Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Manila, Philippines: pt. II

Luke snapping a shot of the weathered walls of Intramuros.

There were hordes of horse-drawn carriages in Intramuros, more than eager to give us a "special deal" to take us around the area.

Graffiti on the walls of an abandoned building in Intramuros.

Watching a PBA semifinals double header on June 17th in Araneta Coliseum.
Burger King Whoppers vs. San Miguel Beermen (87-102).
Ginebra Kings vs. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (95-101).
The second game was amazing. I never realized that I could get passionate about a basketball game.

One of the over two dozen malls crowding the Metro Manila area, right before a downpour of rainy season torrents.

Manila, Philippines: pt. I

Sculptures in Rizal Park, commemorating the December 30, 1896 execution of Filipino nationalist and hero of the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish, Jose Rizal.

The English translation of Jose Rizal's last words.

Rizal Monument.

Manila Bay.

A building inside Intramuros (literally meaning "within the walls"; i.e. 'intramural' sports are within the walls of a particular institution), a 16th century fortress built by the Spanish. The 'walled city' endured attacks by Dutch, Chinese, and Portuguese pirates, the British, and the Japanese, among others for hundreds of years, surviving till this day with the aid of restoration efforts.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Expedition Course #3: Coastal Ecology and Culture, pt. V

Looking out from my family's restaurant in Ban Had Yao Jao Mai.

So, this is the way some of the other students and I spent our nights in the village. That's right, playing with gasoline-soaked  rags tied to the end of sticks and chains. There were three casualties to the nights' festivities - I. Johnny's quick-dry t-shirt, now filled with holes burnt by sparks; II. my left arm, which now has a small burn scar of a ball and chain; and III. Pinky's hair, a bunch of which was singed off by a wayward spark. Amazing nonetheless!

Ban Had Yao Jao Mai, where we stayed for 8 days, is a Muslim community, and thus, for our final dinner (the main course curry made from a freshly slaughtered goat), we donned traditional Southern Thai Muslim garb. 

Taking photos with our host families on the beach right outside my family's restaurant.

The 'cul-de-sac' I lived on was dominated by one family. They all didn't like spicy food (unusual for southern Thais); they didn't like sweet, or at least claimed to, against all evidence, even as they poured globs of sweetened condensed milk into their small teacups of gopi; they were all left handed; and they were absolutely amazing. What a perfect way to end the last of our expeditions!

Expedition Course #3: Coastal Ecology and Culture, pt. IV

Perks, Bang Eyat, and P'Toto (right to left) listening to Bang Heed talk about Ban Had Yao Jao Mai's mangrove conservation forest.

Ma Dtey roasting cashews on the streets of Ban Had Yao Jao Mai. They were delicious!

Riding in a motorcycle sidecar, I snapped one of Ma Mai and my younger brother Wa.

Tromping through the mangroves of Thung Da Sae, I was amazed by the sprawling complex roots of the Xylocarpus Mekongensis (pictured above) and of other mangrove trees.

In the Thung Da Sae mangroves, where I sat for two hours and just took in the colors, sounds, and smells (intense they were!) of the area.

Expedition Course #3: Coastal Ecology and Culture, pt. III

The sun nestles behind Koh Mook on the first night camping back on the mainland.

Our camping site, where we spent two nights on the beach nearby the mangrove forest*.

A stunning sunset on the second night of camping. Visible are also one student's sand castle and the little sand balls created by ghost crabs as they seek to separate nutrients from the sand.

Laura and Johnny kayaking into the mangrove.

A pod of kayaks in the mangroves.


* Mangrove refers to "trees and shrubs that grow in saline (brackish) coastal habitats in the tropics and subtropics" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangrove).

Expedition Course #3: Coastal Ecology and Culture, pt. II

A neighborhood of Koh Mook, at low tide. The houses closest to the ocean on this island, like the ones here are built on stilts.

A picture of the mainland from Koh Mook, through rows of the villagers' fishing boats, right before a rain storm.

The surf on one of Koh Mook's beaches, where we made beach landings in spite of the breaking waves. It was dope.

Thanks to a waterproof camera pouch I was able to borrow from a friend on the program, I was able to take this self-photo. I'd like to turn the attention to my superb sunglasses, whose lenses had the ability to swivel up and down over 90 degrees.

P'Toto and Luke kayaking to cross from Koh Mook to the mainland.

Expedition Course #3: Coastal Ecology and Culture, pt. I

Bang [Southern Thai for "Older Brother"] Eyat's long-tail boat, which served as our team's support boat for the kayaking portions of our trip.

Johnny and my bungalow at Koh Mook.

The tidal mud flats in Koh Mook. We explored this area during low tide (pictured) and discovered hundreds of spectacular organisms, from star fish and ghost crabs to sea cucumbers and snails.

A sea star in a pool of water left behind by the tide in Koh Mook's tidal mud flats.

Bang Eyat and his brother's long-tails pulled up on the sands of Koh Kradang, where we snorkeled in the area's coral reef and took a study break on the beach.