Monthly Archives: March 2015

Nepal to ME: Bazingaaaaa!

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#TheSkyRoadLifeToNepal #TheMartinTheory

More than one year ago, the idea of getting to Nepal emerged through the crazy experience of this eternal dutch optimist named Martin. He was off to Bangkok with me to catch a flight to this country that did not blink any interest to my brain at all. He was going on a trek to the Annapurna circuit, that never sounded familiar to my small ears. Days after completing the trek, he showed us pictures and shared his journey to this amazing country of the Himalayas.

Annapurna Trek Photo by: Martin Wevers

Annapurna Trek
Photo by: Martin Wevers

So there, the little beating heart fell in love with the idea of experiencing the beauty of the Himalayas. But how, when? Very soon.Now.

Months of surveying flights and accommodations, finally, Nepal was about to happen. Booked the flight, made some friends and then packed a small bag from the diving course in Anilao with all the beach outfit. Off to a cold country, with 24hour stopover to Malaysia. Perfect plan,almost 100% execution then there it went.

Petronas and the public pool Reminds me of mother Alma

Petronas and the public pool
Reminds me of mother Alma

Minutes before leaving my host’s place in KL, the unlikely message from the airline came in. Fight has been cancelled and moved two days later. There was an accident in the Kathmandu airport and it was closed for some time. Saurav, my Nepali brother confirmed this and there, where now? Still in KL as my host agreed to take me in with so much kindness and offered me to visit Batu Cave, finally. Luck was just inside my pink backpack. But the anxiety  was just building up. Can’t even go out and enjoy the night life of KL, thus ended watching previous episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Yeah, if there’s one man, my little heart would fall, that would be Dr. Sheldon Cooper, and just the right distraction to this unwanted surprise. All those two nights stranded in KL were just Dr Cooper nights. Sigh, temporary relief, better than getting stuck at the KLIA 2.

Batu Cave, finally

Batu Cave, finally

The big day came, time to fly to Kathmandu. Can’t wait to see the Himalayas and my Nepali family. The airport scene was astounding. No way. In denial. Closed counters but the flight was still at 9:30pm and it was just 7pm. What?There was no way the plane left nor was it cancelled again (called the customer service hotline and confirmed my flight and online check-in). Right into my face, the associate confirmed this confusion, flight has been moved indefinitely as they are accommodating earlier flights than mine. BS with furious voice. There were more people waiting. But I needed to go, I had to. Fear came rushing, backup plan, zero. What now? It was an assurance that I was not alone. There were at least eight people with mad voices and faces. One was asking for the manager. The other one a confirmed seat in the next day’s flight. ME: I need to fly to Nepal.

Maybe walking away was the best thing to do and just come back the following day, with no assurance though. Or stay at the airport and sleep in my yoga mat with free wifi and food. Getting a hostel was not an option, with 35RM left in my pocket. Called up my host but he declined, he was hosting a family. Too bad. Messaged my friend Kla all the way from Penang to ask for help, he has friends in KL, for sure lol. After hours of talking to some passengers and friends in facebook while secretly praying for miracle, the guy from Malindo Airline asked for passports. Too bad my hands were fast and there in a matter of seconds, he was holding my maroon book. Still confused,  along with some passengers we followed him. After 10 minutes of running, walking to and from the check-in counter to the departure gates, I finally had the nerve to ask him, “ what are you going to do with my passport?” And he replied with an irate voice while looking at me (I noticed he was cute, lol), “you wanna go to Nepal, right?” Okay, accepted the fact that we are at the mercy of this man. Whatever, this must be the miracle I asked earlier. Then I found myself, some passengers  with empty boarding passes and crew of the airline running towards the departure gate, through the immigration and the final checks. No time to check in my luggage which included toiletries for two months (bottles with more than 100ml). Darn, these stuff will be confiscated at the final checks. The Malaysian guy who was scheduled to do a trek to Mount Everest base camp had more issues, he got a bigger bag, even heavier than me and my luggage combined. At the final scan, I was ready to let go with my J&J baby milk bath and lotion, conditioner and toothpaste. But lo and behold, the scanner was silent, though the guy had to give up two bottles of something out of possible 5 or 6. Not bad and he was smiling while giving it to the airport staff.

Poshy flight with Louie

Poshy flight with Louie

Still confused and blank but smiling, I was running towards the boarding gate. I can’t believe we are flying to Nepal with empty boarding passes. Maybe we will be sitting at the aisle for five hours, no idea. Then there, at the boarding gate, they filled out our boarding passes, guess what, Business Class seat! Whew, found myself smiling like a monkey with my seatmate Louie. This was my first business class experience and my first flight longer than three hours. God, I almost cried. All I wanted was a normal flight, but this was too much. So after fixing our seats, we enjoyed the posh way of traveling to Kathmandu. Free movies,games, series and songs. Delicious food and unlimited drinks with Haagen-dazs ice cream and assorted nuts, just feeling every breath of the moment. And yes, another Dr Cooper night for me. Now I wonder, “is Sheldon following me?” Bazinga!

Another Sheldon night

Another Sheldon night

Spell BLESSED

Spell BLESSED

More than five hours later, we were passing by the Turkish airline plane that crashed the runway few days ago, the culprit (but in a good way for me). Lining up to the immigration with other passengers from five airlines. Yes, there were more and more plane landing, which means more people. It was not too bad, so I thought until the baggage area emerged. OH MY GOD. It was like a small pond with overcrowded fishes trying to find luggage. Some people had been waiting for 12 hours, some two.Total chaos. Honestly, I felt bad for everyone. It was mere coincidence that my baggage was with me. But my seatmate Louie had to look for his along with the hundreds of passengers. There out of chaos I met this girl who flew from Oman but her accent showed she was from the UK (just guessing). We shared our experience and opinion about what was happening. But the best that we can do was just wait and help our respective seatmates who became our friends. We became like a team, us the girls, guarding all the found luggage and the others looking for theirs. Buying water for each other. Showed support and assurance that those stuff were not lost. From midnight to early morning, then it was time to give up. It was in that chaos that foreigners and locals were helping each other. It was such a misery but a good one. A beautiful nightmare.

Kathmandu Airport Scene with new friends Photo by: Ville Kananen

Kathmandu Airport Scene with new friends
Photo by: Ville Kananen

Wandering and sleeping despite all the chaos Photo by: Ville Kananen

Wandering and sleeping despite all the chaos
Photo by: Ville Kananen

Then it was broad day light, still nothing. So we decided to give up and just come back later. Take some decent rest and maybe another miracle might just happen. As we walked out of the airport, the cold breeze reminded me, Nepal. And in that sleepy chinky eyes emerged the beautiful portion of the Himalayas that awakened my being. Time to get up from a beautiful disaster, coffee time and then the welcoming smiles of my brother Saurav and his friend Chili. And so Nepal was happening, then the song came in “And if I didn’t see that the joke was on me.” I could hear his voice shouting with his funny face : BAZINGAAAAA!

Finally, NEPAL. Love Photo by: Helene

Finally, NEPAL. Love
Photo by: Helene

Crossroads: Clark Kent and Superman

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#PsuedoRomanticStuff #HalongBay

Note: This is not a romantic story, just one of those crazy happenings on the road. Different time and place but related occurrence.

Caffeine addiction can lead to heart failure. Not that kind of scientific health issues, yet it’s also deadly. The heart did not fail, but someone failed somebody’s heart then it stopped pumping blood. Real tragedy.

It all started with coffee, looking for another unique caffeine exhilarating experience. Vietnam. The plan was to discover this neighboring country through its coffee and tea products, maybe a little bit of beer? No expectation, merely there to be involved and blend in. Not too hard to do. Started with Halong Bay tour booked through Hanoi Backpackers Hostel at  $75 which included transfers, food and overnight stay in the boat a.k.a cruiseship (Asian style). To which I almost failed to catch, thanks to the nice hostel attendant who helped me take the last coaster to the jump off point for the Halong Bay cruise.

With not enough sleep, its time to chill and experience the one day not so cheap escape with all the free tea and coffee along the way. Halfway through it, I have already made three friends who are very eager to listen to the comparison I have made between Vietnam and my beloved motherland (newbie mistake,should not compare one country to another, all places are unique in its own beauty). We can’t just stop talking until we reached the port. That was when the tour guide announced that I am not part of this group but with another team. Sigh, another adjustment to make and my body was just drifting to insanity. The choice though was not mine to make.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

So there I was with the new group, looking around, trying to fit in a younger crowd. It helped that one Australian family made the effort to reach out. Whew, that was enough to keep my feet back on the ground. Time to board the ship and take some lunch. There it happened, my first glance of Clark Kent.No he was not Clark Kent yet. He was one of those tourist who wants to exploit the Asian natural beauty. He was with his friend, David, both  were Swiss exchange students. David, was assigned in South Korea while him, China. Both were doing the big Southeast Asian trail just before they go back to their homeland. We were all in one table along side with a British History student and Architecture graduate. It was a smart lunch as we discussed the Asian economy like the GDPs, GNPs, population in relation to income and marginal advantages of each country. Almost nosebleed.

Was it the greenish water of Halong Bay or was it the sun? Or it was his green boardshorts and slender physique paired with normal eye glasses, Clark Kent emerged. Why Clark Kent? He reminded me so much of Smallville’s hero, oh my can I be Ms Lang? That moment when the world started moving slow and hearing him speak about Asia’s growing population and emerging markets just made me fall…back to my senses. He was actually talking to me. iiiiiiiiiiink speechless and looked stupid. Sigh, wish I could just turn back that time. I could have done better.

Part of the tour was to visit a nearby cave which was included in the seven wonders of the world. It was when we (me and the Swiss friends) started talking again, about how beautiful Philippines was. Imagine that shame when they actually told me how magnificent the Underground river was, compared to this cave. Clueless and just smiled my way out. It was a short trek and we were brought to the kayaking area. This also came with the package. I paired up with the Aussie kiddo who was actually a super athlete. No need to do some paddling, just pointing the areas I would want to see. Boss. If the water was more clear, I could have enjoyed the activity. Nonetheless, the scenery made up for what the water lack. More to say, the one hour conversation I had with my partner entertained me the whole time. Surfing in Aus, football, school and basketball.

Caught on Cam: The Clark Kent

Caught on Cam: The Clark Kent

Back to the ship, we were given time to soak in the sun at the roof deck. Watch the sunset with our drinks, mostly beer (mine was water). Trying to get to know everyone, as preparation for the night party. We were offered to do either night fishing or bbq party. We opted for the latter. And there came the inevitable,swim time. Everyone was so excited and were running towards the diving spot. Yes, swimming meant jumping from the ship to the water. Something I was not prepared to do, nonetheless, geared up to try it. Imagine the humiliation when I realized I was the only one with life jacket, oh my, I felt like I wanted to disappear  at that very instance. No backing down as most of my cruisemates jumped already and there I was still standing. Our tour guide, who did not have the plan to swim had to jump so he can catch me when it was my turn. But still, nothing from me. Everyone started to chant “jump jump jump, you can do it.” It was so nice of them, but I was frozen. Not until, Clark Kent, stood beside me, our eyes met and that little voice came out of my mouth saying, “will you jump with me.” There again, slow motion of his mouth that said, “ yes of course,” while taking my hand. It was almost perfect when all of a sudden a Vietnamese crew grabbed my hand and asked me to jump in 3, 2,1. I was still lingering in that moment when I felt the splash of the water and hands pulling me as if I was drowning. And there he was, Clark, jumped by himself. I had the chance but it was not meant to happen. Sigh.

By dinner, we had different companions. I was with a bunch of Brits who have been traveling for six months. They could not believe I was a banker and worked in a multinational company. It was a humbling experience hearing how they admired me for getting such a job. But my brain was admiring them, for being unemployed but still happy. We had rooftop party, but I did not join. Alcohol was not my thing, so I ended up with my ipad and John Green’s TFIOS again. Until the Vietnamese crews hangout with me and we talked about, surprise surprise, Gay community. To which I was proud to share that my country accepts and respects the members of the LGBT. That sad look on their faces when they told me how terrible it was in their towns. We ended the conversation by midnight.

The following day, we were off to Hanoi again, where I planned to stay one day before my flight back to Manila. It was another chance to hangout with him and David. But it never happened. I woke up with severe headache and the entire journey back to Hanoi was unbearable. By the time we all got off the coaster in front of the hostel, I had to rush to the reception to check-in, just when everyone was getting facebook contacts. I had to go, otherwise, I’ll throw up in front of them. I eventually did, inside the room of my hostel. Relieved to have done it by myself, not in front of anybody. In exchange of not getting his facebook. And I have never seen him again until this very day. My Clark Kent.

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam (in front of my hostel)

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam
(in front of my hostel)

One year after, I was in Laos. In the capital city, Vientiane, I met someone. He was not the superhero kind of person. He was just normal traveler who loves beer, weed and party. He stayed in the same hostel as me. We hangout with some other tourists, mostly his friends. He was a volunteer in a farm in Vang Vieng and has been staying in Laos for more than a month. The first time I met him, I did not like the way he spoke with authority. We were having dinner by the Mekong River with three Italians, one Eritean, one Canadian girl, two American-Japanese girls and me. The dinner was fun, just listening to their travel stories but we (me and the AJ girls) went ahead to check the night market and eventually slept. Kotone and Motomi went to Luang Prabang the following day,and I decided to stay to check the city center with the Canadian girl. We had one day cycling adventure in the temples of the city, but we never saw the big golden pagoda I was looking. She went ahead and booked her bus ticket leaving at night going south of Laos. I was left behind. So I hangout with them, Jemal (Eritean) and Anatol (Swiss). He was, at that time seeing someone, a Pakistani teacher working in Laos who I met in that same day. We hangout the whole night with some other people from the hostel and the owner of this Japanese Restaurant. We went to see the nightlife and got some unwanted attention from the ladyboys waiting on the road. It was past midnight when we head back to our hostel, me and him. He asked if we can hangout, like talk. I said yes. There I knew what happened to him and his passport. He lost it a few days ago and was coming to the city to get some help from the consulate office. But he was unlucky for two days in a row. First day, he went but the office was close due to Swiss public holiday and was advised to come back the following day 9-11am, and so he did but the officer was not around. So I agreed to help him out the following day. We both woke up and went with the plan, he was able to talk to the consul officer and got the instructions for his temporary passport which involved going to the police. It was one week of hell, just going to and from the police station, until the day he finished everything. The same day that I broke my itinerary (not going to Vang Vieng), and went with him.

Where it all started (Vientiane, Laos)

Where it all started
(Vientiane, Laos)

It was in Vang Vieng that superman came to life. From the crazy river tubing, to not forcing me to drink (alcohol and mushy) and smoke, I felt safer. Always ready to respect, help, protect and appreciate me and my ideals. He was there to make me feel these emotions that I failed to enjoy from the corporate life. We barely have anything in common except the idea of respecting each other’s opinion. We had our bad days too, endless arguments that would end in our “pacute” faces. Which led to, me asking God the purpose of this meeting, like it was such a perfect plan. I never saw myself falling in trip. I made sure all my walls were up and sturdy. I have been traveling by myself for years with no such issues. I can’t seem to fathom what was happening. Until the day we went biking to the blue lagoon.

The tree slide with Superman (not the tree jump yet)

hang time with Superman
(not the tree jump yet)

Superman, til we meet again :-) (Bangkok, Thailand)

Superman, til we meet again 🙂
(Bangkok, Thailand)

There I was, standing on top of a tree, with tourists cheering for me to jump to the river. I tried but I always stepped back. There he was,waiting in the cold water to catch me ( I was not wearing a life jacket and I don’t know how to swim). The tourists started to go and the sky loosing light, but still nothing. The two friends we went with, both were already discovering the nearby cave, yet there I was, still standing. Just below, I saw him braving the cold water, waiting for me. And with all might, I asked him to just jump with me. Like a real superman, ready to rescue, he climbed the tree and whispered some words of encouragement. He gave me the liberty to signal our jump and assured my safety. But I refused his offer, instead, I awarded him the authority to control our jump, me letting myself go and entrusted him my life. He held my hand tight, kissed me as I closed my eyes and in 1,2,3 allowed myself to be pulled by gravity towards the embrace of mother nature with his warmth. He pulled me up and made sure I was okay. I have never felt safer with our eyes full of laughter.

St Joseph Cathedral (Hanoi, Vietnam)

St Joseph Cathedral
(Hanoi, Vietnam)

The universe has its own way of making things happen, unanticipated. Everything made sense, as if things were bound to unfold and it was just me who did not know. With all its imperfections, life has never failed to surprise the wanderer in every step, jump and roller coaster ride.  Story of my life.

Shenanigan: the Limited becomes borderless

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#FearsNoMore #MapThatAdventures

The anxiety arises when the unknown creeps out of nowhere and surprises us. Caught off guard, losing balance, then it’s a choice between falling or to redeem that being. Or falling then comes redemption. The choice is yours to make, more than that, reveling in the moment engender the experience. Ready to take that leap?

Say YES and regret not. And yes to anything that does not counter the non negotiables of this life. Yet, don’t be too insensitive and act with responsibility. Face that fear with caution. Life is short, and it’s bound to be cherished every given instance but this is not a reason to suicide. Though at some point I felt I did. What’s there to do while on the road?The usual, selfies taken in all the interesting areas listed in the lonely planet guide book. Break free.

The Eternal Optimist (Martin) and the eye witness (Ella) after that crazy bike ride to the Killing Fields

The Eternal Optimist (Martin) and the eye witness (Ella) after that crazy bike ride to the Killing Fields

So here I am, non swimmer, sports enthusiast and just this ordinary human trying to get some adrenaline rush going. And a little bit more as I wander around the unfamiliar territory.

bike

Bicycles are my friends, thanks to my childhood spent in learning how to ride and enjoy it. Growing up, more and more vicious terrains became the challenge to me and my brothers. Add to it the dogs that would run and chase us. Not in my wildest imagination that I would experience cycling for 25km in the roads of Pnom Penh with trucks, buses, tuktuks and motorbikes everywhere. Imagine being squeezed in the dusty road under the heat of the sun. Not to mention taking the road less traveled and still being discovered. I was about to kill Martin, and Ella was there as my witness. All we had were our courage and smiles that lured the Cambodians to give us the direction back to the city center. There he was smiling like insane, the eternal optimist Dutch! While me and Ella had to wash our feet and legs full of mud and dust. Not to mention, the hunger sinking in as if our body was about to float (which actually prepared me for another cycling adventure in Siem Reap around the temples of Angkor Wat). Or at least fly like how cycling in the dark with a sh*tty road was such a miracle in Vang Vieng. Along with three guys, braving the road from the Blue Lagoon back to the city center, with just the moon as the guide, pedaling in total darkness paired with fear of hmmm unwanted beings slowly appearing, my soul started praying for greatness. Lo and behold, imagine that feeling upon seeing the light post in the bridge just before the left turn back to the city center. Sigh, relieved to survive the ride. More to say, the adventure never stopped. What about making it bigger like taking a bigger bike? More than ten times heavier than the human body? All matic, just a little bit of balance and body strength to hold it. Motorbikes. For sure anyone have taken a plunge to this but not maneuver the ignition and brakes. It has to happen. Transpired, finally with no scratch and damage. With a professional motocross rider as a teacher and three gorgeous roommies as cheerios, with a bit of peer pressure, it was breezy ride  in the island of Koh Phangan. Good stuff 🙂

Teacher Adri in KP Photo by: Noy Lavi

Teacher Adri in KP
Photo by: Noy Lavi

Non-swimmer wanderer trying to paddle and ride the waves of the Philippines and Indo. Oh, taking it to the extreme by going under as deep as 30M (almost 100ft). Plain insane. The first ride was at home, just a few blocks from Gram’s place while watching my cousin Aggie Boy practice his moved to the upcoming surfing festival. I was with a chaperon, yep, was not allowed to go to the beach alone (Gram’s order). Just there to watch my cousin, not to play with him. Unfortunately, that order became null and void. Since that day, it had been a rhythmic, dance with the biggest playground on Earth, the ocean. From Lanuza to Elyu to Baler to Zamba and just recently to Bali. Every paddle and dance became a testament of strength and weakness. The body being constantly challenged and treated with so much passion by Poseidon. The death-defying trips that allowed me to experience momentary weakness due to panic and stupidity, a.k.a drowning story! Who would get drowned with a surfboard attached to the ankle? ME. The ME who forgot to pull the leash to get the board. The same ME who did not try the survival float to get to the shore. But nevertheless, nailed it, otherwise, you won’t be reading this story lol. Though drowning doesn’t just happen to non swimmers (being defensive).

Baler surfing that almost killed that wrist

Baler surfing that almost killed that wrist

La Union Surfing trip Photo by: Janine Jose

La Union Surfing trip
Photo by: Janine Jose

From riding the waves to taking the cavernous home of Nemo and Ariel. Okay, I once dreamed of being a mermaid and thought that it could be real. Who didn’t sing the songs Part of this world or Under the Sea? Such a cliche. Thanks to an old friend I met in Cebu who introduced me to scuba diving. He believed that I can do it, even without swimming skills. Tried and enjoyed through the services of My Boracay Guide and its Manager Ms Jennilee Luces who happened to be my BFF and was forced to do it with me. As all scuba divers would agree, the underwater world is far better than the upland. No traffic, pollution and almost everything is real. What the eyes see, the heart and the mind feel.. It’s like being one with the residents of the place. Knowing and respecting these beautiful souls as if having a mutual understanding with each other. Mermaidness to infinity. Finally, after years of evaluating and (re)thinking, the mermaid ME took the shot to be an Open Water Scuba Diver through the knowledge and supervision of Jeroen Elout. After seven-skill-dives, PADI theory videos and long exam discussion with classmate Julian, my license  has been approved. Whew! But it didn’t end there. Crazier, it became PADI Advanced Open Water Course, a week after getting the other license. This…unimaginable. Night dive with the plankton, appreciating the bio-luminescence  glitter, seeing through the darkness and defying the creepy images formed by the brain cells. Or occasionally  getting a doze of “stoned” feeling manifested by underwater coma (or slow reaction) . Or the peacefulness of self through mindful breathing to control buoyancy so as to avoid damage to the coral reefs. And to top it all, the scary dark idea of going deeper than the usual without even noticing it (until the ears tells the brain to go up a bit). Beautiful madness.

Hello Nemo! Photo by: Jeroen Elout Diving

Hello Nemo!
Photo by: Jeroen Elout Diving

Is there such thing as fear of gravity? That nauseous feeling up there seeing the image of Earth swallowing a dense body? or seeing the blood and broken bones just below the summit? Yes, the fear of falling. I know what you’re thinking. Yes it’s both. So what do you call a person who tried to take a free fall ride from Lotte World (Seoul, SK), or zip lined in Danao (Bohol, Philippines), or the cable car in Sentosa (Singapore) or jumped off a dive board without life jacket in one of the islands in Palawan and a tree in Vangvieng? Nonsense. It’s a liberating feeling of being human. Tangible and fragile. It did not come easy, more to say, it came with the urgency to do it because, for once, it has to. It’s like the future, you know it will come but the element of surprise keeps it more unfamiliar. And about falling…in love? It’s about the same, face it and let it be.

Puerto Prinsesa, Philippines Photo by: Ate

Puerto Prinsesa, Philippines
Photo by: Ate

Fear made me do the unimaginable. Sometimes its a happy ever after but other times, its worse. However, this is not a reason to stop taking action and making things happen. The mind is limitless, not to mention that faith strengthens what the mind cannot conceive. Realizing that the universe becomes smaller and smaller in every leap and step.