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Travel Plans (Lifestyle)

It has been some five months since my last post. As I wrote earlier, I am busy finishing up a new project, an exciting new Metro style application for Windows 8. It really is great fun to be working with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and the WinRT class libraries, although I have done most of my past development in C#, XAML and WPF. I found that I can do more and with greater ease in HTML5. I want to become more proficient with SVG (markup language for graphics).

Schengen MapWe are making travel plans. We will be traveling to Europe for a 3-month stay beginning June 2012 (next month!) and we are really looking forward to our second trip there in two years. We will visit Paris, Germany, Hungary and other places as time allows. Unfortunately Qatar Airways has discontinued its direct service to Cebu from Doha, so we will be flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and then Qatar to Doha then onward to Budapest. Qatar has excellent service, it is truly a five-star airline.

December and January are challenging times to be in Cebu. The Christmas rush begins here in early September (or late August in some places) and the celebrations culminate in the second half of December. Celebrations do not imply genteel cocktail parties or elegant dinners but massive fireworks with so much noise that cities are turned into veritable war zones. Sleep is near impossible as the explosions continue well into the early morning hours. Even before all the Christmas presents have been unwrapped, the new year festivities begin. Even more fireworks, but not in some public park but everywhere. Streets get littered with the detritus of massive explosions and the air is pungent with gunpowder smoke — sometimes so thick that visibility is reduced to mere inches.

What could possibly follow this kind of mayhem? You would think some peace and quiet would be welcomed by the populace but that is not the Cebuano way. The biggest festival of the year in Cebu is Sinulog which takes place on the second or third weekend in January. Families gather for massive feasts, people travel here from far-away places, there are parades all over the region, people dancing in the streets, major arterials are closed off to traffic and (drumroll, please) enormous fireworks all night long. Last year we were unfortunate to get caught in the midst of all that as we were returning on the fast ferry from Bohol on a Saturday evening. We were wondering around downtown Cebu for hours trying to find a ride — any ride, taxi, jeepney, bus, anything — home, to no avail. We vowed "never again".

So we will be gone for a month from mid-December to mid-January, traveling around Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia. But that trip is far off, so more detail will follow later.

I am getting connected to the local techie and start-up community. This past weekend I was at a Startup Weekend in Cebu at the University of the Philippines in Lahug, Cebu City. It was well attended, had great sponsors and I had a chance to meet some really talented and fascinating people. I hoe to find the time to write about that in another post.