Renewable energy? We’re big fans!

 

 

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Please don’t kill me for the title. I couldn’t resist. 😀

Did a quick trip to the Alterenergy Wind Farm in Pililla, Rizal this weekend, with stopovers in Tanay along the way. Laguna Lake was visible for most of the drive up the Marikina-Infanta Highway, and the scenery reminded me very much of Tagaytay before it became completely commercialized and kitschy.

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There were plenty of roadside stalls selling fresh produce at farm gate prices, and several intriguing eco- and georeserves along the way. The area is also known for its waterfalls and rivers, and is a popular mountain- and motorbiking destination.

 

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My companions and I reached the wind farm after a mostly bumpy ride from the town of Sampaloc. The first two kilometers of the road we were on were paved, but after that it was more potholes and rough trail than road, so I didn’t really expect the crowds that greeted us when we arrived at the farm’s view deck.

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We found out after we got there that there was an easier route via Pililla, and that most of the visitors arrived from there.

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The place is becoming known as a tourist spot, as evidenced by the small phalanx of vendors selling everything from tatty miniature wind turbine pencil holders to fried chicken skin and fishballs.

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I seriously hope that Alterenergy and the LGU can cooperate to make sure that the farm doesn’t become another environmental disaster area.

 

 

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Hong Kong Holiday, part 1

 

View from the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. Hong Kong 2016. Copyright Marnie Dolera.

To be honest, Hong Kong was never really on my list of places to visit before I die, but when a good friend offered me the opportunity to travel here, I was in the mood to become an anonymous face in a crowd in a place I’d never been to before. I wanted to walk around and get lost in a metropolis where I had no obligations and no one knew me. Vietnam and Cambodia were out of the question, mainly because, for all of their virtues, they didn’t have the hustle and bustle of a true megapolis that I was craving. I wanted the strange (in)security of not knowing anything or anyone, the danger and yet the safety it offered.

So Hong Kong it was.

I have to admit, when I first came here, I wasn’t expecting to like Hong Kong as much as I do now. The only image I had of Hong Kong was one of a homogenized culture sacrificing heritage on the twin altars of commercialism and progress, all shiny and chrome-y and neon lights. But what I learned, after almost a week here, is that life thrives in the spaces between.

I did a lot of walking in Hong Kong, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Three days of almost non-stop walking for eight to ten hours in running shoes that haven’t quite been broken in have left me with aching hamstrings and sore feet, but it was the price to pay to get some insight into this enigmatic city. Walking is always the best way to make a city your own, and discover the pockets of beauty in the heaving, humid mass of humanity determined to carry you along in its wake. There are always those moments, if you’re patient enough to look for them.

Guitarist on TST Promenade. Hong Kong 2016. Copyright Marnie Dolera.

The other night, around midnight, while I was walking on the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, I came across a long haired, lanky young man in typical rocker’s garb – black leather jacket, jeans, and boots – practicing his skills on an unplugged electric guitar. He was completely lost to the world, a bizarre sight on a boardwalk filled with joggers in tiny pastel and neon outfits puffing along, defying the near freezing wind blowing in from the harbor, even at that late hour. I discretely took photos of him and sat shivering on a nearby bench, listening to him strum away, his metronome inexorably counting the beat, watching the lights of Hong Kong Island in front of us while a red half-moon floated overhead.

I eventually learned that his name is Bob, and that he came to Hong Kong for his Master’s degree, and that he was in IT. He goes to the harbor to practice his guitar almost every day, he said, because it was too noisy in the dorms and he couldn’t hear the music. I wondered aloud how he was able to play in the cold, but he said he’d gotten used to it.

We chatted a little longer until we hit the language barrier, and I went off and left him to play in peace, and a lovely Hong Kong moment was added to my box of travel memories.

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Hong Kong marked quite a few firsts for me, which I may or may not write about in future posts. As you may have gathered, this will be the first of several blog posts about Hong Kong, written in no particular order and following no particular date. To paraphrase a pithy quote often attributed to Mark Twain, never let chronology get in the way of a good story.

Photo Post: Blu Jaz Cafe, Singapore.

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

A jazz bar near our hotel in Singapore. I’m not sure if it’s still there, though. I did a double take when I read the signage the first time. Give it a minute and you’ll get it. 😛

From The Digital Baul Part 4: Singapore Fling

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

Yep, you guessed it. I’ve dusted off more photos from the digtal baul. 🙂

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

These were taken on a brief visit to Singapore back in 2006. I posted these photos on my old Multiply blog; there were quite a few more of these but I can’t seem to find the others.

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

I remember it being very hot in Singapore during our entire stay, even though it was only a few days from Christmas. I also remember wondering where everyone was — the streets were eerily deserted — till my father introduced me and my sister to the air conditioned underground tunnels that Singaporeans use to escape the heat. No wonder the people in the few shops we passed were looking at my sister and me so strangely. They were probably wondering what those two crazy women were doing walking around in the oven-like conditions of a Singapore afternoon. Heh. 😀

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

A mosque in one of the older areas of Singapore. This was almost directly across from our hotel.

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

An abundance of buns.

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

Satay sticks.

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

The view from the Esplanade.

Singapore, 2006.

Singapore, 2006.

Another feature of the Esplanade, if I remember correctly.

More photos to come. Cue moaning, groaning, and grumbling here. 😀

From The Digital Baul Part 3: Would You Like To Ride In My Beautiful Balloon?

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Okay, I just completely carbon dated myself with that title. Haha. 😀

More from the digital baul/digital spring cleaning series. I found this series of photos that I shot back in 2010 at the Clark Hot Air Balloon Festival. J. called me at 1am and asked me if I’d be interested in joining her and her friend on a road trip to see the hot air balloons in Pampanga, but the catch was that I had to be at the meeting place in two hours.

Erm, okay.

But I figured, hey, why the heck not, since I hadn’t been on a road trip in ages. I took a quick shower, packed my bags, and ran out the door. I made it to the venue in record time, and after fortifying ourselves with fast-food coffee, we were off.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Clark in Pampanga used to be a US military base before Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, reducing most of the area to fields of lahar as far as the eye could see. These days, Clark is slowly being transformed into a tourist attraction, with its own international airport, duty free shopping, wide vistas, and the mountain looming over everything and everyone. The mountain feels like a living being, a heavy and forbidding presence even when you’re standing in the middle of a flat open field. Maybe I’m just not a mountain person; I much prefer the feel of the open sea.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

That said, Clark was the perfect venue to hold the festival, as the flat land made it easier to accommodate all those balloons.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga. Yes, that *is* a beer bottle balloon. 😀

The main event started at around 5am, with hordes of people jostling each other for space at the safety cordon so they could take photos of the launch. Luckily, we made good time and got there in time to find a decent spot to hang out.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

This flying barn was one of my favorite balloons that day. I like how it looks like it’s surrounded by its babies in this shot.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

And yes, it came complete with animals and a farmer, too. 🙂

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

The obligatory solo-balloon-silhouetted-against-the-dawn-sky shot. 😀

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Hot Air Balloon Festival 2010. Clarkfield, Pampanga.

And lastly, my favorite balloon of the day. I must have taken more than a dozen shots of this one, trying to get a steady shot without a tripod. I think I ended up half lying on the hood of JR’s car to stabilize myself for this shot. The very hot and very dusty hood of JR’s car, I should say. Good times. 🙂

All of these photos were taken using my old Lumix TZ3, which was already ancient by the time my dad gave it to me as a hand me down. Most of these are also straight out of camera, except for one image which I cropped just a tiny bit. The details are a bit soft, but for an older model, it’s not bad.