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No Excess Baggage

The Leftovers of a Travel Experience

I Slept in a Capsule

capsule-hotel

One of the first things I tried in this trip to Malaysia was the intriguing Capsule Hotel at KLIA2. Capsule hotels have been featured several times in blogs, online articles, and magazines and it was something that always shunned my interest as I wasn’t comfortable of tight spaces.

As I planned for my trip to Penang, I realized after confirmation, that I booked a red-eye flight to Kuala Lumpur (which is common to cheap airfares) and I had to wait six hours for the bus that will take me to Penang. There was no turning back so I had to find an alternative solution. I was worried with this set up because I had no plans of staying the night on an airport waiting lounge and I did not want to exceed my travel budget by booking a hotel in KL.

I came across this capsule hotel idea online in search for a place near the airport that I could stay for six hours. I didn’t like the idea but I had to just go for it. For a price of 1000 pesos, I booked for a “capsule” good for four hours. It was enough time for me to just chill and take a nap before the first bus to Penang arrived.

It excited me in a way but it also made me feel apprehensive. There was no way I could survive a tight space, locked-in like I was in a casket.

I arrived 1 am in KL and I had to face reality. The Capsule Hotel was waiting for me.

I was welcomed by a friendly hotel attendant and he oriented me on how to use the facilities. I got the key and upon entering, I actually found the place kind of cool. The Capsule Hotel was composed of several container vans stacked on top of each other giving this modern, industrial feel. I had to admit– it as kind of hipster. And I actually ended up liking it.

The capsule was not a casket, it had an opening that can be closed with a roller curtain. It was comfortable. The bed was nice and the pillows were soft. It had a phone and a socket for charging. It had a mirror underneath an Ikea-like foldable “on-the-wall” table. It had a chillout corner with books and magazines. It had a common bathroom with a nice and huge hot shower…

Okay, I’ll admit it. I liked it.

It totally debunked my idea that sleeping in a capsule was crazy.

And I think you should try it too. :)

-MR

website: http://capsulecontainer.com/capspace.html

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From Manila to Malaysia

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This is probably one of the most memorable trips in my travel history. Aside from visiting a good friend in Penang, this trip was a lot of firsts for me: the first time to travel alone for the whole duration of the journey; the first time I traveled from city to city in another country; the first time to stay at a hotel in a foreign land by myself; the first time to do something crazy and exciting for my birthday.

I stayed five days and four nights in Penang and briefly in Kuala Lumpur. I was able to do a lot in five days and it was an exciting journey. Vince, whom I met in Nepal, knew Penang a lot and was able to tour me around the murals and have a taste of all the great food the place had to offer.

Watch out for my next posts as I feature the wonderful things in Penang and the crazy, fun adventure in between!

  • MR

Shopping at Thamel, Kathmandu

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Thamel is the busy commercial district of Kathmandu. Bright lights, loud music, honking cars, this district is far from the tranquil environment of Nepal’s landscape. But it’s a refreshing escape from the wilderness when you want to feel the energy and lively vibe of tourists and locals. In the evening, Thamel is lined up with dance clubs, bars, food, and intense traffic.

This is also the place to shop for Nepali products like tea, condiments, Himalayan pink salt, clothes, swords, flags, souvenirs, and so much more. This place is also famous for the unique papier mache figurines only made in Nepal. Other shops also sell Hindi products from India and even metal ornaments and jewelry.

Don’t forget to use your best haggling skills when visiting here and scout first before buying!

By the way, the Philippine Peso has a strong rate here and they do exchange pesos to rupees!

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The famous tea shops and I spotted a bar with San Miguel beer logo!
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The Nepal flag, swords, paper mache products

Thamel on Google Maps
http://goo.gl/maps/mIOPW

The Elusive Guardian of Kathmandu

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Kathmandu Valley is as astonishing as the mountains that surround it. It is at the heart of Northern India’s mountainous regions and not far from this location is the stunning view of Mt. Everest, the tallest landform above the ocean. It’s presence is truly breathtaking, like heaven descending on land. The snowcapped summit only reveals itself, according to local legends, to people who are lucky or fated to be in Nepal. On a monsoon September, Everest is very elusive as it is usually hides behind the clouds.

I was a bit unlucky to see Everest on my first day in Kathmandu as it had been drizzling prior to my arrival. But the second day was promising with clearer skies. Early in the morning, I rose from bed and saw from the rooftop of a house I was staying in, the elusive white mountain.

It was a rare sight to see and how lucky I was to witness this.

-MR

Baguio’s 50s Diner

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More than the cold climate, it’s only recently when I’ve started to realize that Baguio has this thing about cheap food and big servings.

One such place is 50s Diner along Leonard Wood Road. Taking it from its name, it’s a classic recreation of an American diner from the 1950s. The look and feel of the place is definitely a blast from the past, not to mention the old jukebox by the corner.

But more than the theme is the food. And that’s where we made a beautiful mistake. My colleagues and I were hoping for a light breakfast so maybe the diner had pancakes and sandwiches of which I opted for over rice meals and heavy dishes.

So looking at the menu, we got a BLT, a cheese sandwich, cheeseburger, and a fruit medley. And on top of that, we got soup and milkshakes just in case we ordered too little.

Turns out, when the food arrived, the servings were twice the size that we expected. And our initial thought of ordering too little now became too much!

It’s interesting because the price, based on size, is only half of what you usually pay for in Manila.

Quality wise, their food isn’t the best tasting, but if you are after the quantity then its definitely worth it!

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Google Map Link
http://goo.gl/maps/d3UAt

The Journey to Nepal

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Nepal was the journey I had never planned. And it’s probably the farthest country I’ve been to aside from Australia. And that is why it will come down as my most memorable travel experience to date. It was a journey of firsts: my first time to travel this far without my family, my first time to meet total strangers who eventually became my family, my first time to travel with a companion that is amazing and inspiring.

It was through a phone call when I was told that I was accepted in a Fellowship and that I will be travelling abroad for a conference. Upon hearing the destination, which was Nepal, I didn’t know what to say. In my head, it was like “Wow, Nepal…hmmm” This was totally a country that I never thought of visiting. Maybe India or China, but Nepal? I only knew the country because that is the place people go to if they want to conquer Mt. Everest. Beyond that, I had no idea. And that scared the heck out of me but it thrilled me.

As soon as the conversation on the phone ended, I got so intrigued and baffled and nervous that I didn’t know what to do. The very first thing I did was to consult the wisest man in the universe… Google.

Google: NEPAL. Then a list of images and websites appeared. I saw temples and mountains and nature…. and more nature. The pictures were breathtaking. And it started to sink in. I’m gonna go there. I’m going to see Mt. Everest! Not climb it… but at least see how beautiful it really was. And that’s how it all started.

Nepal is a country tucked in between the massive countries of India and China. It’s the point of origin for many people who want to conquer the “big mountain.” The people and the culture are familiar yet unique. It’s an eclectic mix of Buddhist and Hindu, China meets India; you can see it in their cuisine. It’s a country where hills are like mountains and mountains are like… well, huge mountains. And the Kathmandu Valley, lush and full of life where the city lies at its heart.

My trip was through Malaysia Airlines with a single flight transfer at Kuala Lumpur. This is where I met Vincent, the very first person I met in the Fellowship and the very last person I saw when the trip ended.

It’s a four hour flight from Manila to KL and five hours from KL to Kathmandu. If you’re sitting by the window of the plane, you’ll see the massive cities of India lit up at night. You’ll be flying through the subcontinent.

If you are a Filipino citizen, Visa is upon arrival with minimal fee to pay.

What happens next? Stay tuned for more of my Nepal adventures!

Visit the page: https://noexcessbaggage.wordpress.com/nepal/

See the travel route below. Time difference is -3 (MNL time).

destination-map

 

Clearwater Resort and Country Club

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Clearwater offers a lakeshore kind of vacation.

As soon as the American bases pulled out from Clark, Pampanga back in the 90’s, this buzzing town of foreigners and locals were mostly replaced by sounds of crickets at night. Much of the PX stores closed down, the casino closed down, many establishments ceased operation as the American soldiers bade goodbye.

It seems like a sad story (or not, depending on your political view) but I was fonrtunate enough to discover a gem within this semi-deserted town. In a trip with my colleagues when I used to teach in school, we had our annual retreat and vacation at this place: Clearwater Resort. I know, it’s not a beach, it’s not fancy hotel in the city- it’s a place close to nature where I could actually write a book or paint a portrait.

Imitating a lakeshore vacation spot somewhere in the US, Clearwater Resort is like a summer camp place with log cabins, dirt paths, and giant trees. When I went there, I thought it was a perfect place to reflect and take a step back in life. I was so inspired by my surroundings that I just immersed myself in taking photographs of the place and my colleagues enjoying it. And that time, we just had it all by ourselves.

This beautiful respite offers some peace of mind and some great activities as well. You can do enjoy all of the following: fishing, kayaking, boating, swimming by the lakeside, playing beach volleyball, biking, playing basketball, swinging under a tree, exploring the dirt paths, and sleeping in their comfortable beds.

NOTES

– Clearwater Resort is just an hour or two from Quezon City via NLEX.

– Pleace is perfect for office retreats and team-building activities.

– Food is not offered in the place. You can bring food, take-out from nearby restos in Clark, or have it delivered.

– Activities mentioned above have separate charges and fees (like boat rental, rental of fishing equipment, etc…)

– Bring a torchlight. It can get quite dark at night.

WEBSITE

http://www.clearwaterphilippines.com/wordpress/

MAP

IMAGE GALLERY

In Photos: Hunter Valley Gardens

wonderful landscape of Hunter Valley

We end our Hunter Valley Trip in the most picturesque location in this county. The green rolling hills, the cool autumn breeze, and patches of flowers growing by the countryside… No wonder, so many weddings happen on this place- the Hunter Valley Gardens. We timed our visit during the cold season so there aren’t much people here. It’s during the summer, when all the flowers are in bloom, that grooms and brides flock to this side of Sydney.

But this scenic countryside spot still looks magnificent in its autumn shades. And it’s perfect for an afternoon respite, a simple picnic over wine, cheese, and crackers.

It’s also good to know that even during off-season, the village (where the souvenir and chocolate shops are) and chapel are open for your convenience!

Check out the gallery to see the nice pictures we took! And make sure to include this in your itinerary when you visit Sydney!

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PHOTO GALLERY

Hungarian Pastries in Sydney

Erica, my sister’s Hungarian friend living in Sydney, was kind enough to invite us for a late afternoon snack after our visit to Wine Valley. She had prepared some really nice Hungarian pastries worth remembering!

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Hungarian Sour Cherry Cake
Feta Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry
Feta Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry

A Sentosa Adventure Part 1

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Sentosa Island is such a massive theme park/island resort that it has its own transportation system. So I’m warning you, touring the whole place by foot is something you might want to avoid (you can rent out a segway if you want, and feel like you’re Tron or something).

So by bus, we had our group dropped somewhere at Siloso Point where the plan was to visit Singapore’s Underwater World. Unfortunately, we were too early and everyone else in the area was still setting up. Even the Ben and Jerry’s joint, whose ice cream I am a big fan of, was still tightly shut.

It was truly unfortunate, but we had to move on. So off we went for another bus ride to Imbiah Lookout which was right at the centre of the island. I guess this is the most tourist friendly place because you’ll find the information centre here, ATMs, currency exchange, and some souvenir shops. Tickets for rides are also sold here. Somewhere around the area are several attractions like the Butterfly Park and the Sentosa Nature Discovery. But I decided to skip those and opted for the rides that’s going to give me the adrenalin rush.
Well we didn’t have much time in our itinerary, so we had to choose: the Tiger Sky Tower or the Luge and SkyRide Adventure. Well the group agreed for the two-in-one and I’ll tell you what happened in the next post.
So we’re off to our next stop!

MDR

Check out the RSW MAP!

http://www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/RWSMap

 

MDR

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