Happy holidays and random ramblings

Wishing you all a happy holiday and hope 2010 brought some good things into your life.

We’ve decided to stay in the Philippines for the holiday. I have about 3 1/2 weeks off from work, but will need to take care of other work in this time. It’s not that bad, especially considering where we’re living now, but it’s still tough knowing the vast majority of my coworkers are scattered across the globe or relaxing on white sandy beaches while I’m surrounded by 10 million people.

I was offline for a while, as I took a trip to Central Luzon to Banaue. I was up there last year around this time as well. You can check out my previous photos and posts from the trip, here. Overall it was a great experience once again, but unfortunately it rained pretty much the entire time.

I’ll be striving to finally get through some of my photos from my trip to Japan in Oct/Nov. It’s pretty overwhelming seeing 80 GB of photos from that trip – almost not sure where to begin. Here’s one to kick things off.

Japanese Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan

We had phenomenal timing visiting this temple. As we arrived, so did a couple hundred students dressed in full. Within 15 min or so they were gone and it started raining.

An act of affection in a moment of violence

It’s interesting to see how one culture’s normal activities may seem brutal or cruel in contrast to another. Take, for example, this particular afternoon spent in Banaue, Central Luzon, Philippines. We visited a very remote traditional rice-farming village nestled in the serene valley outside of Banaue, and lived, if for only an afternoon, as they do.

For these gentle people, the act of killing a live chicken with your bare hands is just a daily chore – something as natural as bathing or dressing the children. The capturing, killing, burning of feathers, gutting, and cooking were all just natural steps done in a jovial manner surrounded by light-hearted conversation. And yet, for those amongst us whose lives are the very definition of metropolitan, it seemed shocking, violent, and harsh.

Much of so-called modern society is so far removed from such practices, that it stings the senses. It’s too raw, visceral, real. Most of us are not vegetarian, and yet, we rarely question where this meat comes from. Surely the treatment of animals in massive American farms is far worse than these free-range chickens that had lived naturally until their time ran out.

Somehow it seems more natural than fast food.

The little girl in this series was helping her father to hold the chicken as he sliced into the neck. At one point she even began stroking the feathers as the blood and life drained from it; an act of affection in a moment of violence.

An act of affection in a moment of violence 6

An act of affection in a moment of violence 7

An act of affection in a moment of violence 3

An act of affection in a moment of violence 5

An act of affection in a moment of violence 4

An act of affection in a moment of violence 2

An act of affection in a moment of violence 1

2009: A year of change, travel, and adventure

One of my greatest interests in life is to travel, experience, and learn more about other cultures. There’s nothing like soaking up all that a new country has to offer. I feel immensely thankful that my career allows us to travel extensively (always wish it could be more but don’t want to be greedy).

2009 was a year of drastic, yet positive changes with our move from Indonesia to Philippines. Change is what defined this year.

2010 should be more stable, but still allow plenty of travel – perhaps even more if we return to the States for 8 weeks this summer (tentatively planning a trip to the American West).

How about you? What were some of your major trips this year? How did 2009 turn out for you? How is your outlook for 2010?

A quick list of our main travels for 2009:

February – Manila, Philippines – 4 days
March – Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia – 9 days
April: Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia – 4 days
May: Thousand Islands, Indonesia – 5 days
June/July – Ubud / Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia – 3 weeks
July – Manila, Philippines (uh, still here)
September – Hong Kong – 4 days
October – Boracay, Philippines – 9 days
November – Batangas, Philippines – 3 days
December – Banaue, Philippines – 5 days
December – Singapore – 2 weeks

And a visual summary of 2009. (oldest to most recent) Enjoy.

Solar eclipse as seen from Jakarta

Solar eclipse as seen from Jakarta

Our pimped out ride

Dinner delivery

Azure seas and Javanese fisherman

Our new apartment - living room

Our new apartment - cafe corner

Manila flooding Sept 26, 2009

Beauty of Boracay


The dreams of man, pervading nature's womb.

Banaue boy

Elders of Banaue, Philippines