Saturday, September 12, 2009

The New Plan

After my trip to Palawan, I began to see how impractical my plan was. To a certain extent, EJ was right. Not in the sense that I shouldn't be traveling this early on, that I should be building my career first, but in the sense that one-time-big time is not enough. I will never be satisfied with the amount of traveling that I have in my archives. As such, I have a new goal in life - to be able to move from place to place throughout my life and always have the ability to come back to the Philippines.

I've come up with a plan (with backup plans) to make this happen. TMy first plan is to get a working holiday visa to anywhere. A working holiday visa is a special visa that allows you to work a menail job in a foreign country in order to help pay off your vacation. Typicall, this lasts one year. Its sort of an exchange program, where only a few countries are participating and give mutual permission to each others' citizens.

Since I'm a Canadian citizen, I can theoretically avail of this. The problem is that I need an NSO certificate of birth to apply for it from here. My birth certificate is from Canada. In order to get my NSO certificate, I need several other papers from Canada.

As such, my plan is to go straight to Canada and hang out for a while, paying off my plane tiket and hopefully saving up some cash as well. While there, I'll see how the lifestyle suites me.

Now, the large half naked man that I met in Palawan who has been traveling for 5 years straight makes his money by teaching english in Korea. Unfortunately, usually only take citizens of f a native speaking country who also have a bachelors degree in that country.

If the lifestyle suits me in Canada, I might pursue that degree or even better, a mastoral one. If not, I'll take my working holiday visa and go.

I plan to go in Feb or march. The timing is perfect because it will be right after the Christmas break, and for another reason that I'm not at liberty to divulge.

Worst case scenario, I get to visit my brother in Canada and see the sights. Then I'll come home and use what I have left on the cut-down version of my Asia trip.

After that, I can take masters in education since they're begining to hire Filipino teachers in Korea, but you have to be certified.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Planing Phase - Asia

It's been difficult to figure out what to post since most of what I'm doing now is just accumulating directions into word files called "Travel by Land" (I've reached Cambodia from KL) or "Shiznit that has to be done in the Philippines" (The lodges in Mt. Kinabalu have to be reserved months in advance), and the like.

The reason why it has come to this is because I've pretty much planed everything I want to plan. There’s still much to learn and I have to get a better idea of my budget and travel time but I’m fairly sure it could be done the way I want to do it
That said, this might be my last entry for a while unless I find something amazing to rave about.

And, WAHOOOOO!!!! I set a date and plan!

It was exhausting to try to find a way to make it work so that I wouldn't hit any of the countries during monsoon season for that particular country. Being that Nepal will probably be the hardest part and is, as I've mentioned, the pivotal part of my trip, I began from there.

The best time to climb Nepal is in September to November. The problem with that is, somewhere towards the later half but still in the middle of my trip. If I were to put Nepal at the beginning (fly from Bangkok to Nepal and make my way back) over 4 months, I’d be spending Christmas somewhere in India or Bangladesh. While I’m not totally against spending Christmas away from my family, I also had to remember that prices get jacked up during the holidays.

Or if I made it so that my trip ended in September, I’d be hitting monsoon season in Bangladesh and Myanmar. These are the rainiest countries I’ll ever have been to, based on what I’ve read. It also might complicate traveling by bus. Though, this was my second best plan and my contingency if things don’t work out.

I said that Nepal was best in September to November but its also pretty good from December to February and except that it’s colder and from March to May except that it rains from time to time. I chose the latest option so that I could save the largest possible amount of money from work before I quit (or ask for a four month leave).

I’ll be in Nepal by May. Incidentally, I can schedule it so that I REACH EVEREST BASECAMP ON MY BIRHTDAY!!!!! The original schedule was a bit more sentimental where I’d actually leave on my birthday but this works just as well.

So I’ll be leaving for Kota Kinabalu in early March to climb Mt. Kinabalu. I hope LM can join me for this part though it will be before graduation for some of them next year. Since Malaysia is so expensive compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, I’ll try to bring lots of food and water from home.

Then I’ll fly to KL where I’ll take a train into Thailand and a bus to Krabi (Climbing Mecca) for about a week. I estimate this will between the second and third week of March.

From there, I’ll make my way through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Bangladesh (Still don’t know what to do in these countries) over land before heading to Nepal through India. It should be early May by this point and I’ll go straight on through to Nepal for Everest base camp.

After Nepal, I’ll go around India and stay two to four depending on how much money I have left. Maybe I can even spend a week in Sri Lanka or Hampi. I’m sure I won’t lack in activities.
From Bangkok, maybe I’ll stay a week and visit the 7 tier waterfall Leonardo DiCaprio jumped from in the movie “The Beach”. And then its back home to Manila from there.

I have the budget for Nepal and Malaysia pretty much planned out (and attached - Multiply only) if you’re interested. I’m still working on the rest but will roughly cost me 1000PHP a day for travel in any of those countries not including the activities involved like the trek to EBC, entrance fees to national parks that don’t have hostels inside, and just plain drinking.

If anyone has suggestions on where to go, I’m completely open.
Wohhoooooh! Feel free to invite yourself!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NEVER Piss Off Your Designer

or this might happen:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Planning Phase Asia: 009 - Nepal -It was COLD – The outside of my sleeping-bag often being covered in ice...

Natuwa ako sa comment na to: “It was COLD – The outside of my sleeping-bag often being covered in ice in the mornings when I awoke – and that was Inside the lodge!!”

Found that on some random forum.

I did a little computation and skipping HK and Macau could save me 1200USD 60k off hand (Wahoo!) but it also cuts my trip down by about a week and a half or two. Conceivably, I can make enough money by July of next year and still have a pretty good buffer of savings for when I get back home, unemployed. That's still including Everest base camp (with an Agency!)

I also have more time now so I can take a bus to Jiri and trek for a week to get to Lukla, where most people start their Everest base camp (EBC) trek. This SHOULD be cheaper than taking a plane and it will also help me acclimatize for the trek to EBC. I’ll probably stay a couple of days to a week in Lukla for a break between the week long Jiri-Lukla trek and the two week EBC trek. That means about a month spent in Nepal alone. Still better than spending 650USD = 32,500PHP just for the round trip Kathmandu-Lukla airfare. Even if I break even, I’d rather spend on experience than convenience.

Also, I bet I can make it cheaper by not hiring a porter or an agency. I hope there’s a way to only hire a personal guide. That will save me at least 200USD or 10,000PHP.

Package deals from Kathmandu to Jiri to EBC are typically 21- 24 days long. They involve flying back to Kathmandu from Lukla. I figured I’d start by finding one-way airfare rates from Lukla to Kathmandu. Unlike my other flight plans, I’ll only be able to book two (from lukla) or three weeks+++ (from kathmandu) in advance.

I will be flying during peak season so these can’t be that accurate. To simulate buying peak season tickets only 2 weeks in advance, I’ll take the rate of increase from regular fare to peak season fare and multiply it by the 2 week in advance fare. I’ll also put a buffer or 10%. Weekends are usually most expensive so I’ll book on a Friday for the most expensive scenario. Its important to note that prices are different for foreigners and locals, not just due to taxes.


After all my strategizing, the websites doesn’t have automated fare calculation systems. The fares are tabulated in lists (no peak season rates):

113USD = 5,458PHP Yeti Airlines (

109USD Sita Air (

97USD Gorkha Airline (

83USD = 4,009PHP (Royal) Nepal Airlines (

Prices are exclusive of tariff = 121USD (but the trekking websites don’t mention this. (

Domestic Airport Tax is 170NPR = 3USD

Cool site with all prices

Jiri to EBC
It turns out that my plan to book a flight 2 weeks ahead from Lukla wouldn’t have worked. Lukla is out of the way from Jiri to EBC. Trekkers don’t always pass there. I’ll have to book as soon as I’ve arranged my EBC plans. If prices don’t change though, I can just book when I get back, just in case something happens on the way. I may even decide that the Jiri to Lukla trek was so nice and cheap that I’ll trek back to Jiri.

Here’s a website I found with pretty much everything I need (for once):

Very Rough Break Down:

5USD Average Hostel Price
2500NPR = 32 USD/day (1 day) Supposedly the price of tourism per day.
10USD 12 hour Bus to Jiri

100NPR = 2USD/night Jiri to Lukla (6 nights)
200-250NPR = 4USD/night lukla-EBC-Lukla (15 nights two in EBC)
400-700NPR =5-9USD /day Food 21 days
(700NPR/day porter)
1000 NPR 13 USD each for the Sagarmatha Park admission

10USD/day = Guide

83 USD Lukla to Kathmandu Airfare

Not sure if I have to add the 121USD tariff if I'm leaving Lukla.

5USD Average Hostel Price
2500NPR = 32 USD /day (1 day)

Without Tariff: 303USD
WithTariff: 424

Come to think of it, none of the trekking websites mention this Tariff at all. This might be the deciding factor as to whether or not I fly to Lukla or take Jiri.

Also, it was posted in October 2007. I’ll probably be going in 2010 or 2011.

Kathmandu Tips:

Nepal Trekking :

“Nepal has four distinct seasons. Spring, from March to May, is warm and dusty with rain showers. Summer, from June to August (GAH! MADHAV F*CKED ME AGAIN! I’ve been planning for the wrong time of year!), is the monsoon season when the hills turn lush and green. Autumn, from September to November, is cool with clear skies, and is the most popular trekking season. In winter, from December to February, it is cold at night and can be foggy in the early morning, but afternoons are usually clear and pleasant, though there is occasional snow in the mountains.”

Wow, I know exactly when to climb now, it’s perfect but I think that deserves an entry on its own.

Apart from that, I’ll have to play everything by ear. Finding guides, buying or renting gear, getting around.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Plannin Phase - Asia: All is Fare in HK, Kathmandu, Bangkok and Malaysia

I realized that I made a wrong computation with regards to the airfare to Kathmandu. The flight I searched was Cathay Pacific from Manila to Kathmandu via HK and it came out at around 50k. I don’t even remember if that was a weekend or weekday flight, which can affect the rates.

This time I’m looking for separate budget flights since I’ll be staying in HK/Macau for about a week anyway. I also have to check the different months since I don’t know when there are holidays and other events in the different countries that may affect the rates.

There are probably cheaper airlines than Cebu Pacific but Cebu Pacific is probably the most stable in terms of prices (not the actual airplane! Hahaha). I’ll need to book for June to August and December to February according to Madhav. Of course, prices can go up the later I book.

Unless otherwise stated, all prices are exclusive of taxes, boarding fees, etc. For my own reference, this entry was written on March 19, 2009.

Manila to HK

Cebu Pacific Zero Fare is 2,099PHP = 44USD

Manila to Macau

Cebu Pacific Zero Fare is 2,799PHP = 58USD

Hong Kong to Kathmandu

Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air (Including Airport Taxes)
23,912.10PHP = 491.51USD June 9, 2009 and August 18, 2009 (Tuesdays)
26,108.75PHP = 536.66USD December 8, 2010, January 19, 2010 and February 2, 2010 (Tuesdays)

I spent hours looking and I can’t find anything cheaper. I also can’t find any cheaper ones. I guess budget airlines don’t go from Hong Kong to Kathmandu.

I also spent some time looking at flights from Kathmandu going out.
Kathmandu to Hong Kong.

Royal Nepal Airlines from Kathmandu

Kathmandu Airport (Tribhuvan International Airport) Taxes

SAARC Countries: NPR 791 = 10USD
Other Countries: NPR 1130 = 14USD
Domestic Destinations: NPR 170 = 2USD
Tourism Service Fee: NPR 565 = 7USD (Should be paid along with airport tax while leaving Nepal.)

SAARC Countries: India, Pakistan, Srilanka, Bangladesh, Maldives,Bhutan, Nepal

They don’t have an automated system so I guess these will have to do:

From Kathmandu

Normal Fare
150 to Delhi
265 to Banglore (closer to Hampi but it’s still much cheaper to take a train)

For Foreign Nationals
220 to Bangkok
330 to Hong Kong

To Nepal

240 from Bangkok
595 from Hong Kong

Wow, it’s significantly cheaper to fly with Royal Nepal Airlines to HK and even cheaper to fly to/from Bangkok! If I cut out HK and Macau, maybe I can drop by Indonesia or Malaysia (Kota Kinabalu). Flights to/from Malaysia (KL) and Singapore are just 320USD.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of it but I could cut out Hong Kong and Macau all together and fly to Nepal from Bangkok. They were never really that appealing to me anyway. Not that I don’t want to see HK but, especially with budget flights, it seems like something I can do for a week or a weekend that doesn’t have to be part of this trip.


Clark to Bangkok

Cebu Pacific Zero Fare is 3,299PHP = 69USD

Bangkok to Kathmandu

Thai Airways (Including Airport Taxes)
14,165 THB = 397USD = 19,104PHP June 9, 2009, August 18, 2009 and December 1, 2010

*Royal Nepal Airlines prices above

If I decide to end my trip in Kota Kinabalu…

Kuala Lumpur LCCT (KUL) to Kota Kinabalu (BKI)

Air Asia (Including Airport Taxes)

163.50MYR = 45USD (promo), 197.50MYR = 54USD (normal) June 9, 2009 (Tuesday)

107.50MYR = 30 USD (promo) August 18, 2009 (Tuesday), December 2, 2009 (Wednesday) and January 26, 2010

Malaysia Air (Including Airport Taxes)

161MYR = 44USD June 9, 2009, August 18, 2009 (Tuesdays) and December 2, 2009 (Wednesday)

Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur

Air Asia (Including Airport Taxes)

197.50MYR = 54USD (normal) June 9, 2009 (Tuesday)

107.50MYR = 30 USD (promo) August 18, 2009 (Tuesday), December 2, 2009 (Wednesday) and January 26, 2010

Malaysia Air

161MYR = 44USD June 9, 2009, August 18, 2009 (Tuesdays)

347MYR = 95USD December 2 (Wednesday)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pwet Tree

An Afternoon Conversation over Spilled Smoothie

In a café over conversation,
As surely as did melt that smoothie
That afternoon
Strawberry, mango, ice and all;

I put my lips to her,
Where once she blended
Into past concoctions
Of skin, and flesh, and core.

Today, her pieces lay in front of me,
In a café over conversation.
Instead of rubbing out the traces
On my skin, and flesh, and core,

Oblivious to the café goers,
Her stain became a part of me.
And drunk with her syrup
I did not wash ait down with bleach.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Planning Phase - Asia: Practice on Palawan

This entry is a little different. I won a free Cebu Pacific ticket to Puerto Princessa, Palawan. It can be redeemed within six months. Ticket lang. Walang lodging. PERFECT!

Perfect for a little trial run. This trip will give me a chance to stretch my travelers legs before the actual thing. It's not that I don't want to go with anyone (my friends are welcome to join me) its just that I won't keep an itinerary and that might make it hard for a group thing. I want to go for a week in May before the rainy season. It also just so happens that I finally get leaves from work in May. If not, I’d gladly go during one of the more interesting festivals/fiestas at any time of year.

I was doing a little research for the trip and there are so many nice places to stay that it was hard to pick just one. So I’m not going to. I’m going to stay at all the places I like and hopefully more. I figure I’ll go for a week and stay in the beach first then maybe further in the city when I get tired of the beach. Strangely, a lot of the websites have German translations. I guess there’s a good chance I’ll meet some Germans.

There’s this one place, Bambua in Sabang (2-4 hours jeep from the city), it’s a nature park resort and only 200PHP a night, common bath. I definitely want to stay there for a while. The bahay kubo cottages look like they’re inside the rainforest. Exactly what I’m looking for in other countries for my Asia trip.

How to get there:
Public Jeepneys leave for Sabang at the new Public Bus Terminal at San Jose, Puerto Princesa. It is better to be early at the Terminal. The best time to travel the route to Sabang is with the 7 AM Jeepney or the the 9 AM Bus. Until around 3 PM several Jeepneys are departing for Sabang.

There’s a place closer to the airport called Banwa Pension Resort. I’ll probably stay here on the night of my arrival. 250PHP a night, probably common bath. Judging from the photos and self-description, it seems very artsy. They claim that you won’t hear the usual Kareoke blasting from speakers and that they play native instruments at night. There’s also some kind of stationary bike that you have to ride if you want electricity at night. Hahaha! Sounds quirky and fun!

How to get there:
Supposedly, tricycles from the airport and harbor know how to get there. If not, the website suggests that I get dropped off at B. Mendoza St. and “…ask one of our friendly neighbors who will point you in the right direction.” How friendly.

Of course, Palawan won’t be complete if I don’t stay at a beachfront resort. I’ll leave this one up to chance. Maybe I’ll stay in a cushier place since this will be the first time I’ll be leaving Luzon (aside from Singapore) since I’ve had a job and can afford better. Yup. Just because I have the money.

Puerto Pension looks like the place to spend if ever. It looks like a giant 4 floor bahay kubo (why are all the places I choose kubo’s?). Or, maybe a place with a pool. No point in spending more money in a place to sleep if there’s no draw like a pool or a spa or something. Free wi-fi got me thinking that maybe I can work while on vacation some time. I wonder what EJ (my boss) would say to that. Hahaha. He’ll hate me.

Most of the resorts have all the tours: Underground River, Sabang Beach Snorkling, Mangrove River Paddle Tour, Daylight Hole, Lion's Cave Sabang. I wonder if there’s a way I can do the tours without going through a resort. That would definitely be cheaper. I’m not sure if I want to go to the nature preservation sites or go canoeing among the mangroves unless I find someone to go with. It feels like something to do with a group or family.

Prayer answered:

I should buy a map of Puerto Princessa. National Book Store?

I think the websites that I found pretty much speak for themselves: