Thursday, February 27, 2014

The List Only We Know

I like lists (as if that isn't obvious by now :p)

Anyway, other than pre-trip packing lists there's usually another miscellaneous list of OTHER things that need to be done before you go for that long-awaited trip.

For me, some of the items on that list are:-

1. Check-in and print boarding passes, booking forms, visa forms, insurance certs etc.
2. Pay all bills that are due or fall due within the trip
3. Call bank to inform my itinerary and enable the use of my credit card abroad.
4. Charge the camera batteries, transfer pictures from memory card (I always forget this!)
5. Put aside a book/ books for the trip. I am quite selective here.
6. Check if you have enough foreign currency. (remember to buy in advance when the rates are good!)
7. Check my food stock in the office drawer :p Don't leave chocolate lying around.
8. Prepare my little 'pharmacy' of meds, sanitiser and wet wipes.
9. Visit my doctor if needed for special meds.
10. Prepare my little notebook with my notes and 'research' stuff.
11. Check and bring passport size photos.
12. Download new music/playlist if there is time.

Hmm...I think that's generally it. I am sure everyone has their own quirky list(s).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Bowl of Pho and then ...

Wanderlust strikes back.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pinatubo Conquest - Done and Dusted, Literally.

Twitter won't let me post pictures right now (boo!) so I'm gonna show it all off here.

 Daybreak as we started our 4x4 jeep ride towards the volcano and to start the trek.

A very bumpy ride!

 Photo-op stop at these rock formations. They remind me of the Pinnacles. It was brrrr cold, 13-15 degrees.

And we start trekking! 

Look at that sky! This is raw - no filter, no nothing.

It was not easy walking on this 'screed'. 

Then we reached the rest huts after about an hour I think, or was it longer? I can't recall now.

I think we took 25 minutes :p Congestion on the trail.

Already excited to see what's beyond this point. 

Hey hey we're there! 

 Someone in the group helped me to take this picture :) Very nice, thank you po.

 Isn't this lovely? The colours were nice. It was peaceful. Weather, perfect!

Obligatory selfie.

Went down the steps towards the lake edge. 

View half way down. There were small avalanches on the slopes across the lake.

 Selfie again. Don't mind my hair please.

I thought these steps would help me train for Tikhedunga :) 

Celebrity spotted! Christian Bautista, Filipino actor and singer, had to endure his legions of female fans in photo-taking. I do not know who he is :p The one on the right is another Malaysian, J, who happened to be in the same group.

Okay then we needed to trek back the same way. It was high noon, the sun unforgiving, the trail dusty. The guy in green was our local guide Romero. He was kind but only knew very limited English.

At the end of the trail my feet and sandals were all white. 
After the 4x4 ride back, our hair were all white too from the dust!

Trek : Mount Pinatubo, via O'Donell trail
Elevation : 1,485 asl

This trip was booked through TRIPinas, and it cost me Php2,099 which included return transfer from Manila to Capas, 4x4 jeep and guided trek to the crater. Meals and everything else are on personal account. We were given a Certificate of Conquest upon completion of the trek. We had to meet up with the coordinator at 2:30 am for final registration and briefing at McD Pueblo at Ortigas (Mr Tee the coordinator was quietly amazing in handling this big open group on his own), and the convoy of vans left Manila at 3 am. Reached Capas early at around 5:30 am and waited for the local tourism body to register us and assign guides and jeeps. Took off just around 6am and reached starting point around 7:30 am. Trekked at normal pace and reached crater around 9:15 am. We had two hours to rest and have lunch. The return trek starts at 11:30 am. We got back to Capas at almost 3:00 pm, washed up and some changed into fresh clothes. Then it was back in the van and we were back in Manila by 5:30 pm. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pinatubo Conquest - Whistle While You Trek

An 'oh-I'm-not-ready picture' of me somewhere mid-trek to Mt Pinatubo crater last week :)

It's admittedly the highlight of this trip to the Philippines, I thought I'd be ecstatic over Vigan.
Loved the perfect weather though it did get really hot on the way back.

Barely slept the night before so I was pretty low on energy.
Was it worth it?
Yes! I can't believe why I have not done this trek earlier.
I'd do it again if I can.

I did Taal Volcano Lake a few days later.
So that's two volcanoes in a week.
I might need a third for a volcano slam dunk this year.

I did not really plan to be in the Philippines 3 times in a period of 7 months. I hope to be back soon, and that would be dependent on you Air Asia. More cheap flights please!

Where to next in this country of 7107 islands and 80 provinces?
I am undecided. But for sure it will be either the mountains or the sea.
It has plenty of both :)