Friday, September 27, 2013

Foodie Friday: Chai Masala

(We all know I love to eat, so you know I am not kidding around when talking about food. On Fridays, let me torture myself and anyone who might stumble upon this travel blog with a photo of a delicious food I had in my travels. This includes food I made myself. Yes, I cook. This week, Foodie Friday features an Indian drink I and many other travelers like me have grown to love: Chai Masala.)

Chai Masala, Penang, Malaysia
At last, we meet again, chai masala.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Photographers' Trek to the Eerie Crater Lake of Kawah Putih

A fallen tree trunk was strewn across the uphill trail, blocking the way from just below my chest down. Thick leafy shrubs lined both sides of the path fit for only one person. I climbed a mound of soil on one side of the trail and straddled the obstacle one leg at a time in order to get through.

It was about six when we started trekking through this mossy forest. The morning dew in these mountains left the leaves wet, the trees damp, and the trail slippery. On any given trip, I would be more than glad to go on nature walks like this. This time, however, I was unprepared. Having to work until the wee hours the previous night and leaving for the mountains very early that morning meant I only had about an hour of sleep. Not knowing some trekking would be involved that day, I wore jeans and walking shoes with traction so little you could easily glide through the ground with it.

As soon as I arrived at the forest clearing on top of the hill, however, it all paid off. Below us laid an eerie-looking, constantly steaming lake gleaming in an opaque teal color—Kawah Putih.

Kawah Putih, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
The eerie-looking, constantly steaming lake of Kawah Putih.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Getting Lost in Bandung: Not the Best Welcome in the Paris of Java

While looking at maps, it seems it is always those places which I have absolutely no clue about that intrigue me the most. What the place looks like on the ground, who lives there and what their history and culture are like, what food they eat, and what climate they have are just some of the things that run through my head.

That was what Bandung, capital of West Java, Indonesia, had come to be for me. I saw this city, attractively nicknamed "the Paris of Java," as a proper pit stop in my west to east jaunt of Java Island.

Bandung Shopping
Nicknamed "the Paris of Java," Bandung is Java's busy bargain shopping capital.
By Phalinn Ooi | CC BY 2.0

From the chaotic Indonesian capital Jakarta, I boarded a train one cool, foggy morning at Gambir railway station. Bandung was a comfortable, three-hour ride away. The train snaked through wide expanses of lush hills at times dotted by terraced crop plantations. After having been in Jakarta for a few days, I was only glad to be surrounded by nature again. Things were looking up.

That changed quickly.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Backpacking Itinerary: Planning the Trip to Penang

Allow me to pause for a minute getting all wrapped up writing stories and sorting photos from the three-week backpacking trip to Indonesia. We will make time for those later. For now, let me draft my plans to travel to a place many consider one of the most culturally rich cities of Southeast Asia: Penang, Malaysia.

Penang, Malaysia
Penang, Malaysia
By Marcus Tan | CC BY 2.0

Penang is a popular travel destination in Southeast Asia. Like Malacca and Singapore, Penang has always been one of the most important cities in the historic Malacca Strait. Suffice it to say, I have heard a lot about this island. As I see it, it has increasingly become an injustice to myself that I have not yet traveled to Penang.

So I am going on a short backpacking trip to Penang at the end of this month. Here are the things I plan to experience.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why Travel Tuesday: Tea Hills of Bandung, Indonesia

(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 photo from the cool tea hills just an hour outside the busy capital of West Java: Bandung, Indonesia.)

Cool Tea Hills, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
The cool hills of West Java, around the provincial capital city of Bandung, is a tea-growing region.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Few Practical Travel Tips for Jakarta, Indonesia

The Indonesian capital Jakarta is not the easiest place to be in for travelers, but it does grow on you. If you let it, you will discover spectacularly majestic yet very tranquil spots like the largest mosque in all of Southeast Asia—the Istiqlal Mosque, or delicious street snacks like the savory egg pancake kerak telor. I did let the city grow on me and by the time I left, my first impressions of Jakarta were already gone.

National Monument, Merdeka Square, Jakarta, Indonesia
Located in the center of Jakarta is Indonesia's symbol of its independence—Monas (Monumen Nasional).

I have noted a few practical travel tips for Jakarta that helped me make my way through the city. Hopefully, these might help other travelers, too, most especially Pinoy travelers like me. Here they are:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Jakarta, Indonesia: Where First Impressions Do Not Last

Reluctant. I was reluctant leaving the first-world comforts of Singapore and my growing familiarity with Singapore food delights that rainy morning. I was flying for the first time into a country I was unfamiliar with, even though its culture, language, and ethnic origins resembled mine the most. It did not help that I was flying into its capital Jakarta, which was notoriously congested and polluted, in many ways more than my hometown Manila. I crossed the equator for the first time, but did not realize it until I looked out the window and finally saw my home for the next three weeks—Indonesia.

Cikini-Menteng Area at Night, Central Jakarta, Indonesia
Chaotic streets of evening rush hour in Jakarta, Indonesia