My aunt and uncle gave me a spin around the city of St. Pete. It is a small city and a LOT different from New York. But because it was a small city, it reminded me of Cebu and Chiang Mai — only you have a beautiful and uninterrupted view of the ocean in St. Pete. During one of those daily city spins, they took me to the Sunken Gardens. Advertisements
When my plans to the U.S. were finalized, I immediately looked into the government website of St. Pete, Florida, and see what places it recommends to visitors. I was quite surprised to learn that St. Pete is home to the museum with the second largest collection of Salvador Dali art works — next to the museum in his home town in Figueres, Spain.
“Meet me at the steps,” those are the words I told my friend who I was meeting at the Metropolitan Museum. I sent her the message at 12:30. There was something wrong with the train and at 2:00 P.M., my colleague and I were still walking to the Met, praying we were heading towards the right direction.
The first museum my colleague and I visited was The Museum of Modern Art because it was on our way back to our hotel from the National Library at Bryant Park. The MoMa is behind the Uniqlo flagship in Fifth Avenue. Don’t be surprised to find a long, long line of people to the museum’s entrance on a Friday afternoon. That is because Friday’s is Uniqlo’s free museum day at the MoMa. We skipped the line though and paid $25. Was the $25 worth it?
I have always wanted to visit the National Museum of Fine Arts because I want to see Juan Luna’s Spolarium. While I do appreciate art (I think), I don’t understand all art so I veer towards the art that has cultural and/or historical significance. And the Spolarium was one thing I wanted to see.
After catching up with sleep on a Thursday midday, Joel and I hurried to Rizal Park to see if we can still get inside one of our national museums — the National Museum of Anthropology. The museum closes at 5:00 P.M., and admission ends at 4:30. We arrived at 4:00 PM and students were hurrying down the stairs to go home.
Aek pointed out something on the ground. “Look at that. Do you know why the people of Thailand love the King so much? Because of that,” he said. I tried to understand what he was trying to say because the road was narrow and muddy. It was not until we got to a clearing and saw the length of the humble irrigation system that ran the whole side of the mountain we just trekked. This is why I came to Thailand. I may not have met the King. But I witnessed how he changed the lives of his people, through irrigation, through agriculture.
“Where do you stay?,” the Destination Chiang Mai agent asked us. “Behind Wat Mo Kham Tuang,” along Sri Poom Road.” He scratched his head. “Is that the wat with many horses?” I said, “No. It’s the wat with glitters on its front wall.” He got more confused. Everybody in the office now joined us as we plotted where Wat Mo Kham Tuang is. “Ah, there are just too many wats here in Chiang Mai.”
Our introduction to Chiang Mai came in the form of a museum. Come to think of it, this was the only museum we visited in our Thailand trip, and we were only compelled to do this because a local, Joy, the owner of our guesthouse, recommended we make such a visit. We had time to burn while waiting for our 2PM check-in time and Joy suggested we visit the Lanna Folklike Museum, which was just one big block away from the guesthouse.
The original title of my Singaporean trip was “The Little Piggies Went to Search for the Seven Merlions” or “The Search for the Merlions” or “Finding Merlions.” The itinerary I made was supposed to revolve around the seven official merlions in the country (I learned from the Your Singapore website that the Singapore government owns the merlion trademark and no one, yes, no one, can create a merlion without the government’s approval).
I had an obsession with James Clavell books in college. I consumed all of his books one after the other not because I love stories on power, but because I loved the fictional historical accounts of old cities. Clavell is famous for setting his books in Asian cities, notably Hong Kong. King Rat, his first book, was based on his experience at the Changi Prison. So, whenever I think of Singapore, I don’t think of Universal Studios or Gardens by the Bay. I think of King Rat and the conditions of the people in the Changi Prison during World War II before Singapore became the modern city it is now. Because I loved the book, it is no wonder a trip to Singapore would not be complete without visiting The Changi Museum.