Showing posts from 2013

Northern Exposure: Side-Trip to Callao Caves, Cagayan, Philippines

I always look forward to the December holidays, Christmas being a big thing for us Filipinos, and also because it gives me a chance to visit relatives and hometowns. I come from the Northern part, Cagayan Valley, where without a doubt there are some interesting attractions, but which I practically take for granted having grown up in that milieu. This time, encouraged by my brother, I agreed to get off my mother's reclining chair/butaca (my favorite holiday activity is sitting back on this chair and sipping my coffee ever so slowly) and went on a two-hour drive to Penablanca, Cagayan - home to Callao Caves, one of the bigger cave complexes in the Philippines. I have been to the caves a few times before, but this trip was more special because we took along my 6-year old daughter for the first time. She gamely went all the way up past the 184 steps to the main chamber, and had all the energy to go further up to the fifth chamber (along with the guide and my relatives), wh

Bali: A Relaxing Trip to the Isle of the Gods

The Indian Ocean glistened at mid-day, as it reflected an azure sky that was unencumbered by any cloud on this early May weekend. The tide was not yet too low, and the wind pressure was just ideal. It was a good day for parasailing. As the instructor below shouted through his megaphone ‘let go, let go of your grip!’(read: relax, forget about work for a few minutes!) I floated gently upwards and slowly got a bird’s eye view of the island – stretches of white sand, taller varieties of palm trees swaying gently and shading the nipa huts and low-lying resort bungalows below, and rows of jetskis and motorboats near the shore. From this vantage point, I could see a beautiful tropical island, albeit might not be too distinct from the others around Asia. But as I learned earlier, the beauty of this one, was not so much its shores and beaches, but rather its people and their distinct crafts and culture inland. I grew up in a sleepy town with nary a public library, much

Jacob Ballas Garden - Singapore Botanics

We have been living here in Singapore for sometime now but it was only recently that we really had a chance to explore the Children's Garden side of the Botanics - after attending a kiddie party at Jacob Ballas' garden. Some of the sights I saw were too beautiful for words...even a thousand words won't do justice. So rather than do injustice to nature's beauty that side of Singapore, I'd rather let the pictures speak for themselves :-) Ah wait, not exactly...because sometimes I get background noise from Taatu. Banana Heart Summer in the Lion City Autumn doth come here, but only in this little patch A giant, swinging Calabash - almost hitting my forehead Do you know what this flower is called? Please try to make a guess before scrolling down. Someone demonstrating to kids that pumping pressure into a bottle of water will cause it to explode and squirt water up in the air like this Taatu says this is a it? Thank G

More Thoughts on Traveling

Traveling has always been one of my biggest passions, albeit I am far from being an authority in this department. Because of work/responsibilities, time and financial limitations, my traveling experience is a bit limited compared to some of the people I know who have been to all corners of the earth. I nonetheless savor every minute I am out there specially if it is a new place, a new culture, a new experience. I was trawling over my old notes and found this one I had written earlier in response to New York Times' travel entreaty. Reposting it here: Have you been particularly enlightened, surprised or changed by a travel experience? Why do you travel? Travel always leaves me a sense of wonder, be it the mere sight of a solitary hut along a provincial highway or the splendor of a 1000-year old temple. The grandeur of Angkor Wat, especially at sunset, overwhelmed me. I felt the same when I saw the geometric perfection of Taj Mahal, and more so by the fact that it is a t