Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Travel Tuesday: The Very Catholic Philippines


(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday features a very usual feature of the skyline of many Philippine towns and cities. This week's photo is that of the Belfry of Lazi Church and Convent in Siquijor.)

Lazi Church and Convent

Monday, April 23, 2012

Big Backpacking Trip Over. What Now?

Originally written sometime March 2012, the scheduled end of my six-month trip around Asia

I often find myself inspired to write when I am sitting at a table on a hostel balcony, notebook in front of me, seeing daily life pass by in the places I travel to. Agra in India, Kathmandu in Nepal, Lijiang in China, and now Chiang Mai, Thailand. The ponderings are a little bit more serious this time though.

For 2012, the plan was to backpack through Vietnam, China, and Malaysia, and then head down to Singapore, where my March flight booking says I fly home to Manila finally bringing to an end this six-month trip around Asia. But clearly, I am neither in Vietnam, China, Malaysia, nor in Singapore. What am I doing in Thailand then?

Saying goodbye to a month of traveling through China, Chengdu, China

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Travel Tuesday: Songkran Madness in Thailand


(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday features one of the funnest festivals I have ever attended: Songkran.)

Songkran 2012 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal: The Budget


Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal

Introduction. What's where and where's what.
Teahouse Trekking. What makes trekking in Nepal a cheap and easy activity to organize.
Preparations. Organizing the trek: permits, transpo, guides and/or porters, etc.
Things to Bring. Gear, clothes, meds, water, etc.
The Trek: Part 1, Part 2. Tackles the trek, all the highs and lows, literally and figuratively.
Budget. Trekking doesn't have to costs that much.
The Take Away. Lessons learned and what not.
Moving on with my Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal series, let us now tackle the very important topic of budget. Before you go scrolling down and gasping in shock at the Grand Total, there are a few things you need to know about the budget I am presenting here:
  • This budget covers our entire 26-day stay in Nepal. We trekked for only 10 days within those 26 but I included the pre-trek and post-trek expenses so that anyone reading this may get a good idea on how much it really is to do a trip to Nepal.
  • Again, the trek that we did was independent. That is, we did not sign up for a tour package organized by any travel agency. We did it on our own.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Announcing the Winner of the Roomorama Giveaway


Just a quick post today. As promised in my previous post, I am announcing the winner of Roomorama's giveaway of 50 US dollars worth of credits to book your next accommodations for your next destination ANYWHERE in the world. I used Random.org as a tool to draw the name of the winner. First name that came up in the randomized list is the name of the winner. Sounds fair enough, I think. Without further ado, the winner is:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Roomorama Chiang Mai and Living Like a Local (Also, My First Reader Contest!)


Read on and you may just win 50 US dollars to book your accommodation on your next travel destination. I am not kidding! This is my first blog contest. Ready for it?

In a post I did a few months back, I proudly declared that Roomarama has got it going on. And it does. However, after that experience, I was still left feeling like Roomorama had not fulfilled what it says it seeks out to fulfill: give travelers an alternative to hotels and guesthouses by offering listings for properties and short-term rentals making said travelers feel more like a local.

Imagine my delight when Roomorama approached me once more to do another property review and this time, offer my loyal readers a chance to experience Roomorama for themselves! Who was I to say no? So on I went to Roomorama.com and searched for properties at my next destination: Chiang Mai, Thailand. Man, was I glad to have chosen Chiang Mai to do this! There were so many cheap properties in this city that I decided to stay for a week. Thankfully, Roomorama offered to sponsor part of my payment. So hell yeah, that's done.

Roomorama Experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Travel Tuesday: Khao Soi Curry Noodles


(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday goes all foodie once again and features my most favorite Thai dish of all time: Khao Soi.)

Khao Soi Curry Noodle Dish, Thailand

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seven Super Shots (I Got Tagged!)

One of the advantages of traveling nowadays is that you can choose to be connected all the time. And when you stay connected when you travel, you will most likely encounter the great travel community online, spearheaded by travel bloggers, tour booking agencies, and other like-minded individuals hell-bent on inspiring and encouraging you to explore the world around you. Another advantage, of course, is that you get to participate in fun games like this one!

Seven Super Shots was started by Hostelbookers, my online go-to for finding the best budget accommodations wherever I am in the world. And no, they did not pay me to write that. It just became second-nature to me to check and book my hostels through them. Based on my experience, the hostels and guesthouses recommended there are better than those in some of the most popular guidebooks. Trust me on that.

But let's get back to the game. Having been tagged by the lovely Tom from Waegook-Tom.com, an English expat writing all about his life as an English teacher in South Korea, please allow me to share my Seven Super Shots with you all.

1. A Photo That Takes My Breath Away

Puntod Island, Bohol
Puntod Island, Bohol, Philippines

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal: The Trek (Part 2)


Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal

Introduction. What's where and where's what.
Teahouse Trekking. What makes trekking in Nepal a cheap and easy activity to organize.
Preparations. Organizing the trek: permits, transpo, guides and/or porters, etc.
Things to Bring. Gear, clothes, meds, water, etc.
The Trek: Part 1, Part 2. Tackles the trek, all the highs and lows, literally and figuratively.
Budget. Trekking doesn't have to costs that much.
The Take Away. Lessons learned and what not.
Luck. Sheer, dumb luck. That was all it was. We found ourselves sharing a dining table in Chomrong village that night on the third day of our trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary, chatting with other trekkers on the trail. A couple of them who, at the time, were already on their way down the mountain, told us that they were just at the Annapurna Sanctuary a few days ago and they said it was a complete white-out. Snow and fog was all that surrounded them up there. No views. Fortunately for us, the white-out happened the first few days into the trek. And with the fine, fine weather that day, it looked like things are only going to get better. So I was eager to get up early the next day to catch the first light of the sun tinge its way little by little onto the Himalayan panorama visible from where we were. Never mind the pain in my muscles accumulated from trekking the past three days. Never mind the bitter Himalayan cold smashing me in the face when I went outside my room. The mountains were spectacular.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nepal
Machhapuchhre (Fishtail Mountain) in the early morning light

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why Travel Tuesday: Calaguas Islands


(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, the week that marks the beginning of summer back in my country, the Philippines, Why Travel Tuesday features a photo from one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever set foot on: Calaguas, Camarines Norte.)

Calaguas, Camarines Norte