Monday, December 2, 2013

my gears of choice 2013

year ends and i'm listing down this year's favorite gears and wears. you will notice that there's something in common to almost all of these. durability, light weight, easily pack and it looks monochromatic.i chose gears which are easily packed at smallest space possible in my backpack. most of these i wear both for travel and work. so here's my favorite gears and wears for 2013.

[1] Columbia Omni Freeze Shirt
favorite shirt for trekking and running. quick dry and easy wash 
Highlight: Advance cooling technology, light, quick dry and stretch comfort
Shops: Columbia Boutique shops, R.O.X. Stores, SM Makati Dept Store

[2] Mountain Hardwear Pavo Jacket
i wear this jacket both for work and travel because it is not bulky when folded. has three outer pockets and an inner pouch. i highly recommend this if you do running on extra cold climate places like Baguio. Highlight: Light, stretch comfort, 
Shops: Mountain Hardwear Boutique Shop (Trinoma Mall), R.O.X. Stores, 

[3] Mountain Hardwear Hestia Pants
recommended for rugged trekking. integrated belt with a unique easy lock design.  Highlight: Light, quick dry, integrated belt with special tight-lock type 
Shops: Mountain Hardwear Boutique Shop (Trinoma Mall), R.O.X. Stores, 

[4] Targus Sports 26L
this is my most used bag this year as i use it for my day trips and everyday work. if you have a portable audio player, you can just place it inside the bag as this bag has a built-in external audio cord. matched with a special internal gadget pouch. it also has a special pouch for tablets.  Highlight: Built-in earphone external cord, light,special internal pouch for gadgets and tablet.  
Shops: Department stores: SM, Rustans, Cash and Carry, Metro Gaisano

[5] Banana Republic Shirt
very comfortable for traveling. light and thin clothing makes it one of my favorite shirt this year. Highlight: Light, thin and body comfort
Shops: Banana Republic Boutique Shops

[6] Columbia Master Fly Shoes
also one of my most used shoes this year because i wear this during work for site visits as well as running. main reason is its extra light features and the water repellant technology.
best for minimalist runners for urban run.
Highlight: Super-light, comfort, water repellant
Shops: Columbia Boutique shops, R.O.X. Stores, SM Makati Dept Store

[7] Mojo Slippers
comfort because of its circular cushion design and is recommended for everyday walk. Highlight: Light, comfort
Shops: R.O.X., Tobys, Athletes Foot,  

[8] Casio SGW
if you love trekking then you will love this watch. it comes with and altitude meter, temperature meter and a barometer. you can record your climb progress and environment conditions. it comes with a twin sensor and an illuminator plus the water proof of up to 100meters depth. also one of my most used gear this year for both work and travel. Highlight: Altitude meter, temperature meter, barometer, and water resistant
Shops: Casio Boutique Shops,

[9] Spyder Lock Sunglasses
my second Spyder sunglass this year and i love its interchangeable lens. what's even cooler is that it comes with two extra lenses. very easy to change its lens. plus its grip that fits for trail running. no issues of lens fogging. top choice for sunglasses this year. Highlight: Interchangeable lens, flexible nose-pad, 
Shops: R.O.X., SM Dept Stores, 

[10] Apple Iphone 5
got this one late last year and has been a companion since then everyday. best for being light and great software features. so many applications for travel which are available in the apps store for free. my favorite is the google maps app that allows one to use GPS. Highlight: I-Sight Camera, extra light, great downloadable travel apps
Shops: Macstores, Gadget shops

posting soon gears for 2014.

Monday, November 18, 2013

an extended bike trail around old bagan

on our first bike trail while in Bagan, we chased for sunset and sunrise but the view of an unusual tower rising far North got our attention on the second day. three of us were determined enough to see it. geared with a map provided by the hotel we chose to explore more temples to an extended bike trail the next day.

[1] Hotel at Tharabar Gate
our start point was the hotel beside the ruins of the remains of Tharabar gate. the hotel have bikes for rent or one can also rent from nearby cottages. from here we took the road to Nyaung Oo.
[2] Handicraft Shops
the long paved highway of Bagan-Nyaung Oo was the best warm up. there were few temples and pagodas on the one side and houses on the other side. made some few stops along the way seeing these shops of handicrafts. we checked our map and there was not much to see along this stretch and so we didn't stayed long there.
[3] Shwezigon Pagoda
unlike most of the giant pagodas which are immediately visible from the road, one needs to access this pagoda through this long covered pathway to see its golden stupa. the surrounding area filled with structures for meditation including a replica of the Mahabodhi tree. is also one of the pagodas in Nyaung-Oo that is still actively venerated by many. 
[4] Kyansittha Cave 
to visit this was not on our plan but out of curiosity and accessibility from Shwezigon, we took our chance. we found out that this was actually not a cave but a walled structure with dark rooms covered with murals of Bagan's history. taking photos while inside is prohibited. paintings and symbols of Buddhism are sold just outside. we took some time learning about its significance. it was a worth quick stop.
[5] Gibyauk Gyi
we then diverted through the highway to reach Anawratha road. here Robbie tried and successfully did a no-hand bike move. after a long straight path, we turned right to our next stop. this was a small temple that holds one of the most important script in Bagan's history which is in Mon language painted on its inner walls. many would miss out the significance of this temple for its small size. taking photos inside is prohibited. brass and wooden carved figures are sold inside the temple outer walls. 
[6] Cemetery
this was the part of the trail when we started to get off the paved road. this was the beginning of the long arduous cycling. our destination from here was the towering Nan Myint which we saw during sunrise. we were determined to see it no matter the long distance. along the way we passed by this cemetery. it was an unexpected stop. every time i visit a new country, i am always drawn to see their cemetery. as it reflected their culture. very similar to those in the Philippines but with a local script and does not have a cover.
[7] Nan Myint Tower
every pedal was not moving the bike to a foot distance. the dust was simply getting thicker as we moved farther. no other option but to walk and push our bike. we tried to pedal but it didn't help. sun was up and with less trees, our energy was going down. moved slower and on our left was a fenced golf course while on our right was a flat dry field with few small temples from afar.
we moved forward as going back doesn't seem like a better option. Nan Myint Tower finally was in view but we were already running out of water. when we reached the tower, we realized that the it was closed and that there was no one in the area. no vendors. no water. it simply meant that we have to endure another long bike ride without water. the 60-meter tower was actually built as part of a resort but that time it seemed nonoperational. 
[8] Long Wall
took a short rest to somehow regain energy. the road ahead was better. it was wider and dust was not as thick. looked at a map and we are actually way too far to our next stop. the distance may less likely matter if we still have water. 
there was not a sign that we were coming close to a place selling water. we had to stop once in a while. until we reached the long walls of a ruined temple. still no supply of water. our final resort was to reach the isolated village of Minnathu. 
[9] Minnathu Village
finally we saw some people passed by and they directed us to continue straight. a hope for us. when we reached the village, it actually looked like there was not much houses in it but we found a house that offered food. it was a relief. 
three of us immediately parked our bikes and checked out the menu. they served us peanuts and we requested for water as there was no food to order. we each took a spot to take a nap after the torturous bike ride.
[10] Thaman Paya
not so long, we had to move as we were still too far back to the hotel. bought extra water this time and continued. this time we passed by a large temple after seeing mostly ruins and smaller pagodas. took a quick shot of the temple but did not have enough time to explore it. 
at this point, we started to see tourist van. a good sign that we're back to the common tourist route. piles of small rock pieces were on the side of the road. this was used to cover the the thick dust. 
on one area, we saw the locals spread out the small rock pieces to the road. it didn't help much for our bike as it becomes useful more for the larger vehicles. we saw Dhammayangyi temple from afar which we were supposed to do a stop but was just too tired that we had to skip it.
[11] Ananda Paya
we continued until we finally reached Anawratha road and across it was Ananda Paya. one of the old temples that still attracts devotees and tourists alike. it remains a Holy temple for its statues and mural paintings.
this will be the most memorable and challenging bike ride during our stay in Bagan. this extended bike trail i will less likely recommend but for those who plan to explore the outskirts of Bagan, you can still do this but bring enough water and some energy boosters snacks. 

a more recommended bike route will be posted soon.

area profile:
country: Myanmar (Burma)
island: Greater Eurasia
region: Mandalay
township: Nyaung Oo

temple/pagoda complex access fee: 
entrance to the entire complex is standardized at USD10 per person for the entire time that you'll be in the area. keep the ticket as some temples have inspectors checking for your pass.

touring around:
Bagan temple complex is huge and your option of renting a van, a cart or a bike will depend greatly on the time that you have to explore the temples and your resistance to heat. some temples can be as far 25kilometers while you can find some stupas almost on every corner.
bus/van/car: comfort and you save time moving from one temple to another.
horse/cow cart: slow but a good experience of old local mode of transportation.
bike: active, fast and flexible but consumes a lot of energy. cheapest way to temple hop.
cost for the van/car/cart will vary on the temples that you plan to visit.
cost for bike: USD2-3per person per day. most hotels or inn offer this service.

how to get there:
by plane: there are regular daily flight from Yangon to Nyaung-U. the closest airport is Nyaung-U Airport which is just around 15mins away from the Old Bagan temple and pagoda area. Airlines with regular flights includes: Air Mandalay, Air Bagan, Yangon Airways
by bus: 
from Mandalay: daily bus trips are available to Bagan. duration: 6-8hours (estimate: USD10-15)
from Yangon: daily bus trips are available to Bagan. duration: 10-12hours (estimate: USD15-22)
from Nyay Pyi Taw: daily bus trips available to Bagan. duration: 5-7hours (estimate: USD10-15)
by train: 
daily trips from Mandalay and Yangon are available but the trip time may vary depending on the train stop duration. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

last chance for bpi get out more promo

you will love the cityscape but it's best to explore the streets of down town Hong Kong and the old Chinese districts as well. this is your last chance for the Get Out More promo 2013.
three more trips for two to Hong Kong for a Whoa! experience to be given away including a pocket money of P24,700 for each trip plus a stay at The Regal Oriental Hotel. by simply doing your transactions via BPI Express Online.

just follow the three easy steps:

1. Enroll your existing BPI account to BPI Express Online 24/7. just click here.
2. Start your online/mobile transactions. just click here.
3. Gain more electronic raffle entries. know how to earn more here.
(Bill Payment Cut-off: November 30, 2013; Raffle Draw: December 12, 2013)

the more transaction, the more chances of getting that Whoa! experience. to make it more exciting, BPI has launched a dedicated Get Out More site, where one can soon share your own Whoa! experience. 

Rewards/Raffle Prizes:

Three trips for two to Hong Kong. includes round trip airfare care of Air Asia, 2nights stay at The Regal Oriental Hotel and pocket money of P24,700.

Travel period for the raffle prizes is January 1, 2014- June 30, 2014. Cash prize (pocket money) will be credited to winner's account number upon awarding of the raffle prizes. 

promo runs from August 1 - November 30, 2013. Check out detailed promo mechanics here

Take complete control over your finances and transactions with just few clicks through BPI Express Online. what you can do over a BPI branch can be done online 24/7. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

tharabar gate hotel myanmar

hotels that blends with its culture has always been my favorite. the Hotel at Tharabar Gate is set just beside the last remaining ruins of the old fortification of Tharabar which is part of the Old Bagan temple complex. 
next to seeing the temples and pagodas our stay here was something that we've anticipated so much prior to this trip. all the rooms are air-conditioned and has its own lawn with chairs beside a mini garden.
the rooms are spacious with typical Burmese furniture. each room have hand-painted artworks that represents the golden era of Pagan (Bagan) empire. a cozy toilet with wooden flooring and a bath tub.
just beside the main lobby is the open dining area beside the swimming pool. this would be my favorite spot next to the cozy rooms. we spent most of our time chatting in this area. parts of the open area are shaded by giant trees including the mini bar.
breakfast is served at the indoor dining area and the highlight was always the pudding. we were not surprised as the head chef Jana is a Filipina. it made us feel more at home during our stay. 

i'm giving two thumbs up to:
traditional theme hotel
breakfast - serves our favorite pudding 
eat-all-you can pasta (many kinds of pasta)
the small garden lawn with chairs outside each room
the open dining area by the pool
relaxing night view
great service

facilities/services offered:
swimming pool
indoor and open dining area
massage and spa services
wifi connection at the lobby and rooms
24-hour room service
tour assistance
transportation to and from drop off points
laundry service
business center/meeting rooms

for updated rates and bookings check out The Hotel at Tharabar Gate website.

The Hotel at Tharabar Gate
Near Tharabar Gate 
Old Bagan, Nyaung Oo Township
Mandalay Division, Myanmar
Tel: (+9561) 60037 / 60042 / 60043
Fax: (+9561) 60044

area profile:
country: Myanmar (Burma)
island: Greater Eurasia
region: Mandalay
township: Nyaung Oo

GPS location:
21' 10" 24N
94' 51" 55E


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