Happy Independence Day, Việt Nam!

September 3rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Fireworks at the city center, near the Saigon River.

Are Foreign Travelers Safe in the Philippines?

August 26th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

This started out as an answer to a friend’s question, but has expanded into something that merits its own blog post. Please share with as many people as you can.

“Are Foreign Travelers Safe in the Philippines?”

I always tell people that all the bad things that happen in the Philippines are all unrelated to each other. And it’s true. Sure, foreigners are being kidnapped in Mindanao, tourists are being hostaged by the busloads in Metro Manila, and people are leaving explosives in the toilets of UA&P. But at the same time these events are happening, daily life on an idyllic island somewhere in the Visayas or in a verdant valley in heart of the Cordillera continues, unmindful that our standing in the international community has just been irrevocably screwed. This is the double-edged irony of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands: Some events are just too far away from some people for them to be overly concerned or minutely care. This is the first thing people interested in coming to the Philippines must realize. The country is, in truth, 7,107 different and independent places (much more, even). They are related only by the fact that they belong to the same archipelago on this lonely, typhoon-battered edge of the Pacific. Most of the time, the country’s right hand doesn’t know or doesn’t care what its left foot is doing. And so, armed with accurate information and a quick eye for trouble, anyone can drop in any time they want AND expect to return home safely with gigabytes of memories of a truly awesome time. No matter what the headlines suggest, THE PHILIPPINES IS STILL A PARADISE. There will always be a few rotten eggs at the top of the basket (And they are there anywhere you go in the world; any experienced traveler will tell you that.), but there are nuggets of gold in that bushel as well. Those with the heart to dig deeper will always be rewarded.

Good Friday Pre-Dawn Via Dolorosa

April 17th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Two hours before dawn on Good Friday, almost ten hours before I put together my Good Friday Baked Salmon, I was in front of the San Isidro de Labrador Church in Pulilan, Bulacan, wide awake and standing in the middle of a crowd of more than a hundred people, all of us waiting for town’s yearly “Daan ng Krus” or “Way of the Cross” to begin. From the church, we made our way around the poblacion, through silent streets, past quiet houses and sleeping dogs, to 14 homes that were chosen as the 14 Stations of the Cross. We arrived at the last station at around 7am, three hours after we started. Soft candlelight had given way to brilliant sun. After the final prayers, the crowd dispersed the same way it came together — with lively chatter. There was still the grand procession in the afternoon to prepare for. The day had just begun.

More pictures of the Pulilan Via Dolorosa here.

Looking for Iconic and Insightful Travel Images?

March 22nd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Looking for iconic and insightful  travel and destination photography for your magazine, website, or  advertising campaign? Check out the Outsidebound Images collection at Daiichicolour.com!

5-Star Insider

March 3rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

I thoroughly enjoyed having breakfast at the Executive Club of the Westin Miyako in Kyoto. Every morning, I watched the fog from the mountains gently retreat from the sunrise, until I could finally see the tiled roofs of the temples of Nanzenji.

In almost all of my international trips, I’ve always had the pleasure of staying and dinning at five-star hotels. To date, I have enjoyed the tropical sun at the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall Resort in Jamaica and at the Westin Resort and Spa in Puerto Vallarta. I have savored high-grade wagyu and otoro at the Westin Miyako in Kyoto and until today I still can’t forget the heavenly Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Meritus in Singapore. I have immersed myself in the warm waters of W Hong Kong’s 76th-floor outdoor pool (the highest in the city) in the middle of winter and I have beaten the heat of Ho Chi Minh City with overflowing cold drinks at the Club Lounge of the Sheraton Saigon. These great hotels are destinations in themselves, and as a tribute, deserve their own album of iconic photographs.

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