Be extra careful at Automated Teller Machines!

2 09 2015
2 September 2015
Legaspi Village, Makati
I obviously like adventures, but not like this one…
There was a robber at the ATM between Salcedo and Rufino Streets around 20:45 today
As I was waiting for my ATM transaction, I suspiciously identified the man behind me as a potential robber. I wanted to leave but my ATM card was still inside the machine.
The man in his late 40s who was wearing rubber shoes, shorts and shirts looking like he just did some jogging around the park was waiting for me to complete my transaction.
I concluded that the man was a robber when he requested for money from me. He declared that he does not have money for transportation to go home. I communicated back and told him that I do not have money either. No cash from my ATM account.
Another man passed by but did not detect that I already needed help or possibly did not bother. I decided to continue communicating with the robber and gave him the pineapple juice I intended to give my friend. The robber responded that he is a good person then he walked away.
After I have composed myself, I thanked JC (Jesus Christ) and went inside the State Condominium building where the 2 guards were sitting. I reported to them that I was almost robbed at the ATM without them knowing it. They both confirmed that indeed there are no BPI ATM guards posted outside their building. I told them that I was lucky that the machine was offline and no cash was dispensed.
As I was leaving the area, I thought I was safe within Legazpi Village in Makati. I was wrong. I found myself lingering how safe I was 30 minutes BEFORE the incident. I was confidently eating my orange and sipping my pineapple juice as I sat on the pavement of Legazpi Park between Rada and Legazpi Streets while waiting for my gym buddy.
At the gym, it took me 10 minutes on the treadmill before I was able to talk with my gym buddy
I realized that I was still lucky for nothing violent happened and the robber was not successful. Was he just thirsty? h

Hiking Mt Batur in Bali

31 12 2013

Kintamani District, Bali, Indonesia

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Bali is equal to beaches, art and temples, so I said..

Who would have thought that Bali then is also a place for hiking? Not me!

Two days before my flight, I realized that there was a hiking potential in Bali on Mt Batur (Gunung Batur), an active volcano. I started packing with the hope of doing the sunrise hike together with my snorkelling and touristy get-ups.

Upon landing Saturday wee hours in the morning, I told the driver-guide Edy to find a mountain guide for me. After our day tour, Edy was able to contact Komang. It was like a sparkling moment.

Excited as I was, both Edy and I left the hotel at 1:30am the following day. We drove in a dark and rugged cemented road to the northern area of Kintamani from Kuta. We reached the foggy jump off* around 2:30am, 1,215m asl.  At the parking area, I saw some hikers from some parts of the world.

Komang and I started our adventurous hike around 3am in the cold 15 deg coupled with the morning breeze. He lent me his torch. While on trail, I started doubting the weather for a promise of sunrise. But it didn’t stop me. We continued our hike until we reached a flat area near a tree after about 1 km walk where I removed my jacket due to my self-“steaming” condition. I was already perspiring in the cold environment! There I met a teenager who offered to sell soda. I didn’t buy. I don’t really like sodas. I pulled out my water container and took a sip instead.

We continued trekking up to the trail where one could see a small Hindu temple. Komang had to do puja, or called sembhayang a prayer ritual to honor a deity, the “mountain God”. I waited. I took that opportunity to pee in the bushes! Yes, out in the woods.

Good thing that the trail was generally hiker-friendly composed of greyish to blackish soft soil emitted by the volcano. It is no joke when you do “night” trekking specially on a very challenging trail. As you hike up, expect some small, medium rocks to boulder-type. We finally reached the summit lodge area at 4:35am after the 3km walk from the jump-off. It took me 1.5 hours to reach the summit of Mt Batur at 1,717m above sea level I was expecting a 2-hr hike, based on the reviews. I have ascended about 500 m asl in the dark!

I sat on the wooden bench, had breakfast and waited for the sunrise. No bright sky out there. Venus was not visible. I could not even see the woman hiker sitting next to me. After 30 minutes of my silent moment, Komang was already offering the hot Balinese tea since he saw me already feeling cold and sleepy. I only had 1 hour sleep before the hike. Komang offered the area near the kitchen so that I could warm myself while waiting for the sunrise. I went inside where all the guides were staying. Then I fell comfortably asleep with my feet up rested on the wall. After 45 minutes, Komang woke me up. It was time to do the Mt Batur tour.

We started hiking around the summit and went further down towards the volcanic steam. I never thought that Komang is also a magician aside from being a mountain guide. He created more mist at a vent that made all the monkeys around the area wondering. When I saw 3 monkeys already near me, Komang and I continued our adventure towards the bat cave. There was a small temple inside the cave. However, we didn’t go inside since we didn’t have the traditional clothing worn during worship that locals and tourists use to wrap around from waist down. This clothing is equal to the “malong”, a traditional tube skirt. Since Hindu worshipping varies depending on the deity and place, it is not appropriate for locals and tourists to face this temple in their pants.

At the mouth of the cave, I saw the photographer’s side of Komang. He made me strong! He got a palm-sized stone and held my baby digi (my 60D canon) and took a snap. Lo and behold! I really looked like I had muscles!  

Then we paid respect and offered thanksgiving prayer to the small Hindu temple, also a marker of Mt Batur. We saw some international and local tourists. I had snaps with local tourist upon their request. I didn’t know why they like having photo with me. Then snaps around the caldera where monkeys abound. I have confirmed that these monkeys were friendly since two tents were still standing freely! It could be dangerous at times..

At 7am, Komang and I started descending to the longer trail. It was a refreshing view. I had a different vantage point of Mt Batur and I saw some flora within the area. “Pelan-pelan” (slowly) was the Indonesian word of the day. It could be a good mantra while descending since small rocks could be so tricky.

Upon reaching a pavement, Komang’s other side surfaced once again. He taught me how to descend the cemented road facing back instead of facing the trail ahead of you. I admit. It was easier. Five minutes before 8am, the phone rang. Edy was already checking on us. Suddenly, it rained. Good thing we were already few steps away from the jump-off. It was my cue to use my umbrella. As a gratitude to my trustworthy Mt Batur guide Komang I gave him my bush hat, more appropriate apparel for his profession so he will no longer use his bullcap. The bush hat symbolizes our new friendship so more mountains to climb in Bali.


1:30am ETD Kuta hotel           

2:30am ETA jump-off, Kintamani District

2:45am Briefing for the hike (trail, safety, gadgets, things to bring, time to go back to the jump-off)

3:00am Start ascend

4:30am ETA Summit crater, breakfast, rest

6:00am Continue trek around the entire crater, summit, bat cave

7:00am Start descend

8:00am ETA jump-off, parking lot, board vehicle

10:00am ETA Kuta hotel (due to traffic approx 2 hrs instead of 1 hr)


  1. Hiking shoes
  2. Jacket
  3. Hiking pants
  4. Camera (like my baby digi with wide lens)
  5. Raincoat or umbrella
  6. Headlamp, torch or flashlight
  7. Drinking water in a container
  8. Tips for the mountain guide and driver
  9. Open-mindedness


  1. Make sure you have a trustworthy and English-speaking driver like Edy and Batur guide like Komang J
  2. Pray pray pray for a safe fun hike!!

*starting point of the hike.h

Maximizing your e-Ticket

30 11 2012
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When in Asia, e-ticket is normally booking online and not necessarily a paperless airline seat purchase. Sounds absurd, but true in my experience.

So when I went to Brazil last September, I did a travel experiment. I did not print my e-ticket from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre. I just wrote down my e-ticket number and I was able to create my own boarding pass using their kiosk! I felt great!

After one month or so, I did another travel experiment. This time from Manila to Ho Chi Minh and Manila to Kuala Lumpur then back. No printing of e-ticket nor writing down of e-ticket number on my small notebook. I just literally handed over my BlackBerry (BB) to the guards from the terminal gate and they allowed me through. Then from both Philippine Airlines and Malaysia Airlines counter leaving and coming back Manila, both airline attendants warmly welcomed my checking in.

I then maximized my e-ticket while considering saving the environment!

TRAVEL PROMPT: I was 1.5 hours early than my usual terminal arrival time. I was thinking of plan B  (to print my e-ticket) should the airlines will not allow me to check in without a printed ticket! 🙂 h

Good morning Vietnam!

18 11 2012
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

It feels morning all the time in Vietnam! People are friendly and there’s good food all day round!

After having your healthy balanced Vietnamese food with fresh herbs, meat and spice, the best way to end the day is to go around HCM on motorbike during the night. Hire a 100 cc bike and enjoy the cooler green environment and breathtaking scenery of the areas Districts 1 to 3 where tourist spots, clubs and good restaurants are located. There are 24 districts in HCM and you do not need to see all these areas for sure!

Enjoy the city’s folk and ancient Vietnamese architecture rich in brick, pottery, ceramic with unique dimension and correlation. While on motorbike, I feasted my eyes looking on to the  well-lighted 68th floor high skyscraper Bitexco Financial Building, 262.5 meters (861 ft). Good thing I wasn’t the one driving! Thanks to both Minh and Tuyen for I reached back the hotel safely! 

Other related blogs >>

ADVENTURE PROMPT: As a precautionary when on motorbike, carry your backpack in front of you. h

What’s Truly Malaysia for you?

16 11 2012
Friday, 16 November 2012
Klang, Selangor, Malaysia
(32km West of Kuala Lumpur)

1. Food. Nasi Lemak goes number 1 on the list for only 1 RM (Malaysian Ringgit) or 14php/33cents. It is a rice-based staple food with some peanuts, dried chillies, cucumber, salted fish, coconut milk, boiled egg and a lot of tasty sauce that you could devour! (Don’t forget to drink “daun teh” green tea afterwards!)


2. Green. Your eyes could only hope to see up close and personal the rich   environment  surrounding even right in front of your hotel! 

3. Infrastructure. Towering skyscrapers,  impressive roads and highways will really fuel you to go to various places in the country! h

5 Things to Discover Argentina’s Diverse Attraction

10 10 2012
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sunday 23 September 2012

1. Sightseeing in Buenos Aires for free. As you land from the airport, take the Manuel Tienda León bus and they will give you a free tour of the city as they drop you off your hotel. You will be lucky if the driver will swing by Avenida Corrientes (Corrientes Avenue), the  major thoroughfare of the city. Then come back to Avenida Corrientes during the night and have a glimpse of the ‘street that never sleeps’ cultural and nightlife. You would see running theater plays and main shows with luminous marquees! Oh by the way, don’t expect the driver to act as your tourist guide since you only paid for the transportation!

2. Lobos Marinos (sea lion). If you are the National Geographic type person, go to Mar de Plata and see for yourself the enormous sea lion ever! You could see them right in front of the Atlantic Ocean coast line. 

3. Valleys and mountains. Enjoy the scenic San Luis and go to Cordoba to complete your mountain ranges “Sierras de Cordoba” fascination. Take photos of the estancias, fashion statement of the gauchos, and get awed by the grande grass-fed Argentian beef freely walking the valleys. (Now why I know why Argentian beef is soooooo good for the palate!!)

4. Faith reaffirmation.  Do your pilgrimage to the Capital of Faith (La Capital de la Fe) and honor the Virgin of Luján, the patron saint of Argentina.  Luján city is just 68 kilometers from Buenos Aires

5. Boat riding and water sports. Enjoy the sun in Tigre, 24-30 kilometers away from Buenos Aires. You could take the public boat or drive to reach the area then rent a boat so you could enjoy the secret of Tigre. Relax as you cruise the Delta. Have lunch in the riverside restaurant. (Good that Chiquilin knew what to order for me otherwise, heavy lunch would be a “BIG no no” when doing the cruise)

See the glass enclosed vacation home of former President Domingo Sarmiento. Most of all, have fun seeing the adrenalin rush of locals as they do some water sports (speed boat, water ski, wakeboard, paddle, kayak)!

 ADVENTURE PROMPT: Items 2 and 3 mentioned above needs a lot of flying here and there from Buenos Aires 
VISA REQUIREMENTS: Take note of visa requirements before booking your Argentina adventure! h

Touring Baguio City and La Trinidad in Benguet

15 05 2012
6 Sunday May 2012
Baguio City,
Luzon Island, Philippines

Escape the heat of Metro Manila and pack your bags to feel the natural breeze and country air of Baguio City!

This I say to you before urbanization and mining activities within the region takes another shape in its ecosystem.

Sample 2 days and 1 Night itinerary that you should not miss and kids enjoyed much:


Kennon Road. Leave Manila on or before 9am. After 250km, you could enjoy the scenic view of Luzon via Kennon Road. During non-summer months (June-February), fog causes almost zero visibility. Along the winding steep ascending road to Baguio, you could stop at the upper end of Kennon Road to have a spectacular view of the mountains and knolls. Other access points to Baguio: Marcos Highway from Agoo, La Union; Naguilian Road from Bauang, La Union; Halsema Highway; Nueva Vizacaya.

Lion’s Head. This 40-foot high lion head made out of limestone boulder is few kilometres from the Kennon Road view deck and considered to be the landmark of Baguio City. If you are travelling on a tour package or with your own/rented vehicle, you could stop for some photo opportunities. No need to worry since there are no lions in Baguio City! This is just a symbol of an artwork conceptualized by the Lions Club International. As you walk along the area, you will see some stalls selling native handicrafts. Prices are about the same when you reach further up so if you find something that would interest your shopping mood, don’t hesitate.

Lady of Lourdes Grotto. Take some 252 steps hike up to the grotto for fun and or some meditation. This place is also good for some photo snap since you could take a peek of the panoramic view of La Union.

Baguio Cathedral. Take another challenge in climbing up the concrete stairway of some hundred steps or so to give thanks to your blessings. Or just look at the beautiful structure that once became a saving grace to thousands of lives during the Japanese occupation in 1945. After being nostalgic, have some mini donuts near the cathedral to regain strength in order for you to continue strolling!

Burnham Park. This is the favourite spot of both locals and tourists since this artwork of renowned New York-born Architect Daniel Burnham back in 1900s have facilities for fun, simple recreation and relaxation. One could do some boat paddling with kids or love ones, have a picnic, watch outdoor events or even people watch while eating in a restaurant for local merienda!

Session Road. This is the heart of Baguio’s commercial areas so you could slow down and take a leisure walk while you window shop. There are many to choose from for your dinner and nightcap! Food choices can be native (from Benguet, Tagalogs, Ilocos, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Bicol) or international cuisine (Japanese, French, American, Chinese).

Public Market. If your hotel is within the areas of Burnham Park and Session Road, the Public Market gets near you since local vendors convert the main thoroughfare into a night market. One could shop before calling it a day from handicrafts to apparels (watch out though you might find UK –ukay-ukay item in the dark! Ukay –ukay is the local term for second hand items). Or else go to the Public Market the following day for some brand new items like knitted items, beddings and hiking gadgets and accessories.


La Trinidad’s Strawberry Farm.  In less than 10km away from Baguio, you could start your day by strawberry picking at La Trinidad while you sip the local strawberry flavoured sweet “taho”, a soft tofu with sago (tapioca). The unique strawberry picking experience is guided by the local Ibaloi farmers. The “fruits” of your labor are weighed afterwards to determine the price. There are other vegetable crops for your home-made salad.

Bell Church. After having the sweet staple food in the country, have an adrenalin visit to the nearby Buddhist Church for the view of a pagoda, dragon, landscape gardens or pray, as applicable. They welcome all religious denominations in this church. You could even light an incense for good fortune and health.

Mines View Park. After your solemn moment, find hope by going onto the observation deck of Mines View. Enjoy the view, meditate or even take some snaps on a horse, with a dog or with the local tribal people. Better yet, do some more shopping!

The Mansion. This is a gated park and has a mini museum inside the facility. This is known to be patterned after the Buckingham Palace of London and only open for official events. One could only take a photo at the gate or just swing by while inside your vehicle to see the glimpse if photo op does not suit your taste.

Wright Park. Adjacent to The Mansion is Wright Park where kids and adults could rent some ponies for horseback riding. Or ‘vendor watch” and be amazed on how fashionably they could be while selling within the riding area of the park. Out of curiosity, you could also try dressing up like the local Igorot tribal people for a snap (with a minimal fee on the clothing rental).

Camp John Hay. Have pancake for merienda inside Camp John Hay, a 690 hectare facility that has a golf course, horseback riding, biking and hiking trails, picnic areas, camping areas (with no tent-pitching fee) and a little pricy cottages, duplexes apartments, and lodges.

Philippine Military Academy. This is located at Fort Gregorio H. Del Pilar, a 373-hectare military training facility. Have some photo opportunities with the local “men and women in uniform” before heading back to Manila. If time permits, interview one of the cadets and learn their military career preparation.

*from the indigenous dialect in Benguet region, bagiw, moss in English language..
WHEN TO GO: Peak season starts from March to May. Best is after Holy week since hotel booking may not be difficult and shopping for native artworks, wood and metal carvings, silver jewelries and the like are more economical.

WHERE TO STAY: During off season, booking could be easy. But if you plan to go specially during Holy Week, book ahead to avoid some hotel inconvenience.

HOW TO GET THERE: There are various bus lines to choose from. But you could take my fave Victory bus liner from the cities of Pasay and or Cubao. Please note however that driving your own/or rented vehicle sounds better if you only have 1 night and 2 days to spare for this adventure.

BUDGET: No entrance fee for all mentioned sites. Hence, for 11 adventure seekers including kids and adults, 20K php (400 USD) at the minimum is enough. This includes your petrol budget direct from and to Manila. If you have more cash to burn, lavish touring more than 500 USD suits you best. h

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