The Reading Spree

Flipping pages and finding common denominators

Category: Travel

Bookworming in Baguio… Again.

There are some places that you can’t help but return to, and not just once. For me, Baguio City is one of those constant destinations.

Baguio reminds me of long road trips with family and siblings’ friends in the ’90s, way back when an eight-hour travel time from Manila was normal, and the long way through Dau was the “shortest” route. Baguio is where we all go to escape the unbearable heat in the city. Baguio’s where you stop if you’re headed further north, e.g. Sagada, Ilocos, or San Juan.

More recently, Baguio is the first place that comes to mind whenever I want to get away from everyone else, but still be just one bus ride away in case there’s an emergency at home. I now also think of Baguio whenever I want to score some great books.

I was back in Baguio yet again last month. This time around, I was a writing fellow for creative nonfiction (CNF) at this year’s UST National Writers’ Workshop. (So yeah, I got in.) While the workshop kept all of us busy for a week – and those damn storms Gorio and Huaning kept us mostly indoors – we had two days to roam around the city and do whatever we wanted.

Of course, my itinerary included book shopping.

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A Reminder.

In case you wanna see and read more about my first visit to Mt. Cloud Bookshop, click here. 🙂

Getting Bookish.

For some reason, WordPress isn’t following my input and rotating my photo as required.

Bookworming In Baguio!

I haven’t done a Bookworming In… blog entry since last year, after a three-week backpacking trip to three Asian countries. Didn’t realize it has been that long! Time to break that lengthy spell.

I just came home from a five-day holiday in the City of Pines, two of which were mostly spent on the road. Needed a quick, within-the-budget getaway, and I really missed Baguio’s cold weather. I also wanted to return to a place I’ve been to many times, and not spend so much time adjusting and devoting valuable hours to the usual tourist traps. Another factor: I wanted to go somewhere that’s far enough from everything and everyone, but near enough so I can easily get home in case of emergencies.

The Baguio I knew back then is so much different from the one that exists today. It now has more people, more traffic, and definitely more pollution (and less pine tress and much less of that wonderful pine smell), to name a few basic differences. But there are still plenty of awesome, not-so-touristy places to check out.

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Travel: The Dos and Don’ts.

Summer’s done! The temperature has thankfully gone down; no more 36°C heat, yay! Now we have to deal with torrential rains and flooding all the way until the fourth quarter. This means we’ll spend more time at home, hopefully safe and dry, but also resist the strong urge to go out and travel even in unsafe conditions.

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Workshops for Working and Wannabe Writers!

I was so excited for this weekend. The calendar boxes for Friday, Saturday and Sunday were filled with appointments, personal tasks and the all-important drinking nights with fellow alcoholics. There was also an overnight trip to Tagaytay with several awesome high school friends (including two balikbayans). Basically, it looked like two and a half days of fun.

Then my body said “nu-uh”. And there’s absolutely no room for negotiation. So instead of being out and about (despite the cruel summer heat!), I’m indoors − sneezing and coughing and putting warm compresses over my left eyelid, which has been swollen since yesterday and is making me look like Pacquiao used me as a punching bag.

This latest body problem (which comes after this, which hasn’t really gone away) means no appointments, no errands, no drinkage, no out-of-town trip, no socializing. Grrrrreat. Can’t do much except accept it, get much-needed rest, and plan to make up for this sudden house arrest in the coming weeks.

My idea of rest: reading books, lounging around in bed, or catching up on my RSS and social media feeds. (‘Coz really, what else can you do?) It’s a good thing I’m doing the online rounds, too. Reviewed and replied to old e-mails and text messages (I’m the type who just skims personal messages and seldom replies), and saw updates regarding several writing workshops. May attend one or some of them − I think it’ll be a good way to make up for this ongoing inactivity. Plus I think my writing’s getting a bit rusty; a new perspective is needed. I thought maybe you’d be interested in these workshops, too.

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Traveling Without Moving.

We’re just about done with January 2013, and I still haven’t had any free time to write about my three-week holiday back in October-November 2012 (well, except for this one)… until now. Better late than never, right?

Besides getting the R&R I deserve and testing my limits once again, my second solo Southeast Asia backpacking trip gave me the opportunity to do something I haven’t done in a while: read. I pore over a lot of articles and printouts every day due to work and personal interests, but I certainly haven’t read any of my books from cover to cover in years.

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Bookworming In Thailand, Myanmar And Vietnam!

I said in my previous blog entry that I was on holiday for three weeks. I spent the second week of October up to the first few days of November backpacking through Bangkok, Thailand; Yangon, Ngapali Beach, and Mandalay, Myanmar; and Saigon, Vietnam. I’ve been planning this trip since 2009 (after I returned from my first solo trip through Hong Kong, Siem Reap and Kuala Lumpur), and there were a lot of changes in plans, budgets and itineraries for the next three years − and even until a few hours before my departure!

Some things haven’t changed, though. As with every trip (like this one), I just had to hit up a few bookstores during my 21-day journey. A few places in my itinerary are also related to books, literature and history; and one of the places I stayed in had a lot of reading material available for its guests.

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Missed Opportunity.

I’ve already written about VVG Something (including why we went there, how we got there and what we saw), so I won’t rehash all of that here. And nearly a month after I wrote that blog entry, I finally got to do some research on the titles we saw that day.

We found this group of books near the door, and some of these books’ titles really got our attention. However, there were so many things to see, touch, ogle and purchase at VVG Something that I eventually failed to go back to these books and pore over them. And now I really regret not doing that; turns out these books were written by first-time authors who go to Babette’s Feast, described and promoted by independent Singapore bookstore Books Actually as:

…a fortnightly gathering of writers: writers of singular words, writers of sentences, writers of letters, writers of lyrics, writers of stories, writers of fact, writers of the ephemeral. Come over for a casual dinner consisting of a humble feast (potlucking is encouraged), warm company, sharing and critique of your written works. Open to the public.

Books Actually is the host and organizer of these fortnight gatherings; its publishing brand (Math Paper Press) has enlisted several writers who participate in Babette’s Feast, and support them by printing “chapbooks” of their work and selling them. Looking at Books Actually’s online listing, two titles are missing from this collection (My Suit by Jason Wee, and You Cannot Count Smoke by Cyril Wong), and there are some duplicates (Careless by Jacqueline Ong, Bare by Terry Lee, The Law of Second Marriages by Christine Chia, Victimology by Verena Tay, and The World Must Weigh The Same by Carol Chan). I really wish I bought these titles − or maybe I can buy them online (in bulk), and have them shipped here to Manila.

Which makes me think… are there any Philippine bookstores, book clubs, or writing workshops that publish (or help publish) the work of promising writers?

Bookworming In Taipei!

Most people form certain traditions through the years, especially when they travel. For me, it’s bookworming while traveling! Since 2009, I’ve made it a point to visit bookstores, drool all over the merchandise (not literally, of course), and purchase a couple of titles. I remember hoarding paperbacks in Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur and worrying if the new books will fit in my small wheeled luggage, or meet the check-in quota. Sadly, some of them remain untouched on my shelf, but that’ll change eventually − of course, these titles will make an appearance here on The Reading Spree.

I arrived in Manila early yesterday morning from a three-day holiday in Taipei, Taiwan, with two longtime friends. On our last day in the city (Monday), and in keeping with my short list of “non-negotiables”, Tintin and I visited two beautiful bookstores that have been featured in print and online magazines, and are well-known among Taiwanese bibliophiles and in-the-know travelers: the quirky and unique VVG Something, and the behemoth known as Eslite. Tradition sustained; books bought; wallet drained. 😉

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