Site Map

List view + Tag Cloud | Tile view | Photo Blog


Nov 052014

Thoughts on my Swatch Sistem 51, manufacturing processes of my favorite things, and the future.

“As if sprung fully formed from Zeus’s head”. That’s what I thought when I first saw the watch and shoes in the photo below.


I’ve always had a weakness for shoes, but I’ve curbed that fetish for a while. Addiction to shopping, no matter how reasonably priced the item, is fragilizing. I developed a thing for watches over the past two years, but I vowed to stop hoarding them too. This watch is one of the last pieces I bought, for the same reason I bought the shoes. Can you see what made me break my “no shopping for unnecessary clothing” rule?

No, not the fact that they’re both reddish-hued. To borrow one of Apple’s neologisms, it’s because of their “unibody” constructions. This watch is a solar watch, no need to open it to insert a battery. Flipping the case over, you’ll see it’s sealed, there are no screws or backplate. It’s like a round disc carved from a single piece of plastic. Near seamless, with only a thin line demarcating the top from the bottom of the case.

I love boat shoes. I have three others- both leather and canvas. Traditionally manufactured boat shoes have a lot of pieced together parts, laces, flap, tassels. If not designed well, the shoe ends up looking too “busy”.

What drew me to this pair is its clean one-piece look. The shoe upper is made of a single piece of injection molded PVC. I’m most charmed by the plastic-molded simulated lace-threading-through-eyelets detail. There’s something futuristic and otherworldly about them, like they were created in a vacuum bubble by a magical 3D printer.


Last year, at Baselworld 2013, Swatch announced a revolutionary automatic watch. (It was mass-released this 2014.)It will have:

1. Only 51 parts in a hermetically sealed case. (most watches, especially automatic ones, are composed of much more than 51 little components).

That’s what drew me to the Sistem 51, like the sealed solar watch and PVC shoes I mentioned above. I like the way they seem born fully formed, not assembled by bits and pieces like patchwork.


2. A 90 hour power reserve (Unlike quartz timepieces, automatic watches don’t run on batteries. Most stop 24 hours after not being worn, and you have to wind them the next day.)

3. A low price of US$150 (very cheap for a good quality 100% Swiss made automatic watch. A lot of “Swiss made” watches you see are actually made elsewhere, but feature Swiss movements. Nothing wrong with their build quality, but misleading wording allow them to charge premium prices.)

The first point is impressive enough for a fully-mechanical watch with no electronics or quartz heartbeat or battery in it. But the proclamation that shocked everybody is that the watch will be manufactured, from start to finish, untouched by human hands.

Why do people still buy automatic watches in 2014? Many people nowadays use their mobiles to tell time. Quartz watches are much cheaper and accurate and you don’t need to wind if you stop wearing them for a day. I don’t know other people’s reasons, but one of mine is to feel a link to history.

Wearing a mechanical watch that I need to wind every now and then reminds me that while we’ve come a long way from the days of Gutenberg’s manual printing press and the Geocentric model of the universe, I’m wearing a sophisticated marvel engineered and crafted in almost the same manner as it was centuries ago. It reminds me of one of man’s earliest successful attempt at using technology to tame and understand something abstract and nebulous.

I find it amazing that in a way this type of watch is nearly immortal. It doesn’t need a battery, it has no electronics, it’s going to work forever, just wind it when it stops. Yes, there’s mechanical wear and tear, but that’s minimal compared to modern battery powered ones. When you leave the battery in for years, it will melt and mess up the gears inside.

I’m also charmed by the way the seconds hand in automatic watches sweeps instead of the typical jerky tick-tock forward inching of quartz watches. It reminds you of time’s passing, but in a smoother, gentler manner. It sweeps that way because of the way the gears inside move. Theintricacy of the gears in mechanical watches make it necessary for the fine horological artisans of Switzerland and Japan to manually assemblemany of the internal parts.

That’s what makes the manufacturing process of the Sistem 51 watch so revolutionary. It bridges centuries together. Centuries-old mechanical design with futuristic high-tech assembly. Something that has never been done before.

That this watch exists is contradictory and thought provoking. What does it mean for our future if something previously thought as “can only be built by humans” could actually be made well and cheaply by machines?

The future is here, and it’s sitting on my wrist.

Oct 312014

A “go” bag is a bag you keep near you in cases of emergency. It’s supposed to contain everything you need to survive for the next 72 hours. Knives, dried food, some medicine, etc.

Canon users, these are my lens recommendations for your photography go bag.

  • Canon EF 40 mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens
  • Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM ultrawide angle zoom
  • Canon EF-S 24 mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens

Now, for the TL;DR version, in which I tell the story of all the lenses I’ve loved.

Informal glossary for people who are new to camera reviews so we’ll be on the same page. Please feel free to skip ahead if you know these terms:

1. Prime lens- a one piece lens that doesn’t “zoom in or out”

2. zoom lens- a lens that moves to “zoom in or out”. a zoom lens is not necessarily a telephoto lens. you can have an ultra wide zoom where the tele end is only 22 or 18 mm.

3. APS-C- Canon’s smaller sized DSLR format. you multiply a lens’s focal length by 1.6 to get its equivalent focal length IF the lens is mounted on a full-frame (35mm) body.

4. kit lens- the “default” inexpensive zoom lens that’s paired with your DSLR when you buy it. you can also opt to buy just a DSLR body sans kit lens

5. EF- canon’s lens mount that works on both full frame and APS-C bodies (on Nikon, it’s FX)

6. EF-S- canon’s lens mount that works only on Canon’s cameras with the smaller APS-C sensors (on Nikon, it’s DX)

7. normal lens- people say it’s something that’s around 40 to 50 mm focal length, that approximates the field of view of the human eye.

8. pancake lens- a really small, flat lens, like a pancake


I got my very first DSLR in April 2007. It was a Canon 400D body paired with Canon’s most famous nifty 50, the EF 50mm f/1.4. I bought this prime after much research because it was Canon’s cheapest “good glass”, and the nifty 50 has a long, respected history in photography. All the review sites recommended getting the EF 50 as a starter lens, whether to upgrade your kit lens, or as your first lens. I ended up just getting this prime, and buying a 400D body sans kit lens.

However, the 50mm mounted on an APS-C body made it the equivalent of 80 mm on a full-frame body. 80mm is already a bit too telephoto for me. I had to step back a lot when I wanted to get more of a scene in. Because it was already a medium telephoto on my camera, I didn’t actually get to enjoy its much-vaunted “best normal lens” reputation.


Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM

I used just this one lens for a whole year. It was really good discipline training because I had to really plan about how I’m going to get a shot because my view was too “zoomed in” because on my camera, a 50mm normal lens is a medium telephoto. I couldn’t just snap away because if I did, I’d only get a somewhat close-up view of what I wanted to shoot.

After a few months, I was already able to anticipate what kind of view I’d see if I’m standing at a particular distance from an object. I also love the f/1.4 aperture, it allowed for great shots in low light.

Manila at night, 2007 (used the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 for this)

Manila at night, 2007 (used the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 for this)

However after a year I got tired of having the super “Zoomed in” view all the time and having to adjust for it. Thus began my journey to find the perfect lens for me.

I bought two lenses next, both second hand. one was the Canon EF 28-105 mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom lens, another is the Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 prime. I bought the zoom lens because it was really cheap, although I rarely used the far telephoto end. The wide end of 28 mm multiplied by 1.6 is 44.8 mm on a full-frame body. In other words, its wide end is a normal lens focal length, and I wanted to try that, afterhaving used the EF 50mm for months but not actually enjoying its true normal lens focal length.

from top to bottom: Canon EF 28-105 mm and Canon EF 20 mm (see how bulky it is?)

from top to bottom: Canon EF 28-105 mm and Canon EF 20 mm (see how bulky it is?)

I got the 20mm also because it was cheap and I wanted something that could approximate 35mm on a full frame, the favorite focal length of many street photographers. (20mm multiplied by 1.6 is 32 mm.)

I eventually sold it because I found the Canon EF 20mm too long and bulky. I replaced it with a tiny, near pancake sized Sigma 24 mm f/2.8. It was cute and light, but while it mounts on any EOS model Canon and syncs electronically; because the Sigma is old, from the mid 90s (I bought it second hand),  autofocus works, but theaperture is limited to only f/2.8.

Sigma 24 mm f/2.8 prime lens (around normal lens length on my camera not really "super wide" like the label on the front element says)

Sigma 24 mm f/2.8 prime lens (around normal lens length on my camera not really “super wide” like the label on the front element says)

I sold both that and the 28-105mm sometime in 2008, and replaced it with yet another secondhand all-around zoom lens, the Canon EF-S 17-85mm.

I bought it pretty cheaply, 50% off retail. It’s a smidgen wider than a kit lens, and has a little more telephoto reach. Like the 28-105mm I had some years back, I rarely used the telephoto end of the 17-85, as my preference is for going in close and shooting wide.

Canon EF-S 17-85 mm f/4-5.6 walk around zoom

Canon EF-S 17-85 mm f/4-5.6 walk around zoom

To recap, by 2009, I had only two lenses- the Canon EF-S 17- 85mm zoom lens, and the Canon EF 50 mm prime (which is “longer” than a normal when mounted on my APS-C body).

I wanted something wider though. That was when I got the Canon EF-S 10-22 mm ultrawide angle zoom lens, the first non-second hand lens i bought since my very first lens, the aforementioned Canon nifty 50. Ever since then, that has become my favorite lens.

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5 - 4.5 mm USM

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5 – 4.5 mm USM

I used it all over Manila shooting graffiti and urban landscapes, took it to Taipei, Bali, Guam, Chiang Mai, and Penang. Before I finally sold it off this September 2014, I even took it to Chile.

Taken with the telephoto end of the 10-22 mm. I had to get very close though because 22 mm is still pretty wide. Bali, 2012

Taken with the telephoto end of the 10-22 mm. I had to get very close though because 22 mm is still pretty wide. Bali, 2012

When I went to Chile, that was my primary lens. I was tempted to bring the whole kit and caboodle with me, but I limited myself to two lenses- the 10- 22 ultrawide and the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 pancake I bought in 2012.

Canon 100D body with Canon EF 40mm pancake lens

Canon 100D body with Canon EF 40mm pancake lens

For the longest time I have prayed to the camera gods for Canon to release a smaller and lighter form factor normal lens. I was so jealous of Nikon’s 35mm DX prime. in 2012, they finally came out with the teeny tiny Canon EF 40mm, and at only $200 retail, it was a no brainer to get it.

I did wish they made it 30mm instead of 40mm though. 40 mm on an APS-C crop body is pushing it into medium telephoto already, but Canon wants to push out a lens that both full frame and crop bodies can use cause they’re too cheap to make an EF-S exclusive unlike that Nikon DX 35 mm (DX is the EF-S of Nikon. FX is their EF). Hmph.

It was why I was overjoyed to hear that Canon is coming out with a Canon EF-S 24mm late this 2014! The retail price is also supposed to be only $200 or a little under that, and I’ll definitely get it.

But back to the ultrawide, why did I sell it? If i loved it so much? Because in May 2014, they announced the Canon EF-S 10-18mm ultrawide zoom (only their second ultrawide ever for APS-C bodies). It’s only $350, compared to the almost $800 initial asking price of the EF-S 10-22 !

Did they cut corners to get this low low price? Yes, but they were acceptable compromises. The lens mount is no longer stainless steel, but plastic. But for me that’s a benefit, as it made the lens much lighter. Big guys may not notice the weight, but every additional gram shaved off camera equipment is a plus for my neck.

Another “flaw” compared to the older ultrawide is the 10-18 mm starts at f/4.5instead of f/3.5 and the telephoto end tops out at 18 mm instead of the 22 mm of the older model. For me though f/4.5 is okay, newer camera bodies have such high quality high ISO settings! Gone were the days when anything above ISO 400 is noise-central. I also didn’t mind that the long end tops out at 18 mm, as I’ve mentioned above, I use the wide ends the most. The new ultrawide’s glass is good though, and that’s what matters the most.

I like the crazy distortions of ultrawide angles, and going in really, really close. Valparaiso, Chile, April 2014

I like the crazy distortions of ultrawide angles, and going in really, really close. Valparaiso, Chile, April 2014

I vowed to myself at that point to sell off three of the four lenses in my inventory, and I did just that in September. (It took an average of 3 weeks to sell the three.) Could you guess which three?

1. The Canon EF 50 mm- I never used it anymore after I got the 40 mm pancake, the focal lengths are too similar and the pancake is much lighter.

2. The Canon EF-S 17-85 mm zoom lens- I never used it anymore as I’ve got my favorite focal lengths covered by the ultra wide and the 40 mm. I rarely  shoot anything more telephoto than that. And if I end up needing to “zoom” some more, I just walk closer.

3. My beloved Canon EF-S 10-22 mm ultrawide zoom lens- I sold it to be able to buy the newer and cheaper Canon EF-S 10-18 mm the moment it hit Philippine shores. I was able to sell it for $400, which wholly covered the $350 price of the brand new 10-18!

To recap, my current line up as of October 2014 is the new Canon EF-S 10-18 mm ultrawide and the Canon EF 40 mm pancake. The moment the cheap and tiny Canon EF-S 24mm pancake is available here, I’m getting that too.

These three will be the first time since 2007 I’ll have an all brand new line up (nothing secondhand), and they’ll be also my cheapest lineup ever! Never before in the history of mankind (it’s midnight, excuse my grandiosity) has such lightweight and high quality glass been so cheap! (Good lenses are usually $400 up.)

Another benefit to having these two new lenses (and the third soon-to-arrive one), is they all carry Canon’s newest STM focusing technology for quiet and fast video autofocusing. Previous lenses, while they had great glass like my EF 50 or the EF-S 10-22 ultrawide, were made for stills, so the autofocusing in video mode left a lot to be desired (not to mention in-camera focusing was pretty crap until 2014).

Here's a random photo of Valparaiso I shot to break the monotony of reading this long-ass text.

Here’s a random photo of Valparaiso I shot to break the monotony of reading this long-ass text.

I’ve neglected to mention cameras so far because for me they aren’t as important as the lenses.

I just prefer to use the lightest available. I hate heavy cameras because they hurt my chest, shoulder, and neck, and they take up a lot of space.

I always buy the cheapest CURRENT GENERATION camera. I never buy old cameras. Digital cameras nowadays are not static mechanical devices. They are mini computers, and I don’t want to pay good money for obsolete technology. Every new generation will have faster processors, faster and more accurate autofocusing, and much more refined high ISO settings.

When on a budget, don’t settle for buying an enthusiast-level $1,500 DSLR from the previous generation. Buy the cheapest from the current generation, that $1,000 will knock the boots off the $1,500 previous-generation camera.

Unless you’re a dedicated professional photographer, you wouldn’t need what makes an expensive camera expensive. These usually have zero to do with image quality and more to do with convenience. More frames per seconds, more external buttons for convenience, brighter viewfinder, weather sealing, two memory card slots, are a few of those benefits. These are not frivolous add ons, and they’re worth the additional $1,000 per tier that Canon and Nikon asks from you if you’re a professional who goes to Syria and needs the weather sealing.

But for ordinary enthusiasts, these are things you can safely cut from your budget and still achieve great image quality. All tiers from the current generation have the same image processors anyway, improving on the ones from the previous generation.

Most image-related improvements in DSLRs now improve only incrementally nowadays, but video-related improvements are improving exponentially (as of 2014).

My current DSLR is the cheapest Canon has, the Canon 100D. It’s so small it’s only a little bigger than my palm. 

It’s half the price of my previous DSLR, the Canon 60D (which I sold late 2013). The Canon 60D wasn’t the cheapest Canon at the time, it’s considered a mid-level camera.

And yet my cheapest, lowest-tier 100D beats it in almost every metric that matters to me: high ISO settings, ease of shooting video (autofocus speed, etc), and weight and form factor. I do miss the brighter pentaprism viewfinder of the 60D (the cheaper 100D only has a pentamirror finder), but hey, it cost $600 less!

This tiny lightweight body was perfect for travel, a trusty companion to me in Chile. Paired with the Canon EF 40 mm pancake, it looked no bigger than those newfangled mirrorless Panasonics!

Before the 60D, I owned two other Canons (400D and 500D), all the cheapest bodies from the current generation when I bought them. For all four, I always buy in Spring (March or April) six months after they’re first announced. There’s usually a very very slight discount after the yearly February camera trade shows (there’s two a year, spring and fall).

And that’s the story of my camera “go” kit. Through via negativa over 7 years (‘07 to ‘14), I’ve figured out what kind of shooting I like best, and built a cheap, small, lightweight system to help me do just that. And sold off the rest of my gear.

* All photos here taken by me.

** I’m not a gear fetishist, I don’t normally caption photos with the specs of my kit. This post is an exception as it talks about gear recommendations.

Jun 022014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

This place is well worth visiting if you’re in Valparaiso, but prepared for an arduous trek up hilly streets.

This house is one of Pablo Neruda‘s three houses in Chile. The other two are in Santiago (the capital), and Isla Negra.

La Sebastiana museum La Sebastiana Museum 2 horse

view of Valparaiso from the bedroom in the house:

view of valparaiso from a window in La Sebastiana

Jun 022014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

Almacen Nacional Restaurant, delicious place with traditional Chilean food in Cerro Alegre, Valparaiso.

I had the menu of the day, which cost around, 7,000 CLP.

it came with a pisco sour, an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert.

ceviche salad
ceviche salad

beef and rice
beef and rice

cheese cake

The interiors of the place was very nice, with a lot of vintage memorabilia.

vintage memorabilia

interiors of Almacen Nacional restaurant

May 312014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

#skate #skateboard #skateboarding #ollie #slide #skating #sports

Valparaiso, Chile, May 2014

May 262014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

went to A Mano Gin & Burgers in Vina del Mar earlier.

A mano gin and burgers

had a delicious craft beer, Mestiza pale ale (brewed by Cerveceria Altamira).

the food is quite good too, although, like most Chilean food, is drenched in too much mayonnaise.

potatoes and chicken fingers

May 242014
garlic butter and bread

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

My friend Stewart made this awesome garlic butter and shared it with us last night.

I was intending to use it with my frozen corn and peas, but M.T. smelled it when she saw it in the fridge this morning, and she said it’s so fragrant, we need to consume it this noon.

However, we were out of bread and it was a cold, gray, and damp Renaca day. Nobody wanted to walk to the bakery 3 minutes down the street.

Finally, I volunteered for the team.

garlic butter
And the verdict is….

Delicieux! We couldn’t get enough of it.

Thank you, Stewart.

May 232014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

Sazon Peruana 1 Sazon Peruana 4

very good restaurant, a bit pricey, but worth it. I got the set meal for around 7,500 CLP, it came with ceviche for the appetizer, and i chose chicken for my main course. ice cream for dessert.


fried chicken

my friend got the salmon:


the set meal also comes with pisco sour:

pisco sour

May 232014

#van #vw #volkswagen #camper #transporter #transportation #car #vehicle #automobile #city #street #urban #dog


Valparaiso, Chile, May 2014

May 222014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

1. Don Pancho (Rawson street, near P. Montt Avenue. near the interstate bus terminals)

Don Pancho diner 1 Don Pancho interiors 3

charquican con huevo, a traditional Chilean dish (comida tipica chilena) of mashed potatoes, beef, an egg. It’s really delicious, not to mention cheap. 1,800 CLP.

charquican con huevo 2

the dip called pebre they serve with the bread is also delicious.

bread with pebre dip Don Pancho interiors 5

I liked it so much, I went back two weeks later, and tried the cazuela, another traditional Chilean dish. This one was yet another home run. It was also only 1,800 CLP and really yummy.


2. Hotel Fauna – (Paseo Dimalow on Cerro Concepcion)
went to this rooftop bar twice, great view. food is great, but on the pricey side. great atmosphere, with outdoor seating on the balcony, with a good view of Valparaiso.

ice cream at Hotel Fauna

meat sandwich

Hotel Fauna Hotel Fauna restaurant interiors 1

3. El Desayunador (Almirante Montt, Cerro Concepcion)
churrasco chacarero sandwich

I had the churrasco chacarero sandwich and causeo queso tomato (goat cheese with tomatoes).

El Desayunador 1 El Desayunador 2 causeo queso tomate

4. Casa Cerveceria Altamira – very good locally made craft beer, right beside Ascensor Reina Victoria.

hamburger and fries casa cerveceria altamira

5. East on Placeros Street, Valparaiso- really cheap Japanese food.
East Restaurant 2 East Restaurant 1

6. Casa Hesperia- Valparaiso
decent food, a bit on the salty side. I had the cazuela.

cazuela Cafe Hesperia 2 Cafe Hesperia interiors 1

May 222014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

Restaurant Dina- delicious, with big portions.

chicken and rice

Mantra Gourmet- this restaurant has a mixed Thai/ American theme. I’ve been here thrice (as of this writing), and I had their hamburgers every time. It’s very good.

hamburger and fries

Mauricio’s Empanadas, just beside Mantra Gourmet.

empanada from Mauricio's

May 212014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

My friend M wanted to try out the Valparaiso walking tour as we had a good experience doing the Santiago walking tour, so last Sunday, she and I took the 607 bus from Renaca to Valparaiso.

I always take buses that traverse Errazuriz to go to Valpo (also the 6 series, but not 607), but the 607 plies Chacabuco instead of Errazuriz. Chacabuco is parallel to Errazuriz, and ends up almost in the same place, but I got a bit confused when we got off, as it’s the road less traveled for me, and I have a weak sense of direction. I only know how to get to the foot of Cerro Concepcion if I get off at Errazuriz.

map showing Chacabuco and Errazuriz

map showing Chacabuco and Errazuriz

We wandered around for half an hour before finally spotting the spire of the green Lutheran church and using that as a guide to get to Cerro Concepcion.

valparaiso panorama

I didn’t mind being lost because we were able to see a lot during our thirty minutes of wandering, as that cerro we were on is a bit off the beaten path and it’s rare for travelers to stumble there by mistake.

We came across a graffiti workshop, then ten minutes later, bumped into my graffiti tour guide Elias, who is on his way to that very workshop!

We also saw Cemetery No. 2, which the guide to the walking tour we joined that afternoon said is the Protestant cemetery. We didn’t go back to this hill, he just pointed in its general direction and mentioned the name. Cemetery No. 1 is the Roman Catholic cemetery, and Cemetery No. 3 is the cemetery for all other religions.

graffiti workshop
graffiti workshop
valparaiso architecture 03- cemetery no 2
Cemetery No. 2

We also passed a cultural park in what was formerly a prison.
park in former prison

We got to the foot of Cerro Concepcion twenty minutes after getting our bearings, and took the Ascensor Reina Victoria funicular up, then walked five minutes to El Desayunador, where we had planned the day before to go there to have brunch, which turned into a late lunch.

El Desayunador 1

We were starving by the time we were seated. I had these:

churrasco chacarero sandwich
churrasco chacarero sandwich
causeo queso tomate
causeo queso tomate (goat cheese with tomatoes)

We walked down to Plaza Anibal Pinto to meet up with walking tour after lunch. He pointed to the Cinzano cafe across the square, which is supposedly the oldest cafe in Valparaiso.

plaza anibal pinto sculpture
Plaza Anibal Pinto

The guide then introduced us to Emile Dubois, popularly known as the first serial killer of Valparaiso, who killed the rich to give to the poor. He used to live in this building across the square, and when the cops went after him, this is what happened- see caption below photo:


he used to live in the building labeled A, and when the cops came, he ran to the point marked B.

He’s buried in the Playa Ancha cemetery, and he’s now known as the “serial killer saint”, as he’s supposed to grant wishes. People go on privileges to his grave.

We then took the Ascensor Reina Victoria (my second time for the day) to go up Cerro Concepcion, and walked around. Somewhere in the middle of the tour, we took a second funicular, Ascensor El Peral, which led us to the top of Cerro Alegre. (click here to see my post on these two ascensors, plus another).

palacio baburriza 4
saw the famous Palacio Baburizza.

We also learned the story of two oldest non-Catholic churches in South America.

The Anglicans built a low key church, with no towers, no bells, in the hopes that the Catholics wouldn’t get pissed. the Catholics did, and according to the guide, their response to build a bigger church (with towers and bells) a few streets down. It was the first non-Catholic church in South America.

The Lutherans (German) were the first to build a structure that had all the traditional hallmarks of a Christian church- towers, bells, the works.

St Paul's Anglican Church valparaiso lutheran church

The guide took us to the oldest stock exchange in South America, El Mercurio Building (HQ of the longest continuously running Spanish newspaper in the world), and Little Ben, some English immigrant’s model of the Big Ben in London.

valparaiso architecture 16
oldest stock exchange
Little Ben valparaiso architecture 13
Little Ben
El Mercurio building valparaiso architecture 11
El Mercurio building

boats at the pier 1

We ended up at the pier across Plaza Sotomayor, and M and I headed back up Cerro Concepcion to Hotel Fauna for dinner. A German guy from the walking tour joined us. Capped off the night with a delicious sandwich and Shop Kross golden ale.

meat sandwich

valparaiso map

map of the area we covered in the walking tour

Click to see more of my snapshots about this day on Flickr.

 Posted by on May 21, 2014
May 212014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

These funiculars are over a hundred years old and still running, even if somewhat shakily. It’s around 100 CLP single-trip. Cheaper than the actual elevator of Cerro Cordillera.

I photographed these three funiculars on the same day, when I returned to Cerro Concepcion and Alegre for a third time to join a walking tour. I rode Reina Victoria and El Peral, and just dashed in to photograph Ascensor Concepcion.

Ascensor Reina Victoria (constructed 1902) – you’ll land on Paseo Dimalow, Cerro Concepcion
Ascensor Reina Victoria 8 Ascensor Reina Victoria 10
Ascensor Reina Victoria 7 Ascensor Reina Victoria 4

Ascensor El Peral- you’ll land on Paseo Yugoslavo, Cerro Alegre
Ascensor El Peral 7 Ascensor El Peral 5
Ascensor El Peral 6 Ascensor El Peral 9

Ascensor Concepcion (constructed 1883)- Cerro Concepcion
(oldest and fastest funicular in Valparaiso)
valparaiso architecture 15- ascensor concepcion entrance Ascensor Concepcion 1

map locations for Ascensors El Peral, Concepcion, and Reina Victoria

map locations for Ascensors El Peral, Concepcion, and Reina Victoria

May 152014
May 152014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

runtime: 28 seconds

Renaca Beach at night, May 21, 2014

Click to watch on Vimeo.

runtime: 3 seconds

Vina del Mar at night, May 12, 2014

Click to watch on Vimeo.

video diary of a day at the small fish market on Bustamante St., Valparaiso, Chile. April 24, 2014
runtime: 1 minute 36 seconds

Click to watch on Vimeo.

 Posted by on May 15, 2014
May 102014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

1. Ciudad Vieja Sangucheria

This place has really great sandwiches and is in a bustling part of town. I really loved their food.

sandwich dinner

2. Cebicheria Constitucion- Peruvian food

Cebicheria Constitucion restaurant 2 Cebicheria Constitucion restaurant 3 fried rice

3. Guili’s Burger- pretty good fast food, but very slow service. they gave us a free plate of fries for waiting though, so it’s all good.

hamburger and french fries

May 062014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

bellavista night scene 2
the hip Constitucion street in the Bellavista district at night, Santiago, Chile

After a 1.5 hour bus ride from Vina del Mar, my friend M and I got to Santiago at 9PM. Her seatmate was a Chilean named Gabriel who speaks english, and when I woke up from my bus nap, we all had a great chat about governments and bitcoin.

Santiago subway 02 Santiago subway 07

Our first stop wasn’t the hotel, but Cebicheria Constitucion, a restaurant in the Bellavista area near our hotel. We were famished. Constitucion street has a lot of bars and trendy restaurants. This restaurant serves Peruvian cuisine. I was surprised that fried rice is a thing in Peruvian cooking.

Cebicheria Constitucion restaurant 2 Cebicheria Constitucion restaurant 3 fried rice

We stayed at the Hotel Don Santiago, a cozy little hotel that seems like a refurbished old house.

Hotel Don Santiago 1 Hotel Don Santiago 8 breakfast- ham, cheese, milk, and bread

police on horses
mounted police in the Central Market area

The next day, we walked half an hour from our hotel to the Central Market (Mercado Central),traversing a huge park. The Central Market is a big hub of seafood stalls and restaurants. I don’t think I’ve seen fish this huge in my life.

  • Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Central Market
  • Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Central Market
  • Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Central Market
  • Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Central Market
  • Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile Central Market

We headed to Cerro Sta. Lucia after, a park on a hill. We hiked up to the peak (entrance is at the structure labeled Castilo Hidalgo inside the park).

Cerro Sta. Lucia 01 Cerro Sta. Lucia 02

You could view the beautiful Santiago skyline from that vantage point.

santiago skyline panorama

Spotted these people in costume on our way down the hill.

Cerro Sta. Lucia medieval costume

Our other friends joined us while we were at the top of the hill, and our merry band had lunch at a really slow fast food joint, Guili’s Burger, we headed to Plaza Armas to join a free walking tour. There was only one guy in his 60s making food for the whole restaurant, and it closes at 2PM. they gave us an extra plate of fries for our long wait though, so it’s all good.

Guili's Burger

Guili’s Burger

Plaza Armas itself was under repairs, so we didn’t get to see it. We did get to check out the Metropolitan Cathedral across it. Afterwards, we went to check out the Presidential Palace, and other different buildings. There’s a lot of classical French style architecture in Santiago.

One highlight is when the guide introduced us to the concept of “coffee with legs” in the financial district of Santiago. We did our tour on a Saturday so offices are closed, but he said during weekdays, these coffee shops attract customers by having scantily dressed baristas serve coffee. He said,even if the coffee culture in Chile was undeveloped, these “coffee with legs” chains are doing quite well. There’s also such a thing as a “happy minute”, when they close the doors of the coffee shops and the baristas lift up their tops for the mostly male clientele (from the offices nearby) to ogle at.

(photo in slideshow below. please click dots to navigate slideshow.)

  • police and dog police and dog Santiago, Chile
  • art deco building art deco building Santiago, Chile
  • coffee with legs in the financial district coffee with legs in the financial district Santiago, Chile
  • coffee with legs in the financial district coffee with legs in the financial district Santiago, Chile
  • Correo Central (Central Post Office) Correo Central (Central Post Office) Santiago, Chile
  • government building government building Santiago, Chile
  • Metropolitan Cathedral Metropolitan Cathedral Santiago, Chile
  • government building government building Santiago, Chile
  • court court Santiago, Chile
  • Museo Historico Nacional Museo Historico Nacional Santiago, Chile
  • Fuente Alemana Fuente Alemana Santiago, Chile
  • Palacio Monera Palacio Monera Santiago, Chile
  • Pablo Neruda's House exteriors Pablo Neruda's House exteriors Santiago, Chile
  • "wall street" of Santiago "wall street" of Santiago Santiago, Chile
  • our walking tour guide (he's originally from Bolivia) our walking tour guide (he's originally from Bolivia) Santiago, Chile


We also passed by a small restaurant called La Pica de Clinton (a.k.a. Clinton’s Dick).

la pica de clinton restaurant

We stopped at a coffee shop called Mulato for a little pick me up.

We ended the tour outside Pablo Neruda’s house, then my friend and I went to have dinner again in the Bellavista area, at Ciudad Vieja Sangucheria, a famed sandwich shop the guide recommended.

Ciudad Vieja Sangucheria interiors 2 sandwich dinner

We left the Santiago bus terminal for Vina del Mar around 9 PM, making our stay almost exactly 24 hours.

bottles on the ground in a crate
Saturday night bottles, Bellavista, Santiago, Chile

Other snapshots from this trip on Flickr.

May 052014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

Click to open slideshow of Valparaiso Labor Day protest

Went with the other Exo participants to Valparaiso with a somewhat harebrained scheme to hone our capitalistic entrepreneurial hustling skills by selling cookies to socialists. then, we had lunch after. I had “typical”* Chilean dish of cazuela at Cafe Hesperia, which was a broth with potatoes, beef, and corn.

cazuela Cafe Hesperia 2 Cafe Hesperia interiors 1

*they call traditional food “typical” food here.

Apr 302014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

renaca newsstand with lens flare renaca beach 2 renaca beach 5 sun graffiti with dog 2 renaca beach dog 3 newsstand on boardwalk zebra print rug over balcony bird eating something on the sand renaca beach 4
Please click thumbnails to open lightbox.

I’m living in Renaca, a small beach side neighborhood of Vina del Mar, during my stay in Chile. It’s got a beach that has a sign telling you NOT to go swimming, and it’s the only beach I’ve ever been to where people are fully clothed, with jackets on, because of the cold weather. I’m here during fall (off season).

It’s a small and pleasant enough place, with a lot of hamburger and sushi places around.

Apr 302014
Apr 262014

food stall vendor 2

Quezon City, October 2007

Apr 232014
Apr 222014

dog in front of purple wall 2

Manila, April 2011

Apr 202014

let sleeping dogs lie

Baler, Aurora, Philippines, July 2013

Apr 182014

signs and electric post

Baler, Aurora, Philippines, July 2013 (mobile phone photo)

Apr 162014
Apr 152014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

Velas Latinoamerica was a touring exhibition of big ships from different South American countries. They stopped in the port of Valparaiso one fine April weekend. Here are my photos from that day.

velas latinoamerica 2014- 06

velas latinoamerica 2014- 40

I went up the Argentinian ship, but didn’t want to queue up to check out the other ships anymore. Amusingly, the Brazilian ship was the only one that didn’t have a line letting people up the ship, because they weren’t letting people up until nighttime. And they told my guy companions that they prefer women guests, so if they wanted to go up, they should bring two women for every guy.

I could also see from where I was standing that the Brazilian ship was the only one that had an actual bar, and was blaring party music.

velas latinoamerica 2014- 19

velas latinoamerica 2014- 38

velas latinoamerica 2014- 09

velas latinoamerica 2014- 39

Apr 142014

billiard hall 2

Manila, Philippines, April 2011

Apr 132014

Back in 2008, i went to Sanzhi and shot the pod houses there. those have been demolished since.

Wanli Pod Houses 19
Wanli Pod Houses 04 Wanli Pod Houses 79 Wanli Pod Houses 20 Wanli Pod Houses 33 Wanli Pod Houses 88 bulldozer at sunset 3 Wanli Pod Houses 50
Please click the thumbnails to open lightbox.

in October 2013, i went back to Taiwan and went to Wanli, a different town north of Taipei that had another set of these crazy pod houses.

this place was even more abandoned than Sanzhi, and it’s right beside an emptpy beach.

wanli panorama 3

abandoned resort of pod houses/ UFO houses in Wanli, Taiwan

wanli panorama 2

Click here for the rest of the album.

Apr 132014

I ushered in 2014 in Taipei City and spent a few days there. I finally got to participate in the New Year’s Eve festivities and fireworks in the Taipei 101 area.
fireworks 17
crowded subway station - new year's eve 01 crowded subway station - new year's eve 02 crowded subway station - new year's eve 03 elephant hill metro station fireworks 12 fireworks 20
Continue reading »

Apr 132014

Georgetown street art- painted 26

Gurney Hawker Centre 5
Gurney Hawker Centre

Hot, sticky, and named after a chewable seed that gives you a mild high, what’s not to love about Penang?

Modern Penang was founded by the British in the eighteenth century. Its name derives from the Chinese word for betel nut. It’s not normally on the must-go lists of SE Asian spots of people from the Philippines (where I’m from), but I’ve been fascinated by it since I read about its food, history, street art, and architecture.

weld quay at night
Weld Quay

I went there October 2013, and it was hotter and muggier than Manila, despite it not being summer. I normally avoid places even hotter than my homeland so the last few Southeast Asian places I went to before Penang had climates cooler than my hometown- like Chiang Mai and Bali, and I definitely did not go during summer.

Georgetown street art- painted 31
Georgetown street art- painted 18 Georgetown street art- painted 30 Georgetown street art- painted 16 Georgetown street art- painted 33 Georgetown street art- painted 21 Georgetown street art- painted 23 Georgetown street art- painted 19 Georgetown street art- painted 20 Georgetown street art- painted 13 Georgetown street art- painted 25 Georgetown street art- painted 12
Please click on the thumbnails to view gallery in lightbox.

Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage site, lived up to my expectations and more. I spent three days going back there to take photos of its street art and installations. A free shuttle bus takes you around Georgetown proper, and you can also rent cheap bikes to go around, which definitely helped with the scorching heat.

indian men at work

I loved how Penang architecture, named after a style called Straits Eclectic, was well preserved and still in active use today by existing businesses like dry goods shops, auto shops, and hardware stores, just like they were decades and decades ago. They weren’t just repainted and made to stand static as a tourist attraction.

Straits Eclectic architecture  02
Straits Eclectic architecture  50 Straits Eclectic architecture  07 Straits Eclectic architecture  54 Straits Eclectic architecture  36 Straits Eclectic architecture  58 Straits Eclectic architecture  04 Straits Eclectic architecture  10
Please click on the thumbnails to view gallery in lightbox.

The Penang Botanic Gardens had monkeys that were more territorial and photo-averse than the monkeys in Bali‘s Uluwatu Temple and Ubud Monkey Forest. I couldn’t get too near without them snapping and lunging at me.

Dusky Leaf Monkey/ spectacled langur monkey monkeys 07 monkeys 23 Dusky Leaf Monkey/ spectacled langur monkey monkeys 27
Please click on the thumbnails to view gallery in lightbox.

Other highlights (Please look at this Flickr album for more, like Penang Hill, Camera Museum, temples, etc.)

added these Penang pay phones to my Phone Booths of the World collection (phone booth album 1, 2):

Penang pay phone Penang pay phones 8
Penang pay phones 2 Penang pay phones 3 Penang pay phones 7 Penang pay phones 4 Penang pay phones 5

stayed at the 1926 Heritage Hotel (yes, built in 1926, originally housed mid-level staff the British government sent over)
1926 Heritage Hotel 3 1926 Heritage Hotel 1

and of course, Penang food: (Please click on the thumbnails to view gallery in lightbox.)

pumpkin porridge from Zhou restaurant noodle soup ice kacang fried rice poh piah meat rolls vegetables and curry at Hai Nan Town curry

Apr 122014

#architecture #archilovers #lookingup #archidaily #composition #perspective #red #stripe #structure #architecturelovers #tower

Instagram, April 2014, Valparaiso

Apr 112014

photographed a year apart:

famous iced dessert shop in Hualien 1
famous iced dessert shop, Hualien, October 2012

Continue reading »

Apr 082014

four photos:

office windows in the afternoon
office grilles drawn down, Quezon City, March 2011
Continue reading »

Apr 052014

United States Post Office, Hagatna

Hagatna, Guam, November 2012

Apr 042014

dental clinic 05

How many graphic representations of teeth do you see in this picture?

Manila, April 2011

Apr 032014
Apr 032014

Manila, Philippines, April 2011

dental clinic 10 dental clinic 08

Continue reading »

Apr 032014

arrow back to Chile 2014 main page

Concon’s sand dunes are a ten minute bus ride from where I live in Renaca. It was a scary climb for me to the top, because the sand was so soft. It was worth it though.

sand dune panorama

Be prepared for sand to get in every crevice of your face, bag, camera, anything with an opening.

concon sand dunes 17

vendor renting out boards for sand boarding