Travel Is a Lot Like Life

Air Travel
Somewhere over the West Philippine Sea

“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realisation that you may have been born in the wrong country.

Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world.

Travel is… a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is “Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.” 

— Nick Miller, New Girl

Last year was the only one in the past six that I didn’t leave the country. Maybe it’s time to get a new visa or use up what’s remaining of what I still have. Or maybe it’s time to dust off my old camera and drive hundreds of miles to capture the beauty that my country is known for: its rich traditions, its people, the kindness of strangers whose languages I don’t even speak.

Travel brings out the worst and the best in us. In it, we find ourselves and realise how strong and brave and patient we can be. Along the way, we find friends and along the way, I may find what and who I have been searching for.

Travel opens our eyes to certain truths: are we there for the whole journey or are we just tagging along until the next pit-stop, the next station? Are we travelling with the right companion and going in the right direction? Travel has its perils, too: wasted time, false promises of a good adventure, lost resources, physical threats, heartbreak.

Sometimes, these pitfalls make me wonder if some travels are worth taking. Not all travels are equal, and we cannot keep on making reckless decisions with our limited time and resources. Maybe some journeys are better taken towards other directions.

Take the next or the first step; bring out the map; take with you only what is necessary. Keep it simple. Follow your inner compass. Sing if you are afraid, dance when you are happy. Meet fellow travellers; treat them kindly and respectfully.

Travel is life. Have faith. Find your courage. Travel is why I don’t have nice things. But oh, I would not want it any other way!

Thoughts on the year that was

Last year has had its ups and downs, but it was one that I could recall with fondness, thanks to new-found friendships, new goals reached, and big decisions made.

It was a quiet year for the most part, and it was just what I needed regardless of where I sat on the introvert/extrovert divide. There comes a point in one’s life when drama loses its meaning; there are bigger things than oneself out there. Be part of what is good; look ahead. Life is easier and often more fulfilling if we just focus on things that are within our control–ourselves, our performance, our attitudes–instead of things that depend on the decisions and feelings of others. It’s tiring, it’s draining, and I don’t have the time, energy, nor the brain space to deal with negativity and everything that goes with it. In this, I succeeded for the most part. Most. Continue reading “Thoughts on the year that was”

A Sony Experia Z2 review of sorts

sonyz2I have been very lucky to be working for an organisation that provides everything that an employee could ask for. In the connected age, there is just no excuse to be unreachable through any electronic means, and so even small fries like myself enjoy the benefits of “sponsored” connectivity and best of all–gadgets!

After ending my two-year love affair with work BlackBerry, I opted to get an Android phone to supplement my semi-personal iPhone 5s, and asked for the best yet most reasonable item on the list of gadgets I could choose from.  Having been let down by Samsung in the past, I chose Sony Xperia Z2, the purple one. Life in full colour, shall we say?

A few things attracted me to Z2–screen size, battery life, and powerful camera that packs a 20.7 MP that can capture 4K video. And have I mentioned that the Z2 is also waterproof?

With a 5.2-inch screen, it gives enough real estate for reading or editing documents, spreadshhets or slides that I need to access on the go. For an occasional road warrior, this is valuable, next only to carrying around a tablet. For personal use, using social media apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram is much better, granted they do not have bugs that typically plague Android versions.

Sony knows a good deal about cameras, and it shows with the Z2 that also comes with a variety of apps to make taking and editing photos easier. My favourite is the background defocus, which allows for taking photos with blurred backgrounds as if with a DSLR.

Speaking of display, the Z2’s IPD LCD screen makes viewing better no matter the angle, whilst the  Live Colour LED technology makes colours come alive on screen. Suffice it to say that I have also been enjoying watching movies and series on this phone.

Where it works best for me is that should I wish to view media files on a bigger screen, the Throw features of both its native video player and Walkman music app makes sharing files on smart TV or wifi-enabled speakers very easy. In this, I am just happy to have subscribed to PLDT Home broadband, landline, and internet TV bundle which runs on Android too.

System-wise, the Z2 still runs on Android 4.2.2 Kitkat and boasts of 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor. This translates to almost fluid multitasking and fuss-free navigation between apps. Speaking of which, the phone allows you to sort app display alphabetically, by use, or whether they were installed or native to Xperia.

Lastly, waking up the phone is as easy as double-tapping the screen, which is rather convenient for checking any notifications or just the time on your still-locked phone. Unfortunately, double-tapping only works to wake up the phone and not to put it on sleep mode.

Overall, this phone is no slouch across performance, display, entertainment, media capture, and conectivity departments.

When art comes to life and gets a visit from a time lord

 There is a particular episode of the revived Doctor Who series that I am especially fond of, and I believe it is the same for many of the sci-fi’s followers. While I had often heard about it, I never really got into watching the series, much less follow it nearly religiously, until I saw Vincent and the Doctor, which depicted Vincent Van Gogh’s works as inspired by a visit from the Doctor and Amy in the last year of the artist’s tumultuous life.

At the exhibition of the painter’s works at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris, the Doctor noted something in one of Van Gogh’s paintings that was not supposed to be there: a monster peeking out of a cathedral window. This prompted our time traveller to take the TARDIS back to 1899 Provence, where the artist spent most of his time filling his canvasses with visions of the world around him in a way that only he could see. Unfortunately, these visions also involved aliens that are invisible to everyone–including our visitors from the future–except him.

 

Suffice it to say that Van Gogh saw the world differently; that the evening sky was not just a space filled with stars set above the dark outlines of the French countryside. Instead, it was a stage whereupon everything came to life and the stars moved in a parade of lights. The artist captured the show above with his lively, and at times, angry strokes in his work, Starry Night.

Ever since I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night even without knowing about its history or its creator, I thought it was special–a radical work through which its maker depicted the world as living and breathing; it was sad, it was angry, but more importantly, it was alive.

More than anything it is a reminder that each person has a  of seeing the world around them and we should allow for these differences. Conformity is a sad idea.

As Vincent’s life ended tragically, the episode did not shy away from the fact that he took his life one year after the supposed visit from the Doctor and his companion, although not before learning that a century on (the Doctor and Amy took him on a TARDIS joyride into the future), the world would behold his works in awe and he would be called the greatest painter who ever lived. Tony Curran played Vincent particularly well.

This post is a response to Daily Post’s writing prompt of the day.

Breezy, quiet evenings call for runs at the park

…where the next headquarters is looming in the background. 

I’ve been back to running again, on top of working out at the gym on a regular basis. But since I want to run longer distances than my current 10, I figured I needed to spend more time on track and not just on the treadmill.

Sunday evenings are the perfect time to strap on my runners and go to nearby Ayala Triangle where the usual crowd is absent and the amount of fumes from vehicles isn’t so terrible; I still prefer, taking the pathways within the park, however.

I could afford to skip the first set of tonight’s Roland Garros men’s final between Nadal and Djokovic. In fact, I could skip it altogether.