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Showing posts from January, 2013

The Pleasures of 1A: Why I Always Ask for a Window Seat

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I love planes, and I love flying in one. Whether in a jumbo Boeing 747-400 or the diminutive ultralight aircraft, I always take the joy of soaring over the clouds and looking down on the vista below. I like to peer out the window and look at gossamer wisps of clouds in the horizon, or the lone island in the vast sea below, a white speck surrounded in mottled green that eventually is engulfed by the blue waters around it. 
So it goes without saying that the first request that I ask from the check-in crew is, "can I get the window seat?" Like in real estate, having an enjoyable flight is always a question of location, location, location. Of course, not all window seats are the same.  

The best would be seat 1A, on the first row and always to the left of the aircraft, and the opposite, of which the letter designation depends on the type of the plane. For an Airbus A320 for example, the opposite window seat would be 1F, since it seats 3 and 3 abreast. On a 747, the business class …

Travel Gastronomy: Satti Ala Zambo

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Guest post by Linda Bansil

A trip to Zamboanga City is never complete without experiencing the taste of Tausug satti, one of many popular dishes in an array of Zamboanga's unique flavors. Satti is a hit here simply because the taste of this piquant soup is something to perk up one's day. It also has become a ritual here for office workers and students, especially as it becomes a venue for good conversations with a friend or relative and also feels like having a guilt free coffee or cigarette break. Not bad for starters, huh?

Satti is a thick soup served with sticky rice- cooked inside a coconut leaf and paired with several sticks of grilled beef or chicken meat. The taste of grilled beef or chicken gives added flavor to the rest of the meal, and it is addictive because the meat comes in bite sizes. The beef and chicken served are halal, an assurance that the method of slaughtering is humane and follows strict rules that is consistent with universal health standards.
Zamboanga res…

Hostel Review: Central Park Studios

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Central Park Studios is where I stayed in New York the first time I went there. I also stayed there again when I came back about a year after. The hostel, in a 3-storey red brick building, is located in East 105th Street. It is also only three blocks away from Central Park, hence the name.
Location
The location is convenient as the hostel is very near the Line 6 subway station at 103rd Street. This is I think is the primary selling point of Central Park Studios. There were also a couple of Mexican and Chinese restaurants and shops I saw on the way there from the subway. In fact, my first meal in New York was actually a Chinese takeout that I got after I checked in after midnight. 

The neighborhood around the hostel, which is in east Harlem in Upper Manhattan, can be a bit grungy, but I did not feel unsafe when I was there. As in anywhere else in the world, travelers should remain vigilant at all times.  

Amenities

The building where the hostel is located is a bit old, with four floors and …

St. Louis Zoo

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Despite what PETA says, I still enjoy zoos (and oceanariums, like the Manila Ocean Park). They are the perfect place to see wild and exotic animals that we don't usually encounter, short of going to the jungle or an African savanna and seeking them out ourselves.

The St. Louis Zoological Park is one of the zoos that I visited recently. The zoo is located in Forest Park, which was the venue of the 1904 World's Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics. The flight cage built during the fair - which showcases different birds and the largest at that time - was purchased by the city, and eventually expanded into a zoo.
The zoo is huge, with 18,000 animals dwelling in its ninety hectares of area. It is divided into five zones, namely: Discovery Corner,Lakeside Crossing, River's Edge, The Wild, Historic Hill, and Red Rocks.
Discovery Corner is for children. It has a children's zoo, with some animals that can be petted by kids, such as bunnies and goats. It also has an insectarium and a …

In Pictures: Marina Bay, Singapore at Night

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For today's In Pictures I'd be featuring my night photos of Marina Bay in Singapore. The waterfront is ringed by promenades, parks, skyscrapers, iconic landmarks and malls, which make it a popular tourist destination in the city-state, and great place to do a photo walk. The place feels like too sanitized and made up for me, but it does looks pretty and you can see some good examples of architecture, in a blend of the old and the new sort of thing.


My favorite structure is of course the durian-shaped Esplanade - Theaters on the Bay (above). The building is a venue for the performing arts.

Here, on the foreground is the historic Fullerton Hotel, which was originally the General Post Office building. It was built in 1928 and redeveloped into a hotel in 2001.

This is the view of the skyline, providing a backdrop to the business district. It is taken from The Float, which is a stage for concerts and Formula One races.

Just across the road from Fullerton Hotel is the statue of the Merl…

Jetskiing in Canyon Cove

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Update:I was able to visit Canyon Cove again last weekend for a team activity at work, so I will update this post with new photos and information. 
We rented a jetski as part of our team activity and we took turns riding it. The sea was rougher and waves were also bigger when we were riding, enough to lift the watercraft a few increase off the water when bumping into them. Two of my colleagues managed to flip the jetski when they rode, but thankfully they were unscathed.

One difference compared to Subic is that Canyon Cove requires a lifeguard to accompany the riders, for safety reasons, which means that you'd be carrying a passenger even if you ride solo. During my turn, I had two passengers with me. That may be grating for some, but I didn't really mind it. 

The big change was that water sports in the resort are now managed by Networx Jetsports, the same company that rents hoverboard and flyboarding equipment in Subic (I heard that they will have flyboarding available in the re…

How to Stay Fit While Traveling

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One of the things that would be disrupted when you travel is your daily health regimen, such as diet and exercise. Often when you are on the road you would have no or limited access to the gym, and the daily activities and the local cuisine could also wreck your diet, not to mention the lack of access to a kitchen and your fridge.
Nonetheless, your health need not take the backseat when you travel. Here are some tips on how to keep your six-pack while having a good time seeing the sights.
• Take multivitamins. You may not be able to eat healthily while you are on the road, maybe due to unfamiliar taste of the local cuisine, accessibility of McDonald's as easy grub, or your travel schedule wrecking on your meal sked. Consider this as an insurance that you'd still get the RDA for vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning well even if you are not eating right. Augment it with anti-oxidants such as Vitamin E and ascorbic acid.

• Buy bottled water. It may not be the most env…

KLIA Ekspres

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KLIA Ekspres is a high-speed rail service between downtown Kuala Lumpur and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The trains - with top speed of 176 km/h - terminate in KL Sentral, the main transportation hub in the city. It takes about 28 minutes for the trains to get from one end to the other.  As the airport is fifty kilometers away, the trains are the fastest way to go to downtown Kuala Lumpur from the airport. It services passengers either from the main terminal or from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal. 


The train also passes through Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, so if you're interested to see the planned city slated to be the administrative center of Malaysia, you may alight at Putrajaya Sentral station (fare: RM 5.50 one way).  Cyberjaya is the "Silicon Valley" of Malaysia and is located adjacent to Putrajaya.  

Useful Info:

Note that passengers from the LCCT will have to take a bus first (Bus No. 1, in front of Domestic Arrival area) to Salak Tinggi station and board the t…

Taking Wings: Flying in an Ultralight

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Update: I was able to do this again just this weekend. This time I had my Sony ActionCam with me so I was able to take photos and videos on a different POV. I wanted to write a review of the camera and I made sure to test it in the air too, not just in surfing.


I flew in a different ultralight this time, too (with a different pilot). It is open, unlike the previous one which has a half-canopy, so I can really feel the strong wind while aloft. Since I have the camera on a selfie stick the pilot did not hand me the controls, which was OK for me since I was preoccupied at times with fiddling with the camera's controls.



The weather is cooperative, though, so the flight went on without a hitch. I had a group of friends with me, and all but one went up to fly as well. 



There are some changes in pricing. It is a tad more expensive now, from PhP1650 to PhP1848 for the introductory flight (10 minutes), and around PhP3600 for 20 minutes. Except for the pricing, all other info given in the sect…

In Pictures: Times Square, New York

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I realized that I still have tons of photos that I took during my travels that I haven't posted. Starting now I am going to do a weekly In Pictures post every Friday that visually highlights a certain place that I've been to. 
For today, the In Pictures post will be about Times Square, New York. Dubbed as the "crossroads of the world, it is probably the most famous intersection in the world. Indeed, according to Travel + Leisure magazine, it is the world's most visited tourist attraction. 
It is touristy, but it is one of the places that is not to be missed in Manhattan. The bustle of Times Square - at the junction between Broadway Street and 7th Avenue -  is electrifying. 
Giant billboards flashing advertisements - for everything from Broadway shows to Manny Pacquiao bouts - and electronic signboards zipping with news and information add a sense of overload that makes being there overwhelming. 
Times Square is also the venue for the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. 
I…