From Conversations

Private and personal conversations made public.

Fridge Magnet Souvenirs

Turning It Around

After being conned by a taxi driver, we felt like our mood was dampened a little bit. It just left a bitter taste, you know. But when we were looking for souvenirs (to give to friends), we stumbled upon this small shop manned by this guy. His items were half the price of the others.…



CARDWELL, Australia — The bus pulls over, and I am the first to jump out of it. It has been hours since our last stop. If internal organs could talk, my bladder would be throwing profanities at me, and my stomach would be hysterically begging for something to digest other than itself. Coming from Cairns,…


Smile, Mate!

DARWIN, Australia — I stop in my tracks for two things: the delicious scent of grilled chicken is becoming too difficult to ignore, and the sunset’s afterglow illuminating the night market is just too irresistible not to be captured. I take a deep breath, raise my camera, and work the shutter. When I put my…



GUILIN, China — I stretch my arm into the air to draw an imaginary river, but it is met with another highly baffled look by the woman in front of me. “Tour. Li River. Yangshuo,” I said while trying my darnedest to conceal my frustration. Spirit of Mulan, guide me. It has come down to…

Lost Need Direction

Trust Issues

BATANGAS, Philippines — I am staying at the porch of our Batangas home and pondering life’s complexities when a family van pulls over. The window rolls down and reveals the matriarch in the passenger seat. “We’re going to Manila,” she says. “Should we go straight?” “No,” I reply. “If you’re Manila-bound, turn right.” With that,…



ZHANGJIAJIE, China — He looks at my passport, and I know something is not right. The bank teller stares at my currency exchange form and gives me a look I can’t decipher. My stay in Zhangjiajie is ending, and I need some yuan to catch the last train out. His fingers tap the desk anxiously,…

Ask Me Nicely

Everyone’s Looking

BANGKOK, Thailand — “Dance with me.” His order is delivered with an adhesive stare and in a stoic tone. No distinct accent. Deep, raspy voice. But it is his deeper eyes that scream a million sexy words. Just ten minutes earlier, he said I could call him Ray. He pressed his back on the wall next to…

Malaysia Cab

Tales from Behind the Wheel: Si Aida, si Lorna, at si Fe

MALACCA, Malaysia — The driver greeted us with a smile as we hopped into his cab. “To Melaka Sentral, sir!” My friend Ces, as usual, took the passenger seat while Asta and I occupied the back row. The driver beamed, nodded, and responded, “Okay, okay,” and started to drive. It was our last afternoon in…