Tuesday, November 29, 2011

mad ones

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!' 

 ~ Jack Kerouac, On the Road, 1957

Monday, November 28, 2011

Indie Travel: Wanderlust

Monday, November 28, 2011

Share a photo or video that just makes you want to GO. RIGHT. NOW (Wanderlust - Day 27 of  the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project)

Mt. Kilimanjaro: Let's GO. RIGHT. NOW.

Image Source: Yosemite (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seeing what others have – and don’t have – around the world often helps us appreciate our own good fortune. What are you thankful for this year? (Giving Thanks - Day 24 of the 30 Days of Indie Travel)

I am thankful for: 
  • The love of my family
  • My good health as well as that of loved ones
  • The love of my partner
  • The lifetime of friendship with my girl friends
  • The books that keep me company every day
  • This blog and the friendships it enables
  • A laid-back, stress-free career that allows me to do what I want
  • All those situations that toughened me up
  • The opportunity to do what I love and be financially rewarded for it
  • An education that upholds intellectual freedom and critical thought
  • The beautiful ordinariness of each new day
  • Being able to keep my mental faculties in order
  • The misery and splendor of travel
  • TV, Torrent, Facebook, Google and all those things that make life more interesting
  • The diverse richness of culture in the places I've been to and in those that I have yet to visit
  • The beauty of words and language
Happy thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Indie Travel: Budget

Monday, November 21, 2011

Every traveler has a budget; for some it just might be higher of lower than for others. What’s your style? What do you spend very little on and what are you always willing to pay more for? (Budget – Day 18 of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project

If I had enough funds, I would travel around the world. Who wouldn’t? But just like everyone else, my funds are limited for all the traveling I yearn to do. It takes me a year to save up for a major trip, and there is always the need to keep my travel expenses within a tight budget. While on the road, I learned several things that not only save me money but also add flavor to the whole travel experience:

Traveling by land 

I believe in slow travel, and traveling by bus or train is the best way to see the countryside as well as those places that we miss when flying from one tourist destination to another. The routes are often so dramatic that I hardly ever notice the ride’s bumps and jolts or the fact that I could have arrived 10 hours earlier if I paid three times more for a plane ticket. 

It was during a 12-hour bus ride from Cuzco to Arequipa when I experienced the most terrifying yet thrilling moments of my life away from home. The grandeur of century-old ruins, the sumptuous taste of chupe de camarones and the splendor of colonial architecture would soon fade from memory but how I felt during that unforeseen evening will remain. 

Scrounging for online airfare sales 

It pays to keep track of airline sales. Most of the local airlines give as much as 50% discount on airfare. Taking advantage of these online sales and booking early save me a lot of money. Joining organized tours Organized tours can be really blah. You are herded like cattle and forced to listen to a tour guide who speaks in some form of English that you can hardly understand. Because of economies of scale, however, joining tours oftentimes entails less cost and trouble than the taking-a-cab-and-getting-lost way of exploring a city. A couple of years ago we decided to join a multiday tour from Saigon to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat and then back to Saigon. The tour price included all meals, transportation, entrance fees and accommodation. Some friends of mine followed exactly the same route but they did it on their own. They ended up spending four times the price we paid. 

Traveling independently 

Employing the services of a tour agency where every single item on the itinerary is subject to order and uniformity curtails spontaneity. The ease and luxury we pay for in organized tours substitute for the thrill and adventure we get from independent travel. We may save more by joining tours, but we lose the freedom and excitement that comes only with independent travel. 

Staying at boutique hotels, inns, bed-and-breakfasts and backpacker hostels 

I prefer to stay at boutique hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts. They possess that certain vitality lacking in the boring sameness of expensive chain hotels. We once stayed at a dingy backpacker hostel in Kuala Tahan: The toilet was horrifying; the sheets were unwashed, the air-conditioning unit works in spurts; the whole place stank of durian. Yet we had the best time there compared to all of the places we stayed at during our three weeks in Malaysia. 

Eating where locals eat 

I enjoy the breakfast buffets offered by most hotels, but aside from that we rarely eat at hotels or upscale restaurants. It’s more fun to eat where the locals eat - market places, side streets and corners, neighborhood stores, nondescript shops. It’s where we can sample authentic local cuisine without paying an exorbitant price.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

They cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self

Sunday, November 20, 2011

They don't go into what is the cause of goodness, so why of the other shop? If lewdies are good that's because they like it, and I wouldn't ever interfere with their pleasures, and so of the other shop. And I was patronizing the other shop. More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of the brave malenky selves fighting these big machines? 

 ~ Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange, 1962

Friday, November 18, 2011

Indie Travel: Baggage

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mental baggage can weigh us down as much as physical baggage when we travel. How do you travel lightly - either emotionally or physically? (Baggage - Day 16 of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project)
                   
Who says I travel light?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holiday Plans

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Because of my travel partner’s inability to come home for the holidays and our thwarted travel plans, I thought I’d end up with an uneventful monthlong vacation.  Things are starting to look promising with several activities planned for the next few weeks:
  • Weekend climb to Mt Pinatubo with colleagues
  • Trek to Mt Pico de Loro in Ternate, Cavite
  • High school reunion at a beach resort in Bauang, La Union
  • A visit to our grandmother in Baguio and, if time permits, onwards to Sagada
The holidays won’t be spent in melancholy seclusion after all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Feedback

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The feedback came as a surprise.  I was expecting bad reviews for the instructional materials I developed, but the users apparently did not agree with my assessment.  Ratings with respect to adequacy, usefulness, approach and effectiveness were unexpectedly high.  But what really made me happy was their response to the question, “Did you notice student learning as result of using the materials?”  It feels great to know that my efforts resulted to something.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Exercise in Eloquent Reportage

Friday, November 11, 2011

…The truth is I have always been suspicious of travel writing, of attempts to establish that elusive element that might or might not be national character, to say in sweeping and general terms, this place is like this, that place is like that.  One always thinks: But I’ve met French people who weren’t at all droll.  Or, But I’ve been there and didn’t find it at all romantic/squalid/interesting.  Or worse still: How long has this author been there, anyway?  Two months, three? How can he possibly know anything deep about the place? How can he tell us about anything more than the casual phenomena any traveler would notice, conversations in bars and things only half understood on the street.  At which point it all becomes no more than an exercise in eloquent reportage…

~ Tim Parks, An Italian Education: The Further Adventures of an Expatriate in Verona, 1995

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Indie Travel: Celebrate

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joining in a local festival, holiday or special event is a great way to learn more about a local culture. Share the story of a celebration that meant something to you on your travels. (Celebrate – Day 7 of 30 Days of Indie Travel Project)

The tiring 12-hour bus ride from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City did not prepare me for the jubilation I saw in the streets of Saigon. As the bus entered the city, we caught sight of hundreds of joyous revelers waving huge Vietnamese flags, obviously rejoicing for something that, at that time, I had no idea about.   Amid those red flags and the medley of car horns and festive chanting, I felt a dawning sense of wonder.  I was witnessing a nation in spontaneous celebration.

At the hotel we found out that earlier that day Vietnam won a football match over Malaysia, one of the events in the 2009 Southeast Asian games being held in neighboring Vientiane. The celebrations lasted well into the night, and from my room I could hear sounds of euphoria reverberating around the city.  Its resonance I feel till now as I try to recapture how an event spontaneously brought a city—or perhaps a nation--together.

Coming from a country where basketball and boxing reign supreme and all other sports are relegated to the margins, I marvel at the football fever that has swept countries in the region but managed to skip the Philippines. It is one of several things that, regrettably, separates us from the rest of Asia.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Indie Travel: Kindness

Monday, November 7, 2011

One of the greatest joys of travel can be the random acts of kindness you’ll receive from total strangers. Have you ever found kindness from strangers in unexpected places? (Kindness - Day 5 of 30 Days of Indie Travel Project)

At the Pisac market, treasuring the kindness of locals over a glass of chicha de jora  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Indie Travel: Embracing Change

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Change can be exciting and bring new joys into our lives. But it can present challenges that frustrate or annoy us. How has travel changed you in the last year? Did you welcome these changes or resist them at the time, and how do you feel about them now? (Embracing Change - Day 2 of 30 Days of Indie Travel Project)

People talk of moments of epiphany while on the road.  Mine came when my legs could no longer move and I have to let the group finish last year’s hike up Bukit Teresek in Taman Negara without me.  The climb took less than an hour, but halfway through my legs were already leaden and I was grasping for air. I wanted to keep going but knew that I won’t make it; I had to stop and rest. It was then, in the middle of that rainforest in Malaysia, when I understood how ill prepared I was for the things that I want to do in life.  How can I climb mountains when I can’t even manage this hill? I asked myself.

It was very humbling. That hike, short as it was, showed me the full extent of my limitations. I realized that I needed to get in shape for the Inca Trail trek we planned to do next.  And so I did.  It took me months of training to achieve the body that I wanted. Those months of training afforded me the luxury of enjoying the beauty and arduousness of the trek.

Because of my love of travel, I now maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s the most important change, I guess.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Kind of Idea are You?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.

~ Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, 1988
 
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