Saturday, January 30, 2010

i am a flashpacker

Okay, so in my field I know what a "flashback" is, but not "flashpack". Looked  it up on the net and found this!

This isn’t about backpacking-lite. As much as their low-budget cousins, Flashpackers are looking for authentic and challenging experiences, and they’re quite happy to rough it with the best of them if that’s the best way to achieve that goal. But unlike your average gap-year student, they can afford to splash out on some luxury when the going gets tough — and just as importantly, they will spend what it takes to get the experience they’re after." For me, "when the going gets tough" means 3 days without a shower, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

A flashpacker is someone who wants the independent experience of backpacking, but has enough money to pay for more creature comforts. That sounds like me. I want the freedom of independent travel, especially traveling with one bag, but I also like my comforts. Unless it's part of the experience I'm going for (like camping), I want a nice bed and a shower with warm water and some pressure.

Some of the articles associate flashpacking with a lot of technological gear. While I like the idea of traveling with a small laptop and a digital camera, I'm not much into other tech gadgets. I don't want a phone or GPS system and the only time I use an mp3 player is on the plane. I love music, but sometimes headphones take away from my experience of traveling. Probably music but only in transit. And a book. I'd love something to read while traveling.

And apparently now, there are different types of flashpackers, including the gadget loving Geeky Flashpacker, that I found interesting. He's someone who reads books, gets to know history before setting foot on a place to enjoy the whole thing. A culture nut who also probably wanted to capture everything through a lens or a poem, or a song or an essay. Geeky.

That definitely sounds like me. What about you?

(reposted and edited from )

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fit and Fun Activities at the La Mesa Eco Park

Okay so La Mesa Eco Park is a nature park, but that's not all! It is an ecological zone where one can find healthy, fit and fun activities to try and enjoy! As much as possible, I want to visit this place on a regular basis =)

1. Picnic Grounds - Five hectares of picnic spots with grilling facilities underneath a forest of varied trees.

2. Salt Water Swimming Pool – Probably the only salt water pool that is open to the public. And according to some sources in the internet, the salt granules are used instead of chlorine making the water safer and less toxic. My family and I wanted to swim but at that time there are already about 100 people in the pool at 9 am on a Sunday, so we weren't allowed in. (Entrance fee is 80 pesos per head)


3. Boating Lagoon - Similar to the paddle boat ride of Baguio’s Burnham Park. (100 pesos boat rental for 30 minutes, maximum capacity of 4 person in a boat) This one is super fun!!! Plus the lagoon is wide with lots and lots of trees, so it's as if one is transported in a rainforest-y river.

4. Fishing Lagoon - one of the most popular to-do in the park

5. Butterfly Trail and Hatchery - entrance fee is 25 pesos park head

6. Trying the E-Jeepney. This is one of the few things that made the place really special and truly eco-friendly. Imagine a nature park with a service that emits smoke? The E- Jeepney is one of those little things that made the Ecopark a real deal, making the place really truly care for the environment. The jeep doesn't run on gas, it doesn't emit smoke. The ride was very smooth. I hope all  jeepneys and vehicles are electronic to minimize smoke.

7. No smoking everywhere. I admit, smoker here. And there are no cigarettes in stalls, positively no smoking zone! And for about a full day, what can a smoker do if there are no cigarettes in the area? I almost forgot I did't smoke for the entire day! Liberating!

8. Organic Products. There is a store inside that sells organic products and albeit exotic like carrot, papaya andmalunggay noodles, and daguey fruit from Nueva Vizcaya. Almost vegetarian fare but really healthy I believe.

9. Overnight camping facilities are also available, seen boy scouts camp here

10. Wall-climbing.  I haven't tried this but some of my friends did! This is nice because the wall is set up in the open air plus you'll know that you're breathing fresh air because of the many trees that surround the area!

11. Paintball field. Ive tried paintball before in Enchanted Kingdom and it's super fun! So I wanna try it here. Painball gear and field rental is 150 pesos per person, so tag your friends along!

12. Zip lining. Now this is one of those fun and interesting activities to try in La Mesa Eco Park. Some of my friends have tried this, but I'm too chicken to try. boo. The zip line cuts across the boating lagoon 

13. Horseback Riding. Yes some horses abound the whole complex! And it's quite exciting too!

14. Biking. There is also a biking activity where one can rent a bike for only 150 pesos an hour.

15. Jogging. Of course jogging or even brisk walking. The whole area is a very very good place to exercise your lungs because you'll be breathing in fresh fresh air.


This place is a very chill and healthy way to spend one of those weekends. A whole day of trying out these fun and fit and healthy activities is a fresh breath better than spending hours walking in a mall. So spare a weekend and tag your friends along to have a green, clean and eco weekend!

(photo credit: me. and and

The La Mesa EcoPark

Is a dam and an ecological reservation site in Quezon City in the Philippines. It is part of the Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system, which supplies most of the water supply of Metro Manila. The La Mesa Dam is an earth dam whose reservoir can hold up to 50.5 million cubic meters occupying an area of 27 square kilometers.

The La Mesa Ecopark is located in East Fairview Subdivision, in Quezon City. It is in the heart of the La Mesa Dam Watershed which is the source of the Metro Manila water supply. The park which used to be a neglected area was recently developed to become a haven where Quezon City folks could escape from the euphoria of urban living.

While inside, one could experience a nature park inside the city. I swear, I have become an advocate of this park ever since I set my foot on it in 2009 with my mom who is a fan of nature parks. She likes the trees and breath of fresh air, plus if we're not on the move to our province to Batangas, she almost always wanted to go to Eco Park to see vast greens.

Entrance Fee: 50 pesos
Special Rate: 40 pesos for Quezon City residents, 20pesos for Quezon City students, and FREE for Senior Citizens
Tel. No.: 430-4051 and 430-5207
Email Address:

by car: Take Commonwealth Avenue towards Fairview. You will be passing the following landmarks: UP Diliman, Iglesia ni Cristo Templo Central, Ever Gotesco, Sandiganbayan, Litex, Mercury Drugstore. Turn right at East Fairview Subdivision’s Winston St. then right at Marlboro St. all the way to Pall Mall St. where you should turn left. Turn right at the first corner. You will enter the La Mesa Dam Guard House. There is only one road to take then turn left to the parking lot, in front of which is the gate to the park. The lagoon is further down the path.

by public transportation: from SM North Edsa take a Fairview-bound FX, bus, or jeepney and tell the driver that you're goping to the La Mesa Eco Park, get off at the East Fairview Subdivision. At the gate, ride a tricycles that can take you to the Eco Park.

Malaysia: Petronas Towers

I think one of the reasons people visit Kuala Lumpur is because of the Petronas Towers. The reason: it's tall and indeed picturesque.It is one of the many recognizable emblem of Malaysia. For a while it has been the tallest buildings in the world until 2004 when the Taipei101 beat it.

There is a mall beneath it where one can shop or even just have lunch before or after viewing the structure.

Apart from just viewing it from afar, there are some activities within the structure like riding up until reaching the skybridge. It is in between the two towers on 41st and 42nd floors, which is the highest 2-story bridge in the world.It is not directly bolted to the main structure, but is instead designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking during high winds. The bridge is 170 m (558 ft) above the ground and 58 m (190 ft) long, weighing 750 tons.The same floor is also known as the podium, since visitors desiring to go to higher levels have to change elevators here. The skybridge is open to all visitors, but free passes (limited to 1700 people per day) must be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors are only allowed on the 41st floor as the 42nd floor can only be used by the tenants of the building.

But still, I think the challenge here for any shutterbug or traveler is take that ultracool and amazing Petronas Towers shot. Here are some of the best Petronas Towers shot I found from the net (wikipedia)!!! Amazing!!!





and my shots of course using Holga my lomocam =)


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur City Scenes

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. One can sure have a love-hate relationship with this place.
For one, my arrival in Kuala Lumpur was not a good experience at all. Maybe it was the schedule or the time, since it was already the wee hours of the morning, plus the added stress of having slept inside the airport and the stress of having to travel to Kuala Lumpur and arriving to yet another terminal and the fiasco with an Indian Haggler. Read below and you'll know.

Now I want to ask, if there are other travelers viewing my site...if youve been to Kuala Lumpur and honest to goodness enjoyed every minute of it? I really want to know. Maybe I needed some perspective.

So anyway, the Malaysia trip is relatively short since I went straight to Singapore, and only came back and stayed at a hostel in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur called Haven Hostel. Finding Haven Hostel is yet another lost and found story...spent a good hour walking around the area trying to find it.
Let's focus on the nice things about Malaysia.

1. Malaysia is truly asia!!! Because of super diversified populace. Chinese, Malays, Indians, Arabs peacefully cohabiting. Interesting! If not a bit surreal.I think Malaysia is the grittier sister. Singapore is more Westernized.

3. Food! Singaporean and Malaysian food are both savory. But Malaysian of the best!!!Peanut sauce and chicken and lamb satays the best!! And Jalan Alor is the bomb.It is a street where a lot of hawker food stalls are installed. Hawker food is what's typical turo turo or carinderia (small eatery) to us Filipinos. Malaysian food is yum yum yum.

4. The Kuala Lumpur Monorail. I took this ride to be able to get to Bukit Bintang, Malaysia where my hostel was located. Riding it is a novelty. Since of course the train runs on only one wheel, or attachment as opposed to the local Metrorail system.

5. The City Scenes. Bukit Bintang sort of looks like the middle class neighborhood of Makati and Jalan Alor looked like the back sides of Ortigas and Makati. Seriously, but it's a weird feeling. It's a city of course, what would one expect. But there are lots of weird yet interesting things going on like the a gold man on the street, stalls selling durian, and a lot more. There's a vast amount of energy in the place.


5. The Petronas Towers. I went to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Then to the mall beneath the structure. It was hot and tiring.But a trip to Petronas is something one should really experience. Well it used to be the world's tallest buildings before being surpassed by Taipei 101 in 2004 However, the towers are still the tallest twin buildings in the world.


Malaysia: Bus ride from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore

Airport Anxiety
I remember the very first time I set my foot on Malaysia. It was via the budget airline Cebu Pacific. I landed at close to daybreak at the Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier airport. The plan, touchdown Malaysia, and quickly hop a bus to Singapore since I was booked at  the Inn Crowd hostel in Dunlop road in the Lion City.
And because I arrived during the wee hours of the morning and there are no buses yet to take me to Kuala Lumpur (where the KL to SG bus terminal is), I was debating whether to book a hostel to spend the night or just to wait at the airport until 6 am.


But of course frugality won. So off I went for a quick fix at a Malaysian McDonald at the airport and stayed there for about two hours, alternating light naps and reading a book. At 6 am, buses were already available so I  took the bus to Kuala Lumpur for only 9 RM. The one hour ride was uneventful and as I alighted from the bus, I quickly scanned the surroundings only to find out that I am yet in another terminal. Confused and clueless, I then found out that I have to take another bus from where I was located, to the Puduraya Terminal where buses to Singapore are found.

 Panic at Puduraya Terminal
At the Puduraya terminal, I was aiming to ride the trusted bus line that carries passengers from Malaysia to Singapore called Transnational. But since the Transnational counter at the terminal is not yet open and will have its first scheduled ride at about 8 am, I had to wait. But fine by me, as long as I'm safe. According to a Lonely Planet book or some online article, some buses from Malaysia to Singapore being robbed or something potentially dangerous. So I had to choose and wait it out with the established busline. But, suddenly an Indian haggler/ agent from another bus line came to be and aggressively offered me to take his bus. Okay so I admit, the ticket he's offering is much cheaper than the 80 RM ticket for the Transnational bus. The haggler is aggressive. I was all nerves of course. The last time I had this feeling was during my trip to Puerto Galera, where after arriving in Batangas terminal, I was virtually attacked by panucha vendors aggressively offering their products.

But I was insisting on waiting for Transnational counter to open, nevermind waiting, and nevermind that I had to pay more, as long as I believe myself to be safe with an established and trusted establishment. Maybe I'm being chicken or really just trying to be safe. It's similar as waiting for an MGE or R and E taxi rather than just riding any other cab, get the drift? But the Indian haggler kept on questioning me and convincing me that his busline is safe, convenient etcetera.

In my annoyance I told him that the ticket people from this Transnational was my relative and will give me discount. Ok so very dumb. A very hopeless lame excuse. But I had no choice! I had to get rid of the Indian!
Thought I was already free from his pushiness since he went on the bug the other tourists.But when the person manning the Transnational counter arrived and opened the booth, I stood up eagerly to get tickets but the Indian haggler whispered something  to the person manning the counter. They talked. And by the way the Indian haggler stared at me with contempt I knew he confirmed that I was no way a relative of the person manning the counter. I panicked and became paranoid when the haggler found out that I was lying to him! Seriously, I went outside for a quick smoke and drink... and found the haggler following me!

I was so scared, I thought he will confront me or worse do something really bad. So I quickly went to a KFC just across the Puduraraya bus terminal and literally hid. Well, ordered something and pretended to eat while keeping eye at the scorned Indian haggler.

It was scary but when I went out, the Indian haggler was gone. And nothing bad happened to me.
It was all my paranoia I know, but I have a lesson learned. At that is to never lie. Just don't lie, and as much as possible decline the hagglers politely, firmly, civilly, but never lie.

Buses, Buses and More Buses
So I was inside the bus to Singapore.
I will not say that the bus ride was uncomfortable, but I wouldn't say it's a dream either. The bus stopped over at someplace I forgot. I thought that it wasn't just a stop over so I went down. And immediately hagglers were all over me. I felt traumatized but immediately I found my way around and realized I alighted at a wrong spot. So I rode the bus again, patiently waiting until I reach Johar Bahru, a district that is supposedly the last frontier of Malaysia before the causeway to Singapore.

Finally reached Johar Bahru and alighted at the immigration where my passport is hastily stamped. Carrying my big bag, I rode to another bus again until finally reaching the Singapore terminal.

Saturday, January 23, 2010