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Showing posts from May, 2015

In Pictures: Kyoto, Japan

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Kyoto has always been on my radar, as the city evokes the grandeur of imperial Japan - harking back to the time of the samurais and ninjas and bushido. When I visited in Japan, it was next on my list after metropolitan Tokyo (including Yokohama). I am featuring the city in my In Picturesseries for this week.
Kyoto was established as the capital of Japan in the 8th century, and it remained so until 1869, when the imperial court transferred to Tokyo during the Meiji Restoration. During World war II the city was mostly spared from attacks by the Allied forces and the nuclear bomb, hence it still contains many of the prewar buildings that made the city a charm to visit.

I arrived in Kyoto in the afternoon after a Shinkansen ride from Tokyo. The city's layout is easy enough to understand, as it was constructed in a grid pattern. After alighting at Kyoto Station, I found the bus to take going to where I am staying. Commuting is easy; I purchased a bus pass with unlimited rides, and the bu…

Top Picks for International Museum Day, Year III

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For this year's celebration of International Museum Day, I'll be featuring museums that I visited in Chicago, Seattle, Yokohama, Singapore, Kota Kinabalu, St Louis and Taipei, in the past 12 months. This is my third year of featuring museums to mark this day.
My previous series for Year 1 and Year 2 can be found here and here.

Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is the second-largest art museum in the United States, second only to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The museum owned several priceless works of art, including Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, American Gothic by Grant Wood, the A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande by Georges Seurat, and several paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Georgia O'Keefe and other masters.

Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is the largest private air and space museum in the world. It was established in 1965, and is located in a piece of land just adjacent to the Boeing Field, an airport. Among the notable aircraft on d…

Riding the Hoverboard in Subic

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Two months ago I went to Subic to try the new extreme sports called hoverboard, but the unavailability of some parts stymied my plans. I ended up jetskiing that weekend. This weekend I and Arvy went to Subic again to give it another go.
After inventing the flyboard in 2011 (which I also tried), Zapata Racing, owned by the French jeyskiing champion Frank Zapata, came up with another machine designed to thrill - the hoverboard. He got the idea from Marty MacFly's machine in Back to the Future, but his was designed to be operated in bodies of water, not in the streets of Hill Valley.
Doing ZR's hoverboard is actually a cross between surfing and flyboarding. Unlike the contraption in flyboarding that's attached to your feet, you ride in a small board, about the size used in wakeboarding. It is attached to a jetski via an 18-meter kevlar hose. The jetski supplies a continuous jet of water that is expelled through a nozzle located at the end of the board. The jet of water is enoug…

24 Hours in Pattaya

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It might have been strange to take a trip to Pattaya, a city with reputation for baser things, on a Good Friday. During our trip to Thailand, my mom wanted to visit a city other than Bangkok. I initially wanted to take us to Changmai, but due to schedule I picked the one closest and within a few hours ride away. 
Pattaya is a resort town located about 100 kilometers from Bangkok, along the coast facing the Gulf of Thailand. It began to develop as a tourist destination in the 60s, when American servicemen going there for their "R&R." It was from this I think that the town got its notoriety, particularly its nightlife. 

Since I'm with my mom and aunt I tried to make the trip as comfortable and less stressful as possible. I arranged for a taxi ride from our hotel in Silom to Pattaya. The trip is about 3 hours, with a lunch stopover in a Burger King in Motorway Chonburi (fish fillet burgers for all of us, since it's Good Friday). We took the expressways going there,…

How to Get Travel Documents to Taiwan

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Taiwan or Republic of China (ROC) is recognized as a state by only a handful of countries, mostly by small Pacific states (the Philippines do not). That does not mean that you cannot get travel documents to travel into the country, even if they don't have an official embassy or diplomatic relations with one's country. 
Travel Authorization Certificate
For Southeast Asians (Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, plus India), there are two ways to get travel documents to Taiwan. The first option is the Travel Authorization Certificate, which is part of the visa exemption program. In lieu of a tourist visa, certain travelers may get the certificate online. The requirement is that the traveler has never been employed as a blue collar worker in Taiwan and holds a valid entry visa or residence certificate issued by the United States, Japan, Canada, UK, Schengen countries, Australia and New Zealand.The passport should also be valid for at least 6 months.


The certificate, which is…