Phones. I used to review a lot of these back in the day. Then I took a hiatus after covering Mobile World Congress. That was back in 2011. Barcelona was the summit. I stopped. Fell in love with other things. Mobile phones took a backseat – not from the usage, but from the writing. It was tough to move on with life, putting all your hobbies and interests into compartments. The mistake people make is they leave nothing for themselves and in this age of Alexa, surveillance, social media, the sacred is what is not shared. It is the exception, not the norm.
It’s 2019, three years since my first trip to Japan. I never realized I had a happy place until I actually experienced separation anxiety when I flew back. I always thought that these “happy places” were abstract constructs. It didn’t matter where I was or what state I was in. The happy place was always a video game in some form. In my room. On my phone. But I never thought it to be a place.
And it’s weird, really. I enjoy the travel. The journey does excite me but the contrast of being in a place that is more foreign planet than country makes it so much interesting. In 2006 when I was writing for another tech publication, the editors would joke around to having “news” from “Planet Japan” because everything was just so over the top. I mean, the mere Japanese toilet that comes with background music to hide your farts were a pragmatic work of art.
So that was it. A foreign place with a language I cannot understand and yet I can easily make my way around town with these unlimited JR bus passes and order food without talking to anybody thanks to push button menus in almost every modern restaurant. I recommend Japan to anyone that wants something new. There’s wanderlust in the city where shops sleep at 7PM and the salarymen make their drunken shuffle to the karaoke. Where two-year-olds accompany each other to school without the help of grown ups because they know they can trust strangers. Where there are robots just because.
In 2016 I visited Tokyo for the first time. The streets of Ginza, Japanese whiskey, BIC Camera, Izakaya, Don Q. This opened my eyes to text book Japan.
Later than same year we went to Osaka and from there made our way to Kyoto (for the market), Narra (for the deer), and Kobe (for the beef). This trip expanded my perspective of how easy it is to get around a country. That you can cram 10 destinations in one day with efficient public transport.
snow is like dirt, but cleaner
Then early this month — first quarter of 2019 found me on an impromptu trip to Hokkaido for work. I was researching Hokkaido, as this tropical body has never felt snow when I got a call from a friend, “hey we’re sending you to Japan.” Speechless, my phone kept buzzing — it was a series of messages from another colleague, “Go to Japan.” Making sure that there were no hidden cameras around my office (as this may have been an elaborate prank by psychics), I said,
“OK but I should tell my boss.”
“Hi boss, I’m supposed to go to Ja —“
“We know. Enjoy! It’s minus 20 so suit up.”
And that was it.
I’ve written about my Hokkaido trip for the Manila Bulletin so you can read that. A huge thanks to Japan Airlines for sponsoring this trip. #FlyJAL #GetMoreJapan
SONY sent over their new Walkman saying “you don’t need to review it, but you can keep it!” And I was like, “wait this product is too impressive to not review!” And oh, thanks SONY. So here it is. This is the Walkman you’ve been waiting for. Yes it is waterproof and it doesn’t come with wires but you don’t need to be an active joe to need one.
I summarized one memorable weekend into 3 minutes. It was hard, but I did it! This was my first time to experience wreck diving in Coron, as well as enjoying the reverse thermocline “spa” inside Barracuda Lake. Good friends, great dives, what more could you ask for the long weekend?!
Credits: “Open Happiness” (www.openhappiness.tv) for the audio. The entire video was shot using a Panasonic Lumix LX3 and a Sony Cybershot W230 w/ marine pack for the underwater shots. Editing done in iMovie ’09.
Our dive weekend itinerary consisted of overnight stay on board the Super Ferry (their chocolate cake is really good!) and 6 dives throughout Saturday and Sunday. We boarded the ferry back to Manila Sunday night and docked into a work-filled Monday 🙁
This was my most memorable local trip, and it would have been at par with my Batanes sojourn but it obviously exceeds that due to our “getting wrecked” in Coron. Our itinerary consisted of three dives for Saturday — the Kogyo Maru, Tangat Wreck, and the Olympia Maru (my best wreck dive!), and Sunday had us inside Barracuda Lake (overall the most entertaining dive for the whole trip), the Akitsushima gunboat (with actual guns!) and finally the Taiei Maru oil tanker.
We spent most of Black Saturday in Lakawon Island. I was so glad to finally have a huge burden off my shoulder — literally — as I would usually take my SLR for field trips. I recently caved in and acquired a Panasonic Lumix LX3. The Summicron Leica lens is amazing: it’s quite hard to find a true 24mm wide angle point and shoot camera with very good 720p HD recording. And my golly, f/2.0 on a point and shoot is also a boon.