Ridiculously Stunning Views: The Road to Milford Sound

Referred to as the 8th wonder of the world by Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, I have zero idea on what and where is Milford Sound.  But with my recent visit to New Zealand, I can attest to what Rudyard Kipling has tried to imply.

The journey to Milford Sound from Queenstown (where me and my travel buddies were based) in New Zealand took about 5 hours.  But I can actually consider the 5 hour ride that we took (through a tour group bus) to Milford Sound as one stunning experience.

super cool bus...

super cool bus…

Reaching Milford Sound by land was half the fun of my Milford Sound encounter.  It is because the road to our destination is extremely scenic.  I can’t remember the number of times I uttered “Wow!” in the entire duration of the bus ride.

Part of the rewarding experience of the bus ride are the bus stops.  The modern and transparent ceiling bus would pull over so that passengers can go down, breathe the freshest air, take a short stroll and snap some awesome photos.

Three of the amazing stops that I particularly loved most were:

Egliton Valley

gorgeous! (parang ako)

gorgeous! (parang ako)

Monkey Creek

monkey!

monkey!

Mirror Lake

can't believe that I made this shot!

can’t believe that I made this shot!

picture muna

picture muna

I  definitely agree with most visitors of New Zealand declaring that the road to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic road trip on the planet.  This is particularly true on the super scenic State Road 94 which is the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

Can you just imagine? I am not even talking about my exhilarating experience yet in Milford Sound itself.  I was just talking about the road to this heaven of a place!  If given another opportunity, I would definitely do another bus ride to Milford Sound, may it take 5 or 6 or 10 hours and be amazed again by the beauty of these stunning places.

Mapapa-iyak ka sa wow!

Riding The Jeepney: A Fulfilled 2014 New Year’s Resolution

Worthy grade school teachers taught us that precise goals must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bounded.  This very principle was one of the backbones when I set my New Year’s resolutions late last year.

And I am glad to convey that I am triumphant in accomplishing one of these resolutions.  That is, to discontinue riding the pricey taxi when going to and from my workplace.  And instead, settle for the more economical Jeepney ride.

Considered a cultural icon, Jeepney is a bus-like mode of public transport uniquely found in the Philippines

Considered a cultural icon, Jeepney is a bus-like mode of public transport uniquely found in the Philippines

It is actually only fifteen to twenty minutes by foot getting to my workplace.   This is why my initial goal/resolution was to walk daily to and from my office daily.  But because of the thick toxic air pollutants in Metro Manila as well as fear from tropical sun’s Vitamin D overdose, I settled on taking the Jeepney ride.

My ceasing to take the taxi this year actually has lots of advantages.  I no longer have to deal with ill-mannered opportunistic taxi drivers and experience those horrible circumstances:  (i) suffering from feelings of rejection after being declined by taxi drivers who refuse to have me as their passenger; (ii) enduring the stench of putrid taxi interiors or the reeking foul body odor of taxi drivers who opted to start their day without initially getting a good shower; and, (iii) feelings of being duped every time the driver would not hand me the exact change but instead compute change based not to the nearest ten but to the ‘next’ ten.

Aside from averting myself to all these stressful hideous encounters, riding the Jeepney gives me the sense of being grounded.  It somewhat makes me feel that my soul is aligned and so incorporated with the Filipino norm and culture.  Others may say that riding a Jeepney is so baduy (tacky) and so masa (for cheap lowly masses).  But for me, these people can have their fake and shallow elitist eccentricity with freaking lavish panache and let me and the rest of the Jeeney riding public have the biggest benefit of all.  That is the astonishing bargain of paying for a Jeepney fare and the savings that we can actually amass.  Tell me who doesn’t like bargain and I will smack the freaking grungy muffler of the Jeepney on his or her face!

To be exact, my taxi fare (on a return basis) would cost me around 140 pesos.  But the Jeepney fare back and forth is only 17 pesos daily (as of this writing has been lowered down to 15 pesos).  Based on simple mathematics, this accomplished New Year’s resolution saved me a staggering 29,520 pesos for the whole year.  This money is actually more than enough for a plane ticket if you’re journeying from Manila to Tokyo and back!  This amount in point of fact is actually more than a two-month-salary of a minimum wage earner in Manila.  And is actually enough to pay for my electric bill for six remarkable months!

To sum it up, my simple yet specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bounded goal and resolution which I triumphantly achieved this year was indeed worth it.  I am not saying that I will no longer be riding the taxi, what I’m simply saying is that my preferred mode of transport when going to and from my office is the Jeepney.  And until major changes happen to the “taxi culture” and improvements be felt regarding the taxi drivers’ urbanity in the Philippines, I plan to continue riding the ever reliable Jeepney in the next years to come.

Sige. Ikaw na ang sosyal! 

Bustling Bus-less Busted Manila

bus

city buses around the metro

I am a daily witness to the decaying City of Manila through the swarming and infestation of mendicants and homeless people on its streets as well as the unforgiving traffic jam you would encounter daily.  Going to your destination via roads of City of Manila would agonizingly be delayed because of traffic. I am so sure that the speed of rumor is faster than the speed of your car’s speedometer when you are to drive on the streets of Manila.

But guess what? Last Friday it only took me 30 minutes to go to Manila Post Office building from my office in Malate to get a personal parcel then back.  Within that 30-minute period, I was even able to shoot a few photos of the iconic Manila Post Office building.  Going right at the center of City of Manila was a breeze.  This is because of the new local government’s tightfisted drive and stingy ordinance of no longer allowing bedlam-causing buses in the city.

manila post office

inside the majestic facade of manila post office

the soon-to-be-extinct profession

the soon-to-be-extinct profession

To further substantiate this surprising development, when I and my family went yesterday up north to Manaoag, Pangasinan, we decided to pass through the City of Manila.  We passed the often-vehicle-filled Roxas Boulevard, the panic-infusing Lawton area, the traffic-choke-point Quiapo, the chaotic jumble streets of Dimasalang, Dangwa and La Loma.  To our amazement, we were out of Manila and reached the north express way in less than 30 minutes.

Still further, when we came back to Metro Manila later in the day, we decided to pass through the often-dreadful and jaywalker-infested Taft Avenue.  And still, we passed through Taft Avenue with so much ease.  My sister could not contain herself and asked how much buses were eliminated for such a road to move vehicles at an unexpectedly speedy pace.

This truly is a very welcome development.  Congratulations to the new City Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada and his Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno for growing some balls in disallowing those monstrous buses in the city.

May pramis… Pramis…