RIO IS ART: A Weekend Get Away

21 09 2012
Monday 17 September 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

If you want to feel how it is in Rio for a weekend, try this itinerary (beach, events, sightseeing, hiking):

Friday, Day 1

Arrive late night Guarulhos International Airport

Saturday, Day 2 Copacobana, Ipanema, Harley Davidson Motorcycle event, Corcovado

Early Morning – go to Copacaba and Ipanema for photo opportunities and natural appreciation of beauty. Copacobana is Rio’s major site. Ipanema on the other hand surfaced famous bossa nova songs, my fave.

Mid-morning – I was lucky to see the second Rio Harley Davison Motorcycle event where I saw several models and heard in volume the powerful head turning sound of this big bike!

Afternoon – Catch the tram that would take you to Corcovado, the statue of Christ the Redeemer. This is the largest, most famous Art Deco and considered sanctuary in the country. Christ is soaring high at 30 meters with 8 meter pedestal on Tijuca National Park (710 meters above sea level). Once here, enjoy the panoramic natural beauty of Rio’s sea and mountains. The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas lies just fronting Corcovado.

Sunday, Day 3 Bodyboarding World Championship event, Urban Hiking on Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf)

Early Morning – Another good thing happened during this trip was my destiny to see and witness the Mundial Bodyboarding/Bodyboarding World Championship event At Copacobana’s Posto 5

Afternoon – Urban Hiking on Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) and catch the sight of Botafogo and Guanabara Bay. Related link >>

Monday, Day 4

Depart early, Guarulhos International Airport

HOW TO GO TO CORCOVADO: This will depend where you will come from. Say Copacabana, go to Bus station 2 and take bus#583. Going back to Copacabana should be bus#584. Otherwise, get the local Rio Guide book for more information.

HOW TO KNOW THE LOCAL EVENTS: From the international airport, go to the information desk. Ask for the guide book and look for what you could find. Also get a map, to know how to get to the event you have chosen!

As I have said, RIO IS ART! Atè a proxima! h


Packing Checklist: Mt Kilimanjaro AdventureHescape

8 06 2012
Saturday, 9 June 2012

Few hours to go and I need to see if my checklist is gearing up:


Backpack, Mountain Hardwear, Fluid 32

Bag, Duffle, Hawk

Camera, Canon EOS 60D + wide and long lenses

Camera bag, Lowepro

Carabiner, Black Diamond Neutrino >>

Dry bag, Exped


Headlamp, Black Diamond Icon

Headlamp, Petzl

Moneybelt pouch, Coghlan’s

Mattress, Thermarest

Medicines (including LARIAM and YELLOW FEVER shot)

Neck Pillow, Thermarest


Rain cover, Deuter

Shades, Columbia Carabiner temple

Shades, Oakley

Sleeping bag – 0

Sleeping bag liner, Coghlan’s

Spork, Light My Fire

Trekking pole, Black Diamond Trail Shock Compact >>

Wrist watch, Casio ABT


Baselayer, Columbia

Baselayer, Marks & Spencer, thermals

Baselayer, Marmot

Gloves, Columbia Omnitech

Gloves, Marmot (thanks to Almond!, my sponsor ! >>

Gloves, Thinsulate Insulation 3M

Hat, Peruvian Columbia

Jacket, Marmot

Jacket, Mammut

Socks, Fox River

Socks, Marks & Spencer, wool

Trekking pants , Arcteryx; Army Knife; Lowe Alpine

Trekking shirts, Equipe; Mountain Hardwear;

Trekking Shoes, New Balance 1201

Trekking Shoes, Hi-tec (thanks to Crinkles who thought of this in 2007)

I started buying since January this year: from Metro Manila, Davao (thanks to C and J), Singapore (thanks to Ensaymada and Almond my hosts in Singapore) and even on line shopping (thanks to M who made it happen completing my Campmor cart).

I think my Africa gears are ready. Next question is: how will I carry them?

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Snorkelling on Maricaban Island in Batangas

19 04 2012
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Batangas, Philippines

Batangas is one of the provinces in the country known for its beaches, mountains, diving and snorkelling areas. Amongst its many jewels, Maricaban island is the nearest and less crowded place where you could go to. Although no historic shipwreck underneath, Maricaban is a must see for a year-round snorkelling  and beachineering (bum at the beachline).


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Fronting Tatay’s Resort, underwater you will see some corals and other marine life (multicoloured fish, sponges, elkhorn, brain coral, and crustaceans inhabit the area).


Above water, you get to enjoy the dramatic sundown while the fisherman passes by.

But what I love most is the fact that our friend Pugon owns the resort!

SAMPLE ITINERARY (2 days, 1 night):
07:30 – ETD Manila
10:30 – ETA Batangas Pier/wharf. Buy packed lunch and do some marketing for Dinner, Breakfast and Lunch the following day!
11:00 – ETA Anilao
12:00 – ETD Anilao Pier/wharf, mainland Have LUNCH while cruising the sea
NOTE: limited boats, so do not miss this public transportation
13:00 – ETA Maricaban island, take 5 min hike to Tatay’s Resort
13:30 – ETA Tatay’s Resort. Prepare Merienda,  And arrange for a rented banca for the following day to take you back to the mainland.
14:30- Quality time for snorkelling, swimming, siesta, book reading while enjoying the breeze
17:00- Prepare Dinner
19:00- Have DINNER
20:00- Socials/Fellowship
23:00- Pitch tent or bivouac, lights out!
07:00- Wake up call
07:30 – Prepare Breakfast
08:30- Have BREAKFAST
09:30- Quality time for snorkelling, swimming, siesta, book reading while enjoying the breeze. Break camp
11:00 – Prepare Lunch
12:00- Have LUNCH
14:00- ETD Maricaban via the rented banca
15:00 – ETA Anilao Pier/wharf, back to Manila
18:00 – ETA Manila

BUDGET: <2,000php / <40 USD per pax for a group of 5. Transportation arrangement from Manila to Batangas on board a bus or own vehicle. Parking at Anilao Pier/wharf is pretty safe anyway. Other expenses: boat ride coming to and from Anilao pier/wharf, food including drinking water, very affordable resort to base

HOW TO GET THERE: Public transportation coming from Edsa or even LRT Taft Avenue are available. Or else, via own vehicle passing through South Superhighway then Star Tollway link-road. You may follow the directional signs along the way to Anilao Pier/wharf.

WHO TO CONTACT: Just drop a line. On a regular diving season. Tatay’s Resort is for daytime home base only. However, you could directly arrange for a camping or bivouac sleeping adventure! h

Trekking Mt Pinatubo

16 04 2012
Saturday, 28 January 2012
Luzon, Philippines

Mt Pinatubo is located in the provinces of Zambales, Pampanga and Tarlac.

Hence there are 3 routes or jump off for your hiking adventure:

1.    Sta Juliana, Capas Tarlac – good for day hike because of the organized 4×4 association that could bring you to the last passable area. This trail was used to be “multiple days”. For the suggested itinerary >>

2.    Porac, Pampanga – takes multiple days with never ending river crossing. Be warned on the trail as it is composed of the Pinatubo’s lahar deposits characterized by sandy volcanic rock and ash. Although these are small particles, they could hit you real hard. My OMish friend Ran ended up with bruises even at the start of the hike while I ended up groping for light. My torch (head lamp) got busted while night river trekking.

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3. San Marcelino, Zambales – takes multiple days with abundant lush green foliage and flowing streams abound. Amidst the dense forest, there is an opportunity to immerse with Aetas, the local tribe as you hike up. Aetas are very friendly to the extent that they might give you some fruits and native baskets like what the wife of Manong William, the chieftain have given me and my friends during the exploratory climb in Q1 2006. Mind the routes as they are tricky during the night. My Breadship friend Bucopie almost got lost during our descend. h

AdventureHescape: Snow Mountain

8 04 2012
Monday, 9 April 2012
Taiwan, ASIA

Here are 5 interesting things to consider when preparing for a successful summit chances on Snow Mountain, locally known as  Syue Mountain with 10.9 km trail, standing at 3886m asl, located  at Shei-Pa National Park:

1.  Have a shared goal. Even when you travel with your real friends (please see my post on Banahaw de Lucban >> but you do not share the same vision, it will be impossible for the whole team to have a successful summit. If having the same goal has been established from the very beginning, chances are all members of the team will do their own preparation from physical, mental, spiritual and or even financial. You always therefore need to keep time management. Remember your objective is to summit and descend safely. So, “climb high but camp low”. Although Snow Mountain is not a very technical hike, this was my longest 10.9 km. On a normal running, 10km is only  45 minutes to 1 hr or so only. But Snow Mountain will take you multi-day with some challenges on the elevation, weather and backpack loading.

2. At least ONE month logistical arrangement from permits (Park and Mountain entries), to transportation (both land from Taipei to the jump off called Wuling Farm and air from your home country to Taipei), hotel (within Taipei) and cabin (within Shei-Pa National Park) bookings and visa requirements.  It would be better to hook up with an accredited mountain guide for your permits, otherwise, you will not be allowed to hike up. If you are a non-Taiwanese speaker, make sure that your guide or travel agency knows both English and the local language. The permits could be arranged from this site –

With regard to the cabin booking, there are only 2 cabins where you could stay on the mountain – Cika and 369. The same travel agency will process the cabin bookings since the dates to enter and leave the areas as well as the locations to stay overnight are the mandatory information needed when applying the Mountain Permit to MIO’s National Police Agency or local police stations. If you opt to look for a travel agency than DIY do it yourself, they too will handle the land transfers from Taipei city to the jump off, Wuling farm. Jump off is where you will start hiking up the mountain.

For your flight arrangements specially if you leave OUTSIDE the country, the earlier you book, the more economical. The hotel booking on the other hand may be done from your end or you may too request your travel agency to do it for you. But, of course expect the possibility to have an extra transaction item on your billing statement. Another but most important factor is how you pay your chosen travel agency. Make sure you are ready to pay extra charges for the bank transfer or even on-line payment.

3. Choose the itinerary that suits your needs. If possible, climb on a weekday to avoid congestion in one of the cabins. There are more weekend hikers than during the rest of the week. As to the time management, the earlier you hike, the better chances for a 100% summit. Choose the time of actual hike depending on your physical and mental capabilities. You could do night trekking on the first day, but expect longer hours on trail.

Although Snow has an established trails with well-posted signages (from trail signs, to actual number of kilometers to the next trail up to the scientific names of the flora abound), there are still some part on the trail where you need to be cautious like that of Black Forest.  Day trekking is more advisable since the place is so scenic and good for photo opportunities.

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Snow has its own unique weather. It rains normally from 14:00 onwards. Good thing we had poncho and umbrella otherwise we would have hiked in the rain! Best month to hike will depend on your physical capabilities. More snow, more challenging. Therefore, if you will be coming from a tropical climate, October may be best for you.

4. Meal plan that will motivate you throughout the hike. Make sure that you know what you will be eating. Check whether the food will give you the energy booster that your body needs. If the food will still allow you to adjust, then, think of another food group. For instance, if you are a rice eater, then suggest a menu good with rice. Otherwise, you will end up eating the food that you might not be happy with and would eventually affect your pacing in reaching your Snow Mountain goal. Therefore, better have at least a little of your “comfort food”

5. Bring proper  light gear. Make sure you have with you warm clothes, a poncho and or umbrella for the rain and for the ultraviolet radiation. The ultraviolet radiation is more stronger in this altitude. Your checklist should then include: minimum 40 L backpack, rain cover, sturdy hiking shoes, gaiters (for the rain), mountain stick/trekking pole (to support your knee and for better balance while on trail, but remember to use the stick before you step to maximize the use of the pole), fleece, raincoat, thermal wear, insulated pants, jacket, gloves for protection against the cool weather, at least 0 deg sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, headlamp or torch, toiletries and earplug to manage noise of the other hikers around during the night. Clarify with your travel agency the loading of food, your own gear whether a porter is needed or not.

SAMPLE ITINERARY (Overall elevation: 3886 m asl, 10.9 km trail, 3 days and 2 nights):
Day 1:
(1 hr hike from jump-off then overnight stay at Cika cabin; ascending 607 m asl. The time below is dependent on the permit that your travel agency will be able to arrange. If your ETD Taipei will be in the afternoon, it therefore follows that your ETA Cika cabin will be late as well)
08:00 ETD Taipei (Have an early breakfast before the meeting place. Buy pack lunch along the road. Travel passing through an impressive mountain tunnels and you may start counting the kilometer per bay so that you could avoid having claustrophobia even before you start your hike )
12:00 ETA Wuling Farm and process permit. Have lunch while the travel agency process the permit. (The late President Chiang Ching-kuo named the farm as Wuling in 1963. It is a valley with an altitude of 1740m asl, very rich in natural resources).
14:00 Start hiking (This will be a 1 hr hike up to Cika cabin, with an elevation of 2,463 m asl. Enjoy seeing vegetation around. See the Formosan alder- Alnus japonica, one of the principal species in the area. Trail is a gentle uphill with wooden stairs-like trail through a pine forest line)
15:00 ETA Cika cabin and spend the night (This will form part of your acclimitization. Enjoy the view from the platform where you could see the Wuling area and Central Mountain range. This large wooden cabin is bigger than the next 369. This could accommodate up to 130 hikers and have a generally clean separate bathrooms and wash-up area for boys and girls. The kitchen has tables and chairs for hikers while comfortably filling up their stomach! Mind you though that detergents for washing dishes are not permitted. Water is abundant here but boil it if you are not used to mountain water).
Day 2: (4 hr-hike up to the next cabin – 369 then 4 hrs hike up to the summit)
03:00 – Wake up call (Have light breakfast)
04:00 – ETD Cika cabin (Prepare yourself to the few hundred meter steep section of the hike called “Crying Slope” with about 75-85 degree then enjoy the established grass trail where you could see “helipad”. This helipad was built as an access path during medical emergencies or disasters.
08:00- ETA 369 cabin (Cool down, recover energy while you enjoy the view.  Not advisable to stay overnight here since rodents are mostly seen and could be irritant for most hikers. This cabin could accommodate 100 people but with a very uncomfortable sleeping condition for its cramp wooden bunk beds and limited bathrooms built outside the main hut. The kitchen too is located outside the main hut. And the biggest table does not even have roofing. Therefore, when you need to go to the bathroom, kitchen and even use the biggest table specially if your group is more than 5, you could either be exposed to the rain or other weather elements.)
09:00 – ETD 369 cabin (Hike on an open “wind chill” winding road and prepare yourself to see Black Forest, the most beautiful abies forest zone I have ever seen so far. This is the name referring to the mountain areas between 3100 m and 3600 m with cold-temperate region and vegetation of sub-alpine coniferous alpine forest type. While you traverse a path, enjoy seeing High mountain juniper, Juniperus squamata. But be self conscious since this is the portion where you could easily get lost. The trail may be tricky as you peel off your layering like I did. It was a mixture of feeling cold and “melting” on trail as I perspired while saturating my energy. )
13:00- ETA Snow Mountain summit 3886 m asl
1330 – ETD summit and start descending
20:00- ETA Cika cabin (Spend the night and recover energy while your travel agency prepares a meal for you.)
Day 3: (1 hr ascend back to the jump off)
06:00 – Wake up call (Have breakfast)
07:00 – ETD Cika cabin, start descending. Once again, feel secure by the unpainted picket fences as support installed at the end of the main path 
08:00-  ETA Jump-off
13:00 – ETA Taipei
BUDGET: Air fare (9K PHP,+/-200 USD/), Guide (15K PHP, +/- 350 USD) Others: food, hotel
HOW TO GET THERE:  Book your flight from your home country to Taipei. You could either catch the bus from Taipei Station direct to Wuling farm. Go to the East 3 entrance on or before 07:20 am. The trip is about 4 hours. The same bus company goes back to Taipei station on or before 14:00. Better yet, discuss with your chosen travel agency a private vehicle bound to Wuling.
NOTE: Snow Mountain is a must see in Taiwan. Aside from being the 2nd highest in Taiwan and a little lower than Yushan/Jade Mountain 3952 m asl, the highest in Eastern Asia, Snow gives a different perspective in hiking.
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Volcano Crater Boat Ride: Mt Pinatubo

14 03 2012
Saturday, 28 January 2012
Capas, Tarlac
Luzon, Philippines

If you are a little less excited with the 4×4 journey on Mt Pinatubo and its 4km touristy trek up to the crater and back, why not try the boat ride and cruise along?

Now I could imagine your eyes sparkling with so much gusto, right? See for yourself how you will be mesmerised by its interesting beauty:

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03:00 ETD Manila to Capas, Tarlac
06:00 ETA Barangay Sta. Juliana Tourism Office for registration
06:30 Start of the 4×4 fun ride
07:30 ETA Jump-off, last 4×4 trail and start of 2.5 hr trek
10:00 ETA Crater, take the boat ride
12:00 Lunch, take things slow by bumming around afterwards
13:00 ETD Crater to jump-off and start of the 2.5-hr trek back
15:30 ETA Jump-off, take the 4×4 ride
16:30 ETA Barangay Sta. Juliana Tourism Office, wash up
18:00 ETD Capas, Tarlac to Manila
21:00 ETA Manila
BUDGET: Boat ride 350php (10USD) /person; Possible package inclusions, price depending on the number of pax: round trip from Manila to Tarlac, 4×4  SUV ride to trekking trail, local guide, conservation fee, shower area usage. Other expenses: food, transportation to the meeting place and back

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the bus from Manila bound to Capas Tarlac. My fave bus is Victory Liner (clean, safe driving and on time). Take the jeepney to Barangay Patling then to  Barangay Sta. Juliana. From here, you will transfer to the rented 4×4 off road sports utility vehicle (SUV)

WHO TO CONTACT: Since Mt Pinatubo is one of my fave outdoor places, my friends and I could arrange a private tour for you, if you are a group of 10 or more. If less than 10 pax, contact one of the local tour operators to see if their schedule matches yours.h

12 Hopeful Adventures to Rough out in the Philippines

30 12 2011
Friday, 25 November 2011
Guam, USA

1. BIRD WATCHING and see the famous Calayan Rail – found only in 2004 on Calayan island up north the country and make sure you have x number of days to spare so you could go to the forest and have a glimpse. Otherwise, you will ask yourself to choose – the bird or the boat to the main island? Ah! tough one!

2. HUMPBACK WHALE encounter – Camiguin island, Babuyan group of islands. They like to swim around the areas before sundown. While killing time, you could go to the literally “hotspot” area for a stone massage in Magas-Asok

3. CULTURE-WATCHING the religious way – after travelling on rough sea aboard falua boat, hear mass wee hours in the morning in Itbayat. Make sure you are in the right hour since mass service for male is different with the female! Might as well donate some books to the locals while you wait for your turn.

4. SURFING in Aurora province – whether you like it or not, local law enforcement may stop newbees any time in Sabang due to the high tide of the Pacific Ocean. The alternative for you then is to get a BIG HUG from Baler’s 600-year old Banyan tree standing tall at 50 meters in height. Baler is the town proper. But if you are not like me and you are the so-called “highly skilled” individual, Charlie’s Point is your target!

5. If you are still in a SURFING mode, try BARAS in Catanduanes – or else hike up to Mt. Lantad for the cool coastline view along the ridge

6. For some MILITARY adventure, swing by Camp  Abubakar  in Maguindanao and learn the peace efforts done back in 2000. Mind you, no bunkbeds for you here! You could either stay in Lake Sebu for a relaxing meal after a hostile experience!

7. BEACHINEERING in Jolo – this term is actually a concoction of swimming and bumming then leaving the island after max 4 hours! The exciting part here is taking photos of the prestine waters of Jolo and the colourful Muslim stilt houses.

8. PHOTO OP on Pink island, Zamboanga when the sun is up! You will see why it is called PINK. The island’s cemetery is a point of interest since the tomb tells a lot of stories. As a courtesy of course, you do not take photos without asking the locals within the area. Before going onto the island, register at the Tourism office to book your “bodyguard”. Oh by the way, get real. You are still not WHITNEY HOUSTON!

9. LANZONES craving in Isabela, Zamboanga. Yes, the best in the country! This may sound subjective, but how would you know if you will not go there? While munching, you could enjoy watching the rubber treeline in the area. Awesome! Make sure you have the tricycle driver to tour you around and listen to the locals and or men in uniform for instructions up to what point you could only bum around.

10. SNORKELLING with the 3ft long TURTLES on Apo Island – then enjoy the breeze while you lounge in your veranda hotel. If you still have some adrenalin rush, scramble to the the stone structures in front of the hotel

11. NEMO hunting on Caramoan group of islands – stare in one of them and for sure you will end up stuck in a current of whirlpool. Mesmerize yourself and end up staying in one of the islands with no electricity. This is already a clue for you to always bring a flash light with you.

12. RIDE a 6×6 to the foot of Mt Parker – General Santos City. Make sure you bring some school supplies for kids and medicine for the locals. Kids here walk x number of km just to get education. Hook up with the local mountaineering group for better logistics so you could also experience Mt Matutum as well so you could have 2 peaks in 2 days!

NOTE:This is ONLY for adventurers who  could backpack lots of fun, open mind, courage and prayers! If you qualify, make sure you have left back home a copy of the signed insurance policies for you will surely experience the most inconvenient fun adventure of your life! h

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