Sunday, July 31, 2011

Five Tips for Train Travel in China

When we made our trip to China last March, we made Shanghai our base. That is, we get in the country through Shanghai and get out through Shanghai. While this city may be a wonderful city in itself, I felt like I had to do my duty and see the "basics" first. Hence, my resolve to do a roundtrip run to the country's capital Beijing in the cheapest, fastest and most efficient way possible.

China Railway

Fortunately, China has one of the most developed railway systems in the world. Hey, they even have Maglevs there! Something quite novel to a Filipino like me who lives in an archipelago. Fortunately too, the folks at Seat61.com have an outstanding and comprehensive guide to train travel in China. Which is why I do not need to elaborate on all the little details here. What I would like to share here are the things I discovered and believe to be useful, if not essential, to any budget traveler using the Chinese railway system. Let's begin.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Basics for Using a DSLR for Travel Photography

I am all for everyone exploring the photographer in them, and with DSLR cameras becoming relatively less expensive these days, many now get the chance to realize that skill. Lately, however, I have been observing that the more advanced the camera a person gets, the more said person tends to think that such advanced camera will do all the work for him. While this may sometimes work, I do think it is completely misguided. Why some do not even bother learning the basics for using a DSLR, I will never understand.

Your camera, however advanced it is, will never be able to replace human judgment and creativity in capturing the beautiful scenery before you. Your DSLR gives you, not great photos, but the tools to take great photos. Trust yourself enough by using your camera's manual settings. I did and while my photos were not exactly NatGeo material, I still revel in the fact that it was me, not my camera, who took those pictures. Armed with the basics for using a DSLR, I took it slowly and got better and better at it.

The basics for using a DSLR are very easy to learn anyway. Once you get a grip on each, you will find yourself discovering the joys of photography. I know I have. So let me share what I have learned so far about the three basic components of photography in the few years I have been a DSLR user.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Fuel That Is Determination

I am not really sure if what we are about to do could be classified as long-term travel or an RTW trip. I mean, it's just three months. Two months and a week, if we're really being exact. And we won't really be going 'round the world. It will just be a small area of a huge, huge continent.

But, following the running theme of this blog, I am saying, the hell with it. Besides, very few Filpinos my age have done or will do what we are about to do. Many will opt for the well-trodden path of school, job, marriage, house, and kids. Not necessarily in that order, of course. (I am not saying that's bad and I fully respect anyone who makes that decision.)

More than that, though, it's that many Filipinos my age will never have the option to even consider extended travel simply because many just cannot afford it. I am one of the fortunate ones to have had higher education and the opportunity to acquire a highly valued skill.

Even then, I don't think that's enough. If you really want this, then you really have to make this your priority. You really have to be determined. And you have to sustain that determination day in, day out. But, as I recently discovered, that's not necessarily a difficult thing to do. In fact, after deciding that I am doing that trip, how I handle my finances just became a lot easier.