Monday, December 31, 2018

Thank You 2018

Grateful for...
  • getting my ITR stamped/verified without a hitch (I didn't have to go back and forth like I did in 2016).
  • Korea Consulate for giving me a 3-year multiple entry visa (though I applied for a single entry visa)! Woohoo!
  • friends for keeping cool when we went to Samar and it was raining cats and dogs. By noon (on the same day we arrived) we decided to catch the ferry back to Cebu.
  • JaeHwa for letting me stay in his house, taking me and JungIn around Jeju, and taking us to restaurants that served Jeju specialties.
  • JaeHwa and JungIn for coming up with an itinerary and for always feeding me.
  • finding an alternative bus (and bus stop) that could take me near Seopjikoji (by near, I mean Seopjikoji would be a 30-minute walk) when I missed bus 295 (the only bus that would go to the entrance of Seopjikoji).
  • Annie, the friendly Chinese girl I met, for hanging out with me while we waited for our respective flights out of Jeju.
  • good timing for cherry blossoms in Jeju, Jinhae, and Busan. Woohoo!
  • the kind owner of Chacharang Guesthouse for letting me check-in early (I arrived around noon) and for helping me find information for the bus for Gyeongju Yangdong Historic Village.
  • the woman at the Express Bus Terminal for helping me find information for the bus for Gyeongju Yangdong Historic Village.
  • the bus 206 driver for letting me know he was going near Yangdong Village and for not forgetting to drop me off at the right bus stop. (Bus 203 would go direct to the village but its 915am schedule was too late for me as I was already at the bus stop at 8am.)
  • checking reservations for Geomun Oreum too late (fully booked by then) and deciding to hike Hallasan instead. It was a very beautiful hike. Definitely the highlight of this trip!
  • Google Maps and a pocket WiFi, I could track where I was on the bus and get off at a stop that was near wherever I had to go.
  • the elderly Busanite artist in Jwasuyeong-ro who offered to draw me. Best souvenir!
  • my sister for taking care of the logistics and accommodations for our trip to Virgin Island (Bantayan).
  • finding out that I can buy and receive the JR Hokkaido Rail Pass (not voucher) at Narita Airport (from what I had previously read, I thought I could only buy it there and then have the voucher exchanged to get the actual pass in Hokkaido only). I quickly made some changes to my itinerary so I could use the pass on my first day in Hokkaido.
  • the random stranger I had asked for directions who accompanied me to the place because he could not speak English.
  • Grids Sapporo Hostel & Hostel for letting me leave my bag for free for two nights while I went to Asahikawa.
  • lockers in Asahikawa Station (and most stations in Japan).
  • Tetsu, owner of Asahikawa Ride, who noticed I booked and cancelled every time the price dropped on (four times!), for telling me to book directly on his website for the cheapest rate.
  • small bottles of sunblock at convenience stores. I did not expect to get sunburnt in Hokkaido—it's supposed to have cooler summers than the rest of the country. Unfortunately, the time I was in Japan was also the time Japan experienced its hottest summer in 10 years!
  • finally seeing the beautiful lavender (and other flower) fields of Biei and Nakafurano.
  • my sister for letting me borrow her lightweight, water repellent jacket—it was put to good use when I went for a hike around Sugatami Pond in Asahidake. It was very foggy, cold, and drizzling (on and off).
  • clouds and fog for clearing up and showing the beautiful landscape in Asahidake even for just a few seconds at a time.
  • for catching the cable car in time to catch the bus back from Asahidake to Asahikawa. If I had missed the cable car, I would have missed the bus, and would have had to wait more than two hours for the next bus!
  • being at the right place at the right time. At around 11am I was around the area of the ramen place I wanted to try. I did not have to go back and forth while exploring Hakodate.
  • the Hakodate tram pass. Saved me time and I was able to go to Fort Goryokaku which was not in my initial plan as it was quite far from most of the places I wanted to see.
  • a bus stop 1 kilometer from the end of the hiking trail in Toya. I did not have to go back to where I started the hike in order to take the bus back to Toya Station.
  • Yumiko for picking me up from Narita and taking me to Sawara Town. I had met her through Instagram and though she could barely speak English, she drove down two hours to meet me.
  • meeting Kaori and Anju on the boat tour in Sawara Town. We ended up having lunch and exploring Sawara Town together with Yumiko.
  • Brennan, blogger of Baktin Corporation and The Weekend Dispatch, for taking care of the itinerary for the Manila trip.
  • The Auza couple, Brennan's friends, for letting us stay a night at their place and for taking us to Rizal to see the Pililla windmills and Pinto Art Museum.
  • Brennan for letting me tag along on their sponsored stay at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
  • Eva of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar for the fascinating guided tour.
  • Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar for taking us back to the 1700s to 1900s. Great experience!
  • Claire of Traveling Light for arranging a deal with 1Bataan.
  • 1Bataan for the free rides to and from Orion (Bataan).
  • the abundant number of Grabcar drivers—it was easy to get rides in Manila.
  • free admission to the National Museums in the Philippines. I enjoyed my visit at the National Museum of Natural History.
  • on time flight and catching the 1015pm bus from the airport to Seoul. (And also for deciding to take the bus instead of the subway because, as I found out the next day, the nearest station to the hostel was quite large and a bit confusing.)
  • coming across a Dunkin Donuts shop early in the morning a few minutes' walk from my hostel. I have missed their blueberry bagels (which I had only discovered last March).
  • having a T-money card. Transfers from subway to bus (and vice versa) is free within a certain number of minutes.
  • Ley for letting me know about the coupon in Tongin Market. I got a free small Tongin mascot stuffed toy. Very cute.
  • deciding to visit Oil Tank Culture Park (because I had extra time). I enjoyed the quiet (there were very few people at the park) and the art installations inside some of the tanks. (I wasn't planning on visiting this park because it didn't seem interesting when I was researching for the trip).
  • free tour with English audio guide (and gift!) of Cheong Wa Dae, the South Korean president's residence. Which reminds me, I really should visit MalacaƱang next time I am in Manila.
  • not fainting of hunger in the bus to Namhansanseong Fortress. The traffic was so bad, the bus so stuffed (I had to stand all the way),  and I hadn't had lunch yet.
  • With U Guesthouse (a very nice guesthouse just across Sokcho Express Bus Terminal) for allowing me to leave my bag before check in.
  • the kind man, who I guess was the owner of the restaurant in Seoraksan, who invited me to eat inside when he saw me eating my breakfast out in the very cold morning.
  • the strength and endurance to hike to Ulsanbawi (the total length of the trail is 3.8 km, 3 kilometers of it is stairs!)
  • the patience to wait for a slot on the cable car to go to Gwongeumseong Fortress (that means I got to rest after the 5-hour hike up and down Ulsanbawi) and some spare energy for another 20-minute roundtrip hike.
  • deciding to visit Arario Museum on my free day. A very interesting art museum!
  • Ley and her mom for joining me for dinner. It's nice to have someone to eat with!
  • my sister for joining me on the second half of the trip. I finally had a travel companion after traveling out of the country solo for six consecutive times (spread over 3 years). I miss having somebody to talk, eat, explore with.
  • free admission to the palaces in Seoul on the last Wednesday of every month. My sister and I explored Gyeongbokgung for free.
  • marking Samcheong Sujebi on my map though I didn't really plan on eating there. While we were walking around Samcheongdong, I saw it on my map and decided to eat there (had I not marked it on my map, I would have passed this place without a glance), and it turns out this restaurant is on the Michelin Guide!
  • exploring alleyways with my sister, where we found many samgyupsal restaurants swarming with locals. We came back the next day to do as the Romans Koreans do.
  • Manjok Ohyang Jokbal in Klook. Eases ordering and reservation! (I ate here in 2016 with GaYeong and I have wanted to go back, but could not eat there solo—the servings are huge!)
  • GaEun for sparing a few minutes of her time from work to meet me. And she treated me to snacks too!
  • my sister for being game enough to check out the Seoul Lantern Festival (we started walking a long long way from the other end of the festival location).
  • Tosokchon Samgyetang for opening early: we arrived around 930am (the website states 10am as opening time) and were invited in. Really good brunch of ginseng chicken.
  • my sister, who usually wakes up late, for getting up early every day during our Seoul trip.
  • my legs for not giving up during the walkathon in Korea.
  • improved passport control (arrival) at MCIA. For those with Philippine e-passports, one only has to scan the passport, boarding pass, and fingerprint. Voila! Welcome back!
  • readers of this blog...thank you for your patience! :-) I know I have been really really really slow in updating this blog. Apologies.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Wisdom from the Road #70

On exercising

I am so lazy when it comes to exercising. It is only when I travel that I get to exercise (walk a lot) and enjoy myself. Ever since my brother gave me a watch slash pedometer, when traveling, I'd get a kick at looking at the number of steps I made at the end of the day. I am amazed that I could walk up to 36000 steps [about 25 kilometers] in a day! The amazing powers of our body!

On a normal day, I'd walk just an average of 6000 steps [about 4 kilometers]—way below the recommended daily 10,000 steps [about 7 kilometers]. So, yes, 10,000 steps and above is a feat for my feet.