Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon - A quick visit

Playing around with a petrified rock 

Petrified Forest

As a little boy, I would tirelessly browse through old maps and books, and one particular favorite was this book about the great wonders.  It has cartoon pictures of the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest and other intriguing sights.  I was sure that I would never see them or visit them in my life – and was just contented with my own little world of imaginings.

Luck and opportunity do present itself as miracles – and after decades of working my butt off, I guess it was time to revisit those childhood ‘impossible wishes’ and make them come true.  I mean it was not like climbing Everest where failing could mean the ultimate price, but more like closing a childhood curiosity.   Like an itch, it simply needed some scratching!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Machu Picchu - An Old Incan Wonder

At Machu Picchu complex. 

(Peru travel story excerpt. From a new book project "Biyahe -- Travel Stories Around the 7 Continents")

In any travel, we should always define our priority no.1.   This will help in planning itinerary including backup plans or trim-down plans if things go sour.  In our plan – Machu Picchu would be the must-see or must-do site.  Non-negotiable!  Unless the mountain crumbled and Machu-P disappeared forever. 

This ‘mysterious’ Incan abode is on the southeast of Lima, more than 1000 km or 18hrs of drive.  Going there, one can start from Arequipa and either head straight up to Cusco or take a six-hour bus ride to Puno. Cusco is six hours northwest of Puno by bus, or alternatively - hop on the train from Puno to Cusco, an expensive but more scenic alternative.

We stopped by Cusco to see the cathedral, eat a good meal and stroll around.  We stayed for the night and booked a train to our next stop - Aguas Calientes.  This is three hours from Cusco by train then another 20min bus to Machu.   If I was on my own with extra week of time, I’d do the Inca trail hike.  It would be like reliving how the pre-colonial Incans travel from the low lands to their mountain abode.

Monday, January 7, 2019

My 2018’s List of Obsolete or Nuisance Items

My 2018’s List of Obsolete or Nuisance or Useless Items or Inventions 

Our needs and things that support them changes overtime, based on new technologies and inventions, on new and better ways of doing things or new requirement for the greater good.

With pressing needs on sustainability side – for one, a lot of what we use or buy today should be shelved and forgotten, replaced by more eco-friendly, safe or value-adding things in life.

Here are my picks of obsolete or nuisance everyday items:
1.       Paper staples, staple wire and staple wire remover.  I’m sure you’ve been "nuisanced" by the little evil thing one way or the other – and the fact is, we moved on and invented other ‘attacher’ techs.  Binder clips, old-school paper clips, clothes line clip, tapes – you name it.  Staples are not just nuisance or safety issue – it’s a waste of metal (non-reusable) – yes small and trivial but imagine a trillion little angled wire pieces used by 2-3 billion people! Loose or misfired staple wires lying on the floor is an obvious safety risk for kids and barefooted adults. So the next time the cashier attempts to staple your receipt with the card validation print-out, or staple the top-open end of the paper bag - shout “Nooooh”.

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018 Gear and Things – Review

Certina Titanium Dive Watch paired with Silver bracelet.

1.       ON the CLOUD running shoes.  There’s only 1 word to describe this shoe – LIGHT.   If you’ve been used to heavy shoes with rigid outer sole - like me (think boots, hiking shoes and trail shoes) you’ll have a sort of ‘shock’ on how light the shoes are!  I have used it for cycling, running and short hikes and it was obviously well-fitted for road running.  I will not recommend it for hiking or running on terrain with lots of pebbles or sharp rocks (although there's a trail running version which could perform better).  The segmented outer sole provides a unique comfort and lightness-feeling but stones and what-nots tend to cling to the gaps.  Its soft and light-weight construction also seem ‘doubtful’ on more serious hikes.   Similar to other shoes, it tends to ‘smell’ especially when being used sockless as the breathability only relies on the mid-front top-outer side made of light-weight, thin fabric.  My version has a built-in stretchable cord (with back-up tie-your-own cord as well) – which I find very useful for lazy man’s quick on-and-off wear (but not tight-trustable if you’re using it for quick and fast lateral action).  The price?  6-8k PHP is med-high for me and if you don’t mind a bit of weight – there are cheaper high-performance brands.  If you love running at top speed and a bit of weight bothers you – this could be your shoes.

My Year-2018 Highlights

at Bryggen, Bergen (Norway).  Using a small 2x2ft rain puddle to create this reflection effect.

Once again, the whole year zoomed by so fast that I barely had enough time to plan for everything in my to-do list!

But I can’t complain – it was but another good year with a good mix of planned and unplanned surprises.  So time to do my short version of introspection by revisiting some highlights of my 2018.
Wacky shots with fellow supporters and the marathoner - Louie.

Friday, November 16, 2018

An Autumn in Tromso

Disappearing Aurora captured by 15 secs of exposure.   It later re-appeared in different shapes.

There are but a few reasons why a traveler would want to visit the cold northern parts of Norway -  in late autumn or even winter…
And to see the Northern Lights would be on the top of the list!

Tromso – at 69-degree latitude, is above the arctic circle (66.5 degrees) and naturally cold, gloomy and dark in winter times and have short day light during late autumn and early spring.  For usual travelers visiting the warmer parts of the world,  a short day span or cold winter nights is not a very welcoming proposition to ‘have fun’!  But if one wishes to see the enchanting Aurora – that’s the only best chance. 
Of course, winter time will also offer other interesting activities such as dog sledding, visit to the wilderness to see the reindeers, snow mobile rides – albeit in a cold, gloomy or dark night.   If you don’t mind the cold or not seeing sunlight, and love partying at night – then it would be a good, unique travel destination.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Thai Cave Rescue - a Feel and Glimpse

A leisure caving that quickly turned into survival scenario.  Java Indonesia

Disclaimer:  I am not a cave-diving specialist.  The fiction narrative below is based on my experience as a Scuba Dive Master, limited wreck and cave-diving experience, and a few spelunking (caving) trips – including 1 major trip in Java where my team got lost for 6 hours with no map, guide and extra provisions.  And although part of mountain and water - Search & Rescue team, hands-on experience are mostly reef-diving related.

Invite me to participate in the Thai cave rescue and there will be no second thoughts to say NO!  Or I’ll think 100 times, 99% saying No.  That 1%? – It’ll be ”If there’s no other choice” and/or a loved one was trap in there.  It will be a big life risk – equally, if not more dangerous than climbing a high-altitude mountain ridge with a sudden squall.  Caving alone is dangerous, but mixed with diving will be something else.  Further mix it with a complex task to rescue teenagers – that’ll be a perfect recipe for disaster.  There’s very little margin for error, if at all.

Now, inspired by Discovery Channel’s feature -  here’s to provide a (fake) story to give some audience a ‘feel and glimpse’ of what it could be like for the rescue divers…. The fear, the daunting tasks, the thankless job.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Picture Poetry Series 2

See Picture Poetry Series 1

As a past time and constant mental sharpening :) I write - or try to, :) pieces of poetry posted in my Instagram account.

Here are some of them...

Mt Ama Dablam, Nepal

Big goals- lofty and high,
Getting there can make you cry;
Goals require a sacrifice,
Success - always has a price.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Picture Poetry Series 1

See Picture Poetry Series 2

As a past time and constant mental sharpening :) I write - or try to, :) pieces of poetry posted in my Instagram account.

Here are some of them...
Mt Vinson Massif, Antarctica (to high camp)

Just like a ghost, quietly it follows,
In the high mountains, or in the shallows,
It mimics you, in triumph or in pain,
Shooing it away will just be in vain.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Freezer Training

Inside a freezer sharing layering principles and techniques; temp at around -25C with Louie (FWD North Pole marathoner), pic c/o FWD Insurance
I must admit that this recent 'freezer session' supporting FWD North Pole Marathon candidate’s training was my first.
At first, I thought that it was a joke, and that if ever - the freezer would be some sort of active cold storage facility complete with dead pigs and huge tunas!  Not that it was very surprising as I also heard of the same idea from GMA 7 - when they were still on their planning stage on how to go about training their crew in a winterish environment (to document part of my Everest expedition).
Hearing that the FWD representative has no previous snow/ ice/ winter experience – I thought that it was the logical (if not the only available) approach.

But just to share my own thoughts and opinion for those who are planning to short cut the process and really consider doing a ‘freezer training’, here are some things to consider: