A lot of magical things happen when you play it by ear. One moment, we were thinking what movies to marathon for the long weekend. Four hours later, we’ve just booked tickets for a far-off island gem in the south of the Philippines.
Siargao’s not exactly the easiest island to go to. Leave it to Filipinos to be blessed with beaches at their disposal, but still need to hop on a plane, van, boat, tricycle, to get to the best ones. But as with any far-flung beach, it was worth all the cartwheels through logistics. Continue reading Wow, Siargao!→
The sound of chimes ushered me in, as if on cue, as I approached my first temple in Bagan. I hesitate a bit, unsure if I was even allowed to go inside; there were hardly any other people around. I take a step forward. Then another. I take off my slippers and walk into the brick arch that revealed the temple of Sulamani. If this was a movie, there would be a gust of wind and a grinning shaman, bathing in heavenly light, waitingon the other side to bestow on me eternal wisdom. But there was no shaman, only a small family on their way out. There was still a hint of mystery in the air, nonetheless. Continue reading A Pagoda Safari in Bagan→
It might be apt that the city to capture your heart in Vietnam is in its center. My first visits to the S-shaped nation were to its opposite poles, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. While there was definitely more than the pho that kept me warm inside in the bigger metros, it was hands down Hoi An that swept me off my feet. Continue reading The Radiance of Hoi An→
Luang Prabang was the cure for the restlessness that has been tugging at me for a while now. It was a pull back to being grateful for all things simple, carefree and beautiful — a getaway well needed and much appreciated.
Have you always wanted to explore Amsterdam on a bike, but feel that you’re not ready for hustling it with the breakneck-speed-riding locals? Fret not, I got your back. Continue reading A Dutch Treat on Wheels→
Thanks to Eyjafjallajökull, it is now common knowledge that Iceland is laden with volcanoes. The second thing that in abundance is less obvious: water. The country is an island after all. Given its combination of unique geographical gifts (perched on a hotspot, on top of the American and Eurasian continental plates, way way up in the North), Iceland can be quite a hotbed of earth-porn, so to speak.
If you want to emerge a whole lot smarter after a tour in Iceland, here’s a good recipe:
1.) Grab a geologist (or better yet, a glaciologist!).
2.) Make him show you around.
Luckily, we stumbled onto GeoIceland Tours, ran by the very witty Javier — a glaciologist-turned-land-surveyor, who eventually found himself creating his own tour-guide business. From the moment we set off from Reykjavik until he dropped us back home, he rattled on facts one after the other — not just about geology, but also about history, folklore and everyday Icelandic life. There was no lull nor dull moment, I kid you not.
I stare hard at the long wall of loose gravel, then shoot a look at our guide, waiting for him to say that he was just kidding and that this isn’t a part of the trail. Except that he wasn’t. And yes, this is the trail. A light kick sends a rain of pebbles tumbling down. Yup, that’s a long slide from here.
Geirmundur, our guide, patiently holds my hand as I shuffle slowly sideways, facing the wall. Deep breath, baby-step. No, don’t look down. Deep breath, baby-step. All my wits are funneled into this delicate dance, until we finally make it to solid soil after what seemed like forever. Lucky me, I live another day! And this was only Day 1.