Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Law of Equivalent Exchange

According to the Alchemy's first law of Equivalent Exchange: "Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. "To obtain, something of equal value must be lost”. Alchemy is basically getting to know what you are dealing with, breaking it down, and putting it back together in another form.

Just like Judas, before he betrayed Jesus he said to the Jewish priests:

 "What will you give me if I hand him over to you?" And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.

Considering the Law of Equivalent Exchange, I think that the principle still holds, that all things do come at a price, that there is an ebb and a flow, a cycle, that when we are determined and persevering to follow the words of God on earth, we are bound to get something of value in return, even if it is not what we have expected or neither is it something visible nor tangible but gives us comfort, hope, strength and peace.

Furthermore, more than a worldly law, I think of the Equivalent Exchange as a Promise, between God and myself. A Promise that, someday we will see each other and that is when life will really begin...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mel's travel to Cambodia

Source:  IndoChina Travel Service

Can you imagine yourself in an island where it is a barely-touched stretch of yellow sand, a complete serenity. No hawkers, no hassle. There is just you and the sea.

Koh Russei or Bamboo Island is one of a group of small islands in the Gulf of Thailand located about 10 km off the coast of Sihanoukville city, in southern Cambodia and this is where Andy and Mel decided to stay for several weeks of their vacation time.

There are little things to do on Koh Russei  (or a lot depending on your skills) as it is a paradise for a relaxing journey to  nature. You can swim all day, read in a hammock in the morning,  hang around with the fishermen, construct a boat from recycled plastic found by the beach, collect snorkels that are dropped by tourists, help tourists who do not know how to swim in an accidented ship, start with a campaign of cleaning up the beach, etc... A few of us cannot do even half of those mentioned, but Andy and Mel, can do all of those and more...

For me, it will not keep me in this island more than a day, and that is already too much.  However, for Andy and Mel, who are used to go camping and love to go fishing and snorkeling, this is more of a bit of paradise.

While, Andy stays to keep watch over their tents and their hammocks (provided with anti-mosquitos, and which fold like a pillow) and with some little help to construct boats and a sailboat, Mel gets to do the weekly errands in the city.  Like today, she contracted a native to go in three different places in the city for a small sum of money and in an hour's time got to renew her visa, bought some food supplies, did another errand while the native carried her load and stuff.  I guess, she had the custom acquired from our last trip to the Philippines, where anything can be done for you for a small amount of money and a smile...  She can move around sometimes mistaken for a native (thus can get a better price without the presence of Andy).  With a bag, she puts her money in and the change, if ever there was, is given back to her inside the same bag.  Quite a cool trick.

Sailboat of Andy from recycled materials

They get their cell phones charged in the fishermen's boats, oftentimes get free dinner from the day's catch of some fishermen they are acquainted with.  They cook in the portable kitchen that they brought with them, ready with utensils except for a wok and a cooking pan they bought locally, and they sleep in their tents (which they also brought with them from Bournemouth) or hammocks.  They get their water for drinking and bath from the fishermen. Simple living and a budget getaway, although not many can deal  with this way of travelling with hardly any amenity.

As of early 2011, the island is almost entirely devoid of businesses and is again a relaxing place to chill out — while waiting to see when the developers who've bought the island from the Cambodian government will strike again. Source:  Travel Andy and Mel have met some Filipinos who have given them some water and beer and who are part of those contracted to construct in the area.

Here are some beach scenes of the area that I found in internet.  And they still have until the end of February to enjoy the complete serenity of the warm aquamarine waters of  a small secluded tropical island in Cambodia.  May they enjoy the rest of their vacation in peace and good health.

Ko Ru bungalow

Bamboo Island Cafe, Koh Russei, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
The only  café in the island

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ronald's Photos of Madrid

Madrid has a lot to offer.  Whether it is to watch Real Madrid play in their famous Santiago Stadium,  experience some live flamenco, visit some of the many first-class museums such as the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Museum, or the Reina Sofia, Madrid is definitely one of those cities with "mucha marcha" (loosely translated as "lively spirit" and meaning in this sense having lots to do). Maybe you'd prefer to visit one of the capital's stunning monuments or simply take a stroll in one of its beautiful parks. And afterwards, why not sit down and enjoy some mouth-watering Spanish food in one of the marvellous Madrid restaurants.  Source:  Go Madrid

Here are some of the processed photos of Madrid taken by my son, Ronald.

 photo d0fdffbb-7b06-40f9-b9ad-78c215eeb861.jpg
Metropolis Building Overlooking Gran Vía

Lake in Retiro Park

Manzanares River

I love Madrid!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Incredible and Artistic

Guess from what materials these images are made of?

Rubber flip flops in different colors but the same shapes. Source:  Fat Monkey in Pixel Show 2010 by Florentijn Hofman.

The piece titled Fat Monkey or Macaco Gordo, was designed by Florentijn Hofman. It is on show at Pixel-Show 2010, an international art and design conference held in Brazil. With an inflatable base, covered in 10,000 flip-flops  which serve as pixels the 45-foot-long monkey sprawls across a park in the center of the city.

At the 2009 ‘The Rocks Aroma Festival’ in Sydney, Australia, part of a city street was turned in to one of the most famous faces in the world.

This rendition of the Mona Lisa measured six metres by four meters.

It was made from 3,604 cups of coffee with around 265 liters of milk. Lattes, long blacks, and flat whites were used to get the different tones. It took a team of eight and just three hours to complete this work of art.
The 3,604 cups of coffee were filled each one with a different milk amount to create tones and shadows. Source:  Chronicles of Illusion.

Very creative and nice.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Roast Piglet or Stew in Manila

There are still many traces of the historical relationship between the two countries in the capital of the Philippines.
Translation with the help of Tradukka

Label with the word Spain in a Manila bus. Adrian Fernandez

The Philippines is one of the oldest Spanish colonies less known by the Spanish people themselves.

To get adapted in Manila is somewhat confusing for the traveller, due to the chaotic traffic and the mix between the East and the West, but it is also unique in comparison with any other Asian country, for its particular colonial history.  Since the arrival of Magellan in 1521 and the subsequent colonization by Legazpi in 1565 and until its independence in 1898, the Spanish culture permeated the Filipinos lives for more than three centuries.

To the extent that the Filipino character seems today more Latin than the traditional Asian. The names and surnames of 90% of Filipinos, as well as the streets and squares are mostly reknown Spanish surnames. There are still  many words in Spanish that can be heard (barrio, cama, población, derecho, plato...), as well as numbers or days of the week. Their most typical meals, as adobo, arroz caldo, lechón or caldereta, have their origin in Spanish cuisine. In addition, the legislation and the Constitution of the country are inspired by their Spanish models. On the other hand, the Philippines is almost the only Christian country in Asia and  the Spanish churches of the era are present on every corner. Among them stands out that of St Augustine Church in Intramuros of 1607, which is the oldest building in the country, still intact after resisting several earthquakes and numerous bombing. Religious faith is very deeply set and inspires the daily lives of the very devout Filipino.

To recall the history of the Philippines means delving into Intramuros, the old military and political Spanish settlement in Manila. Therein, one can still  feel vivid the Spanish colonization. At the mouth of the Pasig River, you can see the remains of the ruined building of the old Spanish Customs;  a reflected image of the trade route between Manila and Acapulco (Mexico), through the Manila Galleon, for 250 years. A few meters away, in Fort Santiago one can be inspired by the poems in Spanish written by Philippine national hero, José Rizal, killed a few meters distance by the Spaniards after being accused of representing an anti-colonial movement.

In the surrounding Manileños neighborhoods next to the Pasig river, hundreds of colonial houses from the 17th century can still be seen, along the streets of  Madrid, Barcelona or Seville. Some are preserved intact, although most of them are in a lamentable condition,  without any hope of a  future rehabilitation. Some locals can still remember some of  Spanish phrases. Not too far away is the first Asian University, the University of Santo Thomas, founded in 1611 by the Dominicans and which until today, like many other centers founded by Spaniards, continue with its educational mission.