Category Archives: Tor’s Travel 101

Things to do before you travel, while you travel and after you travel.

Packing According to Louis Vuitton

Video
Packing According to Louis Vuitton

June 22, 2012

Nat’s Facebook page

~

I was keeping tabs on my best friend, Nat, by checking out his Facebook page.

He shared this video on his wall.

After playing it, I just had to feature it in my blog.

This my friends is how to pack.

I have discovered that Louis Vuitton has a page dedicated to the art of packing in its website. It features ways on how to pack your things into a Alzer, Pégase, and a Keepall.

It’s interactive, informative and fun! You click on different items and it will show you where to place it inside the luggage to maximize its space and on how to arrange your things beautifully. It shows you how to fold two long sleeve dress shirts properly, how to neatly roll your cardigan and sports shirts and it even shows you inter fold a number of clothes together.

Feel free to discover The Art of Packing from Louis Vuitton by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

Boracay 101

Standard
Boracay 101

January 2, 2011

Caticlan Airport

Malay, Aklan

Philippines

~

Cholo and I arrived two hours early before our 5:20 pm flight to Manila on Airphil Express.

I looked around the newly refurbished Caticlan Airport. I’m quite impressed.

“The airport has changed Bubba.” I told Cholo.

“Yes, quite a change from 3 years ago.” was his reply.

As we made our way to the check-in counter, I saw on the monitor that all 3 Cebu Pacific Flights were cancelled.

My panic button turned on.

I was relieved to see that our flights were still OK.

I was still curios.

“Why are the Cebu Pacific flights cancelled?”

“Will our flights get cancelled or be delayed?”

“What will happen if it does?”

All of these questions were racing in my mind while checking in, when …

“Would you like to be on an earlier flight sir?” asked the man behind the counter.

“Yes, we wouldn’t mind an earlier flight.” was our reply.

We got our boarding passes and proceeded to the departure gates and waited for our 3:50 pm flight to Manila.

~

It is now 4:30 pm.

We still have not left Caticlan.

No word has been said on the reasons why our flight was delayed.

Earlier, we had some coffee and blueberry cheese cake on a small cafe on the second floor.

We sat down on the cold steel benches by the departure gates and played Angry Birds to stop our patience from wearing thin.

Our original Airphil Express 5:20pm flight was rerouted to Kalibo. Thank God we got on an earlier flight!

2 SEAir flights arrived within 5 minutes of each other. Still delayed.

I was looking around and I was quite surprised to see that all the personnel from different airlines were in a rush.

Cebu Pacific was busy looking for passengers whose flights were rerouted to Kalibo.

SEAir was busy tearing off boarding passes of passengers.

According to the P.A. system our Airphil Express plane has just landed in Caticlan. We are requested to stand by the boarding gates to board once the aircraft is ready.

We were now walking to the plane.

Another Airphil Express plane landed.

The two SEAir planes that arrived prior took off only less than 5 minutes apart.

By 5:30 our plane was at the end of the runway getting ready to take off.

~

FLIGHTS 101

There are two ways to fly to Boracay. You can fly straight to Caticlan or via Kalibo.

If you fly to Kalibo, you will have to take a van conveniently located outside Kalibo International Airport. It costs around Php 175 per person. It will take you all the way to Caticlan Jetty Port. The only down side is you have to wait for the van to fill up before it leaves.

Flights to and from Caticlan are notorious for delays. Mostly because of airport congestion in manila or weather disruptions. When a flight is cancelled or rerouted, the airline company of that flight will assist you in making sure that you will get to your destination on the same day. If you are an outbound passenger you will take your new flight from Kalibo. The airline will provide a van from Caticlan Airport all the way to Kalibo International Airport. If you are an inbound passenger to Boracay, the airline will provide a van than will bring you from Kalibo International Airport all the way to Caticlan Jetty Port.

Kalibo International Airport is 90 minutes away.

One of the main reasons why flights get cancelled or rerouted is because the air traffic control tower closes right after sun set. Caticlan Airport is a small airport with a short runway the relies on sunlight. Once darkness falls, the airport goes dark because it is not equipped with lights. Thus when flights arrive or depart after sunset it is automatically rerouted to Kalibo International Airport. I found out about this while I was talking to the girl who served me my blueberry cheese cake and café latté.

When planning, make sure you have 3 or 4 hours lay over between flights. This is just to make sure that if your inbound flight will hit some unforseen delay it won’t affect your connecting flight to Boracay. This also goes for  your outbound flight connecting from Boracay.

So, if you have a connecting flight from Manila to anywhere else in the world, make sure to take an earlier flight out of Caticlan Airport. Though I know it sucks to wake up early, but it sucks even more if you miss your flight back to your country.

TERMINALS 101

Traveling to Boracay can be quite an “adventure” especially for foreign nationals transiting via Manila. Immediately upon arrival, most especially at NAIA Terminal 1, some foreign nationals get confused and overwhelmed because of the lack of infrastructure and available assistance.  All of which are heightened because of the humid weather. My best advice is to stay calm and ask around. We, Filipinos, will be glad to help you in any way possible.

Manila has 4 terminals.

Terminal 1 : Is where all major international flights operate from. The Following airlines operate from this terminal :

  1. Air China
  2. Air Niugini
  3. Asiana Airlines 
  4. Cathay Pacific
  5. China Airlines
  6. China Southern Airlines
  7. Delta Air Lines
  8. Dragonair
  9. Emirates
  10. Etihad Airways
  11. EVA Air
  12. Gulf Air
  13. Hawaiian Airlines
  14. Hong Kong Express Airways
  15. Japan Airlines
  16. Jeju Air
  17. Korean Air
  18. Kuwait Airways
  19. Malaysia Airlines
  20. Qantas
  21. Qatar Airways
  22. KLM
  23. Jetstar Asia Airways
  24. Jetstar Airways
  25. Royal Brunei Airlines
  26. Singapore Airlines
  27. Saudi Arabian Airlines
  28. Tiger Airways
  29. Thai Airways International
  30. United Airlines

Terminal 2 : Also known as The Centennial Terminal in commemoration of the 100th year of Philippine independence. This terminal is exclusively used by Philippine Airlines for all its domestic and international flights.

Terminal 3 : Is the newest(started operations in 2008) and biggest terminal in Manila. In the future, all international flights from Terminal 1 are to operate from here. As of this time, only the airlines listed below are the ones that operate from here:

  1. All Nippon Airways
  2. Airphil Express (All domestic and International flights)
  3. Cebu Pacific (All domestic and international flights)
  4. Zest Airways (Manila -Incheon flights only)

Terminal 4 : is the old Manila domestic terminal that hosts domestic flights by these airlines:

  1. Sky Pasada
  2. South East Asian Airlines (Seair)
  3. Zest Airways

Let it be known that all airport terminals in Manila are not interconnected by a train system. It is best to take a “coupon” taxi to get from one terminal to another, especially when you have a connecting flight to catch. You will need to pay a fixed rate of Php 300. Don’t use the yellow metered airport taxis, you’ll waste your precious time on queue.

When you are not in a rush, there is also a shuttle service provided by NAIA that goes through all terminals. I am not sure about how effective the service is, since I have not ridden on one yet. I have heard that on good days ,it is a quick ride; on bad days, one has to wait for hours. Then again, it only costs Php 20 per passenger. I am not sure where the shuttle services are located on each terminals. Just make sure to ask around, especially at the Airline Passenger Transfer Desk. They can definitely answer specific questions but most of all they can lead you to the right directions.

The terminals are located a kilometer or two from each other. It may take 30 minutes to an hour to get from one terminal to another depending on traffic.

Feel free to click on the names of the different airlines to be routed to their main website.

Baggage 101

Take note that all flights that fly straight to Caticlan offer only 10 kilos of baggage allowance per passenger and 7 kilos baggage allowance for hand carried luggage. The reason because planes that fly to Boracay are turboprop planes. Space is limited and the insurance paid for handling bags is only for 10 kilos.

So if your luggage is more than that, be prepared to pay extra. Rates differ from airline to airline.

If you are flying via Kalibo you are allowed 15 kilos or more for checked in baggage depending on the airline you are taking. It’s still 7 kilos for a single piece of hand carried luggage.  Kalibo is a bigger airport that can support bigger planes. The flights to and from Kalibo are cheaper and it has more room. Thus, more baggage allowance.

If you are traveling all over Asia and one stop in Boracay, here’s my advice. Prior to your arrival in the Philippines, prepare a small bag for your trip to Boracay. When you arrive in Manila feel free to leave your luggage at the airport lockers located at Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

*Terminal 1 has an Interline Baggage Room. This is exclusive for passengers arriving in Terminal 1. It is located at the right hand side of the arrival area near the carousel before customs and near the bathrooms. The telephone number is +632-877-11-09 local 3633.

*Terminal 2 has an exclusive baggage counter for Philippine Airline passengers. It is the Central Baggage Services. The telephone number is +632-877-11-09 local 2469.

**Terminal 3 has Luggage and More. Where you can store your luggage for Php 300 a day. Php 150 pesos per 3 hours for small bags and Php 200 per 3 hours for big bags.

Trust me when I say this will come as a relief as you travel along and you’re not tugging along your baggage that weighs more than 20 kilos.

Arriving in Caticlan 101

When you exit Caticlan airport turn to your right and go all the way straight to the corner where you will see a tricycle terminal.  This is what you are going to take to get to Caticlan jetty Port. It costs Php 50.

If you choose to walk it, it is only 10 minutes away.

Upon reaching Caticlan Jetty Port, before you can enter the terminal you will be pointed to Window 1. Here you will pay for the boat ride at Php 25 per person. You will then proceed to Window 2 where you are going to pay for the environmental and admission fee of php 75. Lastly, you will proceed to Window 3 where you will have to pay for the terminal fee of php 50 per person.

Once everything is paid for, you go inside the terminal and proceed to the banca (outrigger boat).

Arriving in Boracay 101

You will arrive at Boracay island via the Cagban Jetty Port.

From here proceed to the tricycle terminal and find out where your hotel is located along white beach. The dispatcher will help you with this. The rates to a specific area are fixed and are displayed on a metal “bulletin board” located right by the terminal.

Places to Stay in Boracay 101

When Cholo and I are there we usually there,  rent a small room in the house beside the Tesebelle restaurant in Yapak. What we like about it is that it is just a two minute walk to Puka beach. Will write a full review about this and post a link here as soon as it’s up.

To find the right place that suites your budget and style, you can search for places to stay at by going through Trip Advisor. ( <– Click to be brought to the main page)

You can also browse through the Boracay wikitravel page to see where you can stay. (Click here to be brought to the page.)

What to do in Boracay 101

Aside from swimming and sun bathing, You can go sucba diving.

Take boat tours and navigate the entire island. Go snorkeling and fish feeding.

Take a boat trip during sunset.
Go parasailing.
Go kiteboarding on Bulabog beach.

Go skimboarding along White beach.

Go motorbiking.

Go horse back riding.

And when you get tired, have a massage by the beach or enjoy a relaxing time in one of those spas.

Boracay Amenities 101

There are ATM machines and money changers located at d’Mall in Station 2.

If you ran out of water or in dire need of condoms, there is a small grocery store also located at d’Mall.

If you need medicines, there are pharmacies all around. One is conveniently located at d’Mall.

If worse comes to worse, there are clinics and hospitals with in minutes of White Beach.

If you are hungry, just walk along White Beach. There are so many places to choose from that you’ll get confused. There are fast food joints also located at d’Mall.

If you want to have drinks just walk along White Beach and pick the bar suites you best.

If you want to go dancing, at night just follow the music.

~

Boracay will always remain a personal experience. No matter how much you’ve read about Boracay, once you get there you will find the things you’d love to do by following your intuition. It will be a delight discovering places that you will learn to enjoy.

Celebrate a part of your life in Boracay.

Swim on the water, lay on the sand, bathe under the sun and have a coconut to quench your thirst.

`

*taken from http://www.philippines-travel-guide.com

**taken from http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=683633&publicationSubCategoryId=87

Staying in Praiano

Standard

our room at Hotel Holiday

Praiano is definitely cheaper because it is not a major tourist destination in comparison to the likes of Positano, Amalfi or Ravello.

As I have briefly stated in an earlier blog (click here), Praiano is less touristy, quieter and quainter.

If you are traveling on a budget, like Cholo and I do, it’s always best to travel during off-peak season*. We arrived In Italy on September 10th 2011. The peak season was already ebbing. Most European tourists have left to return to their countries. The Italian shops are now open. The sun was still out but it was getting cooler.

Most of all, the prices were getting cheaper.

There a lot of places to stay in Praiano:

Hotel Holiday (http://www.hotelholidaypraiano.com/accommodation/index.php)

Hotel Margherita (http://www.hotelmargherita.info/)

Hotel Onda Verde (http://www.ondaverde.it/)

Room rates vary according to room location, view, amenities, etc.

Prices starts at 80 euros up to 180 Euros; which includes breakfast.

Hotel Holiday and Hotel Margherita are affordable while Hotel Onda Verda is a splurge.

You can also check out Hostelbookers.com (click here). Just be mindful that prices here are shown on a per person basis.

We paid 110 Euros per night for our room at Hotel Holiday.

*It has been said that Peak season runs from May to September and off-peak season is from November to March. August is the month when all of Italy goes into summer vacation and the temperature might get too hot.

Making It to Praiano

Standard
Making It to Praiano

September 13, 2011

On board the Sita Bus

Praiano, Costiera Amalfitana

Campania, Italy

~

The Sita Bus has just departed from the Positano bus stop.

I looked at my watch. It’s a little over an hour since we departed from Sorrento.

I looked over the window and enjoyed the breath-taking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the great cliffs of the Amalfi Coast.

The Sita Bus is now about to round a corner and I am snapped away from my reverie.

I look down at the ravine and I could hear myself gulp. My grip on the metal handles become tighter.

I sheepishly remind my self,  “If ever the bus falls over, no matter how tight your grip, you’d still fall along with the bus.”

I told myself to relax.

I leaned over to Cholo and whispered, “I have come to the conclusion that Italian bus drivers will give  Filipino bus drivers a run for their money.”

He Laughed.

I look around the bus and I realized it’s all filled up with tourists and locals a like. The noisy Americans are becoming a staple. The Eastern European couple wearing white linen shirts and pants are quietly conversing in some language I could not fathom. The boisterous Italian kids are singing their hearts out.

The Sita bus makes another precarious turn and the Italian kids burst out into nervous laughter while I breathe out a nervous sigh.

I begin to wonder. The roads along the Amalfi Coast are so narrow it could only fit one car on a one way street! Then I remembered that Italy is a haven for small cars.So what looks like a one way street to me is actually a two way street!

Ahead, I see that we are about to cross a hole on the side of the cliff and the Sita bus comes to a stop.

Cholo and I look around.

I feel the bus go on reverse. I strained to see what was going on. I see that the bus driver lets the small cars on the left hand side of the road pass through. It then resumes on its journey a few minutes later. I came to the conclusion this is how Italians living in this side of their country navigate the roads. Give and take.

It’s been a little over an hour and Thirty minutes.  I turned to Cholo to ask him if we missed our stop when the Sita bus came to a halt and the bus driver announced, “Praiano!”

With wide eyes filled with excitement, Cholo looks at me and says, “We’re here!” He immediately stands up and goes on to disembark from the bus ahead of me. I sat on the seat for a moment to bring my back pack around my shoulders while the noisy Americans made their way to the doors.

I stood up and made my way to the exit. I held on to the railing atop of the 45 degree angled stairs and just when I was about to descend…….wwooooooosssh!

The next instant I found my ass on the autostrada.

I had slipped.

I looked up and saw Cholo with his hands on his waist looking over the Tyrrhenian sea.

“Are you alright?” asks an American Girl.

“Yes, I’m fine. Thank You. My ass hurts though.” was my reply.

We both laughed.

I stood up with my arms shaking from the burn I received from the railings.

I finally arrived in Priano.

~

Getting to Praiano is quite an adventure. It took Cholo and I  4 hours via 2 train rides and a bus ride to get to Praiano. There are other alternatives though, such as renting a car or flying in to Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport. But I deem these two to be an expensive alternative.

There are no direct trains from Rome to the Amalfi Coast.

We started our journey at Roma Termini. We bought ourselves tickets to Naples for 34 Euros each. The journey would take 1 hour and 45 minutes on the not so fast train. If you want to reach Naples in 1 hour and 15 minutes you have the option of riding on the faster train for 44 Euros per person. But we were not in such a hurry.

Make sure to validate your ticket on the yellow box (validating machine) located by the waiting area of a train platform before riding on the trains. This is standard operating procedure all over Italy.

When we arrived in Napoli Centrale, we didn’t venture out from the station. Let me just say that I got a little bit scared of the people who I saw milling around the train station. When you in Naples always me mindful of your luggage or else you’d loose them.

We then made our way to the Circumvesuviana ticketing booth. It was a bit confusing to find the booth at first but once we’ve located the arrows that led us to the ticketing booth, we realized it’s just a short underground walk from Napoli Centrale. Here’s the thing, if you get lost all you have to do is, walk to the center of the station and follow the arrows that will lead you to the ticketing booth.

We purchased our one way ticket to Sorrento for 4 Euros each. We Hopped on the Cercumvesuviana commuter train and enjoyed the one hour ride. We passed by so many small towns and the train was filled with locals. There were a group of old ladies one of which reminded me of Sophia Petrillo (from the Golden Girls), chatting away in rapid Italian with five fingers up in the air. There were the cute boys going home from soccer practice, one of them eyeing my watch. Tons of young women wearing brown  lip liner and dark eyeliner and there were the occasional tourists.

The Circumvesuviana passes by the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. So if you are spending your holidays in Sorrento or Naples, this would be a good day trip to take.

As for Cholo and I, we were just passing by. Next time perhaps.

Once we arrived at Sorrento, we made our exit. We asked the Italian girl manning the tourist help desk where to take the Sita Bus to Praiano. (If you don’t see her, just walk directly outside the main exit. The blue colored Sita buses  are stationed directly at the corner.)

“You just missed the bus by five minutes. The next bus will be here in 25 minutes.” she said.

“Where can we buy tickets?” I asked

“You can buy it from the conductor or in the cafe over there.” She turned around and pointed us to the direction of the cafe.

We thanked her and made our way to the cafe. We purchased our bus tickets for 3.60 Euros per person.

Sita Bus tickets are priced differently along the Amalfi Coast. They are sold in the following  denominations:

  1.  A 45 minute ticket for 2.40 Euros
  2. A 90 minute ticket for 3.60 Euros
  3. A one day ticket for 7.20 Euro
  4. A 3 day ticket for 18 Euros.

So all you have to do is to buy according to your travel plans along the coast.

Since it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get from Sorrento to Priano we bought the 90 minuti biglietto.

Since we had extra time in our hands, we decided to have some panini for lunch at a nice restaurant a short walking distance from the train station to fill our grumbling stomachs. After some 20 minutes or so, we were on the Sita Bus for Praiano.

Make sure to validate your bus tickets every time you enter the bus. All you have to do is to insert the ticket unto the yellow box (validating machine) when you get on the bus. Again this is standard operating procedure throughout Italy.

The Bus ride from Sorrento to Praiano was wonderful. The landscape and the seascape before you is so beautiful that words cannot simply describe them. It’s also quite a ride because as I stated earlier, the roads are quite narrow and the bus drivers drive quite fast. *laughs* Not to mention the autostrada is located on the coast line which is made up of towering cliffs and steep ravines. It will take your breath away figuratively and literally.

Praiano Bus Stop

An hour into the trip our Bus made a quick stop in Positano where most of the tourists get off. After picking up locals and tourists alike, the bus continued on its way along the Amalfi Coast.  We reached Praiano 30 minutes after.

We made a call to Hotel Holiday Praiano and told them we have arrived. The lady told us to wait by the bus stop for we will be picked up by her son.

Five minutes later a silver Ford Fiesta came into view and a cheery Italian teen comes to great us.

“Welcome to Praiano!” he says.

My New Passport

Standard
My New Passport

September 29, 2011

1 PM

DFA Consular Office

Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard corner Bradco Street.

~

The cab come to a stop.

I look out the window and I see a lot of people milling around.

I psyched myself up by saying “It’s now or never!”

I faced the cab driver and paid him. Yes, with a hefty tip.

I go down and proceeded to the nearest gate.

Gate number 3.

I was about to ask the security personnel about where I should when a sign on the gate said “For those who have an internet appointment they should enter through gate number 2.”

With the heels of my leather shoes clicking on the pavement, I proceeded to search for the said gate.

After locating gate number 2, I looked down at my watch. It’s 1:oo pm and my schedule is at 2 pm. Should I cross the street and grab something to eat at McDonald’s?

“I am physically required to be at here by 1:30 pm. I have less than 30 minutes to spare!”, a debate ensues in my brain.

I decided against it and entered. It’s always better to be early than late. Besides, I don’t like eating in a hurry.

I now face the security guard while he checks my appointment “print out” that was emailed to me on the 8 days prior when I set my appointment. He then points me to a table where my appointment was to be verified.

After the verification officer pointed a laser gun at my paper, I had to ask him where to go next. “The first door on the right.” was all he said.

I proceeded and was blocked by a security guard. He checks my print out and says (in Tagalog) ” You’re due at 2pm. Go and take a seat first by the waiting area on the benches marked 2 PM.”

I look over to where he pointed.

There, seated under a tarpaulin tent was a long line of people sitting ; waiting for their appointment.

I let out a deep sigh and proceeded to find my place in line.

The waiting game has begun.

~

If you are a Filipino citizen, I’m sure you have already known for quite some time that the Department Of Foreign Affairs has “updated” the Passport application and renewal system. All you have to do is book online at http://www.passport.com.ph/ or call The DFA Passport Appointment System Hotline at telephone number 737-100 to book a date.

Here are my tips on how to survive a grueling day having your passport renewed:

1. Just make sure to bring the necessary documents that you were told to bring and make sure to PHOTOCOPY them before you get there. I have seen so many people lose their queue because they had to rush to the photocopy area to have some of their documents copied. The line is just as long!

2. Be physically present at the DFA consular office 30 minutes prior to your set time. Once your schedule has been set they will tell you this.

3. You are not allowed to bring any beverage or food inside the consular office. Make sure you had something to eat before going! Make sure you’ve peed or pooped! Make things easier for you.

4. Be observant. Read all the signs that you see. Ask the security personnel if you are in doubt, DO NOT ASK YOUR FELLOW APPOINTEES! They know not what they tell you and they are only there for themselves.

 ~

When I was looking for a seat under that hot tarpaulin tent, I didn’t know that there was a line. I sat down on an empty seat. I got a lot of heat from some women who said that I was inserting into the line.  Here’s what I said, “Pardon Me. I didn’t know there was a line. At this point I don’t give a shit where the line starts and ends. There was no need to be bitchy about it. Please proceed to the door if you want to go ahead and wait there” I stood up, put my tan leather bag over my arms and proceeded to the benches marked 3 pm. There I relaxed and continued observing people while no one was violating my air space.

~

5. The line will be non-existent once you proceed to the payment area . You get divided and mixed up on your way to the second floor after your documents and passport has been checked by the documents verification officer on the first floor. There are three cashiers and one line. Its Php 1200 for an expedited passport service (10 days) and Php 950 for regular passport service.

 

~

Once it’s your turn, The security personnel will tell you guys to stand up and proceed to the STEP 1 windows on the first floor. It’s still quite orderly UNTIL you are to proceed to the second floor for the STEP 2 of the process. Payment of passport.

My passport has just been cancelled and the guy asks me, “Would you like to have your passport process expedited?”

“YES!” was my all out reply.

After watching him repeatedly stamp various things on my documents, he gives me my papers and tells me to proceed to the cashier on the second floor. upon exiting the building, I asked the security personnel where to proceed. He told me to go to the third door all the way at the end.

I stood in line upon finding the door that would lead me to the cashier. Then this young lad stepped in front of me.

“There’s a line.” I said.

He looks at me and goes, “I know and I was behind this guy in front of me the entire time.” He stands there while my patience starts to simmer. He then starts talking to the girls behind me. I knew what they were trying to do.

With my patience running thin, I turned to the girl behind me and said, “Would you like to stay in front of me even if I was here first?”

“We were together the entire time.” was all she said.

“At this point I don’t give a shit who’s with who. I was here first.”

Just about then, the security personnel let us all in.

~

6. If you see people falling in line and being all chummy and saying things “We’ve been together the entire time.”; DO NOT FALL IN LINE WITH THEM. They are people who are being handled by travel agencies. Once you get to the second floor, go straight to the main entrance and proceed to the cashier for your payment. If you follow their line, you will end up sitting outside waiting for their other companions to catch up.

7. After paying proceed to Step 3, The Encoding and Photo Capture Area,  which is like “12 inches away” from the cashier. This is the point where everyone will end up. It doesn’t matter if you set your appointment via the phone, the internet or through an agency. You have to get a number and wait for it to be called.

~

When I got my number, I started looking around looking for the electronic board to see what number was being called. To my horror, I saw the number 3109 flashing.

I looked around and realized that there are more than 80 encoders. This will definitely take a while.

~

8. Bring a book. It will keep you company when you have to wait for 400 people to be served before you.

9. You can pay for your passport delivery service at this point. It’s only Php 120.

10. Be patient. Throwing a fit or complaining will not get you any where.

Suvarnabhumi in 18 mintues

Standard

September 20, 2011

Phaya Thai BTS Train Station

Bangkok Thailand

~

“Where are we supposed to go?” asks my mom.

“I think we just have to go through this bridge on the left and up that escalator.” I replied while pointing my lips to the general direction of an escalator located on a new wing to the right (from where we were standing) of Phaya Thai Station.

I carefully read the signs that says “To Airport Link”. We are on the right track.

There I was dragging two rolling luggage. One was mine and one belonged to my mom.

I am starting to sweat and  I could feel it rolling down my back.

I turned to my mom and kidded her, “The next time we are to travel, make sure not to sprain your ankle the night before we fly!”

There was my mom limping and clutching on her cane laughing her ass off while I was manoeuvering both our luggage.

We crossed Phaya Thai Station, through a bridge and reached the escalator.

We ride it up.

As I look up, I see a foreigner walking down the steps while lifting his luggage.

“Is there no elevator?” my mom voiced out the question I was just thinking about. We reached the top, I looked around and came to the conclusion that there are no elevators!

I take it back! There were elevators but it was only from that floor (I think it’s the 2nd floor) all the way up to the platform for the airport link.

A BTS personnel points us to the cashier and I purchase a one way ticket for Suvarnabhumi for 90 Bhat per person.

We rode the elevator to the airport link platform, got on the train and arrived in Suvarnabhumi 18 minutes later.

~

Phaya Thai is a Station on the BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit Line.

Click here for the official Bangkok Mass Transit System website.

See below for the Route Map of the BTS Sukhumvit (Yellow Green) and Silom( Dark Green) Line, the underground MRT (Light Blue) Line, the Suvarnabhumi Airport Express (Red) Line and the Suvarnabhumi City (Dark Blue) Line.

Mind THE GAP Between The Train And It’s Closing Doors

Standard
Mind THE GAP Between The Train And It’s Closing Doors

October 2010

Naples, Italy

On board the Cercumvesuviana for Naples from Sorrento

~

I should wake Cholo up from his sleep. We’re about to arrive in Naples already.

He still won’t budge. I’ll wake him in 5 minutes.

3 minutes later.

“Wake up Bubba. We’re almost there!”

I feel the Cercumvesuviana slowing down.

I stand up and wear my bag over my shoulders and proceed to the exit door.

I can see the station now. What is taking Cholo so long!?

I look back.

I see him roll the straps of his camera SLOWLY. I see him put his camera on the seat beside him SLOWLY.

I see him open his bag SLOWLY. I see him put his camera inside his bag SLOWLY.

The train has now stopped and I am now on the platform. I see Cholo stand up SLOWLY.

Everyone who needed to disembark has done so, except for Cholo.

I see Cholo decide to ask someone if this is the stop for Napoli Stazione Centrale. He turns to me and tells me it’s the wrong station.

I roll my eyes. I wanted to tell him that this was the platform we departed from going to Sorrento 3 days prior BUT…

The alarm goes off and the doors start to close!

I call out to Cholo in panic to tell him to come out, and he decides to ask the guy one more time.

When he got the answer he was longing for, he makes a mad dash.

Cholo Laurel gets caught between the closing doors.

~

January 2011

Singapore

On board the Circle Line enroute to  Changi Airport

~

There I was standing in the middle of the train holding on to the pole with one hand and the other on my luggage.

I look at Tita Aileen. I then shifted my gaze to Gigi and Blanche.

I looked over to Nat sitting in a corner with his eyes closed.  “I wonder why he’s sick?” I ask myself. “I hope he didn’t eat anything bad!”

I then shifted my gaze to the route map on top of the doors. I studied the route.

I turn to Tita Aileen and we start to discuss where we are to go down.

We came to the conclusion that we are to go down in Paya Lebar Station and make a transfer to the East West Line for Tanah Merah Station; where we are to make our final transfer for Changi Airport.

The MRT line zooms past apartment buildings and the occasional park. People go down in their respective stations and we start the cycle again.

As we were nearing Paya Lebar Station I announced to everyone that we are about to get down.

We all stood up when suddenly Nat spoke up. Despite being sick, had the energy to tell us that it was the wrong station.

Tita Aileen in a very calm way told him that we are to go down the station because we need to transfer to another train to go to Changi Airport.

After a few seconds of discussions Nat acquiesced. BUT As soon as He stands up…

The alarm goes off and the doors start to close.

Tor Torre makes a mad dash!

Tor Torre gets caught between the closing doors.

~

August 2011

Tokyo, Japan

On board the Skyliner for Narita International Airport Terminal 2

The Skyliner has now stopped.

I see people standing up and making their way to the exits.

I look at Cholo and he tells me in a whisper, “Wake up Tito Ken.”

I shook my head.

“You better do that because you’ve known each other longer.” was my reply.

He walks over to the seat in front of us, shakes Tito Ken gently.

Tito Ken wakes up.

We make a bee line for the exit with Tito Ken leading the way.

Tito Ken makes it to the platform while Cholo and I retrieve our luggage from the stowage area near the exit.

We moved around the other passengers luggage in haste. I got to mine first.

I turn the corner  and to my horror, the door was more than half way closed!

I shouted “Sumimasen kudasai!” (which was actually the wrong thing to do because it just means “Excuse me please!”)

I grabbed the handle but it doesn’t seem to stop!

I started running my fingers around the side panels of the door, hoping to find a button to stop the damned door from finally closing!

My emotions were a blend of stupidity, horror and amusement (which left me dumbfounded!).

I turned around and faced Cholo.

Tor Torre and Cholo Laurel missed their stop.

~

When traveling on a train, IMO here’s what you need to do:

  1. Don’t sleep. Not unless you’re sure that your stop is at the very end of the train ride. Sleeping will only make you groggy and disoriented when you wake up.
  2. Never take your time in a train. Remember that trains keep to their schedules. They arrive and depart with or without you.
  3. Always research in advance. Know which routes to take and know at which stop you are to embark or disembark.
  4. Always make sure that your luggage is within reach and it’s not piled behind the luggage of other passengers. It takes time to move heavy luggage around.
  5. Make sure never to stay at the end of the line, there’s a more likely chance that you’ll end up missing your stop.
  6. If you miss your stop, just know that you can always go back from where you came from.

P.S.

Cholo and I were still able to make it to our connecting train from Naples to Rome.

Auntie Aileen, Gigi, Blanche, Nat and I were still able to make our transfer to the East West Line for Changi Airport.

Cholo and I missed our stop at the Narita International Airport Terminal 2 and found ourselves at Terminal 1.When we alighted, I directly went to a station personnel and told him of what happened. He was very kind in helping us find our way to the other platform where we were to ride a local train that would pass by Terminal 2 on its way to the City.

When we arrived at the Philippine Airlines check-in counter we saw Tito Ken standing in line, laughing at us. He already surmised what happened. He told us it’s okay, that happened to him too! Unlike Cholo and I, the reason he missed his stop was because he fell asleep.

A SMART Way To Fly

Standard

Aug. 6 , 2011

Centennial Terminal (NAIA 2) International Gate

Gate 6

~

I stared at him as he walked towards the silver steel bench in front of Cholo and I.

“hmmm..”  was my bubble thought.

I eye him closely without being obvious.

First his shirt.

Then to his watch.

I went down to his belt and my eyes widened.

My eye traveled down his pants and reached his shoes, my eyes widened even more.

Then I saw his BAG. I gasped.

I turned to Cholo.

“Bubba, look at the old Japanese man sitting in front of us.” I told Cholo in Filipino.

“Very Smart!” was his remark.

“Yup! Nice bag too!”

~

This is the way to fly.

No, it’s not about the fact that he is decked with Louis Vuitton from head to toe.

It’s about flying in comfort with style.

BUT…

…I do want his bag!

~

To read my previous blog about hand carried luggage, click here.

Essentials: Travel Wallet

Standard
Essentials: Travel Wallet

August 24, 2005

Ngurah Rai International Airport

(Better known as Bali International Airport)

I had just been through the immigration officer and was making my way to the gates. In my left hand was my wallet, a pen, my ticket and my boarding pass. My mobile phone was on the right, texting my cousin Bing. Dean, the guy I dated around that time, wanted to venture to a different part of the terminal. I just wanted to go straight to the departure gates and rest.  I ended up walking around anyway.

I found my self comparing the airport to that of Mactan-Cebu International Airport. They almost feel the same, except that Ngurah Rai is bigger. The check-in process reminded me of the old Manila Domestic Airport,a bit crowded and confusing.

I found my departure gate and settled into a chair. I placed my boarding pass in the seat beside me and started putting all the things I held in my hand into my bag.

In a split second, a wave of panic washed over me. I lost my ticket.

I stood up and retraced my steps. I went as far back as the immigration windows, went past them and ended up back at the Malaysian Airlines check in counter.

Still no ticket.

I finally met up with Dean at the departure gate and told him I had lost my ticket. He assured me that as long as I had my boarding pass I’ll be fine.

Boarding time came. My name was announced over the public paging system. I say to my self, “They found my ticket!”.  No they didn’t find my ticket. They just asked for my boarding pass, threw it to the garbage and handed me a new one.

Dean pulled some strings. We flew from Bali to Kuala Lumpur on an upgrade to first class.  Thanks Dean.

~

Since then I always been very careful about handling my travel documents.

Since then I have been in search of a travel wallet.

~

Two years later.

my travel wallet

I found my travel wallet  (left) while walking around in Rustan’s department store in ATC. As you can see it is perfect for traveling. you have an area where you can place your passport, your airline mileage cards, some cash, an ATM, and a Credit Card. I’m not saying that you should migrate the entire contents of your personal wallet to your travel wallet. Only the essentials for traveling are needed. This includes a pen.

Yes, a pen. How many times have you experienced borrowing a pen from a co-traveler? How many times have you panicked because you needed to fill up a form and no one with a pen was in sight? How many times have you let others borrow your pen? Bring a pen. ALWAYS.

travel wallet (back)

The reason why I also like this wallet is because it has a compartment at the back where you can place your ticket, boarding pass, disembarkation and arrival cards. This minimizes incidents such as, tickets falling from your hands.

Having a travel wallet is essential in keeping all your travel documents in one place. It helps keeps a traveler calm and collected.