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Castillo San Felipe del Morro

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Binge-watching on the pirate-themed Netfix series Black Sails made me remember I haven't blog about my trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico last year. The series follows the exploits of the buccaneers Captain Flint, and Long John Silver, along with pirates such as Charles Vane and Edward Teach. Although it was set in New Providence (Nassau), the Caribbean setting made me remember the fort that I visited in San Juan - the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro, also known as Fuerte San Felipe del Morro, was a citadel built by the Spaniards in the 16th century. It was named after King Philip II, the same king for which the Philippines is named after. Construction started in 1539, the aim of which is to build a fortress that will guard the old city of San Juan. Throughout its history the citadel, which was protected by fortifications such as high, thick walls, crenelations, and lookout stations,  was able to fend off attack from several pirates, including the English pr…

Gadget Review: DJI Spark Drone

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One of my quibble about my DJI Phantom 3 drone is its size and portability. When carried in its own case, the quadcopter could be as bulky as the  allowed carry-on in airplanes. This could be a pain when traveling, as I would be carrying two backpacks with me. 
The Phantom 3 also takes some time to set up - installing the propellers, the RC remote, and the app in the tablet or phone. The boot up sequence, including finding the GPS fix, could also be lengthy. I love my Phantom, I think it's a great drone, but sometimes I wish I had a smaller drone that's easy to pack and carry when traveling.



With the release of the DJI Spark, I think my prayers were answered.
The Spark is the newest drone from DJI, the same maker of the Phantom series. What's so distinctive about Spark is its size - about the size of a smartphone - making it perfect for traveling. I got mine as soon as they're available in the Philippines.  See the unboxing video that I made below.



Like its older and bigge…

Ifugao Rice Terraces - Batad, Hapao, and Bangaan

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This is probably the first tourist spot that I learned about, as did millions of Filipino kids reading their Sibika textbooks. At the top of this list of "magagandang tanawin ng Pilipinas "(beautiful sights of the Philippines) is the rice terraces, which is located in the northern part of Luzon. It's also one that which I kept on putting off to visit. To remedy the oversight I booked an overnight bus trip to Banaue and finally added the Ifugao Rice Terraces to the UNESCO World Heritage sites that I've been to.

There were five sites in Ifugao that were included in the UNESCO inscription, and I visited three: Batad, Bangaan and Hunguduan (the two I missed were Mayoyao and Kiangan).  It is believed that these rice terraces were constructed around 2000 years ago, and if put end to end, will go halfway around the world. I also remember my history professor pointing out that it is the only ancient megastructure built without slave labor.  


These five were distinct from the o…

Airline Review: Air Juan Seaplane Service

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I've always wanted to fly in a seaplane. As an avgeek, I think the flying machines that can land on water are the epitome of cool. I got my wish when a new airline, Air Juan, opened a scheduled flight between Manila Bay and Subic. Subic is practically my playground, where I jetsurf and flyboard regularly, and the fare wasn't that expensive. I booked a flight as soon as I saw an opening in my calendar.
Air Juan is a charter airline established in 2012. It started operations in 2014, flying from Puerto Princesa to Coron and Cuyo Island. They started their seaplane service in 2015, between Coron and Boracay, then further expanded the list of destinations to include Baler, Puerto Galera, and Balesin Island.

Booking, Fare and Schedule
I booked my ticket - Manila Bay to Subic International Airport - through their website, www.airjuan.com. There are three air fare classes: Early Bird, Saver, and Full. I paid PhP 3000 for one-way early bird fare to Subic. The saver costs P4700, and the f…

Angkor Wat

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We saved the best for last. The ultimate destination for the way is the temple complex of Angkor Wat - the largest religious monument in the world. It is my 14th UNESCO World Heritage site.


Built in the 12th century as a state temple, Angkor Wat has been the subject of awe from travelers and explorers alike. The first European to see the temple - a Portuguese monk - was said to have been dumbfounded on how to describe the wonder. It is also said to be the reason why France took Cambodia as a protectorate, and the reason for it to invade Siam, to take control of Angkor Wat (1).

I had a glimpse of how huge the complex is as soon as I set sight of the massive moats that protect the area, surrounding the outer wall. I crossed the earthen causeway to get to the main entrance. Statues of serpents called nagas adorn the balustrade at the entrance. Towers carved with intricate sculptures pierce the sky, giving the complex its iconic look.


I shared the similar disbelief that the European explorer…

Temples of Siem Reap

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Day 2 of my trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia and today the main activity is to visit the temples (posts are reverse chronology)


3:00 pm Angkor Wat

2:30 pm
After exploring Angkor Thom and Bayon we set out to the raison d'etat of the trip: Angkor Wat. I will create a separate post for it, here.


1:45pm Ankor Thom
After lunch we proceeded to Ankor Thom, which means Great City. The complex, which was the last capital of the Khmer empire, is composed of several large ruins, and on its center is the temple callled Bayon.


Among the ruins I visited is the Baphuon. It was a temple-mountain originally dedicated to Shiva but it was later converted into a Buddhist temple. A sleeping Buddha was later built on its western side.

I also visited the Terrace of the Elephants, and the Phimeanakas, which was a three-tiered pyramid built as a Hindu temple.


1:15pm
I had my late lunch at a small eatery in front of Ta Keo temple. I was famished and thirsty so no adventurous food. I picked an omelette filled w…

Live Blog: Siem Reap, Cambodia

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I will be traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia today, and I will be doing another live blog where you can follow my adventures around the ancient city. Siem Reap was the seat of the Khmer Kingdom in the ninth to 15th century. This is my first time to visit Cambodia. (Posts are reverse chronology).

10:05
Boarding now. ជួប គ្នា ទៀត (joo-up k’neer dee-ut), Cambodia.



7:30pm Siem Reap International Airport
The trip is getting to a close now but I think I arrived too early at the airport. The check in counters will open an hour from now so I will just hang out in a cafe outside and pass the time.

5:15 pm
Back at the hostel. I checked out already but my flight is not until later tonight so I will just hang out here. There's free wifi and the food is cheap.

4:45pm
On the way back to the hostel I dropped by the post office to mail a couple of postcards.

4:30 pm
I may have spent more than I have budgeted at the duty free shop.


2:30 Angkor National Museum
I decided to go to a museum - and the n…