The Wheel and Axle

Archive for February, 2017

Back In Bangkok

by on Feb.28, 2017, under Travel & Culture

Bangkok By Night

So my vacation ended last Saturday night in a place I’d fallen in love with before: Thailand.

And yes, I still love the place.

Arriving Wednesday night from Mandalay, I managed to do a few more new things this time around, including getting to see the famous Jim Thompson House and Museum (where I saw an authentic silk-weaver), the Erawan Shrine, Platinum Fashion Mall, the Victory Monument, a dinosaur theme park, and Kamthieng House. I ate the highly-rated papaya salad in the famous Som Tam Nua as well as noodle soup in one of the street stalls of Sukhumvit Soi 38.

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Never Forget.

by on Feb.26, 2017, under Society

Despite all attempts at historical revisionism, the power of EDSA 1986 – the peaceful revolution that inspired many others across the world – will never be forgotten by those who understand that truth will not be vanquished by evil.

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Stories From Around The World, Part 2

by on Feb.25, 2017, under Travel & Culture

Continued From:

Stories From Around The World, Part 1

During our first day in Mandalay, we decided to join the hostel-organized mini-tour around town that would culminate in Mandalay Hill. Here I met several people who joined the tour.

First is Harry from Australia. He has angles to him that remind me of Liam Hemsworth. I recognized him from the plane we took from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon. He wasn’t easy to forget because he was so tall that his head would almost hit the ceiling of the airplane; I am a hobbit beside him. While on the tour in Mandalay, we got to chatting, and it turned out he was traveling alone while on a 2-week holiday from work, where he’s a mining advisor. He’d stayed in Yangon for several days before going to Mandalay and was planning to go to Hpisaw the next day.

He lives in Perth, and after I mentioned that I planned to visit two of my best friends who now live in Australia and make my way to Ayers Rock, he laughed as he himself hasn’t been there yet. That said, I encouraged him to visit the Philippines next time. He’s definitely a nice guy to know, and perhaps when I visit my friends France and Brian in Australia in the hopefully-near future, our paths may yet cross again.

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Stories From Around The World, Part 1

by on Feb.24, 2017, under Travel & Culture

One of the great things about backpacking and staying in hostels is getting to know people from all over the world. It’s something I only really appreciated during my recent trip to Myanmar, the first time I really went and got to know other fellow tourists.

In Yangon, over breakfast, Bj and I got to chatting with a Thai guy, whose name I forget and who apparently enjoys watching Manny Pacquiao. I didn’t have the heart to break it to him that Pacquiao is a homophobic, corrupt arse who is wasting taxpayers’ money for being useless as a politician (and as a *snort* basketball player). We also met a lovely Canadian couple, whose names I also forget, who offered to share their taxi to the bus station so we could split the costs; we would’ve taken them up on it except their bus leaves an hour earlier than ours and so we didn’t want to be there waiting for ages.

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Mandalay! Mandalay!

by on Feb.23, 2017, under Travel & Culture

After spending a couple of days in Bagan, we finally packed our bags and went to the last leg of our Myanmar trip: Mandalay.

We left Bagan on Tuesday morning, and we took a 5-hour bus trip. Now, it wasn’t as fancy as the JJ Express we took from Yangon to Bagan, but it still seemed to fly by so fast. For lunch had a stopover somewhere I don’t really know (Myotha, as per Facebook location, but who knows if that’s accurate), and we had some really cheap but tasty. We ordered beef and rice, but we were surprised to find out it came with a host of side dishes that were pretty good.

We arrived in Mandalay around 2PM. Another surprise: the bus dropped all of us directly at our respective hotels – we didn’t realize until then that this was why they had asked for our hotel information. It was like the school bus, except for backpackers and a few locals. Plus a monk.

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We’ve Only Just Bagan

by on Feb.22, 2017, under Travel & Culture

We woke up early on Monday morning to catch the sunrise of Old Bagan. We’d previously made arrangements for a ride to bring us to Shwe San Daw Pagoda. It was only MMK15,000.00 for the car, which is approximately around PHP552.00 or USD10.00. Since there were two of us, it was even cheaper per head.

Two things to note: that was one heck of a steep climb (and in the dark, since we arrived pre-sunrise, obv), and the place was jampacked with tourists. If you were hoping to go there to pretend to be all peaceful and zen, don’t count on it. That said, it shouldn’t be a deterrent, and with a few well-placed angles of your camera and/or selfie stick, you can give the illusion that you have the place all to yourself. Just don’t fall off any damned ledge, and you should be good. It’s also nice to meet other backpackers from all over the world.

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Vicious Violence!

by on Feb.21, 2017, under Society

Gives a whole new meaning to “catfight.”

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Express to Bagan

by on Feb.20, 2017, under Travel & Culture

Continuing the travel tradition of “why can’t we have nice things back home in Manila?” we boarded an express bus from Yangon to Bagan last Saturday night and found ourselves in a bus with better service and facilities than the local airlines we have in the Philippines (side-eye towards PAL, CebuPac, and AirAsia).

The JJ Express Bus we pre-booked online – JJ apparently standing for “Joyous Journey,” because why not – was designed for optimal comfort and experience, as was preferred for a nine-hour trip. The reclining seats were large, with more legroom than most airlines’ economy class, and there were only three passengers per row (2 + 1, aisle between). We had video entertainment available individually, and blankets, drinks, and snacks were also provided. We also had a stewardess and a steward who functioned pretty much as our, umm, travel attendants. We had a couple of half-hour stopovers along the way, and we slept pretty soundly that the long trip didn’t feel long. All in all, a pleasant experience.

We arrived at our destination on Sunday at 5:00AM sharp – timeliness in public transportation being another thing that’s woefully short back home. Although Old Bagan is our ultimate target, we actually checked into a guesthouse in Nyaung-U, a small and quaint town about 4km northeast of our goal.

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Yangon With The Wind

by on Feb.19, 2017, under Travel & Culture

We arrived in Myanmar last Friday evening, and it was disheartening to realize that even Yangon had a better airport than our own back in Manila. This, after experiencing Kuala Lumpur’s amazing airport. Step up, Philippines!

The country formerly known as Burma has apparently undergone significant improvement since my friend Bj was here last 2009. Although perhaps still not as cosmopolitan as Manila, Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur, the former capital of Yangon (i.e. Rangoon) has had increasing development in the last few years, with more and more infrastructure and such popping up. There were actually a number of buildings being constructed when we were there. Also, you know you’ve “made it” as a metropolitan city when you have a Shangri-la Hotel (and Yangon apparently has three of them, one of which is a service apartment type place). 

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