[20 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]
blue christmas in shanghai

By: Ron Cruz
getting out of pudong airport
Christmas day. Cruising at 490 kn and 10,000 miles above sea level, in what appears like an aircraft filled with Chinese passengers with huge possibility that I am the only one celebrating this holiday.
While trying to make sense out of the bad Christmas dinner (airline food) on my tray table, a strong fume of a newly opened vial of white flower ointment emanates in the cabin. Maybe the packed food was flat tasteless or the white flower fume paralysed my tastebuds, either way it ruined my already sad dinner.
I wanted …

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china, Headline, world travel »

[20 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]
blue christmas in shanghai

By: Ron Cruz
getting out of pudong airport
Christmas day. Cruising at 490 kn and 10,000 miles above sea level, in what appears like an aircraft filled with Chinese passengers with huge possibility that I am the only one celebrating this holiday.
While trying to make sense out of the bad Christmas dinner (airline food) on my tray table, a strong fume of a newly opened vial of white flower ointment emanates in the cabin. Maybe the packed food was flat tasteless or the white flower fume paralysed my tastebuds, either way it ruined my already sad dinner.
I wanted …

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germany, history, world travel »

[12 Jul 2014 | 4 Comments | ]
a grand castle, a suicide and lousy cover-ups

getting to neuschwanstein castle
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The Neuschwanstein Castle screams fairy tale from every angle. Churned out of pure fantasy and child-like imagination, this structure inspired countless stories and played an important part in the last century’s pop culture.
To be honest, I already envisioned myself trailing towards this castle in a Hans Zimmer moment, with an epic swag and a lion-hearted gallantry to rival the most valiant of mythic dragon slayers. But when I read further on the real tales of this theatrical stronghold, I dropped the shield.
Behind the beautiful and romantic composition of towers, cornices and …

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food, Headline, japan, travel tips, world travel »

[28 Jun 2014 | 3 Comments | ]
an authentic japanese food adventure

By: Ron Cruz
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Itadakimasu!
The word means “I humbly receive!” A verbiage to be said before the first bite, like bon appetite for French or loosely translated Kain na for Filipinos. One semi-drunk Japanese guy told me that it’s a way to salute everyone who paved way for the food to be on your plate, from farmers to chefs, packers to servers.
Another version from the same semi-drunk Japanese guy (this time he was semi-sober), is that Itadakimasu is supposedly a way of paying respect to the soul of the sacrificed creature, that his life wasn’t …

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Headline, myanmar, world travel »

[21 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]
what shwedagon taught me

By Ron Cruz
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Towards the end of each trip, the last few hours are always the fastest, whirling like blurred movie scenes flashing like strobes causing a silent seizure, an alternating circuit of vague emotions. Like a toddler’s tantrum that only riddance can soothe.
On that last day in Myanmar, we gave the city one last glance that she deserve. No plan, no mission, no bullshit.
So, I just decided to fly by the seat of my pants.
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Towering and outshining anything in the city, Yangon’s Shwedagon can easily be a grand symbol of opulence, a bastion of …

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austria, germany, Headline »

[15 Jun 2014 | 2 Comments | ]
sun and see: the lakes of bavaria

By Ron Cruz
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For someone who grew up constantly breathing the salty air from the sea, summer is synonymous to sun, sand and grilled tilapia awaiting to be torn by wrinkled fingers for lunch.
Summer. The time of the year to bask in the tropical heat and waste slothful hours of doing nothing–like an all day siesta and all night fiesta of biblical proportions!
So when we decided to spend all our entire season’s trip budget in the Bavarian Alps, I wasn’t really sure if it was a subconscious betrayal or revolt on beach escapade tradition. Perhaps the same yearly activities one after another became routinely uninspiring …

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food, whining »

[1 Jun 2014 | 4 Comments | ]
should we always post photos of what we eat?

By Ron Cruz

In the age where a smart phone is fast becoming a food utensil, everyone can easily become a foodie, a critique, a connoisseur. So, inevitably food-whoring became a subculture of travel and social media: Taking pictures of what’s on the plate replaced the prayer before meals and the cyber generation claimed a responsibility to show the world what we are eating despite the fact that no one is asking for us to do so.
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In the pre-social media world, people will only take pictures of food because:

They work in the food industry (like chefs, stylist, …

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accommodation, austria, world travel »

[10 May 2014 | 8 Comments | ]
how i almost got kicked-out of an abbey in salzburg

By Ron Cruz
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The map and the GPS confirmed that I was at the right location, with my 20kg bags and empty stomach, I couldn’t wait to check-in and sit in a restaurant. But my basic cerebral functions were probably still snoozing the alarm.
Yes, I am staying in a church in old Salzburg. Complete with real priests, nuns, open courtyards, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens—It was an Austrian cheese-travaganza!
I found myself standing in front of an old baroque church which name is until now I couldn’t seem to learn how to pronounce—Dreifaltigkeitskirche. In front of me was …

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budget, japan, travel tips, world travel »

[3 May 2014 | 4 Comments | ]
japan trip budget and quick guide for first time travelers

japan visa requirements for filipinos. japan trip budget and quick guide for first time travelers
OK, before I blabber about my Japan adventure and spontaneously spew sakura petals out of my orifices, let’s do this trip planning and budget shiitake once and for all.
Last week I wrote something about my emotional preparation prior to my trip to Japan, but after the Shaider marathon and youtube surfing of random Japanese sick pranks and creepy TV ads, that’s when it gets real.
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AIRFARE
The price war between budget airlines is like a Pokemon match, one will throw flight sale …

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Headline, japan, whining, world travel »

[27 Apr 2014 | 7 Comments | ]
japan: initial thoughts

JAPAN TRAVEL TIPS FOR PINOYS
I’ve been seeing people clap twice and bow down in front of a shrine. So when I saw the next one with a sakura tree and a fancy roof, I put my hands together and bowed with sincerest respect.
A young Japanese boy behind me interrupted my glorious moment and said “Sir, that’s a house.”

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I was not really sure if I was ready to meet Japan, I was not sure if I will ever be. The conspicuous culture is undeniable, a flavor nowhere else found in history and …

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france, Headline, Uncategorized, world travel »

[6 Apr 2014 | No Comment | ]
Musée du Louvre

Must-see art works in the louvre other than mona lisa
You have to forget her fame. You need to go inside the painting, see her naked expression, read her tender message and feel the outline of her delicate smile.
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The worst time to visit Paris is during the heat of the summer. The months of June to August are when the city transforms from the romantic and cultural metropolis to a hundred and five square kilometers of Disneyland-ish theme park overran by tourists from all across the planet.
Hotels are fully booked, air fares are ridiculously expensive, …

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food, Headline, laos, world travel »

[29 Mar 2014 | 13 Comments | ]
the quest for a true laotian meal

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In silence, the sun started kissing the town’s aging asphalt and concrete surfaces. The light revealed the layers of pastel painted walls that are falling-off like withered flakes of skin. It is charming, it is enigmatic, and to some degree ineffably sublime.
I could hear myself breathing heavily with my 60 liter backpack that I have been carrying since we arrived in the wee hours of the morning. With my semi suicidal lack of conviction in lieu to the tiring border crossing from the preceding night, we booked the first hostel …

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whining, world travel »

[16 Mar 2014 | 6 Comments | ]
legally non-blonde

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The beauty of travel is that it has an escapism element in it. An art that one may resort to as a form of catharsis or simply just for the heck of doing it. You may be who you want to be, do whatever you want, make mistakes, screw up, fall. Who cares? No one. No one will judge you, you won’t feel embarrassed and all you have to do is stand up and do it all over again.
A couple of bottles of cheap beer are my essential materials for …

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accommodation, Local travel, siargao »

[8 Mar 2014 | 4 Comments | ]
buddha’s surf resort: where to stay in siargao

Few miles from Sayak Airport on board an ATR-72, I held on to dear life amidst the whips of dark clouds when the captain’s voice broke the aircraft’s monotone hum.
pilot: Ladies and gentlemen, we will be sustaining at 1,000 feet a little longer due to the weather condition.
me: oh dear…
<20 minutes and four landing descend attempts later>
pilot: we will be attempting a reverse north approach and try to touch down from the other end of the runway
me: ATTEMPTING?!!
The resort that we booked helped us arrange a van service that picked …

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budget, myanmar, travel tips »

[5 Mar 2014 | 8 Comments | ]
first-timers’ guide to myanmar

VISA
When we visited Myanmar exactly a year ago, Filipinos were required to apply for tourist visa prior to travel. Recently, both countries agreed to scrap the requirement and give Filipinos 14 days of stay without the stress-inducing sticker in the passport. So that’s P1,100 and armpit-frothing process less of your worries.

MONEY
The local currency is the Burmese Kyat (Pronounced as Chat). Here’s the tricky part, Kyats are nowhere to be found in the neighboring countries’ money changers, ask for Kyat and chances are, they will give you that WTF? look and …

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austria, FlipPicks, food, germany, Headline, switzerland »

[1 Mar 2014 | 8 Comments | ]
FlipPicks: Bavarian Food That You Must Try

For the longest time, if someone will randomly ask me off the streets to name my favorite Bavarian dish, like 90% of you I will proudly say “Bavarian crème filled donut, duh!” That’s without batting an eyelash.
Unlike the modern concrete cities up north, Bavaria is a region in southern Germany and it is the archetypal Germany that we picture in our heads: The lederhosen, curvy girls in dirndls, beer for breakfast and where the language and accent are so strong, a senile tourist will suffer cerebro-vascular stroke when someone greets …

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accommodation, budget, nepal, travel tips »

[23 Feb 2014 | 5 Comments | ]
nepal for first-timers

MOUNT EVEREST
Don’t ask me about climbing the Everest Base Camp, I can’t even climb our building’s stairs to start with. But the most popular trail for non-pro enthusiasts should be the Annapurna Circuit. It is relatively easier and realistic trek especially if you have limited time to spend in Nepal.
So if climbing mountains isn’t one of your super powers, then seeing Mount Everest from the plane will be the nearest experience that you can get. Make sure to book a window seat on the right side of the plane if …

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Europe, france, Headline, world travel »

[18 Feb 2014 | 6 Comments | ]
notre-dame de paris: the pop culture, the history, the legacy.

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When Victor Hugo wrote the French gothic novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in 1829, he was aiming to raise awareness on the importance of saving old buildings during the time when everyone’s pulling a Miley Cyrus wrecking structures left and right.
Little did he know that his grotesque protagonist will be strongly associated with the cathedral’s popularity throughout the 20th century. Quasimodo was portrayed and copied in different countries all over the world. Of course Philippine cinema did not let it pass.
I can vividly remember the 1974 film. The first scene in …

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Headline, whining »

[14 Feb 2014 | 14 Comments | ]
travel trend forecast according to skyscanner’s bloscars 2014 finalists

 
Philippines is named in honor of King Philip II of Spain, which by the way means “fond of horses” in Greek. So, will this new year of the horse be a good one for the galloping Filipino travelers? Or this segue is just plain lame?
As travelers, we need to have a talent of precognition: Predicting weather, anticipating seat sale, dodging political hoohah, planning economic balance and even foreseeing the trends, destinations and what would click and not for the next few seasons.
Today is February 14, and it only means one thing—The first …

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