Sunday, August 17, 2008


After returning from the resort, I went for a walk around the city of Cebu, and I think I discovered where the Spanish landed in the Philippines... here is the church, the Basilica de Santo Niño.And across the street, here is the fort, Fort San Pedro.Its kind of funny, because when you enter these two spots, you really feel like you are in the city of San Antonio, but this feeling falls apart when you walk back outside. Inside the church, they had an area where you could wait in line and visit Saint Niño, and I think the church had a 24 hour mass going on too. The center of the church also had a court yard, with statues of saints and a fountain... Here is a view of the court yard seen though spanish church style bars. There was a shaded hall-way around the outside of the court yard, full of people sitting and laying in the window sills. It was kind of hot outside, and I guess this seem like a good idea.

One of the more negative aspects of Cebu, and maybe you can put some blame on the topic of this post, colonialism, but maybe not, is the extreme poverty through out the city.This was a real eye opener for me, I have never seen such living condition before.I did not really feel comfortable taking photos in some of these neighborhoods, but I feel people here had no hope and were just living day to day. Everything seemed to be a struggle and I'm not sure how people could cope with this. The most difficult aspect of all of this was there was so many kids that from day one, you know they are going to have a difficult life. The two photos above are actually in the city of Tagbilaran on the island of Bohor. On the photo above, this is what you see when you exit the boat and walk down the pier towards the city. I think the government tried to hide part of the slum behind those billboards. And it should be noted, not all of Cebu is like the three photos above, there are parts of the city that boast higher incomes, but between the port and the financial district, these areas are difficult to find.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


For two nights during my vacation, I stayed at this resort called Pluchra, its a very nice place. Not much to talk about, I think I slept 14 hours a day and basically ate the other hours.The resort is also a large garden, with flowers all over and towards the back fields where they grow much of the food used on site at the different restaurants.Which makes for some really good meals.The first day here was kind of crazy, a tropical storm rolled in and it rained from about 4pm till the next morning. All the side walks turned into rivers and it took about a day and a half for the ground crews to clean this place up. But the next two days, the weather was great.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


So, I have aligned my vacation schedule with the Japanese holiday calender and made my first trip out of Japan that did not end in the US, to the Philippines. Actually to the province of Cebu and I'm splitting my time between Cebu City and a resort called Pulchra. This is nice, Cebu city is kind of crazy, the resort is really nice.

My trip from Nagoya to Cebu was kind of slow, I planned this about a week ago and was unable to get a logical ticket. But I did make it to Cebu, with stops in Taipei and Manila before landing in Cebu. When you land in Manila, the first thing you do is get off the plane, walk through the baggage claim area and out the door, you are bound to see a bus that looks something like this:And you think to yoursel "that's cool, they put that crazy bus statue over there." But then you realize there are people on the bus statue and it's actually going somewhere. Turns out, this is the backbone of mass transit in the Philippines, more so when you get outside of Manila. And to make it even more fun, their is a big debate going on in the local papers to weather these bus' are a good idea. The debate goes like this, Point: They are old, unsafe, burn lot's a fuel and does not make a good image for the Philippines. Counterpoint: Yeah, but it only cost 8 peso's to ride. So far counterpoint is winning.During rush hour, people are hanging off the back and sitting on the roof.

Hanabi - 2008

Hanabi translates directly into Flower Fire, but means fireworks and everyone in Japan seems to love Hanabi. The photo below was a few hours before the start of the show and you can all ready see the mass of people and boats building up. Yukie actually invited me to watch this fireworks show at Tokyo bay a few months ago when I first moved to Japan and at the time I did not understand how big of a deal this really was. Since then, I have learned that there are many very famous fireworks show in many cities in Japan every weekend. But this fireworks show is quite a big deal.The condo was on the 9th floor of this building next to the Tokyo towers, just over my shoulder there. Those towers are new, I guess one of the Japanese MLB players from NY has a place there. The show started right at 7:00 with this first set of fireworks:The show was a hour and twenty minutes long, so we had these snack off to the side, just in case someone wanted a bite to eat.Yukie made the rice cover nori off on the left, it was really good.This is towards the end of the show. My train home was 10pm, the show ended at 8:20pm, between the condo and Tokyo station was about a 30 minutes bus ride on a normal day. But, today, there was about 100000 people who wanted to take the bus to the train station. So right as the show finished, while people were still clapping the end of the show, I made a b-line down to the bus stand and got in line. I ended up only having to wait for one bus, and got to Tokyo station with 20 minutes to spare.Couple of more photos from Toyko bay...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Island..... in the sun..

When your daily commute takes you between Nagoya and Handa, you can easily forget that you are living on an island in the middle of the pacific ocean, and that there must be beaches at the end of each train line or road.Yep. So far this year, Nagoya has been the hottest city in Japan, guessing, I would say for the past month the average noon time temp has been around 94 deg F.By Tuesday, you start thinking to yourself, I should be at a beach today, Wednesday you are on the internet looking for a new beach, Friday you are figuring out how to get there and on Sunday, everything seems to work out. Above is Wakasa bay in Fukui Prefecture, the body of water is actually the Japan sea. It's really nice, This past Sunday a couple of friends and I went here to relax and get away from the city. Out in the bay they had three platforms that I just keep swimming between, my friends rented this boat and paddled out to that island on the top photo.Turns out there was an onsen behind it.

The beach below is on the southern end of Aichi Prefecture, in a city called Utsumi.I was here two weekends ago, this beach is nice because it is a 28 minute train ride from where I work which can work out well on Saturdays.There is also a Mos Burger in Utsumi, which is kind of like White Castle.