Home » Posts tagged 'Travel'
Tag Archives: Travel
I miss traveling, particularly overseas. My last travels abroad were to Sri Lanka in September 2019 and to Singapore in December 2019. My long travels within the Philippines was to Zamboanga in January 2020 and Cebu in February the same year. We were supposed to go back to Zamboanga to do some field work in March 2020 but the trip was canceled when the first lockdowns were enforced. I was supposed to travel to Hiroshima last September 2021 for a conference that we highly anticipated partly because of the opportunity to go to Japan again and do another sentimental trip to certain places in that country, including taking the Shinkansen and other trains to go around.
Recently, the US reopened to international travelers and friends have already crossed the Pacific to be with family/relatives there. Here is an article from The New York Times about what you need to know when traveling to the US; including vaccinations:
Last weekend’s getaway allowed me to take a few quick photos of a familiar sight that is the Kalayaan hydro-electric power plant located in the town of Lumban, Laguna at its border with Kalayaan town in the same province. Built in 1982, it was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and is the only pumped storage plant in the Philippines. Basically, what ‘pumped storage’ means is that it can reverse its turbine to suck water from the basin at the level of Laguna de Bai to charge what could be a depleted Caliraya reservoir. It can then draw water from the lake to generate power. If water levels at the reservoir are normal to high such as during the wet season, it can draw water more than it needs to pump back into the lake.
There is another power plant in the area, the Caliraya Hydro Electric Power Plant. It is not located along the national highway but to the west of the northern tip of the lake and near Pagsanjan River. I will write about that in another article.
It’s been a while since The last road trip. We finally pushed through with our weekend break from our now typical work from home set up. Heading to our airbnb somewhere in Laguna, we passed by the Pililla Wind Farm. The gigantic wind turbines are a sight to behold.
The wind farm is still closed to the public. The energy company or the LGU probably didn’t want people to be congregating there for sightseeing while there is still the pandemic. Along the way, you see a lot of motorcycle and bikers groups in numbers approaching pre covid level. Are they among the vaccinated? Or are they just oblivious to the risks they impose on others should they be infected but asymptomatic? Just asking…
Anyhow, here’s the view at the end of our trip:
A couple of weekends ago, I found myself doing my first long drive in months. I wasn’t a passenger but the driver when the wife and I went on an excursion with neighbors-friends, one of whom arranged for our lunch at Ugu Bigyan’s Potter’s Garden in Tiaong, Quezon. We had two options to get there – one via the scenic route through Rizal’s backdoor that takes one to Teresa, Tanay, Baras and Pililla in Rizal, Pakil, Pangil, Paete, Lumban, Pagsanjan, Sta. Cruz and San Pablo in Laguna, the other via C-6, SLEX and STAR Tollways taking us through southern Metro Manila, Laguna, and Batangas. We took the latter route as it was faster (shorter travel time by an hour) and it allowed us to test our newly installed Autosweep RFID’s for the two tollways we used along the way.
The photo below was taken by the wife upon my prodding. I had not seen an arch as we traversed Sto. Tomas (Batangas), and Alaminos and San Pablo (Laguna). These were all along Asian Highway 26 (AH 26) or the Pan Philippine Highway system. The arch marks entry/exit to/from (boundary) the Province of Quezon from the Province of Laguna. Laguna doesn’t have its own arch.
Arches like the one in the photo used to be the landmarks between towns and provinces. I wrote about these many years ago:
I have other photos somewhere but have not scanned/digitized them. Others I think that I left at my parents’ home perished with the floods of Ondoy.
With DPWH’s road widening program, many of these arches around the country may have been demolished. Those that remain tend to constrict traffic as they have space for two lanes and perhaps narrow shoulders at either side like what is shown in the photo. Perhaps others will be reconstructed and even enhanced to reflect a town’s or province’s attractions or attributes?
There are actually a lot of data available on mobility if you know how to look for them. One good source is Apple. Yes, Apple has access to thousands of smart phones that allow them to track individuals (oh you didn’t know that?) movements. Here is the link to Apple’s data:
And here is a graph showing mobility trends in the Philippines from that resource:
Some politicians and political appointees are now saying that we are in this predicament about COVID-19 because of a lack of discipline. That is bullshit. Many stayed home and/or reduced their movements. And then there’s that study showing 90% wore masks when they go out. No, it’s not lack of discipline that’s the problem but the lack of essential services and goods that are supposed to be delivered by those who are suppose to govern and the deficiencies from the start in addressing the spread of the virus especially from abroad. Perhaps these people criticizing Filipinos should look at their mirrors more closely and look left, right and across from they comfy seats to see what’s wrong with the way government has been handling the pandemic?
My friends and I were just talking about inflight meals prior to boarding our Cebu Pacific flights last week. En route to Zamboanga, we didn’t have to get some refreshments for the typically 1.5-hour flight. There were many choices to eat from at NAIA Terminal 3. However, heading back to Manila on a lunchtime flight, we joked about what could be available on the plane. We all had our experiences of ordering items on their menu for flights scheduled at different times of the day (e.g., red eye, last flight) and it always seems as if the airline didn’t have many if not most of what appears on their menu.
Lucky Me cup noodles and pretzels for lunch
To be fair, the airline offers pre-ordered meals that they do deliver inflight. We got pre-ordered meals for our flights to and from Singapore last year. But not everyone would usually avail of this option and there is real demand for inflight meals even if there were just pastries or quickly prepared (i.e., instant) meals. I don’t remember the last time we were able to avail a meal more decent than the cup noodles shown in the photo. In fact, we were curious about the new items they had in the menu that included champorado (chocolate porridge). That was supposed to be available last December 2019 but so far we haven’t had the chance to have it inflight.
Before I post more on a recent trip to Singapore, I backtrack a bit to the trip to Sri Lanka. Following is a much delayed second part to my feature on Bandaranaike International Airport.
Scale model of the airport development project with this angle showing the terminal and land transport interface
Terminal building with short pier for the gates
Closer and clearer look at the interfaces with rail and road transport
From the display we proceeded towards our gate.
More shops mostly selling gems, jewelry or tea
Looking out a window to see Sri Lankan Airlines planes lined up at the terminal
Other aircraft at the terminal are accessed via transporter(i.e., bus).
Long corridor to our gate
Passengers head to the gates via a moving walkway. Otherwise, it would be a long walk.
Behind these seats is the smoking room
Passengers enter the pre-departure lounge through one last security check and the boarding pass and passport check by Sri Lankan Airlines ground staff.
Before I forget, I am posting the following photos of Bandaranaike International Airport when we departed for home last September.
Arriving at the airport terminal driveway – it was quite early in the morning and we didn’t expect to see so many passengers
Entering the terminal, you are greeted by rows of shops selling a variety of items mostly souvenirs and foods and tea
Souvenir items include clothing, tea, and electronics
Local products including handicrafts. I bought a mask and ref magnets at one of the shops.
The terminal has many empty spaces. I guess they still do not have so many visitors to necessitate more commerce?
The area just before the check-in counters is spacious. We wondered if the terminal can be quite crowded during the day.
Check-in counters for Sri Lankan Airlines – there were a lot of visitors from Arab countries due to an international Islamic convention in Colombo. Many of them were catching the earlier flights out of the country that day.
Check-in counter for our flight
After checking-in, we immediately entered the pre-departure area. Large screens show flight schedules and there were signs towards the gates.
An escalator leads to the pre-departure area where there are more shops and restaurants
Of course, there were many shops selling teas but there were also many local products like these leather stools that also doubles as storage. These are collapsible and can easily be packed for travel. A friend brought home one for his home.
Jewelry store at the terminal – Sri Lanka is the source for many of the world’s gemstones. Of course, the prices are very competitive and one should probably go to legitimate stores in the city instead of buying at the airport.
Liquor and cigarettes are popular items
More tea shops along with cosmetics and perfumes at the duty free stores
The area between the shops and the corridor towards the boarding gates
More photos soon!
Here’s a different kind of article that blends three of my favourite topics – transport, space and watches. Its the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. That’s the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. It took a lot of calculations for men to finally reach the moon and return safely to earth. There certainly were a lot of factors that affected the trip and these are not as simple as traveling between points A and B like what we usually try to figure out for conventional earthbound transport.
Did you know the first watch on the moon was an Omega Speedmaster chronograph? They needed them and other instruments for their precision that’s required for such sensitive and demanding missions.
Subsequent versions of the moon watch have already had updated movements inside them but these Speedmasters are still the standard in as far as NASA is concerned.
There were actually 2 moon missions in 1969. The first one, Apollo 11, in July and the second, Apollo 12, in November. The next one, Apollo 13, was a failure in terms of the moon mission but succeeded in terms of the astronauts surviving what must have been a terrifying ordeal in space. If you watched the movie, there was a part there that was supposed to have happened where they used it the chronograph of their watch to time a procedure they had to do while troubleshooting their module.
Quite expensive these Omegas are. However, there’s another watch that has been officially recognised as used on a moon landing. That other moon watch is a Bulova (sorry Rolex but the watch that was supposed to have been brought to the moon was more an accessory or memento than an instrument actually used by an astronaut on the moon). Here’s a piece associated with the 4th (Apollo 15 in 1971):
Back of a Bulova moon watch model stating the mission when it was used.
The 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) will be held from September 9-12, 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. However, with the bombings last April 2019, a lot of people mainly prospective participants have worried about the security situation in the city. The local society in the Philippines, the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP), also communicated its members’ concerns to the EASTS Secretariat. While TSSP received informal correspondence on the situation and assessment by the secretariat, only recently has the EASTS policy been released:
In addition to this, the organisers have sent the following email to assure prospective participants about the security situation in the city and country, which I quote below:
Thank you for submitting a paper for EASTS 2019, the 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies hosted by Sri Lanka Society of Transport & Logistics (SLSTL). We are pleased that EASTS has decided to continue with hosting the conference in Sri Lanka, despite the unfortunate incident, that took place on the 21st of April 2019 taking into consideration the rapidly improving situation in Sri Lanka.
As the host institution I write to encourage your participation and wish to convey that the decision to continue was made based on the following facts and security measures currently in place.
· There have been no further terror attacks since 21st April the day of the Easter bombings.
· Security Forces have identified those responsible and arrests have been made both in SL and overseas.
· The attacked churches (St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya and Zion Church, Batticaloa) and hotels (The Kingsbury, Shangri-La Colombo and Cinnamon Grand Hotel) are now restored, refurbished and opened to the public.
· Emergency has been lifted and the country is functioning normally.
· All schools, universities, Government and private workplaces, hotels, public places, etc. have implemented body and bag/luggage scanning.
· UK relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
· India relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
· Switzerland relaxes travel restrictions to Sri Lanka
· China lifts travel advisory on Sri Lanka
· Australia relaxes travel advisory on Sri Lanka
· Italy relaxes travel advisory
· Germany soften travel advisories on Sri Lanka
Hotel security has been strengthened and meetings are held periodically. SLSTL is satisfied that all the nominated hotels and the Waters’ Edge, the site of the conference have made arrangement that allow a safe environment for the conference to be conducted. See below article in this regard The Kingsbury stands strong.
In order to solicit the highest level of Government support for the conference, Prof. Tetsuo Yai, President, EASTS and Prof. Shinya Hanaoka, Deputy Secretary General, EASTS have also been invited to make a personal visit to Sri Lanka to meet the relevant Government Ministers and Heads of Security Establishments ahead of the conference to finalize arrangements.
As such we are confident that Sri Lanka is now very much safer than before the incident and we encourage you to take part in the conference without fear.
We look forward to welcoming you in Sri Lanka for EASTS 2019.
Prof. Amal S. Kumarage
President – Sri Lanka Society of Transport and Logistics (SLSTL)
Senior Professor, Department of Transport & Logistics, University of Moratuwa”
Here is the link to the EASTS page providing information about the conference: http://easts.info/easts-conference/
I am among those looking forward to traveling to Sri Lanka this coming September. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and I became familiar with it mainly through a close friend I met when we were students in Japan. We still keep in touch through email after he moved with his family. They are now residing in Australia.