Monday, 30 May 2016

An unexpected adventure in the Philippines

My trip to the Philippines was a rushed and unplanned one. It was only a week before the trip when I got informed of the available block leave. I knew how precious this 7 day opportunity was, for the fact that I will be undergoing a 9 month long training at Officer cadet school. And so I made yet another rash decision to leave the country. Why the Philippines you ask? Because of the incredible diving spots that I heard about from fellow divers and travellers. However the plans that I had for my trip were changed and rescheduled even before i arrived. 

Brother and sister giving a cheeky grin

A young boy giving me his "handsome" pose

I touched down in Manila, the capital of Philippines only to realise that my transfer flight out to Legazpi had been cancelled due to a blackout in the Airport. Rather than waiting around for the power to stabilise, I made an impromptu decision to settle down and explore Manila for the day; I hopped onto a local Jeepney and my ride around the city allowed me to see the different sights of Manila. I must say that it was a pretty productive day because I did all of this, while using my phone to rebook my flight.
A local Jeepney

Walls of Intramuros

Rizal Park 

Fast forward hours worth of flight and bus transfers; I eventually found myself sitting by the beach in Donsol. With a bottle of Corona in my hand, I observed a lone fisherman boat out into the sunset. Time seemed to unknowingly fly by and before I knew it hours had passed. The subtle colour change of the ocean caused by the last orange rays of twilight seemed to possess a sanative quality in that feeling.

The Fisherman preparing to leave shore

Setting up his netting

Reeling in the net during sunset

Imagine walking straight into a tropical paradise, that's how I felt when I reached the underground river. Clear emerald green waters coupled with rustic sun rays streaming through the dense vegetation. Swimming through it felt as though I was floating through time; an indescribable feeling. To top it off, there were only 4 of us there, making it so much more peaceful. 

The underground river

Group Selfie

Solo Selfie

By midweek I had planned to start diving but unfortunately an accident took place and it required immediate stitches. This meant that I had to cancel my plans once again. At that point of time I should've felt angry but on contrary after receiving help from both friends and strangers I was surprisingly filled with positivity. Days after the accident were rather slow paced, on one of the days I explored and strolled up and down the quitinday hills. The beautiful sights together with the windy breeze brushing against my face really made my day.

Steps up the hill
Multiple hills

Aerial view of the Quitinday hills

Towards the end of my trip I decided to attempt a hike up the Mayon volcano. Similar to the last time when I was in Australia, I didn't want my injury to limit the things I could do. So i did it. The hike was tough and the porters weren't exactly the friendliest people but when i finally reached the lava point all of that seemed to fade away. 

Beginning the trek up

Dried up lava molten

On the edge

This trip has taught me that travelling anywhere or indeed even getting out of bed is never without its risks and discomforts. Sometimes things might not go your way but it's most certainly not an excuse to complain and give up. Philippines, you have not seen the last of me, I'll be back for you. Here's to the next adventure.  

Been to Legazpi before? Let me know about it below! 

Monday, 4 January 2016

Exploring Scenic Sri Lanka

A trip away from the strict regimentation of Military life was what I really needed. So much has happened within the past 9 months; so much laughter and joy, so many new experiences and of course, some tears along the way. Prior to my trip I did a lot of research and Sri Lanka, the land of the hills caught my eye. I figured it would be a good experience to spend both Christmas and New Years in a foreign place for some self reflection. It turned out to be the best decision I made in 2015.

I started off my trip in the west coast of Sri Lanka. Having arrived right on Christmas Day, I decided to spend Christmas differently this year by going to the local fish markets. While I was there, I engaged in a Long conversation with Jockim, a local dry fish maker who works 6 days a week preserving sun dried fish. His English was really good and after talking a little longer I soon found out that he takes English classes every Sunday. Hoping to make his day a little better, I gave him and a few other locals Santa hats which I bought from Singapore.

Jockim holding a sun-dried barracuda mouth

Celebrating Christmas with Jockim

His smile after giving him a Santa hat

Having heard so much about the nature and wildlife of Sri Lanka, I made the decision to head down South to Udawalawe National park. Despite the time inconveniences it brought me, riding the 4WD Safari Jeep and watching herds of elephants walk by made me not regret my decision. Having been to Zoo's rather than National Parks all my life, my first experience here made me smile so widely. The Wildlife and lush scenery at Udawalawe made the trip so scenic and I would trade so much just to be brought back to that moment.

Riding into the Sunrise

A elephant walking across the road

A herd of elephants feeding on the plants

Ella was definitely the highlight of my trip. Situated in the mountainous area of central Sri Lanka, I'm guessing that this is the reason why people call it the land of the hills. Being up in the mountains, the weather was cooling and slightly foggy due the the humidity. I made several walks and climbs while I was in Ella but the most memorable climb would be the one to Ella rock. I was extremely unprepared for the climb, I had neither hiking shoes nor a wind breaker to fend against the chilly weather and occasional rain. Halfway up the climb, the sole of my sneakers came apart and I was forced to use string and laces to fasten it temporarily; a memorable experience indeed.

Close up shot of the Demodara 9 arch bridge

Enjoying the scenery after a hike up Ella rock

Hiking up little Adam's peak for Sunrise

After spending days immersing myself in the cool climate of Ella, It was finally time to head back to the warm city of Colombo. The decision boiled down between the two modes of transport, bus or train. Eventually I decided with the more scenic route and it was mesmerising beyond words. The 9 hour journey took me through the breathtaking hills and amazing landscapes of Nuwara Eliya. Spread out before me was this incredible sight; it seemed as though every colour was at the right place. It felt as if all my senses were bursting out to the point whereby I thought I could see better, smell better and even hear better! 

Leaning out of the train for a shot

Hilly landscapes seen throughout the ride

Small waterfalls seen along the way

After so much of walking, hiking and moving around it was nice to spend my last couple of days resting and lounging around Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo. Over a spread of 3 days I took my time to explore the old local streets, the beautiful beaches and the local Parks. 

Tuk Tuks by the streets 

Galle face beach

Street stalls inside Viharamahadevi park

Being able to make this trip happen just after 3 months of Military Service has been a dream come true. What started out as an idea became an actual reality. Sri Lanka has been everything I dreamed of but better. 

Any questions for me? Comment and ask about it below! 


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

One crutch of an adventure in Melbourne

Melbourne is located in the south-western part of Australia and is the Capital of the Australian state Victoria. Prior to my trip, I met with a injury which left me on partial weight bear on my right foot. Having to use a crutch wherever I went really slowed down my movement as well as limited the type of physical activities I could do; I had little expectations of the fun I could experience, However I proved myself wrong otherwise.

During my first couple of days in Melbourne, I ventured down south to see the coastal rock formations of the Twelve Apostles. While I was there, I also crutched up to see the Loch Ard Gorge and the stunning Razorback formations. It was a tiring experience with my left leg bearing most of my weight, however i did not regret it one bit. 

A close up on one of the Twelve Apostles

The Loch Ard Gorge

The Razorback formation

My crutches did not stop me from taking a helicopter ride to view the beauty of the formations from above; being partly handicapped and crutching my way up the helicopter made this experience extra memorable.

Aerial View of the Twelve Apostles

Aerial Shot of another Helicopter in the Air

Aerial Shot of  a flock of  Seagulls 

The Great Ocean Road is also situated in the Southern part of Victoria. Driving down and passing by the Oceans just gives you this therapeutic vibe. Lowering down the windows and hearing the oceans crash by the shore brings you sense of calmness which puts you at ease. It truly is one the most beautiful roads to drive on. I would really recommend people to drive in the evening, the reason being that when the sun sets it illuminates the sky and paints it with streaks of orange and yellow; a sight not to be missed.

Azure blue skies 

View of the hills and the sea 

Beautiful orange and yellow sunset hues 

If you're someone who appreciates nature and wildlife, then you would love south Victoria. The Great Otway National park is home to many wildlife and greenery. Though I was there for a short while, I saw countless of beautiful birds and trees. Within an hours drive, you would be able to drive to a family owned animal park called Maru Koala and animal park. Feeding and interacting with the Kangaroo's is a guarantee and if you're lucky enough you would be able see Koalas climbing around and feeding on leaves, unfortunately for me the one I saw were all asleep; a good experience nonetheless.

Bird Watching at the Great Otway National Park

Close up of a Kangaroo

A Pony feeding on the food held within my hand

Taking a ride in a century old steam train has always been in my to-do list. The Puffing Billy made my virgin experience a breathtaking one. Imagine yourself sitting by the edge of the train doors and journeying through the mountain tracks; the thought of it just brings back such astounding memories. Ever changing rates of speed, blurs of nothingness to remember, blurs of so much I wish I could remember.

Riding through the dense and lush greenery

A young girl sticking her head out to get a better view

Puffing Billy's mechanic has had over 40 years of experience

Situated right along the track route of the Puffing billy is the Emerald lake. It's one of those places where locals gather during the weekends to unwind and relieve themselves of the stress built up during the work week. Though my stay there was short, I'm glad to have been able to catch a glimpse of the Victorian lakeside lifestyle.

Families having fun on the Aqua Bicycle

A wooden bridge linking to the other side of the river

Soothing mellow vibes 

Well enough of the outskirts of Melbourne, if you're wondering why I haven't talked the city itself it's because I'm saving the best parts for the last. Melbourne is well known for its back alleys and laneways, from graffiti art to posh Cafes you'll get to see both sides of the spectrum if you you explore the city centre.

A Graffiti artist working on his street art

Most Laneways in Melbourne have either Cafes or Bars

A typical back alley in Melbourne 

How many of you can recall that childhood moment? When we experienced happiness as a state of being. When everything in our world was alright. So one fine day I decided to let my inner child act out; I spent half the day sitting on rides, eating tacos and just enjoying the kiddy atmosphere of Melbourne's Luna Park.

Interior of the Luna Park

Swings were always my childhood favourite

Life is like a Ferris wheel, sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down

There's just so many things to appreciate when you're in Melbourne; the mix of olden and modern Architecture as well as the beguiling parks which tantalises your urge to cancel your plans and spend the day luxuriating in the lovely atmosphere.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral

Carlton Gardens

A couple enjoying the peace and quiet in the Botanical gardens

The beautiful skyline from the Eureka Skydeck is a sight not to be missed, especially when you get to see the transition from day to night; sunlight to man made flickering lights. Looking down from such a height just gives you that rush, you feel so much more alive. It was at that moment where I told myself to appreciate even the small things in life, for if not for those things I might not be who I am today.

Melbourne's landscape in the day

Melbourne's landscape during sunset

Melbourne's landscape at night

Life is what you make of it, sometimes you just need to change the way you look at things and embrace everything around you. What started out as a trip with low expectations became one of the most independent and adventurous trips ever. It was a good week of food, culture and scenic wildlife immersion. Would I come back? Definitely.

Any questions for me? Comment and ask about it below! 
© Justjoelz. All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig