Tuesday, February 28, 2006
We got up early to get some stuff in Chinatown which we will need for props in the film. The Chinese culture still amazes me wherever I go. They seem to have this sense of community and pride to wherever country that they decide to live.
Last night was a great treat because I was able to check out the local boxing stadium in Rachadamnoen. There were around 6 fights and I saw four of them then I had to leave to meet the group for late dinner.
The fights were tad bit graphic for me but I did really enjoy it. The testosterone level was so thick I swear I could box it and give it as pasalubongs if I wanted to. I also like the kitsch element behind it. The dance, the chant and the short shorts.
It'll be an early day tomorrow. We'll catch the three hour bus to the ancient town of Ayutthaya, 80 km north of Bangkok. We'll be shooting in the neighboring village for two to three days.
The set-ups are really easy. The script is just one page and the script cuts back and fort from the village to the busy streets of London. Unfortunately I don't think I can afford the trip to U.K. so Justine will get another friend to help them out. After Ayutthaya the group will go back to Bangkok. Justine has to be in U.K. by next week to shoot the remaining set-ups.
I have another agenda though. I told Justine that I'm staying behind to further go up north and travel six hours to the old province of Sukhothai and then maybe catch a train for another 10 hours to go further up in Chang Mai. I decided, maybe on a whim, that I would want to keep travelling and see where my limited budget will take me. It'll be a modest way of living I know but I'm sure that I can manage. I've been doing a lot of reading and they said that for less than $10-15 a day, a backpacker can actually sustain himself.
But my ultimate goal though is to go to Laos. I've been reading about the Mekong River since a friend of mine from U.K. took the slow boat to cross the Thai border to Houayxai and to Louang Phabang in Laos. He told me that it is definitely an experience of a lifetime. The grand adventure takes two days and the traveller has to catch a boat in the border - a wooden carbo boat that travels through the great Mekong river.
I 'm actually excited to check it out. He warned me that it's not a convinient trip but the sights are definitely to behold. I've been packing my bag already. And I think I will take the trip when I reach Chang Mai. It's good to know that Philippines has signed a visa exemption with the government of Laos to promote eco-tourism.
My feet can't wait to take the journey. And I'm taking that giant leap already. I took out my wristwatch and decided that where I'm going, time isn't a luxury, it's just a part of life.
The wind will lead me the way.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Justine and I had breakfast in a kitschy Indian cafeteria downtown. We had a good brunch actually, some roti and curry dip with the local thai veggie salad. She wanted to check Chatuchak market and I opted to stroll in one of the local parks near our hostel.
Our hostel is actually quite good because it's conveniently located in the town center which is near the old temples and the ever famous (thanks to Leo Di Caprio and the movie The Beach) Khao San Rd. I had some time reflecting in the local park called Phrasumeru. It's actually a fortress. Phra Sumeru Fortress (also spelled Phra Sumen) is located on the corner where Phra Athit Road and Phra Sumeru Road meet. This fortress was constructed in the reign of King Rama I in 1783 along with 14 other fortresses and battlements surrounding the capital.
The fortress is beautiful, beside it are notebook shops which sell one of a kind handmade notebooks. I got myself a journal with a camouflage cover, and it really looks great. I was trying to write an entry when a young caucasian guy approached me and asked for direction. I said I'm totally not familiar for I am a tourist myself. He told me that I looked liked I was Thai. That kinda felt good, from the start I was trying my very best to blend in just so that the people will not try to pull a scam on me or so for being a tourist.
We kinda had a chat for a bit. The guy's name was Ole' (Ula) and he is from Helsinki, Finland. I learned that he's been travelling for two months now and he left Finland exactly Christmas eve. He arrived in Bangkok, stayed for two days then he went to Chang Mai for two weeks, then off to the borders of Laos where he stayed for three weeks, then to Cambodia - Siam Reap for two weeks and another week in Angkor, then to Ayutthaya then back to Bangkok.
Over-all, he has been travelling for more than two thousand miles around the South East Asian region. He's just 22. That was my dream when I was his age. TO just roam around and see different things and not to keep track of time. I kinda felt envious of him that he was able to do that on his own. What's amazing is that he went travelling because he wanted some time off before he finishes his law school in his country. He's one year short of finishing. He left everything because he wanted to be clear with his decisions in life.
We had a good chat. He told me that he went travelling to get more motivated. To realize his dreams, to continue his passion. And that was a good realization for me. That people will never be able to go somewhere until they're still hanging in with their comfort zones. Ole' will be staying for two more days in Bangkok then he's going down to Koh Samui and Phuket, then from there he'll go and ride the train going to Singapore to get his flight back, but that will always just be a plan. He tells me that it can always change anytime.
With that, I wished him luck. He wished me luck to whatever I am doing and wherever I'm heading too. It was a great Sunday. The weather was good for strolling... and I had a very good realization to myself.
The world is a cultural yarn shop. Travellers weave the ultimate tapestry.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
We attended the talk/ tribute to Anthony Dod Mantle. He's one of the great cinematographers around, with the following movies under his belt- Fetsen, Dogville, 28 Days Later and Dear Wendy. I saw all of these four movies and I really like the way he composes his shots and do his mise en scene. The discussion went well but I wasn't really contented because some points weren't really much discussed, like how is it in the European film industry? How different is the filmmaking proccess in Europe and Hollywood? How's digital photography perceived in the big studio set-up?The discussion was really more about his works and the directors that he had helped in his career.
Nevertheless, the talk was still inspiring and I gotta learn a lot. I didn't join the screening of Millions because I saw it already so I decided to have a time-off for myself to check the place out. The Siam Paragon, where the event was being held was very impressive. It's like their Greenbelt but more massive, and a bit more people friendly I think.
After the stroll, I went back to the hotel to change. I'm meeting a Thai friend Thanaut to check out this bar called DJ STATION. It's their version of Bed and I wanted to check it out. I never knew how big the place and the scene is till I got there. The place is massive. Three floors and everyone was having the time of their live dancing. I got excited of course but the excitement kinda went down afterwards. I don't know, I told myself that this was the very same reason why I didn't want to go out in Manila because it has almost became a routine. Familiar moves, familiar stokes, I really think that I'm getting to old for partying.
It's interesting to see the faces and the moves. It really is universal. Everything is so familiar. From the occasional glances, to tapping someone's hand, to the more vulgar "accidental" groping of someone's crotch. I can't help but smile. Thanaut introduced me to his boyfriend Mark, an Australian backpacker who's been in Bangkok for 6 weeks now. Then after a drink or two of their local cocktail, I began feeling tipsy. Then this person started tapping my hand. I kinda looked away to signal that I wasn't interested. I went up to the third floor to check the place out from the bird's eyeview. To my surprise the person followed.
The person's attractive don't get me wrong, but I really think that It's not in my itinerary to hook up. And I'm just so tired with the "Wham Bam Thank You Mam" thing. The person started speaking in Thai and I didn't know what the freaking thing the person was saying so I said "I'm going down". I was kinda scared because I didn't know whether this person was trying to pull a scam but this person didn't look like it. The person's dressed well, but then again, looks can be deceiving. The person followed and still continued talking in Thai. Then I saw Thanaut and told him about the person. He talked to the person and he said that the person wanted to get to know me. I kinda signaled to the person that I have to go home. Which I really did have to, because I have an early day tomorrow. And with that, the person asked "Top or Bottom?". I must have fallen because of what the person said. I mean, the person didn't say anything in English the whole time the person was trying to converse and the person's familiar with the words, (to my surprise) Top and Bottom.
And with that I said goodbye to Thanaut, his boyfriend and the "makulit" na person. I went to the hotel and went staight to sleep.
Naloka aku dun ha.
Friday, February 24, 2006
There's something about Bangkok and the magic is so intoxicating. I mean in a nutshell, there's really nothing much to brag, the traffic is so bad, the air is so polluted, but the atmosphere and the people are just so amazing that you can't help but join in the revelry.
I arrived 6:50pm to be exact but I wasn't able to go out the airport till around 8:30. Not because there was something wrong with my papers but the immigration line is just so long it took me an hour to get pass through it. There's so many people coming in which is a bit sad because when I was in the Manila airport there were so many people going out. ANd with the current situation that we're in I'll not be surprised if everyone decides to leave. Huh! I don't want to be political just yet, I'll reserve my two cents worth of opinion next time, and believe me I have lots to say about what's happening now.
Back to Bangkok stories. I wasn't able to join the group to watch the last movie for the day on the ongoing film festival because it's a bit late already. After depositing my stuff at the hostel, I went to Siam Paragon to get myself a decent meal and waited for Justine and his DP (Director of Photography).
It's a skeleton set-up actually, just Justine, Marcus, me and Justine's boyfriend Otto who's also acting in the movie. The short movie is about this guy who wakes up in a remote Thail village after getting drunk in a pub in London. I have a funny story that kinda happened to me like this actually. I was having some drinks with friends in my pad then when I woke up I was in Tagaytay already. Justine's story is a bit more extreme. It's about getting lost and finding one's self in the proccess. It's almost like a docu-drama. We're shooting in Ayutthaya next week. And we're spending a week first in Bangkok to check out the International Film Festival. Justine helped in one of the movies that is showing.
They went to the Cinematographer's Day seminar and I can't wait to attend Saturday's class because Chris Doyle (my favorite Cinematographer) will be on it. After the dinner, we all went to Khao San to grab some beer and to talk about the movie set-up. Marcus tried their local beer called Singha, which is actually good, I got myself a bottle as well. After about five bottles, the two went back to the hostel and I decided to stay for a bit to write some entries.
Tomorrow's another day. I'm addicted to travelling.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I don't know how they manage with the fuel prices and all but by giving dirt cheap prices for travel it makes the world a really small place to live in. I'm happy that with $19 I can travel from Singapore to Bangkok.
I had a great time in Sim City. Though I didn't have much time, I was able to check out all the familiar places... the Merlion again, Suntech (this mamoth like mall that you'll literally get lost in), and Bugis Junction (I think this can be compared to Baclaran). I got to sample the spicy laksa soup for lunch and the curry fish for dinner. It was a great food trip for me.
I thank Chris, my friend that for a short notice he was kind to take me in as a guest. He had pahabol pa because when I was checking out his book collection, I saw this interesting title that I already heard from someone - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. He told me that I can have it because he's finished with it already. It was a great way to past time for the three hours flight.
The book revolves a round this autistic kid who goes on writing his murder mystery novel when the neighbor dog got killed/murdered with a garden fork. He investigates everyone around the neighborhood and his investigation leads him to another mystery altogether. I'm on page 20 and it's well written, it's in the point of view of the autistic kid so it really does make an enjoyable read.
I'm now in Changi Airport, miracle because I was relatively early for my flight. The check-in counter wasn't open yet so I had to roam around the premise first.Got myself a coffee and am writing now in the internet stands for free which are placed strategically around the airport premise.
I'm excited to go to Bangkok, meet my friend and watch movies in the festival.
More travel stories soon.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I had to be at the airport 9am, but 9:30 I'm still at my place burning a dvd for one of my clients. I couldn't believe why things don't work out for me that easy. (I'm just so freaking disorganized with work schedules). I promise myself that i will leave my phone so that I can just concentrate on the vacation/work but at the last minute I changed my mind just because I figured I need my phone just incase my family gets worried or if an emergency comes and they need to contact me.
Anyway, I'm back in Sim City. Yep, I'm in Singapore. It's the cheapest flight to Bangkok and since Justine will only be covering for a one way flight, I had to get the cheapest fare there is. There was a good promo but it also meant that I had to stop in Singapore and spend an overnight for a connecting flight to Bangkok. I asked a friend who's based here if I can crash for the night and he was kind enough to host me for the night.
Since he's working, I had to wander around on my own. I remember saying that Singapore was boring last time I was here. I think it's slowly picking up. Or then again maybe it was a different thing for me this time because I don't have work here and I'm just really here to roam around and have a good time. Last November, I was here for more than a week and I didn't even had the chance to check the place out.
I just finished checking out the National Library and I also went to this big Chinese Zodiac monument in Bugis Street. There, the fortune of each every single sign are posted. Snake apparently will have a good one this year. I'm no Chinese but I'm so crossing my fingers that the good chi will do me good. It also said that it's a scholarly season for me. meaning It's a stupendous time for me to devote more time in learning new things which I'm actually doing at the moment. I'm kinda enjoying Sim City this time.
Time to go. I'll be posting from time to time to document my trip.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I knew I had to be in Bangkok by the 20th to meet up with my friend Justine who's film is in exhibition in the Bangkok Film Festival, but I was only able to book a flight out yesterday. Aside from the festival, am also doing a probono project for her. She's shooting a short narrative in the eastern part of Thailand and I'll be doing A.D. work for her. It was like a payback time thing because 6 years ago she helped me finished my graduation film when I was still in U.K.
I'm actually leaving in 10 hours but I have a gazillion things to do before. I still have to shoot an interview for Cinema One and finish an edit for a TVC. Which ofcourse I have to do in less than 10 hours before my flight. I don't have a freaking idea how will I manage but responsibilities and commitments call so I really just have to deliver.
Goodluck to me.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
I'm leaving for two weeks to help my friend film her short narrative in the south east region. I'm actually excited because travelling is my favorite thing in the world. What's good is that travelling is also part of my bread and butter. It was always had been. Though my passion is doing narrative films, my first official job after school was in a travelogue. I enjoyed every moment of it. Though it's not thta lucrative and it requires a lot of time and effort, it's so enriching and I get to learn and visit new places that I don't think I'll be able to visit if it wasn't part of my work.
I've been to the most difficult places to go to. Rocky mountains, never ending rough roads, heck, I've even walked for 5 hours carrying a heavy tripod once when we filmedin Aurora, but I didn't complain a word. I enjoyed it very much. I was once trapped together with my crew up the mountains of Nueva Ecija for 24 hours with no food and we couldn't get down because there was a military operation happening. But I live for these. I love the uncertainty, the unpreparedness, and the lack of information on what to expect. For two years this was my world.
I'm leaving for Thailand and I've seen the itinerary and I don't have a freaking clue of what to expect there and I'm so excited. I'm open, and I'm ready to learn.
It's travel time once again.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Here's an interesting read/ review on one of the best movies of the year...
HETERO'S GUIDE TO BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
by GRAEME MACRANOR
Women have always loved cowboys.
And really, what's not to love? The cowboy - and I don't mean the imposters found amidst the cops and colonels on the highly-competitive male-stripper circuit - represents everything a woman wants in a man, and he exerts the kind of magnetic, hyper-manliness rarely seen in today's brand of well-coiffed urban male.
It's simple really: The cowboy's sensitive soul is encased in a well-muscled physique ubiquitously covered in slick layer of sweat. The cowboy can rope a steer, fix a fence and cook up a fiery pot of chili with enough potency to bring tears to the eyes.
But even though the cowboy has the power to shed tears, and regardless of how much women swoon, he's always been a man's man. So maybe it shouldn't be surprising that the dudes in Oscar-favourite Brokeback Mountain have finally figured out that you don't need a horse to do a little bareback riding.
Now almost everyone loves gay cowboys. Suddenly, gay cowboys are riding roughshod over the normally hetero-dominated plains of pop culture (except for those wicked circuit parties, and most music, television, advertising and fashion), lassoing history's cowboy heroes along the way and corralling them into that big old barn called oblivion.
But just hold your horses. According to star Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback is not about two gay men, but rather about two straight men who fall in love. Slightly confused, I grabbed my weathered copy of The So-Straight Handbook for Cowboys out of the closet, and it clearly states that's "pretty gay".
Regardless, today's straight urban male is an enlightened breed. Our hair stylists are gay and we're fine with it. We support gay marriage and we'll even go see a musical or two, as long as it's not Cats. But two friends who fall in love? For some of us, that premise rubs us the wrong way. And there's nothing our girlfriends can say or do to convince us to go see a couple of sexy, hyper-manly tickle-fighting cowboys. Period.
So as I came out of the theatre last night escorted by my girlfriend's ear-to-ear smile, it struck me that some of us likeminded males may just need a little prodding to get over the hump, so to speak. Perhaps I could help convince them that, with the proper preparation, Brokeback Mountain was actually pretty easy to swallow. Then it hit me like a Heath Ledger: The Hetero's Guide to Brokeback Mountain: How to Get In and Out with Success.
HERE ARE A FEW GUIDELINES TO HELP YOU GET THROUGH:
- Go with a girl: This is a great date movie, and the love scenes are genuinely tender and beautifully shot. Your date will think you're sensitive, secure in your sexuality and she may even be aroused by the sweet man-on-man action. Note: if she says she's turned on, do not say, "Me too."
- Do not ask your best male friend to go: The implied innuendo could have devastating effects on your friendship. It's like asking him to go to the gay bar just to "see what it's like."
- If you run into one of your friends in the cinema: Pepper him with phrases like "Fantastic cinematography," and "I felt the visual metaphor of the closet closing at the end had a certain finality to it." Also try to slip in any kind of reference to Michelle Williams' or Anne Hathaway's breasts. Then ask him why he's alone.
- Do not wear a cowboy hat: Not even those wicker Mexican ones that say "Mazatlan" on them.
- Relax and enjoy the film: This is an excellent piece of moviemaking. Besides, it's not like you're going to watch it, suddenly realize you're gay and that you and your best friend's relationship has all the makings of a gay cowboy movie. Right, partner?