Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cebu, Philippines part 1

The flight to Cebu was delayed. I spent almost the entire day waiting in the airport.

The hostel I chose to stay at was called Le Village Guesthouse. Of all the room options, room 2, the 8 person shared room, turned out to be the best. It was one of the few rooms with AC making it incredibly relaxing to sleep there. The other rooms only had fans and it really didn't help with the humidity and heat  all that much.

The people working there were quite nice. Most of them gay.  Flamboyantly so. One was a cross dresser. The staff all really enjoyed singing karaoke while working. They really set the fun mood that permeated the place.

I made some small talk with the other travelers but I ended spending most my time with this traveler named Gigi.

Gigi is an interesting girl. Although she seems quite upbeat, I sense a sadness within her that we avoided talking about. I think she's  doesn't have a home. Something happened to her and now it's been ten years since she's returned. In the interim, she's just been bouncing from country to country with all her belongings staying here and there for long durations of time. I wonder if she ever gets tired of not being able to stay in one place for long time. Probably a dumb question.

Later that night, two guys tried to rob me with knives. One went for Gigi while the other went for me. I tried to fight the one on me and amidst the process, fractured my finger. I distinctly remember a moment where I tried to throw a punch at the guys face and stopped as he raised his knife defensively to stab me. Ours eyes locked and I could see this wild intensity in him. Had it not been for the bystanders rushing over from all the noise, who knows how the night might have ended.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Makati, Philippines

In the morning I took the beginner scuba diving class with Sue.

Our instructors prepped us on diving fundamentals and safety before suiting us up and getting us into the water. Because it was a beginner class, they merely had us work on our breathing and underwater communication skills. Our legs and arms stayed prone while they controlled our depth and direction. It was pretty fun but I'm not sure if scuba diving is something I really enjoy. I don't hate it, but I don't know if I'll be interested in doing it again. The view underwater was pretty though.

Around 11am in the afternoon, I called for a bike and headed back towards Manila.

Rather than stay in Manila again however, I stayed in Makati instead, which is just a neighboring city. Makati definitely carries a different feel from metro Manila. Makati is cleaner, more upscale.

Beyond the nightlife however, I found the city quite boring.

That night, I Couchsurfed at Hannah's place. Hannah is a woman in her mid-thirties who has hosted a handful of surfers already. Quite knowledgeable about Makati and what there is to do in the city, Hannah is a great resource for ideas. I asked what she did for a living but she was a bit mysterious about it, self proclaiming to be an entrepreneur of sorts. I didn't inquire any further. Her place was nice.

We later met up with another traveler, Doris, and went out for dinner and drinks. Doris was a reporter who wrote for whoever paid. I didn't agree with a lot of the things she said but overall she was cool to hang out with.

The following morning I left for Cebu.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Asia Trip Picture/Video Update Status

I think I'll have to wait until I return back to the states to upload pictures because the internet here is quite slow. So keep an eye out in January for post edits

Mabini, Philippines

In the morning I decide to make an impromptu journey down south with Sue to Mabini and learn how to scuba dive.

To get there, we started by taking a two hour bus from the Makati Bus Station to the town of Patangas, which is almost the furthest south of Manila; then an one hour jeepney into Patangas town center, and then a half hour motorcycle ride to the beach resort, Planet Dive. In all, the journey probably took around 3-4 hours.

Planet Dive is an amazing destination if you wish to get away from all the noise and chaos present in a city. Right next to the ocean, Planet Dive's facilities not only are immaculate but blends naturally into its surroundings. Additionally, the staff here are not only friendly and easy to strike up a conversation.


Manila, Philippines part 2

The place I am staying at feels like a hostel with the amount of people staying here, but that is part of its charm. Most hosts tend to invite only 1-3 people a night with 1 being the average but with Christine and James, it seems 4-6 tends to be the norm.

In the morning I meet the Brazilian couple Beatriz and Wilthom. We chat for a bit, complain about the rain, and decide to travel together for the day.

Before setting out for the city however, I first visit the market down the street.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Manila, Philippines part 1

After a ten hour flight from SFO to Narita airport in Japan, a two hour layover, and finally a five hour flight south to the Philippines, I am finally here. Only to be greeted by rain.

Looks like the next few days will be quite rainy. Just my luck.

I'll have to adjust my plans to account for traffic and weather.

So far, I have already wasted money paying a premium for a taxi from the airport. I had a much cheaper alternative but didn't want to wait in line.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Hiking Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Trail Description

Length:  5 miles round trip
Trailhead Elevation:  4297 ft.
End Elevation: 5785 ft.
Elavation Change: 1488 ft.
Difficulty Assessment: Moderate
Trail Type: Out and Back

For more information, click HERE

The Hike

To get to Angel's Landing, get on the shuttle from the visitor center and get off the shuttle at Weeping Rock. From there, cross the street and begin your hike. All the trails within the park are clearly labeled and it would be difficult for you to get lost if you're planning on hiking the more popular trails.

The beginning of Angel's Landing consists of steep switchbacks but are accompanied by a great view of the valley. In total, the hike is about 4-5miles round trip.


Hiking The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

Trail Description

Length:  Up to 16 miles
Difficulty Assessment: Easy - Moderate
Trail Type: Out and Back

For more information, see:

1) Utah.com
2) Zion National Park

The Hike

On Thursday, we all awoke at around 630am and got to the park around 830am.

No traffic, very little crowds.

No indication of bad weather.

Before the park, we made a quick stop at Zion Adventure Company, a great little shop with various outdoor gear. It was here that we rented our neoprene socks, shoes, and walking sticks. Although you can hike the river in shoes and use trekking poles, I suggest renting the previously mentioned items for convenience. The socks keep your feet warm, the shoes grip the rocks great, and the sticks are long enough so you don't fall into any surprisingly deep holes while river walking.

Their site is: http://www.zionadventures.com/ and the cost for all three items (basic package) is 23.00. Consider it.

After grabbing our rentals, we paid for the parking permit (good for 7 days, 30.00 dollars), parked at the station, and took the shuttles to our stop. Everyone has to park near the entrance. There are a few stops further up the road that you can park at but more or less the bulk of the park can only be accessed by shuttle system. Refer to the map to identify which stop your trailhead begins at. For the Narrows, the stop we were looking for was Temple of Sinawava.


Zion National Park, Utah, United States

On Wednesday afternoon, we flew out of SFO and landed in LAS where we were immediately picked up by friends from San Diego.

The trip was pleasantly affordable. Southwest had a sale so I was able to buy tickets to LAS for 44.00 and tickets back from LAS to SFO for 100.00.

A snug fit, the drive was pretty straightforward. Simply take the 15 from Vegas to Utah.

The first night we did not drive all the way to Zion, instead, we drove directly to our hotel.

Our hotel was in a small city 30 minutes outside the park by the name of La Verkin.

We stayed at a Best Western Plus. For the price and convenience, I would highly recommend staying in La Verkin rather than shell out 200-500/night in front of the park in Springdale. For a total of four nights and three days, we payed a few dollars shy of 300.00 for 2 queen beds. Split that among five people, it only cost us 54 dollars for lodging.

The goal for each hike was to sleep early and leave early.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Video: Hiking Emerald Pool

Here's a short video of me and some friends hiking the Emerald Pools at Zion National Park.


Video: Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Here's a video of me and my friends from San Diego hiking Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, Utah.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here:

1) hhttp://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2015/10/angels-landing-zion-national-park-utah.html


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Video: The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

Just a video of me and some friends from San Diego hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah.

To read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2015/10/angels-landing-zion-national-park-utah.html

Part 1:

Part 2:


Monday, September 21, 2015

Hiking Garden of Eden, Santa Cruz, United States

Nestled in the mountains of Henry Cowell State Park, there lies a local swimming hole ambitiously named The Garden of Eden. Located on the San Lorenzo River, this getaway is a nice alternative for anyone trying to escape the heat and unwilling to deal with Santa Cruz beaches. Surrounded by trees, the area not only allows sunbathing but also protection from the sun if necessary.

To get there from the south bay (Campbell, San Jose, Los Gatos...etc) follow these directions:

1. Take highway 17 south and over the mountain.
2. After coming down from the mountain, take Mt. Hermon Rd. exit. and head west/straight until you hit highway 9.
3. Once you hit the T-section, turn left onto highway 9 and head south towards the north entrance of Henry Cowell State Park.
4. Drive past this entrance for Henry Cowell State Park, this is not the entrance you are looking for (although this northern portion of the park is also nice for quick hikes).

5. Once you enter the trees, its only a 1-5 minute drive before you reach the parking lot. The parking lot is tiny and my guess is that it can only hold, at most, 10 cars. Therefore, plan your trip accordingly.

This is what the parking lot looks like.

6. From the parking lot, enter the southern gate and walk down the path. From the lot, it takes probably only 15-20 minutes to reach the Garden of Eden. Follow the path down and head right whenever there is any split. Do this until you reach the train tracks. Once you reach the tracks, head right and walk down.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Swimming Holes in Northern California

Parked here as a reminder, there are two places I am interested in visiting before the end of summer and that is: God's Bath in Sonora and Garden of Eden in Santa Cruz.

God's Bath
Taken from http://swimmingholesofcalifornia.blogspot.com/2013/08/lemkes-lagoon-south-yuba-river-cliff.html
Taken from http://swimmingholesofcalifornia.blogspot.com/2013/08/lemkes-lagoon-south-yuba-river-cliff.html
Garden of Eden, Santa Cruz


Monday, September 14, 2015

Hiking Mt. Shasta, Siskiyou County, United States Part 2

At around 330am, we all got up and by 430am we were ready to leave. The group seemed to be in good spirits. Most likely because we went to bed accordingly the afternoon before. The stars were out to guide us in their light.


Hiking Mt. Shasta, Siskiyou County, United States Part 1

Over Labor Day Weekend, I summited Mt. Shasta with a couple of friends. At 14,179 feet, Mt. Shasta is second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California. Given the ambiguity of how everyone would do, we only considered two trails: avalanche gulch and clear creek.

Initially we wanted to do avalanche gulch but due to weather conditions, it was highly suggested to us by the rangers and online resources that we go with clear creek instead, so that's what we did.

To get to the trailhead is pretty straightforward, just drive north towards Redding and enter the park. Once you get on the park road towards the trail head, the road becomes very soft such that I would highly suggest you drive a high clearance, four wheel vehicle. My car would have never made it to the trailhead.

A good resource to consult is http://www.summitpost.org/clear-creek/157378

At the trailhead, depending on when you get there, you can either camp there or proceed forward up towards base camp. Only 2-5 miles up (depending on which site you choose), the hike up is relatively easy.



In light of the company shutdown at the end of the year, I have decided to take an additional few days off to visit the Philippines. The details of the trip have not been sorted out yet but I imagine a month away from my departure I will figure them out.

The tickets were pretty expensive given the timing (December). As I was looking at the calendar, I quickly noticed that November and October were the cheaper flight dates. December just has too many holidays.

The flight from San Francisco to Manila was 938.42 via ANA Airlines. There is one layover in Japan but it's only two hours, providing me enough time to switch planes if necessary. That 938.42 price tag I was able to deduct about roughly 700.00 dollars from using my Capital One Purchase Eraser credits. The Capital One Purchase Eraser allows you to use any credit you have and apply it towards a ticket bought with the credit card. Alternatives to what you can do with your credits are converting them directly to cash or gifts. I felt using the credits to pay for my tickets was a much better deal.

For instance, 50,000 credits = 500.00 airline credits. Whereas, if you wanted cash, the conversion would have been much lower. So it seems to make sense to use them for tickets if possible.

Flying home, I will have to somehow find my way to Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok is where my flight will be leaving to take me back home to the states. I am familiar with Thailand so I don't imagine any issues there. The flight back was free for me because I had United Airline credits and they covered what I needed for a basic flight. In total, I converted 40,000 UA credits and paid about 48 bucks for tax.

All in all, I paid about 300.00 for this round trip to the Philippines.

Additionally, I am unsure how my time will break down. Because I am in the area, I would like to visit Singapore and Indonesia as well. However, I was quality time in each country which may be impossible due to how much time I am afforded.

So we shall see.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Video: Mt. Shasta via Clear Creek Trail

Here's a video of me and some friends summitting Mt. Shasta. For the details of this hike and to read more about this video, check the accompanying blog post here:

1) http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2015/09/mt-shasta-part-1.html

2) http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2015/09/mt-shasta-part-2.html

Part 1:

Part 2:


Friday, August 07, 2015

Video: Return to Big Sur Pine Ridge Trail To Sykes Hot Springs

Hiking the Big Sur Pine Ridge Trail To Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur, California.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Friday, May 08, 2015

Video: Big Sur Pine Ridge Trail To Sykes Hot Springs

Hiking the Big Sur Pine Ridge Trail To Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur, California with some friends from home.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


Thursday, February 05, 2015

Video: Uvas Canyon County Park Hike

Went to Uvas Canyon in Morgan Hill, CA with a friend and did a half day hike seeing all the waterfalls in the park.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


Monday, January 12, 2015

Video: Hiking Mission Peak, Fremont

Forgot to film on the way up, only a video of the top and on the way down.

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