Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Backpacking Tip No. 3 - Know thyself

To fully enjoy your backpacking adventure, you must know yourself. That might sound rather simple and yet it can save you a lot of frustrations and make your journey more memorable.

I'm talking about your travel preference. Do you prefer traveling solo or are you the type who can't live without a companion? Can you handle minor changes in your plans or do you fret over disruptions in your well-crafted schedule? Are you more into quantity over quality? This would determine whether your 3-day detour in Rome would be a journey to heaven or a descent to hell.

The best personality test I could think of is the Myers Briggs type indicator (MBTI) . While typically used for career profiling, an overall general description can give you insights on what delights you and what pisses you off.

As an example I am an ENFP. I thrive upon social setting, the possibilities, the big picture, values and flexibility. The E (extrovert) in me makes enjoy meeting new strangers be it inside the train or the hostel. The P (perceiving) in me makes me enjoy freedom and flexibility. I would prefer to take my time in a city and am quite flexible in changing my schedule. It is perhaps this reason why I would want to travel solo. I'd like to have a full command of my itinerary.

I would probably clash with a travel buddy that's ISTJ or ESTJ. This would typically be the folks who would like to have their itinerary covered down to the minutest detail.

There's no such thing as the best personality for traveling but knowing your preferences can at least help you plan your trip better.

You can take a free MBTI test here...

Monday, 13 August 2012

Backpacking Tip No. 2 - Make the System Work for you

Ok. Let's face it. The world is not fair.

If you happen to be born in the Philippines with no tinge of foreign blood then chances are you would have to pass through the eye of a needle to backpack across Europe. Really, the major obstacle is not in saving up the money for the trip. The challenge is really to get the visa and convincing the embassy that  you are only planning to visit Europe and not run away.

Whether you like it or not, that snotty bastard behind the visa processing window decides whether you get a Visa or not. I always suspect that these bastards have huge insecurities; they somehow enjoy their power over the hapless applicants.

Knowing which embassy to apply and knowing tricks of the trade can increase your chances of getting that Schengen Visa.

I won't list those strategies here for obvious reasons. But if you want to know how to increase your chances send me a note. If I am convinced that you're only in it to visit I shall give you the tips. Cheers.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Europe Dreaming

I got back in my country around 13 days ago. I am settling in although every night I dream about Europe. Things will never be the same. It's a bit weird because I do my usual routine here but at the back of my mind there is a place that I hunger to go back to. Is it just the thrill of the exotic that makes me yearn to get back there?

I don't know. I wish I have the answers but my game plan in life has definitely changed. I will go back. And maybe this time for good.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

60 in 60

Earlier today I received a note from my potential new boss. He was asking when I will be back in the Philippines so he could discuss the next step in my job application. Suddenly from the stratospheric heights of my euphoria I was plunged to the grounds of reality.

Oh yes. I am just living this 40-day dream. But after this once-in-a-lifetime journey I would be facing reality. I would be nearly broke and I need to have a job soon.

So with that grim reminder of inevitability I brought to mind my attempt to achieve 60 things to be done in 60 days. The 60 days of gap between my jobs. I have not actually completed the list and it's actually a work in progress but anyways here's the list so far...

60 in 60

1.     Plant a Rose
2.     Learn how to cook a native dish - DONE (Adobo!!!)
3.     Learn how to solve 3rd layer of Rubik’s Cube.. DONE (Missing step was Ri F Ri B B R Fi Ri B B R R Ui)
4.     Perform HDR photography
5.     Take photo of the Milky Way
6.     Have a reunion with former officemates
7.     Watch a play - DONE
8.     Send a postcard - DONE
9.     Observe the transit of Venus - DONE
10. Visit a new city - DONE  (Tallinn, Oslo, Budapest, Prague, Riga...need I say more ?)
11. Go to the gym - In progress
12. Update a blog - In progress
13. Road trip - DONE 
14. Send home Spark, my dog  - DONE
15. Generate 1000 profile views in CS - In progress
16. Get hosted - DONE ( Got hosted in Salzburg, Vienna, Berlin, Tallinn)
17. Bury the hatchet - DONE (made amends with a good old friend)
18. Reconnect with an old friend
19. Update wardrobe
20. Spend a day without PC and CP  - DONE
21. Spend a day doing nothing
22. Post 20 blog entries
23. Back up files
24. Activate Six Sigma blog
25. Get a compilation of Photo templates
26. Host a free hugs event - DONE ( Hosted a free hugs event in Tallinn Estonia)

27. Join a pub crawl - DONE
28. Experience God
29. Skinny dip in a lake, river or sea - DONE (swam in my birthday suit in Danube River)
30. Read a novel (any of the following would count - Perks of a Wallflower, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fountainhead, On the Road)
31. Watch a season of "Breaking Bad"

Still thinking of 29 other items...

Carpe Diem

I am a terrible blogger. I tend to procrastinate a lot. I am now in my 30th day of my journey and I have barely updated this blogspot. In my defense it is quite an arduous task to tour a new city, covering every possible site within the limited time, take pictures, edit, upload, make new friends, look for hosts, book tickets for next destination etc...

However in the remaining quarter of my 40-day journey I promise to unload my thoughts here while they are still fresh.

Everything had been a blast so far.

I wish it could go on like this but as in everything, all good things must come to an end. I guess this journey is in every bit like life. We enjoy, we party around, relish new friends and connections, revel in new discoveries but sooner or later it will end. I guess in a way I am sad.

But no matter what I always make it a point to remind myself to live in the present.

Carpe Diem !

Monday, 9 July 2012

Day 21 - Prague

I had a great time on my second day in Prague. I went to the weekly CS gathering where they have Karaoke. Even thoughI don't have a good voice, after downing a few beers I gathered to courage to sing onstage and belt "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi.

"It's my life ! It's now or never. I ain't gonna live forever. I just wanna live while I'm alive"

I think it's an apt song for my journey.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Day 5 - Hamburg

This photo was taken on Day 5 of my journey. We were on our way to Hannover where I will be catching the bus to Mannheim.

I love the feeling of taking the train. Somehow it makes me contemplative.

A few weeks back I felt that my life was in doldrums. But now I have a feeling that things are just going to be fine. I still have a lot of questions. And I frankly I am accepting the fact that some might never be answered at all. But I guess one would just have to keep on moving.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Day 2 - Paris

On my 2nd day in Paris I passed by the CS activity "Picnic du Jour", a daily Picnic activity hosted by Rodney. Too bad I was set to leave for Bremen that evening so I had to leave early. I guess I missed the rest of the CS folks. I hope to meet them when I pass by Paris in July.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Day 1 - Paris

Do you know where're going to ?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?

This song was playing on my mind as I was taking the metro in Paris. It felt surreal. Yesterday I was just dodging the jeepneys in the busy highways of Manila and right now I am smack in a city that speaks a foreign language.

This is what I love about traveling. It reminds you that No, you were never the center of the universe. Out here if you ask a random person on the train, he would never have any idea of your hometown. It's as if your home, the whole place you've known as your universe while you were growing up, the people you've come to know, never existed. It's kinda scary if you think of it.

I have this crazy habit of analyzing people boarding the train and imagining the thoughts running through their minds. What were they thinking? Some might be thinking of what train connection to take. Some might wonder when he's going to have the balls to quit his job. Another might just be pondering on what Starbucks variant to order this time.

Or if someone is in his more profound moments, he'd probably be thinking like what I'm thinking right now, what is effing point in all of this?

So many questions. I guess I will have just to keep on asking for now.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Lost and Found

I know I have posted this picture before but I am reposting it again because I find it rather timely. I first saw this sign when I was in Vienna last year and ever since I was haunted by it.

Right now I am heeding the signs. I have quit my job and am taking this European backpacking adventure. I am at a loss right now because the reason why I quit my job was rather devastating. It's like I'm picking up the pieces of my broken self.

I must admit that I am lost right now. It's scary because I don't have any assurance that I will have a job waiting for me back home.

But hopefully after emptying my purse (almost) and starting a new life, I will soon find myself.

Sometimes one has to get lost in order to be found.

The journey begins...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Tarzan Principle

In my previous job transfers I have always been guided by the Tarzan Principle.

It is a simple rule yet very useful.

The principle goes... "Never let go of the vine, unless you have a new vine to hold on to. Otherwise you'll fall".

Today, for the first time in my career I am violating that principle.

I am letting go of the vine, of my comfort zone, of my security with nothing definite to hold on to.

I am just relying on faith and conviction and unwavering commitment to one's values.
It's a bold leap into the unknown.
A venture unto unchartered territories
It's a bit scary but I know in my heart that it would be for the best.

Right now I am just relying on the wisdom of Mark Twain..

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Trigger

Strip a man of his wealth and he is still a man. Strip him of his principles and he is nothing.

In 5 days time I will no longer be part of DKS. A lot of my friends are thinking I will be transferring to a new job. But the harsh truth is I have no definite job to transfer yet.

It's a leap of faith, a jump into the unknown. I honestly don't know where I'll be in 60 days time.
It's both scary and exciting at the same time.

I have joined DKS before because my priorities were financial in nature.
I am leaving it soon because I refuse to accept a system that has violated my principles and my values.

Some would say my decision is impractical, even foolish.

But there are times when one must fight for what he believes in.

In the end, it's the values not his wealth that defines a man.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Reminiscing 2009

I realized today while browsing through my pictures that it has been 3 years since I went to Coron Palawan with my former housemates in KnL. How time flies.

In a lot of ways 2009 is a banner year for me for travels. I have been to Japan 4 times that year to support the EHS program of our site. I went to Beijing to do an audit. It was also in 2009 where we had the Shanghai Total Solar Eclipse expedition. And then there's the Pinatubo trek, the Laguna de Bay Road Trip, the Coron outing and the Cebu-Bohol gimmick with GE officemates.

I miss those times. I will have to exert more effort to focus on my travel adventures for this year especially that I'm leaving DB soon.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Heeding the Signs

Sometimes right when you least expect it life offers you a nudge, a hint, a challenge towards a new direction. Life respects your free will but leads you to the path to enlightenment. There is no other way but to heed the signs. =)

Sign in a Vienna train platform

Mt Pinatubo Trek

I realized while browsing through my pics that it has been 3 years since we hiked towards the lake formed   from the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. The view provides the soothing blue-green hues of the water, mountain and the sky. My colleagues from the office are planning to go there this weekend. I just might join them.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sunset Photo of the Day

A sunset is a sunrise on the other side of the world.

A sunset is a sunrise on the other side of the world

Friday, 13 April 2012

Road Trip to Malumpati

Typically on an Easter Sunday, my family would go to Madrangca beach, which is just a few hundred meters away from the house. I grew up practically near the sea - much to the envy of my friends from Manila- so quick trips to the beach for a dip are a common thing. But last year I found the beach too crowded so my brother and I decided to move the family outing the following day, which conveniently is a Holiday as well.

My brother who now works in the Tourism office of the province wanted to show me Malumpati Spring a resort in Pandan . The Spring is being fed by the same water source of Bugang River which my brother boasts to have been voted as the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines by some environmentalists.

Normally for Road trips like this, we have Bobby, my sister's soon-to-be hubby as our reliable driver. Unfortunately he had to be assigned for the Holy week in Iloilo hence unavailable. Fortunately we had Barry who's one of my brother's officemates who agreed to go with us.

We took our one-year old Multicab, aptly named Solitaire (after the main Bond Girl's character in Live and Let Die). I cannot drive a manual which explains why we needed a driver.

We left the house around 11am amidst the blistering heat.  We first passed by Hamtic to pick up Jiroh another colleague of my brother.

Along the way we took photos of interesting stuff like the old church in Patnongon.

We stopped by for some lunch in a roadside carinderia. While wolfing our lunch -sisig and beef broth we had to endure the caterwauling of a old man on a videoke machine just beside the carinderia.

Summer was pretty much made obvious by the makeshift halo halo stands along the highway. We stopped by on one to beat the heat.

Our trip had frequent stopovers because at any time we see a scene worthy of capturing we simply had to stop. THough I often get frustrated because the concept I had in mind is not captured in the frames. I made a note to myself to review once again the manual of my camera.

 We arrived at Malumpati around 3pm.  The location is a bit inconvenient because it's about 3.5 km from the main road and inward path is a dirt road. We had to endure quite a bumpy ride.

The resort was actually too crowded but since it was already in the afternoon the people were beginning to pack up. I took a dip. The water was quite cold and refreshing. We would have wanted to go to the main water source (it's purported to be from an underground spring, the depth not yet fathomed) but we did not want the sundown to catch up on us.

Overall it was an enjoyable trip. I would not advise Malumpati for backpackers who had so much to squeeze in a day. But for those whose itineraries can accommodate a day of relaxation in a fresh body of water then Malumpati would be a good idea.

The sunset shots on our way back to San Jose were a great bonus.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

April Fool's Day

Today is April Fool's Day. Coincidentally it is also Palm Sunday, the start of the Holy Week.
I have long awaited this day not because I was pulling a prank on someone or because I'm so excited for the long vacation. This is the day where a major decision should have been made regarding something. I can't what yet because we have a saying in Filipino "baka maudlot"

But am hoping that the odds would be in my favor. It would spell how things will be for me in the next two years.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Cairns 2012

There's a total solar eclipse occurring this year in November. Relatively it's within the neighborhood because it will be in Cairns, Australia. Unfortunately the plane fare is around 50K, almost the same as a plane fare to Europe... I am hoping to go there if only to finally document totality without the overcast. The realization of this dream depends on 2 major factors, but am hoping to make it... Let's see.

Here's a timed shot I took in Qingdao in 2010. Wish that at that time I had better knowledge on camera settings.. Anyway, it's better late than never..

Cairns, I hope to see you !

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Qingdao 2010 Eclipse

Did not realize until today that it has been exactly two years since the Qingdao eclipse last January 15. In a way I feel sad because up until now I have not properly documented my adventure there. And I know a lot of important details have now been forgotten. Anyway it is better late than never. Here are my top 5 reasons why the Qingdao eclipse experience holds a special place in my heart...

1. It was an item on my bucket list : Watching an annular eclipse during sunset.
2. It was my first solo-bacpacking experience.
3. It was my first solo expedition.
4. It had been my first time to attend a couch surfing party.
5. It had been my first brazen attempt to take the train even though I know nothing about the Chinese language.