Batangas: The Alamid Coffee Trail Adventure at Mt Malarayat

An Alamid Coffee Picker shows some coffee beans from the cat poop
An Alamid Coffee Picker shows some coffee beans from the cat poop

I never thought I would be excited to look for some cat poop in the middle of a forest. Here I am on a narrow trail in a dense forest of Mt Malarayat, Batangas, carefully watching each step mindful if there are any animal droppings in path. Not to avoid them this time but to take a closer look. Yes it’s poop! But it’s not an ordinary poop since each set of these cat droppings is worth some serious money. I found a small pile still stuck together. The stuck up beans isn’t as offensive as I thought it would look nor does it smell like ordinary cat droppings. So this is how a Civet Cat poop is like. So this is where the world’s most expensive coffee came from.

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Lakbay Norte 2: The Ever Changing Landscape of Mt Pinatubo

The landscaped park grounds of Mt. Pinatubo these days
The landscaped park grounds of Mt. Pinatubo these days

If you have lived to witness the explosion of Mt Pinatubo in June 1991, I’m sure you wouldn’t forget the devastating effect it had on a global scale. Almost 2 decades since then, from what seem to be start of creation on this land, it has evolved into another nature masterwork but now with an added human touch to its surroundings. It’s so fitting to name this this mountain “Pinatubo” which also means, “To make grow” and sure it grew after the years, and here are my observations from each visit within those 2 decades.

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Hong Kong: Taking a Bus to Victoria Peak

Hong Kong Skyline seen from Victoria Peak
Hong Kong Skyline seen from Victoria Peak

We had to pull ourselves from the cool comforts of our bedroom that afternoon. But we all agreed we’d be going to Victoria Peak, Hong Kong’s tallest mountain, for sundown. So off to the streets we went with map in hand to find our way to the peak. As always, one of the first few things to learn when in a new place is their mode of transportation, and now’s a good time to learn how Hong Kong’s transport system works.

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Baguio: The North Face 100 Marathon Winners and my 11k Trail Run

TNF 100 Trail Run 50k runner Gold Winner Julius Bay-An

TNF 100 50k Winner Julius Bay-an near the finish line

I wasn’t really planning to run. I haven’t really run for years and my last run for 10k was more than 4 years ago as I recall. I didn’t run competitively after that and just do leisurely runs on the nearby track and field near our home. But morning of the 25th April 2010, I found myself running in a pine covered eco-trail in Baguio at Camp John Hay, catching my breath at least 1500m above sea level and racing to finish an 11k race at The North Face 100 Trial Running Marathon in Baguio. It’s my first time to do a trail run which is so much different on running on pavement. It was fun and it was challenging trying to define my limits.

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Nueva Vizcaya: Dipterocarp Forest Carbon Measurement

Imugan's Dipetrocarp Forest

Imugan’s Dipterocarp Forest

The main activity for the day was to do the documentary shoot at the dipterocarp forest in Imugan. We met with the team of Foresters at the Kalahan Academy and they explained to us briefly where we are going. There were about a team of 8 foresters with us to cover everything we need. We’ll be tagging along with them as they work through the forest.

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China: Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park

Tianmenshan Rays at Heaven's Gate

Tianmenshan Rays at Heaven’s Gate

On my last day in Zhangjiajie, we decided to visit the second National Forest Park in Zhangjiajie City, Hunan – The Tianmenshan or Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park. This National Park is a newly developed attraction in the north western Hunan Province of China, located only 8 km from the city proper of Zhangjiajie. Standing at 1518.6 meters, Tianmen Mountain is the first recorded mountain in the history of the province and has been revered as the “Soul of Zhangjiajie”. The mountain, boasting intact primitive forest, numerous rare tree species and medicinal herbs, and abundance of fauna.

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Marble Mountains of Da Nang

View of the Marle Mountains

View of the Mountains from Thuy Son Mountain

I’m close to wrapping up my series of entries on Central Vietnam. And as 2nd to the last entry would be one of the most fun destinations in my opinion close to the city of Danang.

Entrance to Ling Ong Pagoda Cave

Entrance to Ling Ong Pagoda Cave

After visiting My Son Sanctuary we continued our journey and headed to the famous Marble Mountains, which is a cluster of 5 mountain peaks jutting out flat lands towards the sea. The mountains are also called Ngu Hanh Son or Mountains of the Five Element since each peak represents five elements; Thuy Son (water), Moc Son (wood), Kim Son (metal), Tho Son (soil) and Hoa Son (fire). The sight itself from the main road going into the city was very interesting. It just makes you think how those mountains ended up there together when most of the landscape is flat.

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