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we took some time this past weekend to head down to panglao island in bohol in the philippines. it was a mixed celebration of changing jobs and having a little extra holiday time. not to mention we hadn’t been diving in about 3 years.

the small island of panglao is just next to the island of bohol, which is southeast of cebu. it has fantastic diving, nice people and beautiful beaches. we spent a lot of time on boats, cruising out to see dolphins play and going to smaller, more remote islands with fantastic snorkelling and diving.

bohol is also famous for its chocolate hills, a bunch of mounds about as big as the royal grave mounds in korea. it’s is quite a breathtaking sight in the early morning hours.

bohol is also home to the tarsier monkey, very cute and kind of funny looking at the same time. also reminds us of gremlins before they hatch into the green guys.

we happened to arrive at fiesta time, and caught some street dancing, kids folk dancing, and even a fireworks show over the sunset! very nice (and fun to ride around on the scooter).

all too soon our little trip ended, and we headed back through manila to catch our favorite treat, the warm mango crepe with gnutella and chocolate at cafe breton in makati.

if anyone wants any info on panglao, please let us know!

we ended up taking the junk out last night even though the weather tried to stop us. typhoon signal 1 was raised about lunchtime and by 5pm it was raining. the junk captain said no problem, so we gathered up the remaining people, took a vote and headed out for lamma island.


the food was good, the company was great and the weather cleared out nicely to give us fresh breezes, the occasional lightning flashes, and brief showers.


on the way back, the weather was beautiful and we were graced with some fabulous views of the island at night. hope you enjoy the pictures.

have some fun with this.

i’ve got just a couple of days left at the office. tomorrow night we are taking some people out on the junk to lamma island to get some seafood. it should be fun and a good mix of people. we also have a farewell lunch with the group at yung kee, which carries its own fame (or infamy) and is yet another hong kong place i have not yet been to.

chris arrived today, a forerunner to his family, and is looking forward to getting settled here. think good thoughts for his search.

on the way home in the evening, we usually walk by an old man who sits on the corner in an old office chair alone as often as with friends. rain or no, he is faithful to his corner. we have sign language conversations where he indicates that i am going up to the apt to eat dinner. sometimes he tells me that alicia has already arrived. other times we marvel at the pouring rain (during which one particularly heavy downpour he sported a plastic bag on his head). he is a funny guy and it seems funny that we can have so many mini conversations without saying a word.

i got to shake hands with elder (and sister) bednar today – alicia and i also listened in on a ysa fireside he spoke at for a few of the local stakes and the international district. very cool, done in q&a format.

spent a day this week with mom chenn in manila. apparently the american women’s club hosts a monthly bazaar with all sorts of arts and crafts products. mom didn’t mind having a tour guide and i didn’t mind an excuse to visit the philippines, so it worked out well. alicia had other obligations.

we met up with our friend andrew baltazar who was nice enough to accompany us around for the day.

we visited the new “mall of asia” which, for those of you with prior manila mall experience, totally outdoes megamall, greenbelt, mall of america, or any other mall – in fact i think it’s now the largest mall in the world.

the bazaar was fun – it was interesting to see how products get shuffled around asia only to appear as “discounted” in other countries with a fair markup. for example, cheap baby clothes that are cheaper in thailand, cheap chinese decor that is cheaper in hong kong, cheap wooden nativity sets that are cheaper in baguio. it was a good place to set up good manufacturer relationships and sample some of the products.

we also got to sample some fresh mango shakes. for those of you who like mangoes, keep in mind that the philippines mango, also known as the “manila super mango”, is known worldwide as the best tasting carabao mango. it’s also the national fruit of the philippines.

finally, i even got an obligatory “hey, joe!” from a high school kid. this is a common greeting for caucasians (particularly outside Manila) and descends from the american military presence during a large part of the 20th century. fun times, good memories, and all in a day.

since i will be moving to a new company soon, i will be changing mobile phone numbers. this means i finally signed up with 3 to get a monthly plan. for those of you who are unaware, mobile phones are as common in hong kong as sunny days in southern california. service is pretty cheap when compared with the states, and many other countries from what i hear. as an example, 1200 minutes a month costs me about HK$100 (US$12.50).

the difference is in phone prices – there are not really any “free” phones, although there are some where you can pay US$100 for a basic nokia and then get it rebated back to you in monthly installments (incentives which keep users like a contract). for most service providers, however, there are no contracts. this makes it easy to switch to other carriers if you want.

3g service here is fairly popular, but i would guess only about 20% of hk users have 3g phones and service. this allows fast data transfer speeds for internet use, video calls and tv watching. the prices for data usage are still relatively high, so it’s not really something i’m attached to. at the same time, i see bits and pieces in the news about this stuff taking off in the states – is that right?

looks like “bopha” is heading towards us, but as yet winds are only at the 65 km/h range. when we get a signal 8 typhoon upon us the offices close and we get a day off. so far, this appears to be the closest to a direct hit since i’ve been here in hong kong.

sunny chen was passing through hong kong this week with her mom, working on some sunrider business. we were able to meet up for a nice dinner (delicious vietnamese food!) and to catch up on her wedding plans, busy summer etc.

we also heard about sunny’s experience taking the california bar exam in pasadena a couple of weeks ago. other friends including chris rollins and dave lee also finished taking bar exams during the same time. it brought back a lot of memories of the jumble of feelings associated with last summer’s intense studying, bar-taking and job-starting.

dave wrote in an email that the bar was an experience (from studying to the actual exam) that he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy. i remember thinking the exact same thing just after finishing, although i would have to add waiting for the exam results to that list. i guess some view it as a rite of passage, but in my reality it is a brutal roller coaster of energy, emotion and stress which does not necessarily make one any more qualified to practice law.

whether or not any of you passed, congratulations are definitely in order just for going through the experience, for being willing to face the odds, for giving up several months of your lives to memorize things like whether some obscure rule applies in california, or federally, or only in the make believe world of the MBE. you should feel good that you have made it this far, and forget about the exam until october/november/december rolls around and results come in.

veni vidi vici.

they were first spotted in stanley market, laying nonchalantly in rows, nestling among the papayas and canteloupe and other large, yellowish fruit.

soon they began to appear in other stands, stalls, and supermarkets.

rumors spread, tales of their giant size and weight made their way to people far and wide across the globe.

speculation on their contents, taste, price, and the width of their seed soon followed.

until…an experiment was in order. we saw the mango. we bought it for HK$25 (US$3.36), which seems pricey until you compare it to the square watermelons which go for about HK$700 (US$94).

and then we ate it.

inspiration

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it."

~ Steve Jobs

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