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May 17, 2011

Applying for Extension of Passport Validity

I completely forgot that my Philippine Passport will expire in August 2011. I was meaning to renew in back in March after my last travel in Singapore. If not for Nokia’s invitation to fly to SG again, I would have completely forgotten it.

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December 14, 2007

Homeward Bound…

In a short while, we’ll be leaving for the Frankfurt airport. That’ll be another 24 hours of travel ’til I get back to Manila. Will take another 48 hours to rest and recuperate. I’ve already signed up as moderator for next year’s seminar again. Might also go to Argentina (and Brazil!). Ah, I miss home.

Update: Plane delayed. Missed connecting flight by 10 minutes. Begged. Nope. Door’s closed. One passenger drunk. Door’s opened. Two policemen in. Drunk man out. Yuga in. Saved by the booze!

December 07, 2007

My week in Cologne, so far…

The week breezed by so quick I didn’t realize it’s been a week already. Had a great time here and wanted to share some pictures for friends back home.

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October 29, 2007

Scuba Diving along the coast of Samal Island

Got back from from Davao City this afternoon. Did some exciting stuff over the week-end there, on top of the partying after the Mindanao Bloggers Summit. See my recent picture after the jump.

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October 16, 2007

Euro Trip Recommendations

My twelve-day trip to Germany will be finalized this week, since this will be happening during the busy December. Before I go back home, I am thinking of doing some cross-country backpacking of some sorts in select destinations around Europe. Problem is, I’m clueless. Any recommendation?

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June 09, 2007

3 Days, 2 Nights, 4 Airports

No, this is not a holiday vacation package of some sort.

I can’t believe this is happening. I checked out of my hotel in Karachi last Thursday and it’s already Saturday and I haven’t reached Manila. I spent the night at Jinnah International Airport (Karachi, Pakistan) waiting for another flight to Bangkok as the scheduled one was canceled and I was not informed. I’ve also resolved to the thought that I will also miss my connecting flight from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Manila the following day.

After waiting for 13 hours, I was able to finally check in with another Thai Airways flight but to my surprise, it wasn’t going to Bangkok but Seeb Int’l Airport at Muscat, Oman. The damn plane was going the opposite way! From the plane, I saw the entire city devastated by what seemed to be lahar flow. Turns out there was a powerful cyclone (Cyclone Gonu) the day before and all flights thru there were affected.

suvarnabhumi-airport1.jpg
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. Sleeping at the airport is no fun.

After spending almost 8 hours in the plane from Karachi to Oman to Bangkok, we landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport greeted by Thai Airways staff with some more bad news. My alternate connecting flight was also fully booked. They got us a new sked from another airlines, Kuwait Airways, for a later date.

Tired, sleepy and cold, I’m waiting to check-in for our 12 noon flight to Manila. I’m praying really hard nothing unfortunate happens again.

Now, my only worry is whether I’d get my luggage when I arrive at the NAIA airport. Will all that changes in luggage tags, I sure hope I don’t end up losing another one.

June 07, 2007

Last days in Karachi

Shisha The past week seemed to pass by so quickly and despite the very hot and humid weather, I managed to have some fun and see some places here in Karachi and back there in Lahore. Those huge mosques in Lahore are beautiful at night will all those lights flowing over the walls and we tried shisha (smoking device, also called huble bubble or hookah) from one of the popular night spots in the city called Cocoo’s Place. You’re basically smoking raw tobacco flavored with either apple, strawberry or mint. My lower jaw got swollen the next day from all that puffing.

They also made me chew paan which is betel leaf filled with half a dozen weird concoctions. I almost threw up, until they said it was okay to spit it out. I swear, after a few seconds of mixed sweetness and minty flavors, I smelled shampoo in there. I forgot to bring my camera so no shots here. Some of the guys here tell me to be careful when taking pictures, especially of women, or else I could get into some trouble. Thus, the camera is always tucked in the bag or stays in my hotel room.

Karachi is the most commercial city with, I was told, over 14 million residents — one of the biggest in the world. The metro is along the coast of the Arabian Sea and I was able to visit one of the public beaches (Clifton Beach). I would have wanted to take my first camel ride but I guess the horse was good enough.

Clifton Beach

That’s 14 million people and I rarely see any foreigners. It felt a bit weird noticing when people gaze at me — well, a bald man in a hair-loving society sure does attract some attention.

Burial Shrine

We also dropped by one of them burial shrines of their saints. I had another picture of me beside one of the carpet-covered coffins but it was a little odd standing in there smiling at the camera while people around you are praying and making offerings.

I’m supposed to fly back to Manila last night but there are no available flights so I will have to wait until Friday morning. I didn’t want to go back to Lahore for an earlier schedule for fear of losing my luggage again.

May 31, 2007

Flying to Lahore, again.

I’m off to Lahore, Pakistan today for another week of workshop. That’s actually 3 days in Lahore and another three in Karachi. This last couple of days have been an adrenaline-rush for me.

Right after I came back from Singapore last week, I had to go to the Pakistan Embassy to apply for another visa. Since I got my invitation on a very short notice, I wasn’t prepared with the right documents. Now, I needed a new NBI Clearance with DFA authentication. I thought, what’s that and why do I need that? I never needed that the last time I applied for a Visa.

So, I went back to Carriedo at the NBI head office to apply for another one. Since it was for travel abroad, it takes about 3 working days to process it (and I thought you can get it in a day now). I already used up all my NBI clearance including the personal copy so a renewal application is no use. I had to pull some strings to fast-track that. A friend of a friend who works there helped out and I was able to get it the following day.

Turns out the one I got still needs to go thru the Department of Foreign Affairs for authentication. I called in another friend/client who works in their legal department to help out. I got it a day after. Off to the embassy that Wednesday.

But, I’m leaving on Thursday so I was hoping for a miracle and a little gift to the officers inside would do the trick of an overnight approval. To my dismay, it didn’t work this time.

A few phone calls from my sponsors in Islamabad did the trick and before end of office hours yesterday, I got my visa.

Phew, why do I always get into such trouble all the time? Read my previous encounter here. Ok, there’s the boarding call now.

May 22, 2007

Leaving Georgetown

We’re about to leave Georgetown here at the heart of Penang. Next stop is Singapore for a couple nights of tours and sight-seeing. The stay in in Penang, Malaysia has been the best so far of my entire trips out of the country.

Free wifi hotspots everywhere I can even sniff out a couple from the 22nd floor of my hotel. Starbucks is just at the ground floor and they have free wifi hotspots too.

The places, people, hospitality and food are great. Well, except the for the curry spiked ones. The beaches are just a couple meters away but never had to time to check them out. Still, Penang is one state I’d be glad to come back to in the future.

May 18, 2007

Finally got me a KrisFlyer

I just realized that I’m wasting a whole bunch flight privileges because I don’t have one of those Star Alliance membership cards. I do have an HSBC Mabuhay Miles card which I regularly convert to free miles but that’s only applicable if I fly Philippine Airlines or Air Philippines.

So, while spending some quite time at my hotel room, I did a search on which ones I can apply online and in a jiffy.

Krisflyer

Singapore Airlines has their own Krisflyer membership program which is also a part of the Star Alliance. From my past travels abroad, I’ve been taking Singapore Air so it was the most logical one to sign up for. Now, if I can only retroactively add those earlier flight miles I incurred.

Anyway, I might still be able to log in the miles when I get back home and a couple more trips to Lahore & Karachi the week after so it’s not really all for naught.

Note: You can apply for Krisflyer online too. You automatically get your member ID and they’ll mail you your card once you reach a certain amount of points.

May 10, 2007

Singapore: where to go & what to do?

Next week, I will be doing a week-long ICT Workshop in Penang, Malaysia for a youth group {related story here} from May 17th to the 22nd. This marks the first leg of my out-of-country travels for this calendar year and my first time to visit Malaysia.

Penang, Malaysia

During our return trip, I was told I can opt to stay in Singapore for a day or two. Of course, I will be the one spending for that side trip but it’s something I am heavily considering. Will an overnight stay suffice to check out the city? Where do I go? What’s the best thing to do while I’m there?

Changi Airport

The closest I got was at the Changi Airport last year so I thought it’d be nice to really get off the airport and see the city. I haven’t really decided yet. Any recommendations?

May 06, 2007

BoB joins Kiko’s Karavan

As mentioned earlier in our BoBCast, the Band of Bloggers have been invited to join Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s K Na Express tour of Northern and Central Luzon.

Team Kiko cordially invites you to join us on the K Na Express, a journey of thanksgiving, renewal and expression of reforms across the country. Senator Kiko and Ms. Sharon Cuneta-Pangilinan,will be joined by many special guests, friends, family, and supporters.

Dubbed KKK or Kasama si Kiko Karavan, it will be led by a special “K Na Express” bus carrying Pangilinan and his family. It is slated from May 7 to 9, visiting key towns and cities from Ilocos, the Cordillera region, then down to Central Luzon before finally capping the trail in Metro Manila with a big concert-cum-rally. Gary Valenciano, Christian Bautista, Judy Ann Santos, JEANS or the Jericho Rosales Band, Kamikazee and Parokya ni Edgar will be among
artists and bands expected to join Pangilinan and his wife Sharon at the different stops.

Our 3-day itenerary from Monday to Wednesday will bring us from Laoag to La Union, Baguio City, Dagupan City, stops at Urdaneta City, Tarlac City, Olongapo City, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan ending in Quezon City.

If any of you are from these cities and have time, maybe we could have some meet-up in the evenings, grab some coffee/beer and chat with the rest of the BoBs (and hopefully do a BoBCast!). :)

May 01, 2007

BoB bids goodbye to Bohol

There are things best described with imagery so we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Tagbilaran, Bohol

The Band of Bloggers in Bohol.

[tags]tagbilaran, bohol, chocolate hills, tarsier, floating restaurant, dumaluan beach, shell museum, loboc church[/tags]

P.S.
If you want the Band of Bloggers to visit your place, call anyone of us in our contact page and maybe we can arrange something. We’ll soon launch our official website and open advertising for a Sponsor a BoB Trip package.;)

April 28, 2007

BoB flies to Cebu

The Band of Bloggers flew to Cebu last night aboard the Cebu Pacific Airlines. We’re now en route to Tagbilaran, Bohol for our 3-day tour. The Macalua strikes again with his series of unfortunate events and misses our flight. I hope he gets an earful from the Sharmskee. They’ll be catching up early today and hopefully with no more misfortunes.

Band of Bloggers

We spent the night at Cebu City thinking we could burn the night away at some bar (Tapas Lounge) without sleep then head on to the SuperCat port for the first early morning trip.

Tapas Lounge, Cebu City

We also met several Cebu bloggers.

bob-bloggers.jpg

We yielded to several rounds of beer and mai tai so a quick nap at Queensland Hotel was the best thing we could think of. More coverage and pictures when we get to Tagbilaran. :)

April 19, 2007

Blogging from Punta Fuego

We’ve been here at Punta Fuego in Batangas since yesterday with the Band of Bloggers for a quick getaway/vacation. Actually, t’was Rico’s once-a-year trip to their vacation house here so he asked us to tag along. Absolutely great place to be around this time of the year.

Punta Fuego

More breathtaking pictures tomorrow. Globe Visibility has HSDPA coverage but I could not connect to Smart 3G (there’s a signal but could not connect to the network). Fortunately, we’re enjoying the free wifi around the area (maybe some neighbor had a wide-range open WLAN).

February 10, 2007

Photo Project: Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Just woke up from deep slumber. We all came home back from the 11th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Clark in Pampanga in the afternoon after a long drive and no sleep from the other night.

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
An old officemate and her friends tagging along after they read about the trip over at Pinoy.Travel.Blog.

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
From left: Markku, Jobarclix, Sasha, Marc, Gail, Jayvee, me, Alet, Trisha, Minnie (Rico, missing in picture)

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
Experimenting with red/orange filters.

Didn’t get any good pictures, partly because I was too busy cleaning off that dirt off of the lens (or was it the sensor? *waahhh*)

January 17, 2007

A late (or early?) vacation in Bora

2006 was a really busy year for me and from the looks of it, 2007 will be a busier year as well (4 interviews so far, 1 series of talks and 2 events). I never really got a good and relaxed vacation last year so it was a good timing that an old friend from Korea is coming over for a 2-week stay at Boracay.

So here we are…

Boracay

Won’t be back until Sunday. I have Smart 3G/GPRS with me and Mobile GMail so you can reach me easier via email instead of calling or texting (as if I know how to answer my phone or reply to emails promptly).

December 08, 2006

Last minute shopping at Changi Airport

Yup, I’m homeward bound. Just got off a one hour plane trip from Jakarta and we’re hanging out shopping at the Changi Airport in Singapore.

Changi Airport Singapore

This is prolly one of the nicest airports I’ve ever been and shops are all over! It’s also the first airport that has free wifi everywhere, which allowed me to do some email checking and a little blogging. They also have PC terminals where passengers can use to surf the net or play games though the sign says to limit usage at 15 minutes per person.

We won’t be boarding until around 6PM so we have several hours ’til we fly again. Will be in Manila just before midnight, I guess.

It’s also good to talk to people who are good in speaking English. So, ok, I’m off to do more gadget shopping here.

December 04, 2006

I became a Millionaire today.

Yup, I just became a Millionaire right after I exchanged my dollars to Indonesian Rupiah. :D *hehehe*

The running exchange rate is $1 = 9170 but the bank’s rate at the airport is $1 = 8,800 rupiah. So, if you have $115 US dollars, you’ll get just over 1 Million rupiahs with it.

There’s no worry having to carry around bundles and bundles of paper notes since denominations are in the 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 100,000.

Still, one needs to get to use with it. I still automatically convert stuff into US dollars when looking at prices. Imagine paying Rp 180,000 for a taxi ride from the Soeharto-Hata Soekarno-Hatta airport to the hotel? *heh*

What’s funnier is the reaction I got from the bellboy after I handed him a Rp1,000 tip. That’s like just 5 pesos! :D

December 03, 2006

Off to Indonesia

Another week out of country, this time to Jakarta. Still lucky that the free wifi internet here at the NAIA is still working though a bit sluggish. AirborneAccess has strong signal but doesn’t seem to have any internet connectivity thru it.

We’re off to Jakarta via Singapore Airlines in an hour but will have an hour stop-over at Singapore.

Must have spent a fortune on new shoes, clothes and stuff. Hopefully, my luggage won’t get lost in translation this time. :D

I can’t make it to the Philippine Web Awards but my fellow bloggers at PinoyTechBlog and PinoyTravelBlog will be there, just in case we win an award (and solidify that lifetime PR7 link). *heh* If anyone is going to the PWA, you can hook up with Migs, JAngelo, Jolo, Anton, Karla or Arnold.

Again, you can reach me via SMS (international roaming) but if it’s not urgent, an email would do. ;) That is, if I get some internet in my hotel room.

November 25, 2006

Lost Luggage to Karachi

I’ve only heard of this on movies and all but I can’t believe this happened to me. Apparently, the guys at Pakistan International Airways lost my luggage during my 50-minute domestic trip from Islamabad to Lahore.

I was staring at the luggage carousel and my beloved luggage never came out of the hole. Argh, the dreaded time has come. When I reported it to the airport authorities, they said mine could have been misplaced during cargo and it might have ended at Karachi, with a flight around that same time.

Well, I’m heading back home now and was fortunate to find free wifi at the waiting lounge of Suvarnabhumi (pronounced su-war-na-boom) Airport in Bangkok. All I have with me is my backpack which, luckily, contains my laptop and my camera but a week’s worth of clothes is lost somewhere in Pakistan.

I will be flying to Jakarta next week and if that luggage doesn’t reach Manila in time, I will be doing some really heavy shopping (pray not!). *huhuhu*

Hay, such is the life of a lonely traveler. Sh*t happens.

P.S.
Got all your messages. I’m on it. Ok, time for boarding.

November 22, 2006

Scrimping on Internet

Since I don’t have unlimited access to wifi internet in my hotel room, I am forced to conserve whatever time I get from the limited and costly access I get (~Php360/hour). And to think I thought Airborne Access and Globe WiZ’s Php100/hour is already very expensive.

Ones is constantly challeged to maximize the usage.

  • Check emails and reply to very urgent ones.
  • Download all RSS feeds into local client, FeedDemon.
  • Opening 3 dozen pages for reading later on when disconnected.
  • Compose blog entries offline (via Notepad) and publish them once connected.
  • Type faster!

I just learned from talking with guys here that you can actually buy pre-paid SIM cards and use it access the internet. I didn’t think of doing that before. I was actually expecting to at least be able to access Mobile Gmail via my phone on Smart International Roaming. Another lesson learned here…

Years ago, when I was still enjoying dial-up connections, there was this software that enables you to download entire websites into your hard drive and then brose it offline. Are those kind of services still available now?

November 21, 2006

Jet lagged in Lahore

Haven’t arrived to my final destination yet. Arrived here in Lahore just before midnight (3am Manila) and went straight to Holiday Inn to get a night’s sleep — something I didn’t really get maybe because of the tiring 14 hours trip and jet lag. So even if it’s early in the morning here, I feel like it’s noon already.

King Power

We flew over Calcutta, India and the top view of the huge city at night is breath-taking. Reminds me of the planet Coruscant in Starwars.

I will be flying to Islamabad in 4 hours so I won’t have enough time to check out the city. It’s cold outside and when I went up the rooftop swimming pool to take pictures of the city, there wasn’t enough to see because of the fog.

Breakfast was okay and most have curry or some spice. I found some insect (was that a cockroach?) in my coffee. I asked them to replace it and the second cup I got still has one leg floating in it. Oh, well. I skipped it.

Holiday Inn

Good thing the hotel had free internet in the room but it took them a while to look for data cable I could use to plugin my laptop (note to self: bring data cable next time). The net is a little unreliable (keeps going on and off) so if you’re wondering why I haven’t responded to your emails, it’s because GMail wouldn’t load but yeah, I can see about a dozen or so unanswered emails already.

Holiday Inn Lahore

Hopefully, I will get some decent connection when I get to Islamabad. I’m on international roaming (SMS only) so you can text me for urgent stuff.

Note: Pictures taken using my N6233’s 2MP built-in camera.

November 20, 2006

Hanging out at a Bangkok Net Cafe

Just landed at the Suvarnabhumi Airport here in Bangkok and my connecting flight to Lahore, Pakistan is still in 2 hours. The airport is huge and we had to take a bus to the disembarkment area. It’s just before 5PM here but my watch says it’s already 7PM in Manila.

I don’t have anything else to do right now but sit tight and wait for my next flight. I exchange about $50 into Thailand Bhat which got me around THB1,780 (1THB = 1.36PHP).

First thing I saw was an internet cafe here in the airport so I checked it out and how things are — just can’t help it. *hehehe* Anyways, they charge THB100 per 20 minutes or Php408 per hour. Damn, that’s expensive. The speeds are good though — 2.34 Mbps on 2Wire (1.4Mbps via PLDTPlay). Is it really that expensive here or it’s because I’m at an airport?

My phone’s roaming service is working but I don’t know if I can use it to check Mobile Gmail.

Oh, I got this really cool Samsonite laptop Backpack last night at SM Dept. Store and it’s a great catch, though a bit pricey. I’m able to carry both the 14″ Presario and the Rebel XT with this one with much more room to spare. Will post about more this one when I get back.

September 11, 2006

Wrapping up the trip.

I must have used up the last 24 hours since I came back to Manila sleeping. The flight was at 7:55AM yesterday so we had to be at the airport very early and I wasn’t able to sleep due to extended one-on-one sessions with some of the delegates.

I thought I’d like to wrap things up before moving on with regular blogging:

  • It’s not very relaxing to stay in a hotel for an extended period, even if it’s a 5 star one. Just doesn’t feel as comfortable as your own bed at home.
  • I was real cultural immersion having to be with people from different Asian countries — Burma, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Japan. You get to learn a lot of things first hand from these people, mostly politically related though.
  • Don’t expect good weather always. I thought it would be cold out there but it wasn’t (31C). Most of the time, it was raining really hard so tours were very limited and short. We had an afternoon visit Radio Taiwan International (RTI) and found out that they’re also broadcasting in Tagalog, one of about a dozen languages they cover.
  • It’s not cheap to go around. Buses, though very comfortable and new costs about Php100 and taxis must have double/triple our local rates (flag down is Php110). One very interesting thing is that all their taxis are brand new — Camry, Vios, etc.
  • Everything (almost) is similar to Manila so shopping wasn’t really enjoyable. They weren’t cheap or any better because they’re mostly commercial stuff. Okay, maybe just some boxes of tea for gift-shopping.
  • An 11 or 13 course meal could be very heavy, though I was only able to eat about 2 or 3 of them since they’re either seafood/vegetable-based or too exotic. No Nestea, just original/local iced tea. Everything is spot clean, not a single fly even in the street food stalls. With an almost all-Chinese meal everyday, I never imagined I’d love eating at McDo there.
  • There’s always one universal topic wherever you go — politics.

Anyway, I’m back to work and catching up on things. If all goes well, I will be off to Pakistan in October/November this year for a similar workshop (there’s also a possibility with Indonesia and Malaysia as I’ve gotten standing invitations from them.) Good times.

I have tons of picture at the Photo Gallery.