Showing posts with label Nepal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nepal. Show all posts

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Thank you 2013! Where in the world was I last year?

Machu Picchu, Peru
It's fantastic thinking how much of the planet we've covered in the past twelve months. I've actually decided to slow it down a bit this year. But to welcome the New Year, here are highlights from international destinations I visited in 16 countries in 2013. It was quite difficult to remember every city I visited. But thanks to Instagram @ivanhenares, it's all there!

Hanoi, Vietnam: Huc Bridge, Ngoc Son Temple & Hoan Kiem Lake
In January, I led a tour group to Hanoi, Halong Bay and Tam Coc, Vietnam in pleasantly cool weather. Don't we all love that boat ride through the limestone karst formations of Halong Bay?

February saw me back in Thailand with my UP AIT students. We explored Bangkok and visited the ancient city of Ayutthaya.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC
I visited a new continent in the Summer of 2013 ― South America! My trip started in the US; stayed in Washington, DC for a week and visited a classmate in Baltimore, MD. Then I was off to Rio de Janeiro with tokayo Ivan Man Dy for our five-week South American adventure.

View of Sugarloaf Mountain & Rio de Janeiro from Cristo Redentor
Rio is a charming city! We made sure to visit its famed urban beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, and took a tram ride up Cristo Redentor where we were afforded a spectacular view of the city, Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay.

Plaza Independencia in Montevideo, Uruguay
From Rio de Janeiro, we took a bus to São Paolo and then to Porto Alegre before crossing the border to Uruguay. Yes, it's the country famous for legalizing marijuana this year! In Uruguay, we walked the charming streets of Montevideo with its fantastic architecture, ate a sumptuous steak at the local market, and then visited old Colonia del Sacramento before taking a ferry to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Argentine tango in Barrio San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Of course, like every visitor to Buenos Aires, we payed our respects to Evita at the Recoleta Cemetery and enjoyed the street tango at San Telmo.

Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesús in Córdoba, Argentina
Estancia de Santa Catalina, Cordoba, Argentina
The next day, we took an overnight bus and visited the Jesuit Block of Cordoba and the estancias of Alta Gracia, Jesús María and Santa Catalina. We found out that Alta Gracia is where Che Guevara grew up. His family house has been converted into a museum.

Cerro Concepción, Valparaíso, Chile
From Cordoba, we took a bus to Mendoza, and from there took another bus that crossed the Andes and the border, and finally to Santiago, Chile. After spending a night in Santiago, we moved to neighboring Valparaiso and spent two nights there before taking a 24-hour bus to San Pedro de Atacama to experience nature at its finest.

Salar de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile
We visited the altiplano of the Antofagasta Region at the heart of the Atacama Desert and its sites such as Los Flamencos National Reserve, Laguna Miscanti, Laguna Miñiques, Salar de Atacama, Valle de la Luna, Valle de la Muerte and the Géisers de Tatio.

Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
After exploring the driest place on the planet, we hopped on another long bus ride to Arica, the border town of Chile, crossed the border by taxi to Tacna, Peru's border town, and took a bus to Arequipa from there.

Cuzco's Plaza de Armas from the Iglesia de San Cristobal
We had a few hours in charming Arequipa before taking off on another long bus ride to Cuzco. We spent several days there, highlighted by our visit to Machu Picchu. Cuzco is such a historic city with a colorful local culture.

Machu Picchiu, Peru
Casa de Pizarro, Palacio de Gobierno del Perú, Lima
So many long-distance bus rides in Peru! And we weren't done yet! From Cuzco, we traveled by bus for a day to the capital Lima. It's Plaza Mayor is stunning! Lest we forget, Lima was the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which for a time covered most of South America. We also got to watch the changing of the guard at the Government Palace of Peru.

Uros Floating Islands in Puno, Peru
We then took a bus back to Arequipa (yes, another long bus ride) where we hopped on another bus to Puno, the gateway to Lake Titicaca.

Fraternidades Folklóricas de Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia to honor of the Señor de la Santa Cruz de Colquepata
From Puno, we crossed the border into Bolivia and stopped by Copacabana where we were lucky to witness the festivities of the Señor de la Santa Cruz de Colquepata. It wasn't easy finding a place to stay though because of the fiesta, and it wasn't cheap! But it was well worth it. We explored Lake Titicaca again the next day.

Palacio de Gobierno / Palacio Quemado in La Paz, Bolivia
Potosí, Bolivia
From Copacabana, we went to La Paz, explored the highest capital city in the world and shopped at the Witches Market before visiting Sucre and Potosi. We made an exciting border crossing into Argentina, a story we'll keep a secret!

Iguazu / Iguaçu Falls in Argentina & Brazil
In Argentina, we visited Salta and from there took a long-distance bus to Iguazu Falls, more than a day if I remember it right. It was raining really hard, but we got to ride a speed boat that took us under one of the falls. We crossed over to the Brazilian side where the better views are, before rushing back to Rio de Janeiro to catch our flight back to the US. I spent the next few days recuperating in DC, except for a one-day visit to the wineries around Aldie, Virginia where I got to enjoy basted pork ribs slow-grilled over hickory wood at a roadside grill. Yum!

Preah Vihear Temple, Cambodia
May ended with a tour to Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit the famed temples of Angkor. When the group left, I hired a car and visited Preah Vihear, a spectacular temple built on top of a mountain. Visit it while you can and before the crowds discover it!

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Bali, Indonesia
In June, I was back in Bali leading a tour group. We visited its famed temples and experienced its colorful culture. After the tour, I visited the Jatiluwih Rice terraces.

Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal
Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal
In August, we had another tour group, this time to Nepal. We stopped over at KL before flying to Kathmandu. We visited Nagarkot, Pokhara and Kathmandu Valley. Pokhara was an exciting destination with many activities. I went paragliding for the first time.

Durbar Square, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Aside from Kathmandu, I also got to visit Bhaktapur and Patan. Bhaktapur is my favorite!

Taj Mahal, Agra, India
The month ended with a trip to India hosted by Jet Airways. The group visited New Delhi, Agra and flew to Kashmir. Our itinerary included Srinagar, Gulmarg and Sonamarg. Indeed the place is Heaven on Earth!

Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Sonamarg, Kashmir, India
I definitely enjoyed the pony ride to the Himalayan glaciers of Kashmir Valley, the great food and the colorful culture of the region. We also got to stay in the luxurious houseboats of Dal Lake.

Khoo Kongsi, Penang, Malaysia
In September, I led UP AIT students and staff to a food and heritage experience in Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Everyone was still talking about the food when we got back!

Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai, Thailand
We attended the 2013 Annual Meeting of the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee in Sukhothai and Chiang Mai, Thailand in October. As part of a workshop to help Sukhothai with its tourism master plan, I biked thirty kilometers through rural areas, to the Si Satchanalai Historical Park. I haven't biked in a long while, but I survived that one!

Luang Prabang, Laos
After the meeting, we explored Chiang Rai, crossed the river border at Chiang Kong, Thailand to Houai Xai. Laos. And from there, it was a grueling overnight bus to Luang Prabang, the old royal capital. Luang Prabang is still as charming as every with its colorful temples, colonial architecture and delicious street food!

Pha That Luang, Vientiane, Laos
I got explore Vientiane, met up with my SSEAYP friends and explored the city's temples, before going by land to Udon Thani for my flight back to Bangkok.

Sanam Chandra Palace, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
I could not believe it, but I was back in Bangkok, and stranded for a week in November, experiencing my first flight cancelation ever! So I spent my time working (and eating). My only out of town trip was a visit to Nakhon Pathom's Phra Pathom Chedi and Sanam Chandra Palace.

Cishou Pagoda, Jinshan Temple, Zhenjiang, China
My last international trip for the year was to China to attend the Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in Zhenjiang. But because of the smog problem in Shanghai, I had to deal with two flight cancelations (I was on a roll), rerouting to Xiamen were I took a flight to Shanghai, and a bullet train to Zhenjiang before arriving at the summit.

The Bund, Shanghai, China
I went around Shanghai for a day (I was planning to see Suzhou but the smog was bad) before flying back to Manila.

So there! That was 2013! Happy New Year to all! Here are more photos from my 2013 trips. Next up is my post for Philippine destinations.

Do you want to see last year's? Now where in the world was I in 2012?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Nepal: Visa on arrival & applying for a Nepali visa in the Philippines

Nepal Visa on Arrival
Need a visa for Nepal? The Democratic Republic of Nepal does not have a diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate) in the Philippines. But visa on arrival is readily available when you land in Kathmandu. In fact, you only have to bring a passport-sized photo (35 x 45mm) and US$25 (for a 15 Day Tourist Entry Visa), fill-out the Visa Application Form (different from the Immigration Arrival Card) which is available during your flight (while supplies last) or at the airport itself, and line-up at the visa on arrival counter. It's that simple! If you forgot to bring a picture, there is a photo booth in Kathmandu Airport.

Join our tours to Nepal! Here is our schedule.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Nepal: Paragliding in Pokhara

Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Getting to Pokhara from Kathmandu, Nepal by land is no joke. We had to endure nine hours of mountain road to travel from Nagarkot (two hours west of Kathmandu) to Pohara. This beautiful lakeside town is visited for its picturesque views of Annapurna. But it's also a popular place to go paragliding!

Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
You can easily book paragliding in Pokhara itself. Prices start at about US$70 but best to check the inclusions. We paid a little bit more. The service includes a trip up Sarangkot Hill, the jump-off point for all flights. It's a tandem flight and you'll be guided by a licensed pilot. It's quite easy for as long as you follow the instructions.

An extra service are the photos and a video of your trip with is a must. I paid Rp.1700 (US$16) for it but it was definitely worth it since my pilot was really good. The camera lens was really clear and he knew how to angle the shots.

Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
The views, especially of Fewa Lake and the Himalayan foothills, are spectacular! It was worth every dollar we paid. Make sure you don't eat too much before you fly. And if you are motion sick, tell the pilot not to do acrobat flying.

Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
We have another tour to Nepal next year! Here is our schedule.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Join our Nepal tour from August 21-28, 2013!

Nepal tour
Why backpack when you can travel comfortably in Nepal for even less? Join us on a tour to Nepal via Kuala Lumpur from August 21-28, 2013! And note that the dates include two holidays!

Our tour price of US$725 already includes twin/triple sharing hotel accommodation (including one night at Nagarkot Resort), all meals as stated, transfers and tours (guides, entrance fees and gratuities). Note that lunch and dinner are included in the package as well as tips and gratuities. Please book your own flights on Cebu Pacific and AirAsia but coordinate with us first via

August 21 (Wednesday) - Ninoy Aquino Day
Flight options are:
MNL – KUL via Cebu Pacific – 5J499 14:10–17:50 or 5J501 20:55–00:35
CRK – KUL via AirAsia – AK1875 11:05–14:50 or PQ7455 15:15–19:15
Overnight in KL

Nepal tour
August 22 (Thursday)
Breakfast at hotel in KL
KUL – KTM via AirAsia D70193 11:50–14:00
Arrive – KATHMANDU – NAGARKOT (32km) (L, D)
Overnight at Nagarkot Resort for a spectacular view of the Himalayas

August 23 (Friday)
NAGARKOT – POKHARA (232km) (B, L, D)
Awake in the morning to the cold but stunningly spectacular sunrise over Nagarkot Hill. The first ray of the sun firing the peak glimmering red, slowly lighting the Himalaya range. You will see Mt. Everest in the east and Langtang and the Dhaulagiri Peak in the west.

At Pokhara, free at leisure walk around the lake side bazaar for some delightful shopping bargains. Late afternoon boating at scenic Lake Fewa and visit Barahi Temple in the middle of the lake.

August 24 (Saturday)
Early morning, drive up to Sarangkot (1200m) sunrise view point for 30 minutes. After sunrise, drive back to Pokhara for breakfast. After breakfast, visit Tibetan Refugees’ Camp, Devi’s Fall and Mahadev Guptes War Cave.

Nepal tour
August 25 (Sunday)
Late afternoon leisure walk in Thamel, a popular tourist district in Kathmandu Valley and a bustling bazaar which offers a glimpse of Nepal’s vibrant ethnic culture.

August 26 (Monday) - National Heroes Day
Visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This complex of palaces, courtyards and temples like Hanumandhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess) and Taleju Temple. After that, visit Bouddhanath Stupa, one of the world’s largest stupas. After lunch, explore Asan Tol, the colorful local market area and shopping. Traditional Nepalese cuisine with cultural performance for dinner.

August 27 (Tuesday)
After breakfast, free time. Transfer to airport after early lunch.
KTM – KUL via AirAsia D70192 15:30–22:30
Dinner on flight. Please book your own meals when you purchase ticket.

August 28 (Wednesday)
Flight options:
KUL – MNL via Cebu Pacific 5J502 01:20–04:55
CRK – MNL via AirAsia AK1874 06:45–10:30

Package excludes international airfare, taxes and terminal fees, travel insurance, Nepal visa fees, other meals, beverages not included in meals and all personal expenses. We can arrange your travel insurance by request.
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