Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photos from Sosua

This trip served as a winter getaway (although it has been the warmest one ever) and far from a culture trip. But I am excited to share the photos regardless!

The image atop is Sosua Bay Resort (or Brothel) during my first morning. Looking back now, it was not that bad.

Buddies Mike and Justin purchasing some El Presidente, the Bud Light of the Dominican Republic with our trusty cab driver, whose services we employed once again during departure.

Island and surf scene whose beauty was done an injustice due to my deficiencies at photography.

Spanish fort in Puerto Plata - these can be found in former colonies scattered throughout the world, including Intramuros in my native Philippines.

Gringos, chinito y taxi driver before what we perceived to be a nearly fatal cableride to the top of the mountain. In the middle of the ride, the car stopped abruptly, causing it to swing and me finding myself on the floor, clutching to the bar, praying. The tourism workers tried to play it off and joked "merengue, merengue" (the dance).

Welcome sight at the top after a nearly fatal ride.  Yes, a small version of Rio's Christ the Redeemer.

Jesus had our back and did not allow us to perish that way.

Spelunker Michael Johnson.

Puerto Plata from the top. The sights/views made the near accident worth it.

Day 4 and the water was not as calm as before.

Day of departure, squeezed in some beach time and almost didn't return from that either! Seeing the strongest waves we've ever seen, we ventured into the water and let the swells kick our ass, spinning us under water, throwing us onto shore and dragging us right back out. I ventured too close to these cliffs a few meters out and got stuck in a rip tide. Got beat up by waves, flailing underwater and thinking I did not want to go this way.. Luckily I resurfaced, caught breath and was knocked closer to shore by a strong wave, touched sand, moved towards shore with all my strength and survived. I laid on the sand exhausted, not knowing Justin was also stuck and had to maneuver out of the rip tide.

After another near miss, we stayed closer to shore. Look at how this wave engulfs 6'1" Justin.

Vintage resort shot, like it? And no, not filtered using Instagram!

However, the best photo award goes to Michael Johnson (@msjtoday). The saying goes, "You snooze, you lose." And snoozing was exactly what I was doing while Mike captured this twilight shot.

More later!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sosua Bay Resort & Brothel

Having found a great deal on Expedia for an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic sounds like a great idea in early January. After seeing photos of the surrounding beaches, swim-up bar and other tropical imagery, the bad reviews were somewhat overlooked. But a curious advisory that was mentioned prior to booking was the amount of prostitution that was rampant in the area. The three of us were skeptical about that review and thought that it may have been slightly exaggerated. However, it was not.

The few times that we did leave the resort at night, we were amazed (or disgusted) by the amount of prostitutes walking about looking for clients. The sad part is, they did not have to look very hard. We met a significant amount of men who were in Sosua just for the prostitutes, older divorcees, young guys like us and everything in between ranging from Canadians, Germans and Americans. Sadly, it was an American group of about 15, who rented out a villa with about 20 prostitutes for the Super Bowl. It was also an American douche, who upon noticing that we chose to make friends with a Canadian family instead of solicit hookers asked us, "Are you guys f*cking los-as!?" (Jersey accent).

The beautiful, open lobby area, where you can make friends by day become a standby spot for the very same men who await "dates". Since we are in the 21st century, even women have taken to Sosua for trysts. We noticed a couple of older women patrolling the beach for potential "boyfriends". Upon asking a young local about this, he informed us that several older women would look for younger men in the area and shower them with gifts and how he would not lose his dignity in that way.

Overall, the resort was not that bad for the price. The prostitutes made me slightly uncomfortable but it's nothing new, I've been to Angeles City, Philippines (close by Clark Air Force base), I am just reporting. The beach was great although you were harassed at every turn by a vendors renting out chairs umbrellas and selling fruit. Although people our age was the minority there, we met by far, the most beautiful girl all three of us have ever laid eyes upon. I just wished that the prostitutes did not attract all those douchebags. Oh, and they could have served more authentic Dominican cuisine.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meeting A-Rod

They say the journey is more important than the destination and during our trip to the Dominican Republic, it was true. During a layover at Miami International, we came across one of the most high profile athletes on the planet. I used to consider him as a polarizing figure in baseball, but that would mean people actually like him! And no, I don't think that everybody hates him because he's handsome, biracial, makes alot of money and plays for the Yankees. 

Moments after a cart whizzed past us as we were walking around the airport in a zombie state, I brought to my companions' attention that the man being carted about was none other than Alex Rodriguez. We followed the cart to a magazine stand where we followed the 2007 AL MVP inside. The three of us were trying to come up with a way to get a picture with him and due to his reputation of being short with "little people", we were scared. Our approach was tentative, slightly creeping to where he was browsing (like we approach hot girls at the club). Finally, Mike spoke up, and we got our picture!

The photo that would make it to Deadspin and US Weekly's website

This simple gesture elevated Rodriguez by a mile in my eyes, he was kind enough to shake our hands and have a picture taken at 7:30 in the morning. But I could not get over his selection of magazines. Yes, he is clutching a copy of US Weekly, a gossip magazine. So I thought maybe this would be worth a post on Deadspin, one of my favorite blogs. So after exchanging a few e-mails with "Dom", he told me that he would post it eventually. I was pretty elated about the prospects of possibly getting our story posted on a Weekly Roundup segment or something and from that point on, stayed focus on the beach trip.

A few hours later, I was in Sosua, Dominican Republic, hanging at the all-inclusive hotel bar (for the wi-fi). I was notified by tweet that my submission was posted on Deadspin! And it got it's own page and a subsequent tweet!


So we were vacationing in the Dominican Republic, not quite able to believe our luck but we were quickly distracted by a beautiful model and her sister that we met at the hotel bar (also there for the wi-fi). However, the next morning, Mike gets a facebook notification that our photo was on the US Weekly website! It was just crazy, Deadspin is a user-generated and fairly underground blog but US Weekly attracts a large (and stupid) following.

We were barely 24 hours into our vacation and it was already one for the ages. Thanks A-Rod.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dominican Republic Trip

In early January 2012, I along with two friends booked a 4 night stay in Sosua, a small town in Puerto Plata Province in the Dominican Republic. It was my first international excursion with friends and to describe this trip as "epic" would be an understatement. Rather, I find "Legen.. wait for it.. DARY!" a more fitting description. We bumped shoulders with a prominent athlete, found ourselves in a gossip magazine, survived mother nature's fury and even enjoyed the company of a model.

In summary, I am a bit depressed recounting it all knowing my regular life resumes tomorrow.