It was a pretty cold winter afternoon in New Delhi, January 2 if I’m not mistaken, when I met with Julie and her holidaying parents to visit the Qutb Minar and it monuments. It was my 5th attempt to visit Qutb Minar as I have been trying to do it every time I set foot in Delhi! Continue reading Viahera Vlogs: Qutb Minar – revisiting the remnants of a new era
It’s been a while since I last had a long vacation (last ones were in Hong Kong and Macau in January and Baler in April) so when the chance to go to Coron came up, I just couldn’t let it pass. Palawan is known as one of or probably the last frontier here in the Philippines in terms of it’s natural beauty, picturesque landscape and rich marine biodiversity. And, Coron and Busuanga, due to its relatively more difficult (read: tends to be more expensive) accessibility by flights and ferries, remains to be as such.
Unfortunately, typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) already ravaged a lot of its magnificent corals and fell trees. There were reportedly 6 casualties and some islands’ structures succumbed and totally collapsed. Nevertheless, Busuanga and Coron remain to be a beauty that everyone needs to see. And like what E and I probably said all the time during the trip, we are in our happy place!
So, through this quick Instagram Travel post of our vacay (Aug 22-27, 2014) let us (the self-proclaimed Cool Kids Club, aka CS Weekend Escapists, aka CouchSurfers and friends) take you to our happy place!
Reblogged is a series of blog posts on my life in India coming from the weblogs I set-up. It’s an attempt to put the stories all in one place! The post Bodh Gaya: the journey to Nirvana was originally posted on October 15, 2012, two weeks after the experience. Another post preceded this one, which has more text to tell the story of a full day’s trip to Bodh Gaya with VSO co-volunteers Julie and Amanda. This was part of the vacation I called “The Pilgrimage” as we visited the holy cities of Bodh Gaya and Varanasi.
I am not necessarily a fan of prince charming and fairy tale endings but I’ve always been interested with royalty and period films centered on their lives—such as the movie Young Victoria. So much so that when I was in Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta as in the British Raj’s former capital in India, I decided to visit the Victoria Memorial.
Before my visit, which was part of my 10-day vacation dubbed “The Great Eastern Journey”, I did not even know about Victoria Memorial. Or what it is exactly. I only assumed that it was, like the Gateway of India in Mumbai, a colonial structure meant to commemorate the power of the British Raj during their reign in India.
Julie has been to Kolkata a few times before (since she lived in Bhubaneshwar which was just an overnight train away) and apart from Mother Theresa’s tomb (which I missed coz they’re closed on Thursdays, the day I was there!), the Victoria Memorial is the other place she recommended for me to visit. Jane, my co-volunteer based in Kolkata, gave me directions after we three decided to split up in the afternoon to do our own thing.
I can’t remember the directions anymore but Victoria Memorial and other colonial structures and areas are found in the Esplanade locality. I think once you are in Esplanade, tourist spots are basically walkable. You can also ask for directions, which I did. As I said, Victoria Memorial is one of the top attractions and the guava peddler (the red chili and salt mix was too good!) easily gave me directions to just turn right from the main street and follow the road called King’s Way. He said I won’t miss the Victoria Memorial.
True enough, I found it. I mean, the Victoria memorial is a massive structure made of what I assume is white marble. It truly is hard to miss. Hehe. Besides, as long as you know how to ask directions, in broken English, Hindi or body language, people in the street can help you find the place you are looking for.
Speaking in Hindi, at the entrance gate, actually helped me score a 10-rupee instead of 150-rupee ticket. With my northeast Indian features and a simple “Ek ticket do, saarji!” phrase, I managed to get the local price. And no, it was not illegal as I held a residency permit at the time. So, with that and because it was too hot with too many people in the queue under the scorching sun to enter the Victoria Memorial building itself, I chose to eat my red chilli-ed guava and some biscuits under the shade in the garden, while the birds chirped away.
After my food ran out, and realizing that the queue isn’t really getting shorter, I decided to fall in line and wait for my turn to enter the building. Actually, the Victoria Memorial did not have as much items as you would expect of a museum. And, I didn’t enjoy it much since there were too many people at the same time, walking around in a line as in a procession. And photos are not allowed inside the halls! Not that there was a sign but I saw that the guards meant it when they snatched a camphone away from its teenage owner who tried to reason with them but ended up getting scolded at. Scary.
It was better after the first area by the entrance as the hall was bigger (I assumed it’s the center area, under the dome) and was again much better once I climbed up to the next floor. Not that there was much to see in the floor itself but because it gave you a view of the garden at the back. It made me feel like Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice at Derbyshire with Mr. Darcy. (cheesy!!!)
After letting my imagination flow, I moved on to the back garden to enjoy a greener and more peaceful part of the grounds and see the Victoria Memorial at a different angle and perspective.
I liked what I saw. I mean, I liked it enough to recommend for you to visit it whenever you happen to be at Calcutta. Especially if you are interested in architecture. Apart from eating yummy Bengali fish curry, riding the trams and pulled richskaws, might as well add the Victoria Memorial to the list and enjoy the scenery and gardens and be transported to the time of royalties and majesties!
Before the Holy Week, I headed up north to Sagada with CouchSurfers and newfound friends to go spelunking in the Cave Connection, Bomod-ok falls trekking and swimming, and hanging coffins hunting.
The Viahera Vlog feature I’m including here is the one for the Bomod-ok Falls trek we did on our Day 2 in Sagada. There are 11 of us, 5 CouchSurfers, 5 jeepmates, and Larry the tourist, from the topload ride from Banaue to Sagada.
Total time for the Bomod-ok Falls trek is supposedly at 1-hour descending and 1-hour ascending. The thing is, with a group of 11 picture crazy people, I’d say that 3 hours would be a good estimate. Hihihi
Oh well. We still got there anyway. And enjoyed the Bomod-ok falls in its full glory. I even checked something off my bucket list once we were already in Bomod-ok—to jump off a cliff! Ok, I know it’s not really a “cliff” in open waters or something but hey, it’s still high! The 8-minute video of climbing to the jump-off point and taking the plunge into the waterfalls’ freezing pool is not included in this video playlist coz it deserves another entry! Seriously, buwis buhay (daredevil) mode!
For now, enjoy the Viahera Vlogs I took during our trek and I hope that one day, you’ll get to trek through the beautiful Sagada rice terraces and experience the thrill and chill of Bomod-ok Falls.