Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why Travel Tuesday: Chiang Mai Sticky Waterfall

(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 place especially beautiful during the monsoon rain season: Chiang Mai Sticky Waterfall.)

Capture the Colour: Green at the Sticky Waterfall, Thailand
Chiang Mai Sticky Waterfall. Minerals has given traction to the rocks, hence the name.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Food Tour of Manila Chinatown

The area of Binondo, otherwise known as Manila Chinatown, does not have a lot going for it in ambiance and charm. Roads are narrow and street vendors vie for what little space there is with cars, loud Filipino jeepneys, and the local version of the tuktuk, the trike. Fumes billow out of mufflers and mix with the potent stench of the polluted Pasig River and its tributaries. There aren't any historic Chinese heritage buildings here either. Most of the structures in the area are modern, if uninspired, because it was bombarded several times during the British takeover of Manila in the 1700s and because Manila was practically bombed off the map during WWII.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Binondo could not be the setting for some of the most delicious foods you would ever encounter in the Philippine capital. After all, for many local eateries around the world, where ambiance is only second priority, food more often than not is exceptionally good. In my experience, that proved true in my food tour of Bangkok Chinatown as well as my visit to the street-side eatery of Anthony Bourdain's Lunch Lady in Saigon.

Binondo, Manila's Chinatown, Philippines
One of the loud and busy entry points to Binondo in our food tour of Manila Chinatown

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Quick Note for RSS Subscribers: Google Reader Bites the Dust

I read an insane amount of travel blogs and other online publications. One way I keep up with them is through an RSS reader. If you are unfamiliar with RSS, it means "really simple syndication." Your RSS reader is a tool which receives "news" feeds from websites and blogs that you regularly read. Your RSS reader then delivers all these feeds to you in one simple page, like a newspaper you read in the morning.

Naxi Wind Chimes, Lijiang Old Town in Yunnan, China
Naxi wind chimes in Lijiang Old Town. The amount of travel blogs I subscribe to outnumber these by a mile!
(No, not really.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Backpacking Itinerary: Planning the Trip to Indonesia

Note: This is the rough draft of the backpacking itinerary for Indonesia. Curious which places I eventually and successfully traveled to? Here is the final draft, written after concluding my amazing trip to Indonesia.

I guess there is no better way to convey my excitement right now than saying it upfront. So I am going backpacking in Indonesia for three weeks and I am terribly and hopelessly excited! Obviously, I will not be able to cover the entirety of this 17,508-island archipelago. That is just too much (and too costly) to cover in three weeks. My initial plan was to backpack through Java, the most developed island, and Bali, the most popular. Finalizing the Indonesia backpacking itinerary, however, I realize there is far too much to see in Java alone. I thought it would be wise to save Bali for another trip (maybe Sumatra for another, and Sulawesi for another). So I decided I'm spending my entire three weeks in Java island, just in Java island. Having traveled so much in the last two years, I now have a better idea as to how I travel, which is to say, I travel slowly, taking in the sights at my own slow pace.

That said, I still included a lot of stops in Java island. I want to see them all! Below is a rough Indonesia backpacking itinerary. Of course, I will not be following it to the T. One thing I have learned in my travels is that not everything goes as planned and sometimes the things you experience off-track can turn out to be exceptionally better than your initial plan. (We got to see the Dalai Lama this way!) So without further ado, a rough Indonesia backpacking itinerary:

Open the rough Indonesia backpacking itinerary map in Google Maps
A rough Indonesia backpacking itinerary

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why Travel Tuesday: Calatagan, Batangas

(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 destination I never realized would impress me enough to post about it. Chalk it up to summer's pleasant surprises: Calatagan, Batangas.)

Calatagan, Batangas
The perfect family summer day trip from Manila: Calatagan, Batangas

Friday, June 7, 2013

Foodie Friday: Best Hits of Singapore Food

(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 some of the best foods I had in the tiny gastronomic island-nation of Southeast Asia: Singapore.)

Singapore People and Food
Best hits of Singapore: ayam panggang, chee cheong fun, and char kway teow.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Day in the Village of the Last Tattoo Artist of the Kalinga

She picked up a small wooden bowl containing a thick, black ink made from soot. From a compartment under her house, she retrieved her tools—a bamboo stick not longer than her forearm with a short and thin pomelo thorn sticking out of one end, a slightly larger and sturdier bamboo stick, a thin leaf of dried grass, a piece of cloth riddled with splotches of the pigment she uses, and a tiny bottle of oil she rubs on the skin as treatment. She set down her tools in a small area right outside her house and began layering on her work clothes—a pair of brown cargo pants and a purple coat, both of which looked worn out and ink-stained. When everything was ready, she stood upright, turned to us smiling, and asked in her native tongue, "Who is getting a tattoo today?"

Busacalan, Kalinga, Philippine Cordilleras
Whang Od, 93, in her element. She is the last mambabatok (tattoo artist) of the Kalinga.