Category Archives: Thoughts and musings

Don’t tell my mother

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Photo taken by PhoenixPol

Neither should you tell my father. Especially my father.

1. That I rode a motorcycle (habal-habal) for the first time. It lasted for a good 30 minutes over a really rocky stretch of road going down Makiling.

2. That there were three of us on that motorcycle. None of us had a helmet on.

3. That I stood on a rock more than 800 MASL. With a steep drop in front, to my right and to my left.

4. That there were bloodsuckers itching to get their fill. Three on my face and neck. Two on my chest. And more than five on my legs and shoes.

5. That the Makiling Traverse is a major climb and a level 6 (out of 9).

6. That I knew I had a good chance of busting my knee again.

7. That I went in the first place.

My parents love me. And I love them. They just think I go away too often and get into risky activities. Yes. For them, traveling alone and trekking a hill is classified as hazardous already. :D

Note: Don’t Tell My Mother is a National Geographic program hosted by the handsome Diego Buñuel. He travels to dangerous places and asks the viewers one favor – “don’t tell my mother.”

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A badge for my misadventures

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What started as a fun “study” trip ended on a reckless note and misfortune of a weekend.

The highlights of my overland travel with friends were not the food trips, the walking tours, and the cities’ architectural wonders; rather, the loss of my Sea-to-Summit pouch with cash and cards, and the trip to the Ho Chi Minh police station.

Last June 12, 11:30 PM (Vietnam time), upon alighting the cab at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport for our return flight to Manila, I realized my pouch was not in its usual place in the inside pocket of my camera sling bag. A few flashbacks later, I remembered sitting on the hotel’s lobby couch nursing a headache and an uncomfortable tummy. I remembered taking it out one last time to pull out a dollar for a service tip. I remembered putting it on top of the bag. But, I did not recall placing it back in the bag as I leaned back on the couch and as we hauled our stuff to the waiting cab. With the claim of a friend who thought he might have indeed seen it on the couch, the realization hit me. I left it.  On the couch. For the first time, I left something valuable. For the first time, I did not check and recheck.

continue wandering here…

A deeper experience

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Manila Ocean Park

For someone who found the Underwater World in Sentosa just okay, please take my comments about the Manila Ocean Park with a big sack of salt. :D

I think it’s delightful for kids. I think it’s expensive (regular Oceanarium admission rate is Php400.00). I think it’s awesome to see and read about the diversity and variety of species thriving in Philippine waters. And I think an adult can finish a self-guided tour in one hour. :D

The Manila Ocean Park is a modern complex that houses an oceanarium, an open water marine habitat, a mall, a restaurant row and function facilities. Other attractions are the Oceanarium’s undersea tunnel, Aquanaut Voyage, glass-bottom boat ride, Mermaid Show, Jellies Dancing Fairies exhibit and fish spa; Aquatica’s pools, Musical Fountain and Water Ball.

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I look at you and my mind goes on a trip

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I wander, I wonder

Presenting – my lifetime travel checklist:

1. biking around Batanes and the Marlboro Country
2. going for a mythical, monumental and timeless walk in Paris
3. spotting wildlife in Hwange
4. going loco with the art, landscapes and cuisine of Italy
5. discovering the grandeur and architecture of Prague
6. cruising around the Aegean and Ionian seas
7. beaching and going up the Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro
8. experiencing the nomad culture and a camel ride at the Gobi
9. skiing in the Southern Alps
10.honeymooning at the Maldives

It won’t hurt anyone if I dream big, and expensive. :D

I’ll write separate pieces about my top ten as fillers over the next few, uhm, years. In the meantime, feel free to share with me your bucket list. :)

What type of traveler are you

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So, what type of traveler are you? I’m a Tony Wheeler! How apt, I want to be like him. But will definitely be one about a million light years from now. :) Below’s a quote lifted from his profile page at The Lonely Planet website. Just for fun, why don’t you try out the quiz and see who fits  your profile? Let’s go vagabonding and hit our own hippie trails!

“Tony Wheeler was born in England in 1946 but spent most of his younger years overseas. Those years included a lengthy spell in Pakistan, a shorter period in the West Indies and all of his high school years in the USA. He returned to England to do an engineering degree, worked for a short time as an automotive engineer, then went back to university and completed an MBA.

As soon as Tony left business school in London in 1972, he and his wife Maureen set off for an overland trip to Asia. Their intention was to be away for about a year, get travel out of their systems and then settle down. When they arrived in Australia with 27 cents and a camera (which they soon pawned) between them, the continual questioning from people they met – How did you travel? What did you see? What did it cost? – inspired them to turn their diaries into a book. They called it Across Asia on the Cheap.

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Lessons from their travels

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I would like to share with you some snippets of Queena N. Lee-Chua’s Eureka! article in the Inquirer’s Learning section. It captures the very essence of why traveling opens up one’s mind and eyes to the world.

Lessons from our travels

… This is why we travel: To wake up to surf and sun heralding the start of an active day yet beckoning us to nap under the trees. To feel the wind whip against our skin as we kayak and jetski, grateful to be gloriously alive on this planet. To commune with schools of multi-colored fish in shallow water, a reminder that beneath us is a world beyond our ken. To gobble up watermelon and mangoes after a swim, our bodies craving natural sources of hydration. To gaze, almost teary-eyed, at a full moon so bright it sparkles on the water, casting a light so intense that we can see kilometers out to sea.

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Shoot in style

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I’m lusting for Case Logic’s TBC-307.

Since it’s not available locally, I’m buying it online through my friend’s contact. Currently, my Tamrac messenger bag and funny-looking Neoprene house Kiss and friends.

Most of my misadventures take me to the beaches or the mountains. The Tamrac’s suede accents are quite prone to water and mud stains. I made the mistake of lugging it during a climb without a raincover. The Neoprene is simply a cover-up. It offers the most basic protection. Both are worn over one shoulder which becomes straining and inconvenient over time.

The TBC-307 is not just an all-in-one storage. The backpack’s dobby-weave nylon material makes it water-resistant and durable for the outdoor elements.

Mortal sins when traveling

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Erm, not exactly. Here are a few things I learned over the years when I’m off and about. Let’s just say, I learned ’em the hard (relatively) way.

1. Travel agents and bookings
They can be a lifesaver or a pain in the neck. I used to get a travel agent when going to a place for the first time. Aside from being  convenient, a reputable agency gets discounted rates on airfares and land arrangements. Published rates almost always exclude taxes. Be sure that  before finalizing a package, all costs have been factored in. Out of habit though, I resorted to planning trips and getting rates on my own. With  the almost monthly airline promos, it’s easy to score cheap tickets. When booking a hotel, try to get a quote directly from the hotel. Check booking engines like Agoda or Hotels.com, before asking the hotel for their best available rate. Do not be afraid to ask for a discount, they may or will not give it. Based on experience, I got at most 20% shaven off the published rate.   

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A conscientious tourist

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On idleness and relaxation

Any wanderer must take the Walker’s Decalogue to heart:

1. Don’t pack your troubles in your rucksack.
2. Don’t grouse at the weather.
3. Don’t miss opportunities of friendship with man or beast.
4. Don’t walk half a yard in front of your companion.
5. Don’t overfeed your body.
6. Don’t starve your mind.
7. Don’t overwork your legs.
8. Don’t lose your temper if you lose your way.
9. Don’t leave anything behind you except a good impression.
10. Don’t take away anything except pleasant memories.
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Sights from the sky

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Morning vs. Afternoon

I’ve always had a fascination with the sky. Second to the beach, puffy clouds and aerial vistas calm me and make me marvel at how amazing God’s handiwork is.

Up in the air, the sweep of clouds that stretches to the horizon ushers an opening onto some other place. When flying, I always request for a window seat. The plane’s window frames and beckons a view of another world shaping up outside. Images of the sun coming out, the sun bidding good night, clouds casting shadows and the moon saying hello invoke a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the world’s vastness and beauty.

Long stretches of time often pass without a change in the scene; I do not mind. For it is not every day these wandering feet can give me a panorama of a piece of heaven.