself that she has her bedroom walled in distortion mirrors reflecting a younger and slimmer woman.
Behind the mystery in TOO RICH and TOO THIN, Not an Autobiography is the story of women’s struggle with self image in an image conscious world. 

Barbara DeShong is an award-winning speaker, practicing psychologist, and the author of “Too Rich and Too Thin: Not an Autobiography,” a humorous mystery novel. For more information, please visit www.mysteryshrink.com  or www.toorichandtoothin.com

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