Friday, April 19, 2013

Taiwan 4: Airport, November 2011

The airport as of November 2011, my first and last visit to that country, was under renovation and expansion.

Not many duty free shops. Maybe after the expansion, more shops were opened.

Not too many flights too.

The departure lounge. It's spacious and clean, more spacious than the NAIA Terminal 1 in Manila.

See also:

Taiwan 1: Skyways, November 21, 2011

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Taiwan 3: Chiang Kai Shek Garden

First and only time that I visited Taiwan was in November 2011, to attend the Conference of Generic Drugs Asia (CGDA). My previous blog posts about Taiwan were:

Taiwan 1: Skyways, November 21, 2011

Taiwan 2: Evergreen Laurel Taipei Hotel, February 27, 2012

After the conference, one of the top organizers of the conference, Joseph Wang, toured four of us – fellow Filipinos Leonie Ocampo of PPhA, Nancy Tacandong of FDA, myself, and Dr. Nam from S. Korea. Among the places we visited was the Chiang Kai Shek Garden.

The flowers are well-arranged in small iron wires, the stem of the flowers may be dipped in a wet object to make them stay fresh. I don't know how often they replace the flowers.

These flowers are planted on the soil, so no more wires attached to them.

From left: Joseph Wang, Dr. Nam, Nancy and Leonie.

Thank you very much Joseph, for that wonderful tour.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Vietnam Rice Terraces

I have been to Vietnam twice. In 2000 for a tour, and in 2006 for a seminar. My previous notes about Vietnam are here,

Hanoi, Vietnam, Dec. 2000, December 21, 2005

Ho Chi Minh, December 2000, December 21, 2005

Vietnam-Cambodia border, Dec. 2000, December 22, 2005

Hanoi, Vietnam, 2006, June 07, 2007

Below are photos from Dr. Samran Sombatpanit's facebook wall. Doc Samran is a friend, he's the Past President of the World Association for Soil and Water Conservation (WASWAC) and he hosted me and my family in late May 2008 in Thailand.

He went to Vietnam in December  2012. Fantastic rice terraces. In Sapa, northern Vietnam, near the border with China.

One of the 54 different ethnic groups in Vietnam

Ricefields on both sides of a river.
Thank you, Doc Samran, for those wonderful photos.

Monday, April 01, 2013


This is another guest post from a friend, Patty Soliman. All photos from her too. Enjoy.

March 25-27, 2013

Patty Soliman

The long wait has finally come after 2 months of preparation when we boarded 7PM Florida Bus going to Pagudpud last March 24, 2013. My cousin, Lizet, requested me to arrange an Ilocos Tour for her and 3 children. As a return favor, she included me and Noly in this escapade. For a mom working abroad, to bond with their children is the best way to catch up for lost times. I wanted so much to bring along my children but their work hinder them from making this trip. Ate Lizet gave me a specific budget and the rest was all up to me planning for this tour. Like always, reading blogs from previous travelers gave me an idea on how to begin my planning. For a date traveling on a Holy Week, it was quite challenging to get the best and yet reasonable place to stay. Almost every best resort in Saud Beach was fully-booked as early as February. The finer the sand from its beach front, the more expensive the accommodation would be in Saud. I didn’t waste time and booked Madrid Beach Resort immediately after knowing that they still got room available for 6 persons. Madrid’s beach front is rocky and so, room rate is cheaper.

Ilocos Norte's northernmost municipality
My next agenda is to hire a van that would bring us to places and sites in Pagudpud, Laoag and Vigan. I inquired to about 3-4 prospect guide that would offer good price. I end up hiring Ricky as the lowest bidder and immediately made our down payment through Western Union. It’s the same process booking Madrid Beach Resort. For our Laoag destination, I requested, a friend from high school, who is based in Laoag, to help me inquire for rooms that can accommodate us at Northview Hotel. I find this hotel fitted to our budget. At that time, I was having hard time calling the hotel through long distance. Just when I’m about to ask for follow-up, I was surprised and grateful of her for covering the expense. I really appreciate the gesture. As for Vigan tour, I prepared our itinerary and bus to take us back to Manila. I think Partas Bus is the only reputable commuter that can take you to and from Vigan. After more than a month of inquiries, bookings and reading blogs, I gave the itinerary and estimated expense to cousin Lizet.
Pagudpud beach, Ilocos Norte
The trip going to Pagudpud took us 11 hours to reach. We arrived 6am on a clear morning sky. Ricky was already waiting for us when we got there. I informed him earlier about our estimated arrival and he offered to bring us to Madrid Beach Resort. Upon dropping us off at Madrid, we briefly discussed our routes and itineraries that would start at about 9AM. Heading to our room, we checked our beds and of course, the bathroom. I could not expect more if the rate is not that much. All I can say, the price is good. I ordered breakfast for us through texting Ms. Ana, the owner of Madrid, night before we left Manila. And yes, as expected, there is the famous Longganisang Ilocos on our table with fried eggs and hotdog and the unlimited fried rice complimented with 3-in-1 coffee prepared by the resort’s kitchen staff, Manang Lei. Not bad for a P100/head meal. Right after breakfast, we prepared for our Pagudpud North and South Tour with our shades and cameras ready.

The author with husband Noly, at Cape Bojeador lighthouse, Ilocos Norte
Our first destination was the majestic Cape Bojeador, a light house that was built 1892. The view of South China Sea from its step was breathtaking. Reaching the top was quite difficult for Noly but just the same, he wouldn’t miss this awesome site. Our photo shoot started when we saw antique brick walls and rustic windows of this light house. Miguel and Nicole were excited taking shots of their sister, Jaja and their mom. As for Noly and me, we pretended as couple on their pre-nup shoot. Noly has been patiently teaching Miguel and Nicole on how to use their Nikon camera, from the opening, angle and speed. Posing for a creative shot was beginning to be fun. 

Then, we head to Kapurpurawan, a limestone rock formation by the shore. Heading near this awesome rock formation would need horseback riding. Noly and Ate Lizet decided to appreciate Kapurpurawan looking at it from the view deck. And the rest of us took our horses and off near this fascinating rock formation. The natural beauty of this site is really amazing. For the longest time, I began to enjoy taking pictures again, just like in my college days from my photography class. It was really fun holding our cameras as we capture the beauty of this place.

Kapurpurawan rock formation, Ilocos Norte