Category Archives: Thoughts and musings

On a high

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I have always been on the prowl for activities that make my head scream of excitement, and my heart pump with exuberance. Free falling from a plane is one of those, and (I would bet) is on any adrenaline junkie’s bucket list. It has been on mine for more than half a decade. With a lot of prodding and a bit of kismet, I booked myself a tandem jump slot last summer with Skydive Legazpi.

The session starts with a brief class on the basics of the activity. The instructor introduces skydiving as a popular high-flying extreme sport. A tandem jump is an easy way to experience skydiving for the first time. Tandem jumps offer the thrill of a free fall while securely harnessed to a professional instructor. The instructor then demonstrates use of the equipment, and completes it with a comprehensive safety instruction. Finally, the support crew fits me with a harness, and ushers me to the tarmac.

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Travel makes you richer

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Lifted from the oft-quoted saying: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Unlike tangible and financial investments with its risk component, travel, although not without exposure, reaps rewards whether on the positive or flip side. While some prefer to work, save, then travel later; an enlightened bunch mostly adhere to the work, save, and travel now mentality. As a good friend put it, that is investing in experience.

Indeed. Diplomas are earned after at least 16 years in a conventional educational system. An illustrious career is obtained inside the four corners of the typical workspace. What about travel makes you richer? Lifelong lessons are fulfilled within and beyond a geographic comfort zone.

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I don’t want to sit next to you

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Disclaimer (since people can be so literal at times): This is a mockery. I aim to poke fun at my ridiculous tendencies. I do not mean offense nor disrespect to anyone who would associate themselves with one or more of the personalities enumerated below.

"I don't care."

“I don’t care.”

I am generally a peaceful person (smirks). On days I am hormotional, I have my misgivings when it comes to sitting beside someone while traveling. On days I want to be left alone, I have my reservations when it comes to sharing my thoughts with a seatmate. On days I am unlucky, I need to be on my own so as not to channel my misfortune on others.

Here I share with you some personalities you may not want to sit with or be within a radius of one foot when having a bad day in a trip.

Crying tots. Just no. Yes they are adorable, chubby, and cute; but when you have a headache, a wailing baby on overdrive is not the better alternative to paracetamol. On top of that, seeing the hapless mom or dad feeling at a loss is simply – sad.

Heavy people. Not to be mean, but I dread sitting next to someone a bit on the heavy side. A one-hour bus ride is tolerable. What if it is an extended overland trip? Twelve hours of being squished in a tiny seat next to someone big is plain uncomfortable.

Loud snorers. Ah, the envy of insomniacs – people who, as soon as they rest their head, doze off to dreamland. Not cool if they start blaring snores in your ear, or worse, using your shoulder as a p-i-l-l-o-w.

Stinky dudes. This includes inconsiderate smokers, not just unhygienic travelers. Sweat and (unpleasant) body fumes are never okay. They trigger a massive throb in the head, and will be the death of anyone.

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It’s black and white

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I was selected to do the 5-day black and white (B&W) challenge on Facebook. Simply put, the game forces the nominee to post B&W photos for five (5) consecutive days. For each day, the nominee will then pick someone else to do the same thing. While shooting in color is how most of us in the digital era started and saw images (in print or otherwise), B&W photography is temperamental. Easy on the settings; but difficult on the tone to convey.

Day 1 is portrait photography.

"Audience with a Centenarian"

“Audience with a Centenarian” (Batanes, January 2011)

104 years old at that time, Mang Marcello Hostallero is the oldest resident of Sabtang Island. Here he is whiling the day away, and keeping busy by his lonesome outside his house in Chavayan.

Day 2 is landscape photography.

"A Beautiful Destruction"

“A Beautiful Destruction” (Mt. Pinatubo, March 2012)

Breathtaking and devastating at the same time, Mt. Pinatubo’s crater lake is a stark reminder of Mother Nature’s play on turning her powerful fury into a magnificent display of beauty.

Day 3 is nature photography.

"By the Beach"

“By the Beach” (Bali, February 2013)

A banten (traditional Balinese offering) can be seen almost everywhere in the island of the gods. The most unlikely place I have seen one is perched precarioulsy on a cliff face. Its solemn symbolism of worship striking in contrast with the mad beating of the waves below.

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326

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Three days. Two nights. Six life lessons. 3 – 2 – 6. Most trips last for three days and two nights. But the lessons we pick up from each leg of travelling are ingrained for a lifetime.

1. Mind the gap.
Whether traveling alone or with a buddy, there will be considerations and sensitivities. You will consider each other’s preferences in the choice of trips and activities. You will be sensitive to leaving minimum impact and attaining maximum learning on the places visited.

Travel to build bridges between cultures, between interests and between personalities. Mind those simple and daunting differences. And that gap between the platform and the train.

2. Fall in love.
Travel ignites passion; like falling in love. Fall in love – with the place or with the experience. Relish the memories and feel the moment when you hold on to someone while exploring. Like falling in love, do not hold back. Do not be afraid to get hurt. That activity or national treasure other travelers rave about may not be what you expect; be prepared to be disheartened.

Travel to treasure the enjoyment and remember the disappointment.

3. Get lost.
Lose yourself. Break the rhythm. Enjoy the cloak of the unfamiliar and being unknown in a foreign land. Go around the side streets and keep on walking. Losing yourself may be the ticket to enjoying how to wander and explore. Going nowhere will actually lead you to where you are supposed to be. Those unannounced changes in itineraries make magnificent teachers.

Remember: happy accidents make the best trips. Travel to create lots. And begin again.

continue wandering here…

Throwing glitter in the air

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Throw caution to the wind and live life to the fullest. Embrace what makes you passionate and alive. Appreciate routine’s simplicity and silence; that way, you will be left breathless by unique experiences and grand adventures. Remember that old adage on life beginning at the end of your comfort zone? There is (or at least some) truth in that.

Go on long walks. Take silly pictures. Just take lots of pictures. Sing pop songs. Microwave leftovers. Play ball and blow bubbles. Wake up earlier than usual to see the sunrise. Stay out long enough to see the sun set.

Travel.

It has been said time and again – travel enriches you. Travel, even though you spend for it, makes you richer. Go somewhere new each year; more often if you can afford to. Organize your own trip or join a tour group; whatever floats your boat. No one will judge you for being a backpacker or a poshpacker.

Regrets? No, don’t take back that night. Go out for drinks – or a cup of hot cocoa. Jump. Make friends. Hold hands and hug. Fall in love – with a person, with the place or with the experience.

All the small lights? They make up that bright picture in the horizon. Life is complex enough back home; learn to let go for a while. Be so happy that people around you get infected with your joy.

Carpe diem. There will be remarkable days. There will be low moments. There will be days of sunburn and days when you will miss the sun. There will be days on the road and lots of running around. Or only lazy days at home in the comforts of your couch and bed. There will be glitter in the air and nights that you wish know no end.

Glitter in a Glass

“Have you ever wished for an endless night? Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself Will it ever get better than tonight?”

Glitter in the Air by Alecia Moore and Billy Mann

Bicol express returns

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The train service to the southern region (from which the famous spicy dish was named after) is back. Chugging and snaking its heavy metal body through a 10- to 11-hour track ride, the Bicol Express makes a formidable competitor to the lazy boy bus rides and the quick plane trips.

Offering three types of service, commuters to Naga City can choose to ride in a reclining seat (Php548.00), a family sleeper (Php665.00) or an executive sleeper (Php998.00). Seeing that it was cheaper than a bus ticket (for the just-concluded CamSur International Marathon weekend), we tried the reclining coach going to Naga and the regular or family cabin on the way back to Manila.

It did not disappoint.

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It’s never too late to dream

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When I am old and gray, legendary adventures will still appeal to the wanderer in me. But a thrill-seeker at 70 or 80 may not be allowed to jump off the Eiger in a wingsuit anymore, let alone descend to a volcanic crater with an active lava pool.

No. And so I start planning for my future escapades. Okay, fine – dreaming then (constraints considered).

Culled from my regular browsing of the National Geographic’s (NG) colorful and awe-inspiring website, these pictures partially reflect and reinforce my lifetime travel checklist.

Stunning shots from the very impressive photographers of the NG. From left: 1. summitting Mt. Everest; 2. wingsuit flying off the Eiger; 3. free-climbing a mountain; 4. swimming with dolphins; 5. cave diving in the Bahamas; 6. entering a volcanic crater; 7. lazy outdoor dining (Eat Pray Love-style) in Italy, and; 8. walking across the Sahara.

Mad about travel

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A number of my friends get their high from running or climbing. Most ladies I know get theirs from shopping. While some from a quick caffeine or chocolate fix.

I go mad over travel.

From scouring the best beaches to discovering adventure travel. From spending a lazy afternoon perched on the hotel balcony to getting that insane rush off daredevil what-nots. From the side streets to the main thoroughfares, from the flea markets to the big shopping malls, from the recesses of the underground to the peaks of mountains.

I go mad over travel.

Indulge your inner wanderer. Go on and hop on your friend’s ride to anywhere. Go on and board the next bus trip to anywhere. Go on and get those fingers working on the latest promo flights to anywhere.

I just did. :)

Credit: Photo owned by fellow lakwatsera Sarah Palmero.

A mountaineer’s verse

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I tread the soil of the earth,
And sway with the trees.

I smile at the bright sun,
And watch the rolling clouds.

I savor the moonlit night,
And lie under a blanket of stars.

I whisper with the cold wind,
And welcome the dance of raindrops.

I am one with all the elements.

I am a mountaineer.