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Sunday, 26 December 2010
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Whats up with my etraveldiary? So far, it is inspiring to share some of my recent travels both in the UK and US, including my summer vacation in the Philippines. I also joined the BLOGROLL, a site that promotes bloggers that share their travel experiences online. You can check it out using the sidebar link. It is a simple way to increase readership of my site as well as meeting new online friends.
If you just recently browsing my blogsite or maybe a previous fan who missed some of my journals, then I take this opportunity to provide you some of the highlights of whats going on in my travel site during the past weeks.
With my 5 months vacation in the US, I have posted several stories with photo collages and videos powered by TripAdvisor. Some of the interesting stories are as follows: Disneyland Adventure in Anaheim, California; Seaworld in San Diego; Napa Valley, California; and Las Vegas in Nevada. I had the chance to watch the Farmers Classics' tennis in Los Angeles when Andy Murray of Britain first joined the tournament.
During my short trips to the Philippines, I was able to explore, Boracay Island; Corregidor Island and my hometown, Sibuyan Island. Highlights of the trips will be posted very soon.
Other interesting trips include: Louvre Museum in Paris, Natural History Museum in London, and Mournes Mountains in Northern Ireland.
FINALLY, I also included my first ever attempt to do painting using instant coffee, and my passion in reading which I regularly write book reviews. Coffee Painting provides you some of the basic tips to do it (if you like) as a hobby while traveling; and my first Travel Book Review - showcasing 40 unforgettable islands to escape before you die. I'm glad that the author of the book himself wrote his comment in my post. Check it out! If you fancy of buying a new book for a gift or for personal reading, you can visit my other website, Book-Aklat-Libro to find out more about my book collection.
ENJOY browsing, have a wonderful and happy Xmas!
Oooh... I forgot to mention my first ever travel book "My Fascination with Traveling", showcasing some of my photos taken in Europe, Thailand, Canada, UK, the Philippines and other parts of Asia. I have two more travel books to be published through BLURB. Watch out for that as well.
Briefly, these travel books include the following: Unforgettable Islands to escape to before you die, Unforgettable Journeys to take before you die, Unforgettable Things to do before you die, and Unforgettable Places to see before you die. First, I will be sharing to you the fourth title published in 2007, entitled Unforgettable Islands to escape to before you die!
Why the Unforgettable Islands? Well, just to give you first a background of my origin. I was born and raised in one of the 7,107 islands of the Philippine archipelago. Where is Philippines located, by the way? Having a review of geography, my home country is just 3 hours away from Japan and Singapore by plane and almost 5 hours from Australia. Also, this is where Mylene Klass' mother and Nicole Scherzinger's (Pussycat Dolls) father came from. People who are living in the Philippines are known as Filipinos and the country got its name from Spain - colonized "Filipinas" for more than 300 years.
In other words, I am an islander who loves the beach, coconut trees, waves, sunset, coral reefs, forest, cool breeze and rivers! The environment I grew up was quite similar as portrayed in the Shipwrecked or Lost TV programmes, except that there is no competition and no fear for survival. It is a place I always called "home". This is the reason why the book reminded me of my home - a place where illustrated inside the colourful 256 pages of the book.
When I found this book during my first visit to BBC store, I was fascinated by its cover and the title itself. A feeling that draws me to browse the book and finding out why it is unforgettable. I searched it thru Amazon to see if I could get a cheaper deal using my dooyoo voucher; unfortunately the price is the same at Â£18.99. Few months later, I found out the BBC store is closing down and offering for 50-70% discounts. Without a second thought, I bought the 3 titles.
The author, Steve Davey and with the assistance of Marc Schlossman for the images of the 40 islands featured in the book, vividly describe his personal experience visiting these islands for almost 11 months. Some of the islands where covered in the first three series of his publications which I will be reviewed in the near future.
I don't want to give you all the contents of this book, but rather I will provide you the outstanding elements of the book that a traveller and photo hobbyist like me could get unforgettable insights of the featured islands which I am also dying to explore them before I die!
Generally, the book is perfectly packaged in a form suitable for a coffee table display. The image featured in the hard cover is taken from Stockholm, Sweden. The author's introduction is very well written emphasizing the value of visiting these places, without affecting the eco-system of the islands. He acknowledged both the positive and negative effects of tourism to these vulnerable places, and the same time the rewarding hospitality and generosity of the people living in these islands surrounded by bodies of water.
On the other hand, the lay-out is simple where the texts and images were laid-out for easy reading. Each of the 40 islands featured in the book are illustrated between 8-10 pages, where photos are in different sizes with individual short caption. For each island, extra information is added explaining on how to reach the place in terms of the best time to visit and the mode of transport to reach the island. Few pages at the back of the book cover important contacts that the author recommended to communicate, including useful websites. It also contains a map showing the locations of each island as a table contents graphically laid out at the first few pages of the book for easy browsing.
When I finally finished reading the book, the first thing that entered my mind was on the decision of the author to embark visiting these places in a span of 11 months. As a traveller, visiting a place is always motivated by fascinating features and priceless experience of being there in the island as described by others who have been there and also the promotional campaigns thru available on-line or printed materials. I am not sure if the author was persuaded by what others have said or what he had read about these islands. Maybe, as a travel writer, he was looking for distinct characteristics of each island that might encourage other people (like me) to experience what he had or maybe trying to persuade a segment of the urban society to visiting some places that they would never considered before.
In order to understand the motivation of the author to publish these 40 islands, I decided to examine the characteristics of each island as being discussed by the author. These are the interesting points that I have found out and vividly demonstrated in the images printed on it.
* The island has unspoiled beaches, wildlife (flora and fauna) or
* The island has interesting history, including the way of living:
culture, tradition, settlements, inhabitants, religion and beliefs
* The island has unique geological formation that attracts people for
climbing, cycling, walking
* The island has archaeological significance, including sensitive marine environment with endangered species
* The island has beautiful landscape, including cityscape and urban form and architecture
* The island is accessible for all means of transport, especially by air
* The island has "photogenic" charisma - a delight for both professional and amateur photographers.
I also observed that the quality of the images inside the book portrayed the significance of these places, without major alteration of the print. In other words, the photos do not bear any special effects which enhance the colour and presentation of the images. What you see in the pages of the book, are what you get when you visit these places - very natural view of people, structures, motion, textures, and surroundings. I was really impressed with images taken in Thailand, Fiji, Santa Barbara (USA), Sicily, Portugal, including the Philippines.
Why this publication stands-out from the rest of the travel books that have read? Aside from the reason of having visited the countries (not the islands) mentioned, the book is unique in a sense that the author gave his personal reflections about the travel as well as the photographer captured the natural sceneries thru the images. There was a chemistry between the writer and the photographer to bring out the best features of these islands - to captivate the hearts of travellers like me - destined to explore the planet Earth. In a way, it serves as a travel guide as well but more on the aspects of the physical features of the islands - exploring the unspoiled beauty.
Are you hopeful that you have already visited some of these places during your holidays or are you planning to visit them in months to come and still undecided to have it a go as your next top priority holiday destination? Well, personally I have only visited 2 of the islands, namely: Stockholm (Sweden) and Hongkong (China) out of the 40 places mentioned in the book. But Im desperately dying to explore the rest before I die especially the following: Bacuit Archipelago, Palawan (Philippines), Big Island (Hawaii), Phang Nga Bay Island (Thailand), Bali (Indonesia), Ibiza and Formentera (Spain), and the Society Islands (French Polynesia).
It is an unforgettable reading this book that provided me a glimpse of beautiful places that Mother Earth can offer. Despite the economic crunch, everybody deserves one or two places to visit every year. UNFORGETTABLE ISLANDS, unforgettable places, unforgettable moments and memorable experience of a life time await everyone!
NOTE: This is first published in dooyoo and ciao consumer sites. Few months ago, I got my Amazon Kindle 3G ebook reader and thanks to my cousin who is generous to have it as a pre-Xmas presence. I think with my new travel gadget, it lessen of carrying pocket books during travels, but with Travel Books like this under review is something to keep in its original version - I mean a "hard copy"!
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Sketching/painting is only a past time to complement my interest in photography. With photography, I can now capture my artwork and share it online.Inspired by a Filipina artist/painter, few months ago I decided to try if it will work. An ordinary sketch pad, brush, a diluted instant coffee in a small cup, I transformed my favourite subject, Trees into shiny sepia looking images.
One of the challenges to make it work is to get the right blend between water and the powdered/granuled instant coffee. The shades and textures can be controlled by the amount of water added to the coffee granules. I just use a tap water or re-use water and even the left-over from your cup to dilute the pure coffee. I also tried to use warm/hot water and it seems easier to mix the coffee granules with water providing an "old-look" effect on paper.
It is also interesting to blend or mix with other medium. For example, I tried to blend (not mix) coffee with choco powder but the latter does not provide a strong shiny brown effect on paper. I did try the Hershey's choco flavour which is quite effective despite its stickiness, it provided an added volume and luster on the surface of the subject.
Coffee painting is easy and the materials are affordable. It does not require a studio or a special place to do it. Even while sipping your favourite latte o cappuccino inside a coffee shop, with your brush and paper, you can paint instantly. While traveling, you can also use recycled plastic or aluminum cups to contain the diluted mixed coffee which is easy to dispose after use or carry them inside a backpack. Chinese brushes are quite easy to find especially in artwork shops or school supplies stores.
For an 8X12 paper size, I can normally complete my painting between 20-30 minutes, depending on the details of my subject. If I wanted a densely landscape, then it would require additional details and shades of the background.
It smells good while doing it! Have a try the aromatic experience in painting while traveling...
Saturday, 18 December 2010
I FOUND OUT TODAY THAT BORACAY ISLAND is chosen as one of the best travel destinations in the world organized by TripAdvisor (the leading travel site in the cyberspace). Ranked 9 in the World listand number onein Asia, beating Maldives and three of the islands in Thailand, Boracay is the best destination in the 2010 Travelers' Choice Award under the "beach and sun" category.
Boracay is one of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines and part of the central group of islands in the country. The Philippines is an archipelago in Southeast Asia comprising of 3 major groups of islands: Luzon (north), Visayas (central) and Mindanao (south) and out of 7,107 islands, only 4000 are inhabited. The Philippines is blessed with beautiful forests and beaches.
Few months ago, the Philippines was in the headline again after the unexpected hostage drama in Manila City when 8 Chinese nationals from Hongkong were killed in the incident. It is anticipated that this will affect the tourism industry of the country, consequently will bring a big impact to Boracay as one of the popular beach destinations of foreign visitors from neighbouring countries, including China and Hongkong.
Honestly, when I visited the island in April 2010, I observed that the majority are local tourists and there are so many things to explore in the area. I have been here in several occasions but only this recent visit that I really enjoyed and travelled around the island together with foreign friends. Aside from feeding Nemo and his friends during our snorkelling, we also did the island hopping and visited some underground caves. We did the reef walk, as if strolling under water with a helmet. The accommodation is affordable, including a selection of excellent water rides, food and entertainment.
A morning plunge in the sea and strolling in the beach while watching the sunset are just one of the things you could enjoy in the island. Did you know that Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxer owns a beach resort in the island?
NOTE: The original travel journal was posted in JPGMagazine website as the Story of the Week No.39 last September 2010.
Friday, 17 December 2010
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED to have a signed copy of this book, you can join my "Grab a Copy" contest which details will be posted very soon. Your comments are also welcome. Please watch out for my 2nd book entitled, My Travel Blog...
For every journey there is a story to tell... and this is my own story. Unfolding before your eyes through the images I captured during my travels...
Monday, 13 December 2010
Friday, 10 December 2010
My first visit to Mournes was organised by Whiteabbey Presbyterian Church in cold month of December. It was a long drive (1.5 hours) to Newcastle where the mountains stand beautifully alongside of the crystal clear blue sea. A wonderful sunny but chilly day, it was enjoyable experience ascending this magnificent peak of Slieve Donard.
My 5-hour walk from the foot of Donard Forest was paved off as the towering natural ground of 849 metres high (2,786 ft) sets before in front of me; with several mini waterfalls along the way. It was -4 degrees C during our climb and my clothes and shoes were not enough to cover me from the freezing wind!
The second time, I joined again the church members to climbed the 3rd highest peak of the mountains, Slieve Binnian. Seeing again the Mournes reminds me of the books written by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia. The Mournes inspired Lewis to write this series of novels for children. Unfortunately, I havent read any of the stories, except that I watched the film - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as adapted from the books.
While ascending the mountains, the panoramic view is astonishing - combined with brown, yellow and green colours infront of us which dominates the skyline! It was a glorious Easter Monday with sunny spell and the frequent touch of the cold wind.
Before we proceeded to the peak of Slieve Binnian, we had our lunch besides the small lake and the atmosphere is surreal having such special moment having with nature - appreciating the wonderful gifts from God! As soon as we finished filling our hungry stomachs, we started our journey and finally reached the foot of Slieve Binnian where the catchment areas for the water source of Northern Ireland take over the view, including the coastline of the Republic of Ireland. Tiny bits of hails struck our faces while ascending the peak!
I can not explain the feeling of being there - at the top of the mountain watching the well-curved mountains of Mournes, including the icy tip of Slieve Donard, some of the uniformily laid-out stones - the Mournes Wall, the green spots of pine trees and the blue ocean below. It took us almost 2.5 hours to reach the top confronting our fears to be carried away by the freezing wind and not to mention the slippery sloping ground while descending the peak. Descending the icy peak of Slieve Binnian provided us another view of Mournes, where green fields and farms meet with the coastline, including the whistling sound coming from the wind passing through the gaps between the stones of the Mournes Wall.
Another testimony of nature at its best and it deserves to be admired. A place not to be missed while visiting the Irish region.For future trips, click here for additional information: MOURNES
Thursday, 2 December 2010
IN PARTICULAR, the Red Zone’ Earth’s Treasury contains hundreds of valuable gemstones and minerals, and the Power Within is showcasing the actual footage of BBC News during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991. The Vault in the Green Zone is keeping some of the most beautiful and stunning precious stones and some of them are sparkling in the dark. Find out more by clicking the collages above.
It took me 3 hours to really enjoy the visually stunning and thought-provoking collections of hundreds of natural history specimens, including images, interactive displays, and visual works.