How to Enjoy a Winter Vacation in Sapporo Without Breaking the Bank

The words “Sapporo in Winter” evoke for me images of pristine powder snow, just the type to drive the biggest skiers to tears. For others, the very same words may as well mean burning your hard-earned money on a Japanese bonfire. At the top of my list was to waddle to my heart’s content in Hokkaido’s velvety snowfall, but I knew a trip to Niseko would be way beyond my means. Fortunately, we soon found out that a tight budget should not get in the way of enjoying a thrill-filled holiday in Sapporo.  Continue reading “How to Enjoy a Winter Vacation in Sapporo Without Breaking the Bank”

The Sweet Life in the Asahi Suita Brewery

Of why I haven’t caught whiff of the free Asahi Brewery tour earlier, I might not forgive myself. My partner and I have always regarded Osaka as a magical place; it was there after all that we first met. We’ve gone back to “The Nation’s Kitchen” twice since then, and I guess among the blur of ramen bowls, okonomiyaki and endless plates of curries, we got a little bit preoccupied.

Continue reading “The Sweet Life in the Asahi Suita Brewery”

Wow, Siargao!

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!”

A Pagoda Safari in Bagan

Sulameni temple

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”

The Many Faces of Siem Reap

The temple of Bayon is often outshone by the mighty Angkor Wat and alluring Ta Phrom, but it was the one that drew me in. Bayon’s towers are studded by faces on each side, and I remember standing agape, trying to study each expression, each smile. It might not be not as celebrated as the other bigger temples, but this was the definitely the one that the Khmer engineers had fun building.

Continue reading “The Many Faces of Siem Reap”

Our Ten Minutes in North Korea

“It is easy to go over the border. It’s much harder to come back,” the guide teases.

As I look on to the thin stretch of elevated concrete, that crucial marker that keeps the peace for one of the most volatile feuds still existing in the world, flimsy is the word that comes to mind. It almost beckons you to at least try to violate it. Well, I say almost, if not for the stern-faced soldiers gravely guarding the demarcation line. They are staggered all over the Joint Security Area (JSA), one of the few things which North Korea and South Korea both agreed to share. Tension hangs thick in the air; the soldiers breathe this in all-day.
Continue reading “Our Ten Minutes in North Korea”