Monthly Archives: July 2010

July pic(k) of the month


Lady at the clearing

Dear Diana:

A happy accident as some would say. I scrambled my way out of Dexter as my friend entered the clearing. The way the trees enveloped her made for a natural frame.

This is the first time a dreamy superwide plastic version of you was mounted on me. She actually added the right amount of sparkle, mystery and wonder.



Manabu for a day


Manabu Peak

Short for Mataas na Bundok, Manabu Peak is an easily accessible dayhike destination. It has an MASL of 760+ and a total trail length of 4.7 km.

The trail is interestingly shaped like a rosary with Manabu’s signature big white cross aptly capping the peak.

Perfectly manageable for beginners. The trail is visible and established. Save for a few forks here and there, it is possible to trek Manabu without a guide. If my memory serves me right, just remember to always take the right forks when going up, and (logically) the left forks when going down.

To get there by public transportation, ride the Lipa- or Tanauan-bound JAC or JAM Lines and specify that you will be alighting at the Fiesta Mall (more specifically the Lipa Memorial Park along the highway). A 100-peso tricycle ride will take a group of three to Sulok, Brgy. Sta. Cruz in Sto. Tomas. It will take you twenty minutes on the tricycle to get to the jumpoff point. Alternatively, for bigger groups, you can hire a jeepney to take you to Sulok.

A registration fee of Php15.00 is collected by the barangay. (Un)Fortunately, since our hike was on a Sunday, the tanods were enjoying their (work)day-off. :) Some useful pieces of information about the tanods: 1. pay the exact amount as some regulars say they are not in the habit of giving you change for big bills; 2. take down with a shroud of doubt the mobile number they will give upon registration as it is apparently a dummy according to my friend, and; 3. sympathize with the famous barista, Mang Perying, as he launches a spiel on how seemingly useless the collection of registration fees is since it is not the barangay who maintains the trails to the peak, but the residents like himself.

continue wandering here…

Saigon on the move


Metropolis on the move

The former capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) is a bustling developing urban center for the average adventure-driven traveler. Colonial structures and rugged buildings comprise the skyline. Motorbikes dominate the streets. Drivers speed through pedestrians and traffic lights. Nonetheless, tourists flock this city. I am not saying this little because of  my Vietnam experience. :) With only a day to spare to tour the city, I can only say this much given the spots we went to.

continue wandering here…

Kingdom of wonder


The Kingdom of Cambodia is a popular adventure destination, especially for western visitors. Before, the only thing I knew about the old Kampuchea is Pol Pot’s communist guerrilla force and the Khmer Rouge carnage. When I was in high school, the end of conflict in Cambodia drove them slowly out of isolation and into an eventual membership in the ASEAN in 1999. On top of that, who does not remember Angelina Jolie’s (popularizing Lara Croft the Tomb Raider) action sequences in striking locations in the country?

Today, Cambodia advances in its economic development process and encourages tourism in the kingdom of wonder. Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanouk are the top cities that showcase a treasure trove of Khmer culture and heritage.

With a limited schedule, my friends and I had time to visit only Phnom Penh. As the country’s capital, Phnom Penh is the economic and cultural center of Cambodia. As visualized by their French colonizers, the city looks like a scene straight from a provincial town in France (interestingly, I’ve read it used to be called the Paris of the East).

The city is very charming in its own way (albeit, dusty, hot and humid) with its old French-style structures and classic colonial village buildings dotting the main thoroughfare, the side streets and the riverfront. The lack of a McDonald’s or a Starbucks bears witness to their status as a fairly new urban center (they do have a KFC and a Gloria Jean’s). And like other third world cities, there are enterprising locals, speeding vehicles, and persistent touts. This rough change from the usual beach and green scenery might well be why western visitors troop to this Indochina destination ala-Lonely Planet style.

continue wandering here…