Tag Archive | "backpacking"

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When I first traveled solo series: The fisherman’s wharf

Posted on 19 July 2013 by Dreidel Regala

Several empty boats fill the still waters of the fisherman’s wharf. I did not see a fisherman but thought maybe it’s not the best fishing time. It is a rainy day but still perfect for taking pictures so I took out my LX5 then prepared to click away.

In the back draft stands the Lover’s Bridge. A fine structure displaying curved lines. I wonder why they call it that but I guess sunsets will make a romantic atmosphere in the area. I walked towards the bridge which is actually not very far from the bus drop off point. Only a few people were walking around, good timing I thought. After wandering around I crossed the bridge, took few stops for pictures then continued walking. On the other side is a wooden platform with a few stores that are still closed. It’s actually very nice to hang around there if only the weather was good. One can watch the open sea while eating and on the back side is a picture of the wharf. I did not stay too long cause there seemed to be nothing else to do so I went back to the other side and looked around in the building fronting the bridge. Found a few food stores but nothing interested me.

Lover's bridge in Danshui's Fisherman's Wharf

Lover’s bridge in Danshui’s Fisherman’s Wharf

I decided to go back to the city. A full day of sight seeing I thought. I looked for the bus stop and saw a couple already there. I checked the bus route in the map that was posted. Mrt, yep this is my bus stop. But buses rarely came so I had to wait for a while. The couple didn’t move as well so maybe we are waiting for the same bus.

After a few minutes I was on my way back to the city with the memory of the peaceful wharf so fresh within me.

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When I first traveled solo series: End of the line

Posted on 18 July 2013 by Dreidel Regala

This was going to be my first time to explore a place on my own. Hours and hours of reading through different blogs and forums until everything that I needed to know I knew. I am excited. Excited to see Taiwan. And while I was extremely anxious before I left home, at that moment all of that mysteriously disappeared.

Rainy window

Photo taken by DulceDolce

I woke up 8 in the morning, made myself up then went to the common room. The empty house that welcomed me a few hours ago is now very much awake. I noticed that it was raining so I sat for a while in the living and thought about the day’s plans. A man in his 40’s greeted me. He’s from out of town and is in Taipei for business. After learning that I’m Filipino, he excitedly told about his time in Cebu and how he loved it. We continued talking while the local drama is on tv and was only interrupted when he was called by the receptionist about something. I looked at the window and thought the rain isn’t going to stop so decided to just go on out.

I stopped in the 7eleven store to buy something to eat. I asked the crew about the local SIM card but he couldn’t understand English much. Oh the language issue is about to start. We couldn’t understand each other so much that a customer had to intervene. He just wanted my passport after all.

When I stepped out of the store I only had one thing on my mind. I have to get to the mrt. So I walked my way back to the bridge and onto the building where the bus had dropped me before. It’s a busy day I thought. The sleeping Taipei Main Station now has so many people inside. But I am still not sure where I am going considering the gloomy day. Should I go see the zoo and the cute pandas or head far off to Danshui? I read signs after signs (awesome they have it in English!) for the long distance trains, high speed rails, bus stations, mrts, and several street names. I’m in the center of it all I told myself. Eventually I decided Danshui seems more interesting. Now I just have to find the mrt.

In a distance I saw something, it said “Tourist Center”. Ooh they’re talking about me! So I walked towards the booth and said “Excuse me do you have a map of the city?“. The girl on the other side of the table gladly gave me the city map along with other maps. “Thank you! Can you also show me where’s the mrt station going to Danshui?“. “Sure, you just walk straight”, pointing to the path in front of us, “…then take the escalator and there you will see instructions“. “Okay thank you!“. I started walking just as she had told me and found the signs she was talking about on top of the escalator. This is fairly easy I thought.

Train ticketing machine

Photo taken from Wikimedia

Several machines were lined up in front of the mrt gates. A little panic came to me and thought oh no I have to operate that. I watched others touched the screens then take out their cards. Should be simple I thought but when I got to one of the machines it was all in Taiwanese! So I quickly turned and scanned the area for any possible booths where I can buy it manually. There’s a booth but why is there nobody lining up hmmm. After a few seconds an American family came to the window. They said something to the man inside but I couldn’t hear it. I walked closer. And when the family left, I went to the window and said to the man “Hi, how much is the easy card?“. He told me the price plus the deposit and some other things which I couldn’t really understand so I just gave him the bill.

I went down to the platform along with the human traffic. I hear them talking but couldn’t understand a thing. When the train came I stepped inside with no fuss. This is good, lines are good. I quickly noticed that there were only a few seats in the train and most of the space is for standing up. I settled on the side and just stared at the window. My ride took a while cause my stop was in the end of the line. I saw people get in and out of the train with their everyday agendas and a couple curious eyes staring at me, maybe wondering why I look a bit different.

The train stopped. “Danshui station“. I am here! I got off the platform like everybody else and proceeded to the front of the station. Okay now where is bus #26. I asked around but they couldn’t understand me so I pointed at the picture in the map on my hand. “Ah fisherman’s wharf, go straight“. On a busy street I found my bus, bus #26. I got in and swiped my card then took a seat. I watched over my window as we passed by a series of shops and some schools. Occasionally I glanced at the LED sign in the windshield of the bus. Taiwanese words popped up first then English but I had no idea what they were so I thought it might be the names of the routes.

I got a little worried after some time cause I still didn’t see the wharf. People were getting of the bus and there were only a few of us left. I prepared to stand up and make my way to the driver to ask him but decided to ask one of the passengers instead. “Wait. Wait.” he said. So I guess I just have to wait more. The bus made a couple of turns to some inner streets that looks to be very quiet at night. Then like a curtain being pulled, the wharf started to show and not very far the Lover’s bridge standing tall.

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Travel and Language

Posted on 15 August 2012 by Dreidel Regala

One of the most fascinating things I consider in this world is language. Even if you are one of those who speaks different tongues, at one point there will be someone who won’t get you or you don’t get them. It is inevitable. We mean the same thing, feel the same thing, but the world has got to say it in different ways. So what if we’re stuck somewhere and we find ourselves saying “hello” differently from the locals? Do we runaway from these places? Absolutely not!

The world has got so many wonders that you probably haven’t seen before. And chances are the nicest ones are far from your continent and they have their own language. It’s not something to be scared of (even if you’re traveling alone), but may need some extra preparation. I remember being in a big food court having some noodles and good cold juice and hearing everybody talking but not understanding any of them – looks like home but sounds otherwise.  I found myself extra excited to the first person in a familiar speech and chat with them for hours after a few days of not being able to talk to someone.

For some the remedy to this language situation is to enroll in a language class. This is good but requires time, cash and a lot of dedication. I didn’t have the convenience to do this though when I went to Taiwan earlier this year but good thing I was able to find a great tip.  If you have the knack for preparing ahead, make sure to include translations of the names of places you’re visiting and directions. Note these translations in a pocket sized paper so you can easily show them around when needed. You can try to pronounce them yourself but sometimes it’s no good so just show them your note. Do include also some basic words (eg. restroom, bus stop, drinking water, bank, etc) so that when you’re out needing them you won’t be awfully confused. There maybe some cool translator apps already so make sure to check those too.

So there you go.. let’s hit the other side of the sea now and explore! :)

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Cambodia

Posted on 25 June 2011 by Dreidel Regala

Cambodia

The land of friendly Khmer people and home of famous Angkor temples. When I went on my very first backpacking trip last April, Cambodia was the 2nd stop of our group and it was probably the most filled one.

Cambodia isn’t really pretty at first glance. When my group entered the land through the PoiPet border and took a long land travel, all I can see in the window was either rice fields or endless dry land. As I listen to the stories of our aspiring lawyer tour guide, I quickly had an impression that it’s a struggling country. But nonetheless, they offered a lot of value to the rest of the world.

Angkor Wat

The famed Angkor Wat

We stayed in Bou Savvy Guesthouse in Siem Reap. I like that the place had lots of plants around to somewhat ease the awful heat. But the downside is there were a lot of mosquitoes too especially at night. Bou Savvy also serve food, and yes Cambodia loves their veggies.

Just a tip, a trip to the museum would also be nice before you start the Angkor tour so you’d have an intro of the Angkor history. After the museum go to the opposite side of the town where the Pub street is and where the food and night happenings are. Oh yeah don’t forget to try their famous Amok fish dish. Right at the end of the street is the night market. Scarves of course are the specialty of Cambodia. And the best part, you can haggle.

Unfortunately, the night before we’ll have our Angkor tour, rain poured down. It’s really frustrating cause there goes our sunrise and sunset shots of Angkor. But the good thing is we were still able to go around when the rain stopped.

The temples

Bayon temple

Bayon temple

 

Look closer and see the intricate workmanship

Look closer and see the intricate workmanship

Cambodia is a mix of hinduism and buddhism, and the whole Angkor is inspired of this belief. There were times that the images really creep me out but the workmanship of all the temples is absolutely amazing. By the way, the Angkor complex has more than 200 temples so it’s better to bring water and hat when going around. For big groups I suggest renting a tour bus but for smaller ones you can go for an adventure and hop on a motorbike.

Even the reflections are fascinating

Even the reflections are fascinating

Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm Temple

After Siem Reap we took a couple of hours bus travel to the capital city Phnom Penh. We stayed overnight at the Khmer Royal hotel along Sisowath road which reminds me a lot about Baywalk Roxas Boulevard. It’s a short stay at the city but learned a lot about the Cambodian history. We went to Tuol Sleng genocide museum and everything we saw, heard and read really broke our hearts. It’s a kind of tragedy that should teach all of us to appreciate our freedom and the good life we have now.

Tuol Sleng

The eerie Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh

So why should Cambodia be on your next itinerary? Because of the great Angkor find and the social historical enlightenment.

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The CouchSurfing Idea

Posted on 18 June 2011 by Dreidel Regala

Have you ever heard about CouchSurfing? Well if not and you are a traveler then you are missing this one awesome idea.

Traveling of course is our way to satisfy our bored, tired and wandering souls. And that’s okay, in fact that’s exactly what you have in mind, right? But the thing is you are traveling to a new place as a stranger and you may just be leaving as still a stranger. Yeah you saw the amazing sites, swam and bunjee jump, ate their food, but when you go back home you realize you are still a stranger to that place with no meaningful connections at all.

So how is CouchSurfing going to change traveling? In simple words I’d say you’ll make real encounters and connections to the places you go to. You go deep, deeper into a local’s home – relate and stay with them! You meet with other travelers or locals to hangout, dine out/in and checkout real awesome places with new friends. CouchSurfing lets you connect to a new place then leave it as no stranger anymore because experiences and camaraderie are built. It’s a community where hospitality is the main thing and everyone is willing to help out and welcome, all for the price of ZERO! No kidding, this is a non-profit org and nobody will be asking for a fee – just be courteous, cooperative and honest.

Yes there are still good things in life that are still free.

Is it really safe? If you’re letting someone in on your house or meeting a stranger, is it safe? Of course, like everything in life, you still have to look after yourself and always be careful. Every user has a feedback list and you can always investigate around. I believe everyone is thinking about their safety so for sure they will also extend that ideal safe environment for other people.

Do checkout couchsurfing.org and spread the CouchSurfing idea!

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Pack Light

Posted on 02 May 2011 by Dreidel Regala

Packing light is a talent. You have to know what you want and need to bring at such a small space. It’s a compromise for some things but personally I’d compromise those just to have the convenience of carrying light baggage or having cheaper fares. TIP: you’ll be carrying less on your flight out than in. Most travellers will be buying souvenirs and goodies on their way home which means additional weight to carry on. So it’s efficient to be packing light. For longer travels consider laundry services in your hotels or wearing your newly bought shirt for yourself. Just a note on laundry services, avoid those clothing that bleeds color to whites, etc. or else you’ll be left with aweful tints on your shirt on your way up the Petronas tower.

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