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”
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.
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”
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.
Shot in Luang Prabang, Laos
Song: Fudge by Gillicuddy (freemusicarchive.org/music/gillicuddy/)
Have you ever had one of those days when you already knew everything was going to be epic, and then the day turns out to be even better for reasons you didn’t see coming your way? This was one of them. Continue reading “Adventures in Oslob”
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.
The myth has been busted — apparently, I am capable of showing up at the break of dawn for work. Today, though, work doesn’t mean putting on a frock and a pair of heels. Instead, I panic-packed several shorts, tops, and of course, our office’s official volunteer T-shirts, all before rushing madly to the airport to make my 6:15 am flight.
After several months of not having a single photo together, I’d say my family and I finally got to declare sweet revenge. Two hours, three albums, and 200+ pictures later, we could say that revenge was best served in a myriad of poses.
Continue reading “Rethinking the Family Portrait: Our Day at the Trick Eye Museum”
“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”
How Taiwan isn’t rolling off everyone’s tongues when they speak of adventure trips in Asia is a bit baffling. In the brief time I’ve spent overall in this country, I’ve seen stunning landscapes, met inspiring people, and took part in memorable traditions. Hualien County, around 2-3 hours by train from urban Taipei, is one of such little-known places, but one I would urge all my friends to see.
Continue reading “Wow, Hualien!”
Before I get to the list, there’s one important thing I need to share — Ferdy. That’s the only name you’ll ever need to know in Bali.
Ours was a serendipitous meeting — we were a group of six stranded in Jimbaran, at the mercy of the overpriced taxis that lurked outside the restaurants. That was, until Ferdy came along in his Bluebird cab to drop off his passengers.
“Six, can?” – Us
“Can!” – Ferdy
And with three words, a bond was formed.
Ferdy had a smiling rest-face, which puts you at ease at once. We liked him so much that we hired him to be our driver/guide for the whole of the next day. He was honest, cheerful, and extremely generous the whole time, as if he were taking long-time friends around to see his home. I can honestly say that our trip wouldn’t have been as memorable if we didn’t get to know Ferdy.
Okay, now that you know the best driver-slash-guide in Bali, it’s time to explore! The island is simply humungous. For the six visits I’ve made to Bali, I’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s uncanny: each time I go, I find around 5 more things to do when I return to the Island of the Gods.
Here are ten suggestions on how you can make your own Balinese adventure unforgettable, based on the knockout experiences that made me come back for more (I’ve listed them in no particular order):
1. Paraglide at Timbis Beach
A sure way to get a Bali high is to paraglide at Timbis Beach. It sounds crazy to jump off a bluff, but once you soar above the hills and the sea, over the ridiculously expensive cliffside mansions, then it will all make sense. If you’re lucky, your tandem instructor may let you take the reins and control the chute for a bit. If you’re extremely lucky, you may even get to literally touch the clouds! This adventure is time-dependent; paragliding season in Timbis Beach is from May to October.
Back in 2010, we paid ~USD100 for a tandem flight; contact Bali Paragliding Adventure for the latest rates.