IAN.Y.S.M. Entry 005 – Getting to know Bangkok, Exploring (with) Cecille: A True Love Travelogue Series – Part 3

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Waking up was surreal.  It was the morning after my arrival, and I’ve had far too little sleep.  Not that I’m complaining; it was a memorable night for sure, first with my arrival in Thailand, followed by the hours spent getting to know the woman I had grown so “virtually” close to in the flesh.  Not that only “the flesh” was involved in this process – sure, we had figured out pretty quickly how wonderfully natural it felt to kiss each other, but after 4 months of courtship with a whole planet between us, simply being in the same room as each other felt amazing.  After hours of cuddling and conversation, my exhaustion finally overtook my excitement, and we gave in to sleep….for a few hours, at least, until I woke up starving and in dire need of some breakfast.

And so, we headed down to eat at the breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant.  As we ate, it became apparent to me that everything about this was surreal – the feeling I had upon waking wasn’t going away anytime soon; here I was, in the midst of what had only been a fantastical daydream just scant months prior.  I remember the mix of emotions: a sense of achievement, for turning a “what if” into reality, the pioneering excitement one feels when just discovering a new and unfamiliar land for the first time, and of course my feelings for Cecille, this larger-than-life woman who was in fact a little bit smaller than I had imagined her…but also, more beautiful than pictures or a webcam could convey.  I was excited: excited about the coming 2 weeks, the places I would discover and the sights I would see; but even more so, excited about the prospect of spending these 2 weeks with her, and what could develop as we got to know each other more.

Breakfast was quite satisfying, but I was nowhere near feeling well-rested…but this was OK, because Cecille and I had the foresight to keep our itinerary clear for this first day. We knew I’d be jetlagged, and that touring Bangkok and Thailand would be much more enjoyable if done with adequate rest to mitigate the jet-lag of my global traverse.  We headed back up to our room, only venturing out to acquire more take-out Chinese food from the restaurant around the corner when our bellies demanded the attention. Otherwise, it was a day of intimate relaxation, frequent cuddling, and simply getting used to the idea that we were actually in the same place at the same time. In short, we shut out the outside world and lived in one of our own creation as I recuperated.

We woke early the next morning, and I felt refreshed and ready for adventure. Our first stop? The quintessential tourist destination of any Bangkok tourist: The Grand Palace!  After another satisfying breakfast, we hopped into a taxi and headed to our destination.  This ride was my first opportunity to really see Bangkok, alive and in daylight.  Naturally, the first thing I noticed was the humid, sweltering heat! I was sweating instantly, but I wasn’t surprised – this was to be expected in a tropical location.  I was thankful for the A/C in the taxi, and while we rode, I held Cecille close as I gazed at the world outside of the window.  Traffic moved in some kind of barely controlled chaos, which can basically be described as everyone goes at once, with yielding done only at the last possible instant.  This approach remained consistent regardless of vehicle size or velocity – the large tour buses, motorbikes, Tuk-Tuks, Taxis, and tinted-window SUVs all vied for leverage, taking every inch of road afforded to them.

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Also, Bangkok is a colorful city, from the fabrics being sold street-side, the numerous Buddhist shrines located practically everywhere, the hot pink or green taxis, to the variety of fresh fruits displayed by cart-vendors on every street corner.   Bangkok is vibrant, bright, and alive….and it smells, too.   Admittedly, not as bad as most underground NYC subway stations…and any city with a population of several million has its own unique “parfum”, that’s for sure!

Our taxi dropped us off near the Palace gates, and so we headed to the closest visible entrance.  Although this particular gate was closed, there was a small crowd of people milling about the entrance.  We surely looked like tourists as we sauntered up to it, and a Thai man with a somewhat official looking outfit approached us.  He informed us in broken English that the Palace was not yet open to the public for another hour (1pm, we were told), but why don’t we just step into this waiting Tuk-Tuk for a tour of the area instead of standing around?  He must have sounded persuasive, because within seconds I was following my usually headstrong and city-smart Cecille into a small Tuk-Tuk, which wasted no time in speeding off away from the Palace.   Although I hadn’t really had time to react or question what was going on, as we were herded into the Tuk-Tuk I remembered something I had read online a few weeks before about a common scam at the Palace; men would dress in some semblance of “official looking uniform”, then lie to tourists about the Palace being closed for the sole purpose of sending them off on an overpriced half-hour “tour” in a waiting Tuk-Tuk.  As we were already approaching  the next intersection, it dawned on me that this is exactly what was happening to us. I turned to Cecille:

“Hey…why are we doing this?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “If the Palace isn’t open yet, then why not? You’ll get a chance to see some of the city while we wait.”

“I read on the internet that the Palace is open all day. I think these guys are lying to us.” The Tuk-Tuk stopped at a traffic light. “Can we just go? Let’s get out of here.”

Cecille didn’t argue or hesitate. Just like that, she just trusted me, even though this was now her city and I was the stranger; she grabbed my hand, and we jumped off from the Tuk-Tuk together, saying “No, sorry, we’re going now,” to the incredulous driver.  With this simple gesture, I immediately trusted her more, too.

Still holding hands, we walked the few blocks back to the Grand Palace.

After locating the correct entrance, we walked onto the Palace grounds. We entered through The Phimanchaisri Gate, the main entrance from the Outer to the Middle Court. The Outer Court or Khet Phra Racha Than Chan Na (เขตพระราชฐานชั้นหน้า) of the Grand Palace is situated to the northwest of the palace (the northeast being occupied by the Temple of the Emerald Buddha).   Not surprisingly, it was crowded with other tourists…just another day at one of the world’s most majestic Royal compounds.

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Also, according to the Palace’s dress code, one could not go sleeveless.  Thankfully, Palace staff operate a shirt rental for a nominal fee.  My collared shirt was deemed acceptable so we went to procure a shirt for Cecille:

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She wore it with style, of course!

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We made our way into the crowded area near the compound of giant golden temples where The Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว) is located and had a look around.  We sat for a moment to plan our next move, and I took a quick video as I glanced around.

(Isn’t she sweet? Already contemplating a gift for my mother. 🙂 )

The Royal Palace is amazing, truly opulent. Everywhere I turned, there was something else fascinating to look at.

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This one particular building was in the midst of undergoing some renovations:

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Next, we checked out the scale model of Angkor Wat, and a nice young lady took what was for us, our first photo together

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Then, Phra Thinang Boromphiman (living quarters for royalty) but the gates were being closed as we got there.

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We also took some time to sit in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha located in the compound where the giant golden temples are.  The interior of the Temple was even more ornate and glittering than what you can see in the other pics of the Palace, but unfortunately, there was no photography allowed inside.  We spent about 15 minutes in there, in silent meditative reverence, taking in all of the shiny and magnificent details of our surroundings.

Then we went to Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat, which houses the throne room where the King receives ambassadors on the occasion of the presentation of their credentials.

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One of the ground floor sections housed an “Arms Room”, a gun museum which displayed many antique guns from different eras and nations.  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside, so I can’t show it off!

After checking out the guns for a little while, we headed over to the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.  It’s located in the Ratsadakorn-bhibbhathana building, and is described as such:

“The museum’s mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a centre for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from Southeast Asia, South Asian, and East Asia, with a special emphasis on the textiles of, and related to, the royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.” – See more at: http://asemus.museum/museum/queen-sirikit-museum-of-textiles

Unlike Cecille, who basically gushed and wowed at every display of the exquisite Thai silk “haute couture”  (gowns and dresses worn by Thai royalty), the museum itself was only barely interesting to me – but the fun part came after the walkthrough: an opportunity to be dressed up in traditional Thai garb!

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I’m such a lucky guy…

Lastly , we checked out the Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins which is a museum of….you guessed it: regalia, royal decorations, and coins.  Although it was interesting, by this time we were both getting hungry and I could tell that Cecille’s feet were starting to bother her again.  I told her that I would change the dressing on her wounds once we returned to the hotel, but for now, why don’t we give our feet a break and sit down for a late lunch?  We left the Palace grounds and headed across the street to eat at Au Bon Pain.  Once we stepped into the air conditioned restaurant, Cecille repeated the caring ritual that she had began earlier that day – she brought out a hand towel and mopped the sweat from my brow.  Since it’s always hot in Thailand, this is something that she would do more of numerous times, during this trip and the following ones as well.  Every time she does so, I am touched; it feels good to be doted on in this way! 🙂

It was already early evening once we finished our meal, so we decided to head to the bank of the Chao Praya River to watch the sunset while we waited for a river boat to ferry us to the other side so that we could visit the Wat Arun (Temple Of Dawn) across the way.

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After roaming the area around the Temple for a while, we sat together close by to relax, then plan our way back to the hotel.  The nearest BTS (Skytrain) station wasn’t very near, so we decided to catch a Tuk-Tuk to get there.  A minute or two before we got to the street, it started pouring..!  Naturally, this made the Tuk-Tuk ride into a splashy wet adventure, our driver unfazed by the slippery road conditions.  But still safe and sound, we made it to the BTS station, caught a train, and then a transfer to an MRT train (Bangkok’s subway) before arriving to the vicinity of our hotel.  Tired, wet, dirty, and hungry – but nevertheless very happy about our day of exploration.  Cecille often commented how lucky we were to have visited such a special and historical place, and having the chance to be able to get to know such an amazing country’s cultural heritage, artifacts and architecture up close.  After hours of walking about, our eyes were satiated and we were done sightseeing for the day. Our stomachs however were feeling the other way around and so we stopped at our new favorite Chinese restaurant Chok Dee and grabbed some take-out for the hotel room. However, once we finally returned to our “base”, showering and eating were temporarily postponed due to other priorities… 😉

It’s A New Yorker’s State of Mind is a periodic contribution from Ian, Cecille’s devoted fiancé, about the developing story of creating a life together with his Muse – and the journeys, trials, and triumphs that come with it. Born and raised in New York, Ian enjoys travel both domestically in the US and abroad to Europe (and now Asia!). An adventurous spirit, a music enthusiast, and an avid reader, he’s up for writing about places to go, things to do, music to listen to, and books to read. Unadulterated and direct, IAN.Y.S.M. is a refreshing peek on the male perspective, a companionate “side window” into Ian’s POV from New York, and a fitting rendering alongside the lovely msglobalfilipina’s riveting entries. \m/

The museum’s mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a centre for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia, with a special emphasis on the textiles of, and related to, the royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. – See more at: http://asemus.museum/museum/queen-sirikit-museum-of-textiles/#sthash.SyHUXcjM.dpuf
The museum’s mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a centre for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia, with a special emphasis on the textiles of, and related to, the royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. – See more at: http://asemus.museum/museum/queen-sirikit-museum-of-textiles/#sthash.SyHUXcjM.dpuf
The museum’s mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a centre for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia, with a special emphasis on the textiles of, and related to, the royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. – See more at: http://asemus.museum/museum/queen-sirikit-museum-of-textiles/#sthash.SyHUXcjM.dpuf
Ratsadakorn-bhibhathana Building
Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles
Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles
Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles

TEN FLEETING DAYS and My After-Musings Part 4: Melancholic Reveries

 

February 25, 2013, 9:30 pm. I was back at the same exact station, but this time I was waiting for the train alone.

It felt like only just a few hours ago when the love of my life and I took the same railway going to the city proper.
Ian arrived to visit me again here in Thailand in the evening of February 15th. I met him at Arrivals and led him to the Airport rail link that took us to Ratchaprarop Station, approximately a 7-minute walk from Baiyoke Tower, where we were booked for the night.

As the passengers filled the car, Ian and I were all smiles, chuckling to ourselves in disbelief. We were in each other’s arms again! Our small corner inside the train echoed with our happy and excited chatter and my insistent inquiries about how his flight went. We were both grappling/vying for air time and oblivious to the world.

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Ten days later, as I sat solitary on one of the station benches, there was only silence and the hushed rolling and clicking of my 7-11-bought pen as my companion.

Imagining what I will return to, I was not looking forward to seeing the receptionist’s grouchy face in the hotel which had been our love nest for the past few days. His face could have been in a constant frown but it would definitely look happier than mine.

The PA announced the arriving train in two languages and I stood up to fall in line. As I took a seat, I looked back to our final minutes.

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I went with him to the airport to send him off. Outside the Passport Control (where only passengers can enter), we were saying our difficult goodbyes, exchanging promises and hastily uttered reminders (mine to Ian consisting mostly of repetitions to Take Care, Drive Safely Every day and Keep in touch). Right on cue, just like in the movies, an airline employee cuts in on our desperate last moments with a hand signal pointing to the clock/wrist watch as if to say “It’s time”.

Great! Make it easier for us.

Either he was just doing his job, or grossed out, or jealous of our blatant public display of affection. I was never big on PDA but with Ian and especially right at that very moment, the world around us had ceased to exist and I was shameless.
It was just he and I in our own perfect little world.

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I let go of Ian and he stepped onto the elevator that took him to the final security checkpoint and immigration. He never looked away from me-we kept mouthing our I LOVE YOUs until he was out of my sight.

Wow! So that’s it? Lea, Ian’s sister, was right. Those 10 days flew by so quickly. Of course, we both knew his visit was going to end but it didn’t change anything: the pain of separation is always the same. It’s as if the heart was torn from the chest because it follows the one you love, as Ellena, my future mother-in-law, had put it.
No matter how many times I said goodbye to Ian, I never got used to it. This feeling is only relieved when I see him again.

See him again… I had no idea when the next time would be and that made it all the more depressing for me. But before I could break down for a crying spree, a thought struck me:

Isn’t the Immigration Services right behind the glass wall in front of me? I remember from my recent Singapore trip that the Passport Control Section in Suvarnabhumi Airport was renovated in such a way that passengers have to take the escalator going up to some sort of boarding pass check, and then take an escalator down to appear before the Immigration officer.

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I rushed to see if I could get lucky and actually get a glimpse of Ian. My mind was racing, heart pounding, desperate for that one last goodbye. I positioned myself where there was a good view of the escalator and of the passengers going down. I didn’t want to miss him. Just moments later, he came through- in a hurry and with no time to look around him. He had a mission, to catch his plane. He didn’t bother to explore his surroundings. I was so desperate to catch his attention that I began tapping on the glass walls almost futilely. Then, with a bit of luck, a seemingly cordial middle-aged man behind him saw me and so I signaled to him to call Ian’s attention. He was kind enough to oblige and said something to Ian that made him turn his direction towards me. Seeing me unexpectedly lit his face up and my heart leapt for joy. Ian politely thanked the man and again started whispering his muted I love yous. I silently whispered back. Ian placed his hand on the left side of his chest. It is his way of telling me “Cecille, you’re in my heart”.

I know I am. It makes it seem all the more wrong for me to be sitting on a train back to a hotel room while Ian was set to fly thousands of feet above the ground. Moments ago, I was a woman loved and cherished by my man who was beside me. As I head back to Central Bangkok on my own, all of a sudden, I became a little girl again, caught in my melancholic reveries,and the city felt far too big for me.

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I was now a station away, and as I readied my train pass, I caught sight of the ring on my finger; now, Ian’s words echoed in my brain… “Whenever you feel sad and lonely, look to this ring and know I am always with you. We will be truly together soon, I promise”.
I desperately tried to suppress my sobs until I unlocked what used to be OUR room. As I pushed open the door, the scents of our frolicking filled my nose-remnants of Ian’s loving, comforting and reassuring presence not too long ago. Oh, dear God, I miss him already.

And that’s when the dam broke.

Immortalizing International Love through Photographs-An Engagement Pictorial (1 of 2)

It’s wedding season for my age bracket! Lately when I’m on social media networks, I’ve been seeing my comrades getting engaged, marrying, and having babies. Love is in the online air!

It’s amazing what modern-day communication affords us. I can truly attest to this. My mind is blown because of how with one click, I am able to talk to old friends I haven’t even touched base with for a while… people I would otherwise only see again in the pages of old yearbooks, class pictures or night-out photographs of years past.

I remember frolicking under the sun with as kids with some of these old friends. Others were high school girl friends that I used to share colognes and crushes with. The rest were either colleagues from previous workplaces or someone I knew through somebody. Now in our mid-twenties, discussing wedding plans with them after several years of inconsistent communication is both unexpected and refreshing.

“We are at this stage, huh!?” we would comment to each other. Yes – it seems like we are not getting any younger.

On the subject of weddings, it is usual for brides-to-be to share and compare wedding plans with each other. Crucial topics such as the ceremony venue, reception, cake and catering services, florists, and for some, preferred officiating ministers or priests are thoroughly discussed.  Then they fuss about invitation printers, save- the- date ideas, table cards, giveaways, and of course the entourage’s outfits and the bridal couture! Ah, and the wedding dress!

To my dearest grooms – keep in mind that holding everything together is difficult enough for the bride to do even with her bridesmaids in assistance…and for an occasion as big as this, the ladies always put their best foot forward so that absolutely nothing goes wrong and everything is perfect come the big day. Minor glitches are not even tolerated. Women plan for and organize their weddings like a platoon strategizes before battle. It’s do or die. But in terms of wedding planning, women are even more feral and unforgiving when they don’t get their way and/or things don’t go as planned. Hell hath no fury than a bride and her entourage scorned. It’s like “Bridezillas Unite!” and you, poor little groom, don’t want to end up as collateral damage. So if you value your life, DON’T EVER commit the crime of ripping even just a teeny-tiny portion of the train of her dress on your way home from picking it up from the couturier. I’m telling you, she will definitely lose it. You’re a dead man walking. I can’t even begin to tell you how justice will be served…

(Yes, Ian. The whole paragraph about keeping the wedding dress safe and secure is essential to this entry and so you must not edit it out. ;-))

So, a few weeks back, I started talking to my ladies about wedding planning. Gentlemen, when we ladies talk weddings, this includes the blow-by-blow scrutiny of each one’s grooms: how helpful and participative they are with the organizing process, do they go to food tasting sessions, have they picked out their suits, were they aware the guest list just ballooned to 200..what??!!?, etc. Luckily for my darling Ian, I’m not quite in that Crazy Bride mindset (yet…that would be later, baby…hehe). I explained to my girls that since we are in a not-so-traditional circumstance, we can’t really do the whole big wedding thing (yet). Ian and I will say our vows in front of a Justice Of The Peace. Or, a city mayor – I  am not certain. I am not even sure when I’ll get my visa or when I’m leaving.

Naturally, this plan was met with raised eyebrows.  People gab about getting married as being a once in a lifetime deal (true for some people), and that couples are supposed to make it as memorable as possible. And so they ask me, “Why aren’t you throwing a big wedding? Don’t you want your friends and relatives to celebrate this occasion with you? Don’t you want your loved ones’ blessings?”

It’s not that we don’t want it – of course we do. But we can’t just yet. Basically, the plan is for me to leave for the US as soon as possible after my visa is approved. After I step foot on American soil, I intend to marry Ian as soon as we can.  After all of this exhausting bureaucratic work and the agonizing longing and waiting that came with it, I doubt I will have the time and energy for any kind of wedding planning.

So, civil courthouse ceremony it is.

Of course, that was not how I imagined my dream wedding would be. And this is absolutely not my mother’s dream wedding for me. But as I told you in my earlier entry, we make do with what we have. If there is anything my love journey with Ian taught me, it is to prioritize the things that are truly valuable in life and let go of all of those things that are material, temporary, and unnecessary. As for the two of us, to be in each other’s arms forever is blessing enough.

Besides, it’s not the wedding but the marriage. I know it’s not an original thing to declare, but it is certainly true. How many extravagant weddings have you been to and later found out that the couple split or that the bride ran away with another man? In 1974, Ian’s parents, Bob and Ellena, were married by a Justice Of The Peace too. Forty years later, they are still together, very much in love, and renewing their vows over the coming (American) summer.

Oh well, who knows? Maybe Ian and I will have a nice wedding in the future…we are certainly dreaming of it. Don’t be upset if we require guests to wear cloaks, tunics or kilts, because what we are imagining is a unique Game of Thrones inspired medieval-style wedding in honor of the circumstances of our first meeting. DIBS!!!! Dare duplicate my theme and my dragons will be after you!

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But for the time being, we have our minds focused on priorities.  We are taking it one step at a time. Among the important details we carefully planned for and arranged was our pre-wedding pictorial.  I believe the engagement photoshoot is as important as the marriage ceremony itself. It says a lot about the couple and their love story. Also, it is sentimental because it is both a formal declaration of the couple’s betrothal and probably the last formal portraits of the couple as unmarried individuals.

Some people make an effort to come up with unique themes for their shoot. Some go with the customary and pose in bridal couture. Either way, the theme selection process is never easy.  Yet for Ian and I, our love story and our theme were a match made in heaven. Our theme had always been there since we first knew each other. We chose to channel The Wind-up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, a novel which is very close to our hearts. You do remember me telling you about Emiko and Anderson Lake, right?

 For my first-time readers, and for those who have forgotten, here’s a link to one of my earlier entries:

https://theglobalfilipina.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/rewinding-to-the-windup-girl-epiphany/

This riveting novel, although fictional, had repeatedly tugged on our heartstrings as if it were real. We were moved by the harrowing possible future reality presented by the author. We empathized with the characters, and in our imaginings, they became alive. When we were deciding on a concept, there was no doubt in our minds. This had to be it.

After rigorous research, we found out that no individual or group has thus far done a detailed interpretation of The Wind-up Girl, either through stills or film. Good! We wanted to be the first.  With the help of our hardworking team, we breathed life into the pages of the bestselling book.  So to Paolo Bacigalupi and to the many sci-fi/dystopian future fans out there, here’s our offering. We do hope that our version is close to how you imagined these characters.

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Also, we would like to share an exclusive sneak peek of some behind the scenes activity.

THE INSPIRATION

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THE MAKING

A day prior to the shoot, we met with our team to finalize the details of our endeavor. Like us, our photographer and stylists had done intensive research on the concept. We were all eager to make this shoot an unforgettable one.

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(Notice the photo of Audrey Hepburn on my laptop? More of it on Part 2 of this entry)

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Also, we did a pre-photoshoot location visit so that our team could become acquainted with the surroundings.

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Finally, here we are in action on the day of the shoot.

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Earlier that day, Ian and I encountered an inconvenience. His parents were worried and so they were calling him from the States. That’s him picking up his phone.

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Our team was eager to start and so they were waiting on us.

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This was me asking them to give us a minute. They did.

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Minutes later, Ian was still on the phone.

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 And still on the phone….So we waited.

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“Baby, they want to start”

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Ian was so stressed he needed re-touching…

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And some more last minute touch-ups…

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Me too, apparently…

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Then, our main photographer RJ gave us instructions…

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And more instructions…

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Finally we are ready to roll…

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The first few shots were awkward of course!

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But then they just kept taking photos….

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And more photos….until we were both exhausted.

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And so they gave us some break time

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(The Windup Girl photoshoot location was just outside the Champs Elysees Condominium compound, where my parents live. We shot the remainder of the photos inside….Stay tuned for Part 2)

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More retouching for me….and Ian was back on the phone!

It turns out; it wasn’t very easy to solve our dilemma that day.  Lucky us, Ian’s parents were to the rescue. They were very supportive even from thousands of miles away. From afar, they ended up saving the day. Thanks B + E.

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Back to work! RJ was relentless in motivating us.

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He did well at taking charge

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This time, the more intense shots….

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And finally, we shot the last set.  Everyone was quiet while these pictures were being taken. The scene was so solemn and so moving that I swear I saw my uncle shed a tear. Personally, I was being emotional. The stress of what happened earlier finally got to me…but what helped the most was when I was internalizing Ian’s impending departure the following day…It was a heartbreaking thought and maybe you can tell when viewing the final published photos how somber I was….

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But all is well that ends well. We finished the first part of our pictorial session right before lunch. Relief! Also, food was waiting for us back in my mother’s place. So, we had the perfect excuse to be playful in this photo.

There you have it folks, the first part of this photoshoot entry. Stay tuned for the next installment. I promise I will publish ASAP!

To view the complete set for this photo session, click here:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.411157965640497.95111.150758515013778&type=1

Our Compliments and Special Thanks
Photo Credits:
RJ Protacio and RJ Protacio Photography
Jared Villegas Teves
Hair and Make-up Artists:
Kittikoon Khinkhajorn
Auyjung Naja
Co-stylists:
Clint Lopez
Jan Jay Espino
Production Assistant:
Karl Castillon

Living A Double Life

Suits Season 1 (2011) - Free Download

This week, I started watching SUITS. It’s an American legal-comedy-drama TV series about Mike Ross, a smart but not so lucky kid until he stumbles into a job interview for a firm which is searching for an associate lawyer. That particular firm happens to hire only Harvard graduates and well, Mike didn’t attend Harvard. In fact, he’s not even a lawyer. Senior Partner Harvey Specter hired him nonetheless based on the fact that Mike has an eidetic memory, is an avid reader (he has read all law books and perfectly remembers every word), and because he mirrors Harvey’s characteristics in a lot of ways.

Anyway, I’ve had the first season episodes in my laptop for over 7 months but I’ve only just begun to watch it now. And watch I did: watched it on my free time, on the way to work, 30 minutes before I start my job, after working hours and until I fall asleep. Yes. That’s what boredom does to you.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not some dreary cat lady. In fact, so many things are happening in my life right now that you could even say “Wow, that’s fast!” But the thing is, I feel like I’m not exactly living my life, like this is not how it’s supposed to be right now. Allow me to explain:

You already know the story about Ian and I first meeting back in July. We’ve spoken all the time since then, and in November we sealed the deal:  We became a couple. In December, we decided we wanted to get married. While that was going on, I had just moved to and started a new job here in Thailand. My current position in my company allows me to make almost full use of my skills and talents. I am in the verge of many more learning and career opportunities to come. In fact, only three months into this job, my company is already sending me to Singapore next week to train for one of the latest operating room techniques in lung disease and cancer diagnosis and treatment. My boss told me so the day before my probation status evaluation. Today, it’s official: I am a full-time employee. What a wonderful welcome gift!

While that all seems very enticing, the truth is, I just want to get out of here as fast as I can. I know, I know, my job is amazing, my family lives here and Asia is the next economic tiger if it isn’t already. Right now, I am in the best place to be. Thailand is on its way to conquering the global arena side by side with Singapore, China and Malaysia. And with the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), things are looking up for every Asian.  BUT I DON’T FEEL LIKE I BELONG HERE ANYMORE.

Going back to SUITS, like Mike Ross, yes, I feel like I’m living a double life. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is call Ian, ask him how his day went, what’s keeping him busy at the moment, and after a few minutes of idle chit chat and endless “I miss yous”, I jump into the shower, get dressed as quick as lightning and hurry for work.

That sucks!

 All I want to be doing first thing in the morning is wake up next to the love of my life, see his handsome face the moment I open my eyes, plant soft little kisses on his nose and forehead, jump into the shower with him, make us both breakfast and give him a big wet kiss before we both leave for work.

That’s how I should be living my life.

I know that in possibly less than a year, fingers crossed, I could actually be doing it. But really, I feel impatient – I can’t wait for it to finally happen. I can’t wait to be with Ian.

I once was a big believer in long-distance relationships. Well, granted that I am still technically in one now, I have to continue believing. But I must say that I am not such a big fan anymore. It used to work so well for me before. I am the type of person who enjoys a lot of time alone and away from my partner. I feel like it allows me more freedom and consequently, more personal growth.

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But what happens now, when my partner’s presence actually nourishes me, feeds me, sustains me, and cultivates me? With Ian, I can be in a relationship without compromising my individuality. I can truly be myself without the fear of judgment and/or rejection. In this kind of environment, I can be the best that I can be. I have never felt this before and IT IS awesome! Sometimes I wonder if maybe it’s not really about the circumstance, but the person you are with. What I thought I was really excellent at doing before, these days just drives me crazy. Now, I don’t like long distance relationships at all.

Of course, Ian constantly tells me that the long distance part of this is temporary. Sure, but while we are both still waiting, I am unceasing in my prayers that the hours may be shortened, the days will fly by quickly and the months will just speed past us so fast that I would hardly even notice.

Right now I am living a double life because instead of Saturday Skyping with Ian, I should be going to the farmer’s market with him to pick out vegetables for our  lunch that we will cook and enjoy together. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, I am ordering lunch from restaurants every day. I am living a double life because instead of getting recommendations for a good fitness center from my Thai friends over here, I should be checking out the jogging/running routes in my New Paltz neighborhood. Ian tells me there’s a track on the college campus just across the street from my would-be house.

I am living a double life because instead of snuggling with Ian on the couch, sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows on an unforgivably cold winter afternoon and playing footsie, I am buried deep under my double comforters because my roomie just turned the temperature down to a degree my skin-and-bones physique can barely handle.

It’s all wrong! And I just want this to end. I may eventually end up unemployed my first few months in New York, my driving could be awful, I could burn the toast or screw up Ian’s favorite Angel hair pasta, or my skin might adjust poorly to the temperature. Hell I could freeze my butt off! On top of it, I wouldn’t know anybody besides my new husband and his family. But we would live in our own little world, living the life we should be living and that would be enough for me.

If I am being desperate, I would say Mike Ross from the show SUITS is better off. I mean, sure he is living a double life pretending to be a rookie associate.  But can another double life get any better? He is working in this prestigious firm, earning the big bucks, being mentored by the best legal minds and he gets to attend those fancy Harvard alumni soirees.  Not to mention his name is actually on the Harvard alumni website.  He has a fake Harvard diploma for the love of God.  On the other hand, I don’t even know if I could still get to pursue law school. But that’s another story.

Oh well! Too much of this pity party: Let’s liven it up a little bit.

 I am not only writing this for catharsis but also to express my admiration for the people who are in the same boat as me and my Ian and kicking ass at it. This is also for my dear friends Racel and Krishna, who both got to spend only a week or two (after their weddings) with their new husbands before their men had to fly back to their respective jobs and residences. Racel works in Saudi while her husband is based in Singapore. Krishna had to wait 9 months or so before seeing her husband again last November. Joan, my big sister based in Canada, is about to embark on a long distance relationship with her adorable man next month.

 If they can do it, so can I. It is tough but nothing is too difficult for two hearts strengthened by each other. As I told Ian after our less-than-traditional Skype pamamanhikan (which is usually the awkward first meeting of the two families of the soon-to-be bride and groom to discuss the engagement), seas and continents may divide us both, but I am okay when he is okay.  It doesn’t matter where we are because my heart is his home and his is mine.

And to all those couples and families loving each other across the miles, I dedicate this to you. May we all keep inspiring each other. Keep the faith! Keep Holding On! Double life or not, may the love keep us all alive.

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FUN FACTS! New Paltz to Bangkok: HOW FAR IS IT REALLY?

http://www.worldcities.us/distance_from_New-Paltz_to_Bangkok/

IAN.Y.S.M. Entry 001- A haircut and a plane ticket: Now The Leap!

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Wow.

Looking in the mirror that day, the change seemed drastic. Almost a foot of hair, gone.  I felt like I had gone from metal to ’92 grunge with just a few snips of my mom’s scissors.  Yeah, that’s right – I’m 37 and my mother cuts my hair.  It’s a rare occasion, perhaps once every year or two.  She’s the only one I trust to do the simplest, most even cut.  My fear is that a hairdresser or barber would get scissor-happy at the sight of 15 inches of straight hair on a guy. But this cut was particularly drastic – probably the shortest my hair has been since I was about 17.  Typically, I’ll request a healthy length around my shoulder blades, but today was different: I had somebody to impress.

That “somebody”, Cecille, had impressed upon me that my abnormally long hair would really stand out in Thailand.  It would attract attention, potentially unwanted.  Here in New Paltz, New York, no one really gives me a second look; but I’ve had long hair throughout my life, so I’m well aware of the negative attention that it can garner.  Basically, I couldn’t care less; it’s something that I had accepted a long time ago.  However I wasn’t sure how that kind of negative attention would translate for a “stranger in a strange land”, as I felt I was about to be.  Of course, Bangkok is a metropolitan, international city, full of foreign tourists and western ex-pats.  But to me, it was different of course; I’d never been East of France before.  So the idea of attracting attention that wasn’t familiar to me, of being a foreigner AND a freak somehow, wasn’t appealing.  Even more importantly, the idea of Cecille feeling awkward around me was even less appealing.  So there goes most of my hair, and I look unfamiliar to myself.

So I tie my hair back, and then I look just the same as before.  No one will even notice. And, I was right about that – since I’ve been back from Thailand about 6 weeks ago, not one of my friends or coworkers noticed my missing foot of hair.

I was restless that night; staying at my parent’s place, because they’d drive me to the airport in the morning. Tomorrow was a big day…my mind was on overdrive. First, what would the trip be like? I’ve never travelled so far and for so long.  But mainly, it was my reason for going that kept my mind racing; Cecille. What would meeting her truly be like? Would our chemistry translate to spending actual time together?  What would become of us, and what adventures were in store for the next two weeks?  Yet even as my mind raced with these questions, there also a sense of calm, resolute empowerment; whatever this turned into, my choices over the next days and weeks amounted to me taking control of my own destiny with my eyes wide open, and in a way I had never attempted before.  Come what may, I was ready…and it felt amazing.

**

After a somewhat restful sleep, and a nice breakfast with my parents, I’m upstairs and in a skype call with Cecille.  We’re both really excited, knowing that what we’ve been anticipating is just hours away.  I would be a liar if I said that it was easy to get to this point; after all, we were both carrying a lot of hopes and even fears into what we were about to do. ..and there is really no way to predict such results.  But we had grown to care for each other over these past months, and both very curious about what the next step could be – so this was enough to keep us happily excited, and very very ready despite how nervous we sometimes felt. Case in point, I show Cecille my new lack of hair.  Well, not the reaction I was hoping for.  She told me she felt like crying, I had cut too much off.  “But I did it for you,” I told her. “I didn’t want you to feel awkward around me – I want you to LIKE being around me!”  Her response was to tell me that I had ruined her fantasy about being with a rock star.

Damn.

I did spend some time attempting to convince her that my hair grows quickly, and that if things go well with us, she’ll see it in all its long rock star glory again eventually. I was at this until my Dad started yelling up the stairway that it was time for us to go if I didn’t want to miss my flight.

Soon after, we left to drive to the airport.  My parents were excited for me; I know that they liked to see me so happy and excited to embark on such an adventure.  They knew I hadn’t done anything new or fulfilling for myself in a couple of years.  A spontaneous voyage to the other side of the world, to be a tourist in an exotic land and spend time with a woman I was getting close to was a positive thing for me and they were certainly more supportive and excited than nervous or worried. But, they are parents, so being nervous and worried was an inevitable part of it.  However, aside from the usual “be aware, keep your wits about you” kind of stuff, I didn’t get any lectures – save for my father’s one piece of sage advice: “Don’t get her pregnant.” Ha.

The security procedures at JFK weren’t as bad as I had expected, after reading numerous accounts of TSA’s strictness and even misconduct in news stories online.  Finally, I get to my gate and find a place to charge my phone.  I also check out the plane through the window: an aging 747. I looked at the hulking thing, imagining its immense weight getting off the ground and carrying me over Canada, the Arctic, and the eventually Siberia and into China.  My thoughts were interrupted by a flurry of activity around the gate counter for our flight. What was going on?

As I approached, I noticed a sign, which seemed to be a hastily-typed page affixed to a small sign stand. It hadn’t been there just a few minutes before.  Basically, it stated that our plane would need to stop in Anchorage, Alaska due to some “technical issue” and that thus our flight would land in China at least 3 hours late. Shit!!!, I thought, as I snapped a pic of the sign with my phone.  I then went to the counter and explained that I have a connecting flight to Bangkok after Beijing.  The harried attendant explained to me that I would miss the connecting flight and would need to wait until the next day in China for the next one.

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What a mess! I hastily sent the pic to Cecille, but I knew she wouldn’t see it until she woke up some hours later.  After a few minutes I just tried to relax and accept it: this was beyond my control, and I will make it there eventually. Nothing will stop me.

Nothing will stop me.  -That’s really how it felt to me.  I had set the wheels in motion as soon as I felt welcomed by Cecille, and since they began to roll they haven’t stopped.  I had to get to the other side of the world to see what would become of this; I wouldn’t be deterred by inconvenience or even fear, and the last thing I would allow myself to do would be to carry around such a big “what if?” with me for the rest of my life. I was going to meet this beautiful and intriguing girl that made me smile (and sometimes drove me crazy) no matter what!