Getting to Know Phuket, Part 1: Big Buddha, Wat Chalong, Promthep

Phuket

Phuket has been a frequent destination for me the past few years, but not really as a vacation destination. The first time I set foot on the “pearl of the Andaman Sea” I was there for a triathlon, and the next few times were work-related because the people who outsource writing jobs to me are expats based there.

After the initial novelty of traveling for sport wore off, I was determined to see more of the island than I had previously. Read more

Back to Boracay

Boracay March 2015

Cagban Jetty Port, Boracay Island

I first visited the legendary island of Boracay back in 2007, and by then it was already well-known as a party destination. That first time, though, I was only out-and-about in the daytime and really got to know the island as a place I could just lie on the beach, listen to the waves, and get a nice tan while sipping a fruitshake.

Of course, in the years that followed I got to know the island’s wild side. As I matured and wised up, I began to crave what I had first known and loved. But everyone who’s been to Boracay lately will say the same thing: unless a major upheaval happens, there is no going back. Big hotels have built right on the beach, and Boracay’s main road is congested with multicabs, tricycles, and service vehicles. It definitely feels like Manila sometimes, especially in the summer when everyone from the city heads there.

But maybe I could reclaim parts of the old Boracay, if I tried hard enough? Read more

Cheers to the New Year

Cheers

First of all, sorry for disappearing all of last year. I have been otherwise active on KikayRunner.com, but no matter how much I post on there, it can’t really contain all my thoughts as a person who loves travel, pop culture, and basically writing about other things that interest me.

And so I’m making a resolution that in 2016, I will write more here about the places I travel and the things I see. It will be a return to journaling, which is why I started this blog in the first place. It wasn’t about capturing and holding an audience’s attention by feeding them facts, making them think, or inspiring them — although those were great by-products of great writing. It was really about having an extension of my memory on the internet (or “in the cloud” as people now say) so that I could look back on these experiences fondly and perhaps learn how best to move forward.

I now think of In My Pocket as a scrapbook. Regardless of how long ago the things I will be writing about have happened, there will always be value in putting them down “on paper” — or, as it were, into the ether.

Scrooge The Musical — FINAL WEEKEND!

Ahh, Christmas in the Philippines. The time of good holiday cheer, spending time with loved ones and those you haven’t seen in a while, braving the increased traffic to get to the malls to finish gift shopping — all done to the ubiquitous sounds of Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas album. You know what I mean.

I never actually knew where Jose Mari Chan got those songs he covered in that album, so you can imagine my surprise when I sat down to the press preview of Scrooge The Musical at OnStage Greenbelt a few weeks ago, and the ensemble cast opened with the song “A Christmas Carol”.

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As the musical unfolded, itΒ showed Ebenezer Scrooge’s miserly treatment of all the people around him, including himself, the spooky haunting of Scrooge by his departed business partner Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future helping Scrooge see the error of his ways. The cast, led by Miguel Faustmann as Scrooge, was amazing and on point, and while the sound mixing still had kinks to be ironed out (Miguel’s mic didn’t seem to be catching a lot of sound), the OnStage theater was small enough for their voices to carry through.

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My familiarity with most of the songs helped me hear them with new ears. They are so overplayed from September through December and thus lose their meaning, but within the framework of the musical they are re-imbued with their magic and also bring back memories of wonderful Christmases past.

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I have always been accustomed to seeing A Christmas CarolΒ as a non-musical film or TV special aired during Christmas time — I can still remember very vividly Bill Murray’s Scrooge film. I didn’t know that it wasΒ a musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Being the cultural illiterate I am, the first time I heard of Scrooge The Musical was when Repertory Philippines sent me a press release about them staging it this time of year (more specifically, November 21 to December 14). When they offered tickets to the press preview, I jumped at the chance.

This is the fourth time Repertory Philippines has staged an adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The story follows the miserly life of banker Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey towards realizing the true spirit of Christmas through three ghosts: that of his past, present, and future.

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In my life I have only ever been to about ten plays, but I’ve never seen one with full production values. Scrooge The Musical takes you into the Victorian England setting from the book, with sets swiftly transforming from exteriors to interiors, from the street marketplace into an office, from the outside of Scrooge’s house into his living room and bedroom. As an adult I found myself marveling at the stagecraft. I can imagine the kids in the audience asking their moms and dad excitedly, “How did they do that?!”

This is the last weekend for Scrooge The Musical at OnStage Greenbelt. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you do! Today’s matinee performance is already sold out. You can purchase Scrooge tickets via Ticketworld.

While Scrooge can be very entertaining, I think it also reminds us that Christmas shouldn’t be about material things. Rather, the giving of gifts should be from the overflow of gratitude and thankfulness in our hearts as we remember the Reason for the season. (It isn’t called “Christ-mas” for nothing.)

A Fashion Post

I haven’t been shopping in, like, forever, so last weekend I decided to make a trip down to Megamall to take a look at the new Fashion Hall wing’s offerings. I almost went home without even setting foot inside the mall because of the horrendous traffic and parking situation there, but thankfully I found a spot in the Fashion Hall’s basement parking.

Because I was there to shop more for clothes for dance and yoga, I turned up some great finds from Forever 21 (one of my favorite stores to browse around in), Old Navy, and the newly-opened H&M.

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Forever 21’s activewear section

But once I was done with that, I trawled the other shops around. Window-shopping is lovely and I can’t wait for when these brands go on sale at some point. Because I. Am. So There.

H&M only opened a month or two months ago and the hype around it was so huge that I actually avoided going in there because I didn’t want to fight for elbow space with the hundreds of other shoppers also in there. Last weekend, I couldn’t believe that even with three floors of retail space, there were still long lines for fitting rooms and cashiers. I found the women’s section a bit… grey.

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Maybe because it’s autumn/winter?

One of the shops I really liked being in was American Eagle Outfitters. Despite the fact that I could probably find some of their surplus items in the Surplus Shop in Megamall’s A wing, the store is quite hip. On that day, there was even a DJ (I later found out it was DJ Jujiin). Even better, he was actually playing music I knew — and I don’t listen to pop radio anymore, so that can be quite a challenge! But it was nice to browse inside AEO listening to “Rather Be” and then heading out the door singing along to “Call Your Girlfriend”.

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Am I your target market, AEO?

I tumbled across the expansive Fashion Hall atrium to Pull & Bear, which is a really large store that also has an entrance from the main mall.

I loved the selection of clothing for both men and women, but even more than that I was impressed with the way items were displayed. For instance, footwear:

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I feel a very strong pull towards this…

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stuff for him and her

The pricing I feel is a bit higher than at AEO and the strange thing is they were carrying a lot of heavy quilted jackets, thick sweaters, and the like. Unless you live in a freezer in the Philippines (or maybe work in an office with the AC turned up way high), those are impractical for our mild cool season.

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Pull & Bear storefront

I shop on a budget and I probably won’t be getting basic stuff like plain tank tops from these stores. But there are some really great pieces that can make your chosen outfit pop — or at least give you a peg to hunt for at thrift stores, bazaars, and local brands.

Oh dear, I think I awoke my inner shopaholic again…