Friday, September 14, 2012

From the Prince and I, to The King and I

Last night we flew into Manila from a blissful few days in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, just in time to make it to the gala show of the King and I at Resorts World, which opens to the public tonight.

We rode Cebu Pacific, and it's a pretty painless flight for a budget airline. I've now ridden Cebu Pacific six times -- twice to Kota Kinabalu, as it's the only direct flight between Manila and KK, and once to Puerto Princesa -- and my flights have always been on time so I've had only good experiences so far. No kidding.

Setting for The King and I,
taken by the Travelife team in Bangkok yesterday


Take last night, for example. We were set to take off from Malaysia at 6 PM and land in Manila at 8 PM. What are the odds of that happening in reality? And, as you know, being a budget airline, Cebu Pacific works on a very tight turn-around system so this ups the odds even more.

In real-time, yesterday at 530 PM in Kota Kinabalu

But they must have their act together pretty well because today, the plane from Manila landed in KK at exactly 530 PM, and then just a bit past 6 PM, we were in the air on the way to Manila.

Lucky me, as we taxied down Manila's runway at exactly 8 PM, and I was in Resorts World's Performing Arts Theater for the King and I gala five minutes after it had started.

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At immigrations in Manila last night, though, one of the immigration guys standing behind the row of counters -- so he wasn't the one checking my passport -- began a conversation with me.

He asked: "Aren't you from Travelife?"

I nodded. It turned out that he watches our Travelife TV show on Living Asia every so often, so he's quite familiar with Travelife.

But here was the clincher: "You don't look at all like you do on TV, " he said. "You're like a completely different person."


My companions were tickled pink by this statement. One of them asked later: "What exactly did he mean by that? And is that supposed to be bad or good?"

Gosh, I didn't really know. But I remember answering: "That's good. At least I can remain not too recognizable in my private life." Thank goodness for that.

And, yes, I forgot to ask him: "But if I'm such a different person in real life compared to on TV, how on earth did you even recognize me?"

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Of course, I was also happy he remembered Travelife, the Philippines' leading travel and lifestyle magazine, and the leading travel experience brand.

There are many people starting all kinds of travel magazines out there this year, or copying our format or our formula; and one has even chosen a similar-sounding name without registering it as a brand in the Philippines.

Of course they can't register it here because the authorities would never allow such a brand name to be registered that is so close in sound to the market leader.

So instead they've registered it in Hong Kong and the magazine doesn't even have a proper office address on its masthead. They're all hiding behind initials and email addresses.

Personally, I don't know how any self-respecting person can work for a publication with a copycat name and no office contact information or proper brand registration.

But things like these are simply pesky issues. We're not worried, just irritated. 

There really is only one Travelife Magazine. Nothing else comes close. Real travelers, great stories. 

Never just writers chasing stories. That's why we're #1.


But back to my story at the airport last night.  I was rushing to The King and I so I wasn't really up to prolonging conversations.

However, this nice man did ask: "Were you in Kota for shooting?"

I was happy to answer this question. I said: "Nope. For once, it was a complete holiday." Or at least, sort of. There really never is a complete holiday in a Travelife, after all.


And, luckily for me, I made it just in time for the gala of the King and I, arriving just five minutes after it had started. My first impression was that it had a spectacular set and the whole effect of the opening scene, with everyone in colorful costumes against an exotic backdrop of gold and glitter, was pretty magical.

The performers were all very good, and I constantly marveled over the quality of the singing, and also the "Thai accent" everyone put on to make the show more authentic.


It was a pretty enjoyable evening. The King and I should certainly be on the agenda of anyone who likes good old-fashioned feel-good musicals with grand sets -- this is a Hollywood story from the 1950s, after all, if I'm not mistaken.

That's exactly what this is, with an extra touch of glitter and glamour.

The King and I musical certainly made me want to visit Thailand again soon. And it just so happens that many of the Travelife team are in Thailand at the moment and they've just sent me photos so I'm posting some here.

The Travelife team for Thailand
with the Ambassador of Thailand to the Philippines
at the VIP lounge of NAIA Airport.

Today, I think they're attending an elephant polo tournament in the royal holiday town of Hua Hin, together with the Ambassador of Thailand to the Philippines and many Thai dignitaries.


Team Travelife in Bangkok
Wish I was there instead of here in rainy Manila today. Maybe I should have just flown to Bangkok from KK and joined everyone else in Hua Hin this weekend.

Or perhaps I should just have stayed in KK and hung around with Prince William and (the former) Kate Middleton, who are in KK right now as well.

But, nope. I flew back to Manila last night, so it was literally from The Prince and I, to The King and I. And just another day in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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