Travel like you mean it.


Beach bumming in Cancun

Spending a day at Cancun's amazing beaches - miles of white sand bordered by the azure Caribbean sea

Cenote Jumping in the Yucatan

Cenotes are naturally occurring sinkholes that dot the almost barren landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula. Jumping on it in a rope swim is one of the most exciting things I did in Mexico

Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

Being in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is like stumbling inside Hangar 51 in Indiana Jones. The museum has everything that can be possibly dug up from the ground, including Aztec artifacts, gems and minerals and dinosaurs!

Coron, Palawan

The municipality of Coron is part of the Calamian group of islands north of Palawan. It is about an hour away by plane from Manila via Busuanga. Aside from the azure seas, white beaches and islets fenced with limestone cliffs, Coron has several magnificent wreck diving sites.

Flyboarding in Subic

Flyboarding is a new sport invented by Zapata Sports, where you have a contraption is attached to your feet your arms. You ride the watr jets like Tony Stark with his repulsor jets

November 26, 2016

Live Blog: Kathmandu

This live blog post continues where I left off after yesterday's Everest flight, then today and tomorrow's adventures. Due to time and logistical constraints I decided to cancel my trip to Lumbini, so I will just be exploring the holy sites around Kathmandu.

November 26, 10am
I went back to the hostel after getting some breakfast in Thamel, still high from the Everest experience. I've never thought that I would be able to see the highest mountain in the world - which I've only read about in books and National Geographic magazine and seen in movies - up close. The experience was indeed exhilirating.

At the hostel I was to take a nap before meeting Erika again but I was invited to join the breakfast of two Irish backpackers who recently arrived, and we ended up chatting for quite some time.

I met with Erika and Jeric in their hotel in Thamel. Jeric is flying in a few hours so I will be accompanying Erika to Durbar square.

We decided to walk to Durbar Square of Kathmandu to explore more Hindu and Buddhist temples there.

The highlights were the residence of the diwali - the living goddess - where photography is not allowed if she is around. Usually she would show her face to the public at certain  hours of the day.

There was also the residence of the former monarchs, and some other Hindu temples.

After exploring Durbar we went back to Thamel to pass the time; Erika's flight is in the evening and she only needs to go to the airport around 6.

First we had late lunch at a restaurant - YinYang - and the food is very delicious. I also realized that except for that buffalo meat momos and some chicken, I haven't eaten meat since I've got here.

Aftee lunch we went to find a cafe where to hang out. We went to a swanky one in Mandala Street, and our table was located at a bridge between two buildings, overlooking the street below. It was quite quaint. We hang out here until around 5pm, from which we head back to the hotel and got a cab for Erika.

I decided to go back to Thamel to buy some food at the grocery store and some yak cheese sandwiches and quiche at the bakery. I also bought some fruits - local apples and pomegranates.

November 27, 8am
After waking up I went upstairs to the view deck to see a great view of Kathmandu. To paraphrase a traveler whose name I cannot remember, it's a great, strange feeling to wake up in a city where nobody knows who you are.

It's a lazy Sunday morning so I took my time having my breakfast and getting some more naps. After lunch I will go to a holy site called Swayanbunath, and the Durbar square of Patan.

The site site that I visited is Patan, a town next to Kathmandu. It is also known as Lalitpur, and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. its Durbar square contains several important temples and structures, including the Krishna and Bhimsen temples. Several scenes of the movie Dr. Strange - mostly the quest to find Kamar-taj - were shot here (thanks to my Twitter friend Voltaire for pointing which scenes).

The square bears a lot of scars from the 2015 earthquake and some of the main temples were still under repair, with scafolding covering them.

I also was able to explore some areas outside the square, but I did not venture out much.

I went back to the hostel to recharge my battery and get some money. I then set out to anothet temple - Swayambhunath.

I began the long climb to reach the stupa of the Swayambhunath - 365 steps to be exact.  The site is considered to be the most sacred by the Newar Buddhists.

 At the top is white stupa, which had eyes of Buddha painted on each side, representing enlightenment.

Around the stupa are prayer wheels, which devotees spin as a ritual to accumulate good karma and reduce the bad. It has to be circumambulated clockwise. I did that, twice. Even though I am not a Buddhist I felt some peaceful experience as I did.

After going around the stupa I explored the area more, noting the presence of the monkeys around the temple (Swayanbhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple). I also stumbled upon a cafe within the complex that gives a great view of the Kathmandu valley. I went inside and ordered fried vegetable momos and a Fanta, which I partake while enjoying the view of the city.

I was back in the hostel to rest for a bit. I then went back to Thamel to get some dinner, and to buy some gifts to bring home (mostly pashmina scarves). I had mutton for dinner.

Back in the hostel again, this time preparing some of my luggage and making updates for the blog. I am going to rest early too, as it's a big day tomorrow - Bouddhanath and Pashupathinath temples.

November 28

I went to Boudhanath Temple early. The temple has a massive stupa that is one of the largest in the world. The site is also the holiest pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists.

I left Boudhanath for Pashupatinath. I didnt know that there was a Hindu festival there, and the taxis are avoiding the area. I managed to convinced one to bring me there but I had to walk for several blocks to get to the temple.

There was a substantial crowd and I didnt even attempt to enter the main square. I was able to go to the periphery to observe. I also was able to get a tilaka - which is vermillion paste applied to the forehead - and a red braided bracelet called kivala - from a Hindu priest, as a blessing.

I am heading back to the hostel to check out  Then I will just hang out in Thamel until late in the afternoon before going to the airport. 

November 25, 2016

Live Blog: Everest Mountain Flight

Continuing my live blog of the Nepal trip. The big event for Day 4 is Mount Everest.

I am so paranoid that I might oversleep and miss my flight that I set my 2 phones to alarm at certain intervals. I woke up at 4:30 then dressed up quickly. I went downstairs to get a cab. The trip was uneventful.

I am waiting at the Departures area to wait for boarding. The flight was a bit delayed, by about 15 minutes.

And we boarded and ready to fly. We are flying in a BuddhaAir Beechcraft 1900, an 18-seater prop plane. It only has 2 rows, sp everyone can get a window seat. I was seated at 9A which is at the back.

We are now airborne. I am so excited to be in this flight. We are going a circuit, and my side of the plane will get the first sight of the Himalayas. The stewardess was handing out a graphic showing all the mountains we can see.

The view is spectacular! The scale of the Himalayan range is astounding. As we approach Everest we were called to the cockpit one by one so we can see Everest up close. We are flying at about 20000 feet

And there she is, the majestic Mount Everest, looming mightily in the horizon. It was breathtaking to see it right out there in the cockpit. This is the reason why I came to Nepal and I was not disappointed.

The plane turned around and we started to head back to Tribhuvan Airport. I took more photos on the way back, but I also stopped after a while so I can appreciate the view outside

We are back in the ground. The airline crew gave a certificate as we disembarked. After going out of the airport I went back to Thamel to get some breakfast.

November 24, 2016

Live Blog: Nagarkot and Bhaktapur

Continuing the live blog. On Day 2 now - currently in Nagarkot, then Bhaktapur and Kathmandu later.

We had breakfast at the hotel. The fog is still out so we may have to wait for a little longer to see the Himalayas.

Jeryc and I decided to walk and explore the village. Nagarkot is located around 35km from Kathmandu, with an elevation of about 1900 meters. If it weren't for the tourist activity the village would have remained sleepy. We met some locals along the way and went all the way to the bus station, which is almost at the edge of the village. 

The fog lifted for a few minutes just to give me a glimpse of why Nagarkot is the best place to see the Himalayas.

Finally, the money shot (the best I can do).

We left the hotel in Nagarkot. The car will bring me to Bhaktapur and then to Thamel for Erika and Jeric.

I arrived in Bhaktapur, which is the cultural capital of Nepal and a UNESCO World Heritage site. I hired a guide for 500 rupees and showed me to several temples located in Durbar Square and in Thaumadi Square. He also wanted to take me to several shops which I declined. I did buy a couple of prayer wheels for gifts back home.

I left Bhaktapur for Kathmandu.

In Thamel now, which is the main commercial district of Kathmandu. I went to a cafe for internet access. I will upload the pics later because the connection is iffy. I will also meet Erika and Jeric later for dinner.

I met up with Erika and Jeric and we went around Thamel to hunt for souvenirs. We also went to Momo Star for dinner. Of course I ordered fried bufallo momos, plus papad and yak cheese balls, washed down with Everest beer. I loved the food and I was so full when done.

After dinner we had a few more minutes exploring  the shops in Thamel, then we called it a night. I went back to my hostel to get the much needed sleep. Big day tomorrow!

G'night folks! Watch out for Day 3! 

Live Blog: Nepal

Continuing the live blog of the trip.

1:45pm NST
I just saw a glimpse of the Himalayas as the plane is preparing to land in Kathmandu. At first I thought it was a wisp of cloud, then I realized it is the mountain range.

2:15pm NST
We landed in about 2pm local time. Immigration was a breeze I got my visitors visa right away. I exchanged some money and got a cab to my hostel in Thamel.

I took some snaps of the city. Above are school kids leaving school.

I got to my hostel - Elbrus Home. I liked it. The manager was very nice and attentive. I will be leaving for Bhaktapur to meet Erika there.

From my hostel I got a taxi to bring me to Bhaktapur - a UNESCO World Heritage site - and from there, to go to Nagarkot. After agreeing on the price I got in and we set out. From there I managed to experience the traffic in Kathmandu. In one street there were people dancing, apparently to celebrate a wedding, which gridlocked the traffic on the street. There was also some traffic in the highway, which caused us to arrive in Bhaktapur past 6. It was already dark so I decided to just come back tomorrow, and set out to Nagarkot.

Nagarkot is a small mountain village which is a great vantage point to see the sourrounding valley and mountain ranges. The drive was ardous and long and I kept on thinking if I am paying the driver enough. We also have to stop and ask for directions to the hotel.

At last we arrived in the hotel. After paying the driver I met with my friends Erika and Jeff. They accompanied me to dinner, in which I had my first Nepali meal. Afterwards we went to the viewing deck to stargaze. It was amazing - the Milky Way was clearly visible. We also tried taking pictures.

Star pic by Erika
We will be retiring in a bit. We are waking up early tomorrow morning to catch the sunrise. The view was said to be spectacular.

5:30 am
We woke up early to catch the sunrise in Nagarkot but it's too foggy. It's about 6°C outside. 

November 23, 2016

Live Blog: Nepal & Malaysia: Day 1

I will be live blogging my trip to Nepal and Malaysia this week, so check out this page for updates!

Nov 23 4:47pm PST
I am in NAIA Terminal 3 now, in line to have my travel documents checked by the airline. My flight is later in the evening to Kuala Lumpur but I find it prudent to be at the airport early, considering the chaotic Metro Manila traffic.  

5:30pm PST
I just cleared immigration and will head to the lounge to wait for the flight.

5:50pm PST
Free food at Skyview Lounge :)

7:47pm PST
Went to boarding gate 101 to wait for the flight to Kuala Lumpur. The plane will arrive there just after midnight.

8:46pm PST
Taking off in a bit.

November 24, 12:45am MST
Arrived in Kuala Lumpur just after midnight and cleared immigration. My next flight is later at noon so I am checking in the capsule hotel to spend the night.

1:10am MST
I checked in the capsule hotel and was able to settle in, got a shower then on for a few hours of nap. I am only booked for 6 hours, so I am making that count.

7:49am MST
I woke up just before 7 then got another shower. I checked out of the capsule hotel then found a Starbucks for a caffeine fix. And WiFi. The flight's at 11 so I will be spending the time exploring the new KLIA2 terminal.

8:30am MST
I checked in for the Kathmandu flight using the self-service kiosk.

9:50am MST
I am at the gate now, after roaming around the new terminal, which looks nice. The previous one was like a warehouse. Now I am just waiting for boarding. I will be flying in an Airbus A330. My next update will be in Kathmandu.