Looking Back | On Trains

Happy New Year! 

I was thinking of updating this blog before the holidays, but there were tons of things to do for Christmas and New Year that I never got around to writing any new entries. (Heck, is there even anyone reading this? Heh.)

In any case, I thought I’d start the year by looking back and re-posting this entry I wrote in my old blog. Getting to places by train is just an awesome thing to write about and this post made me quite wistful about the whole experience! Continue reading

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Thoughts on Snow and Going North | Tromsø

Snow fascinates me. Where I grew up, we only had two seasons: the summer and the rainy season. If it didn’t rain, it was perpetually hot, and if it did rain, then the coldest it would ever allow was up to twenty degrees Celsius. My country is just above the equator, so we get a lot of sunlight and our yearly temperatures don’t change too much and too often.

Growing up, I was accustomed to more than ten typhoons a year coming into my country, anticipating suspension of classes due to signal number three typhoon warnings and the risk of strong winds and flooding. In the summer, we’d have an abundance of beaches and islands to choose from. In the rainy season we’d be stuck at home or in school, with the possibility of cancelled classes and brownouts (blackouts, really, but back home we call them brownouts, heh).

So while some people consider coconuts and island hopping and napping in the shade by the sea exotic, I consider snow – and lots of it – exotic. It’s one of the most interesting things I’ve ever come across, by virtue of the fact that I’m not used to it. The sound of crisp, fresh snow crunching beneath my boots is exciting. Lying on it is weird and comfortable, and how do you even play with snow? I don’t even know.

I’m a fairly normal tropical girl (I think I need a yearly dose of vitamin sea to function properly for twelve months), but I can’t get enough of the cold. I love the cold. I love being cold. I love cold places and the thin line between knowing how it is to be freezing and knowing the minimum amount of warmth to get by. Earlier this year, somehow I ended up going further north than I’d ever planned to go in my entire life, in order to chase some astronomical phenomenon of lights in the sky. Obviously, it came with a lot more snow than I could ever imagine.

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Andon Ryokan | Tokyo

My default choice for accommodations during a trip is almost always a hostel. Hostels are cheaper, they usually come with free breakfast and whether you want to or not, you get to meet people from all around the world. If you’re lucky, the hostel you choose is sooooo cool and wonderfully designed that it’s forever branded as awesome in your memory (case in point: Hostel 64 Osaka).

With that said, the same principle applied to my recent trip in Japan. I was set to spend four nights in RetroMetro Backpackers. Unfortunately, they had emailed back to me and told me they’d be closed for two weeks starting on the day that I would arrive. So the search for accommodations continued, and I ended up choosing this wonderful budget ’boutique’ ryokan in Taito-ku.

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Little Edo | Kawagoe

There are many day trips to take from Tokyo, the most popular of which, in my opinion, is a visit to one of the nearby prefectures to view Mount Fuji (e.g. day trips to Hakone, or Kawaguchiko). And for good reason – it’s a sight to behold, especially on a crisp, sunny day.

But this post is dedicated to Kawagoe, one of the ‘roads less taken’, so to speak, when visiting Tokyo.

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Good Food, Good Art | Penang

As a last hurrah of sorts with four friends – one friend was leaving and heading back to Manila for good – we had come up with the somewhat spontaneous plan to spend one weekend in Penang. It’s northwest of Malaysia, known for its historical significance (Georgetown is part of the UNESCO Heritage list), its street art (Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic‘s works are all over Penang), and its food (hands down, best laksa ever for only MYR6).

It’s such a great place to be in. If you happen to be visiting this part of the world – Singapore / Malaysia – choose to allot at least two days in this charming destination. Stay for the art; stay for the food. If that isn’t enough, then stay for the beaches, which we’ve heard are quite lovely. In any case, it’s a treat in itself to spend the whole day walking around Georgetown, and when it gets too hot, streets are littered with small cafes, each of which is unique and oozes chill vibes and good coffee. Continue reading

On the Dragon’s Back | Hong Kong

I don’t know about you, but recently I’ve noticed that more and more people have been climbing mountains and going on hikes whenever they’re out of town. Every so often, someone I know would post a photo of an incredible vista of a mountain range or a sea of clouds at the break of dawn.

It’s awesome, this renewed interest in the outdoors. We’re practically reminding ourselves that, yes, there’s something more to life than the city and our everyday lives in and out of school/work.

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