Monday, November 17, 2008

Elf Yourself is ready for the Xmas 2008 season


Taken from my other blog, Elf Yourself 2008.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

A meeting of pilgrims


Today is a great day. I get to see Peter here in Singapore, a pilgrim from Germany that I have met during my first Camino back in 2006. He's here in this region visiting his business associates, and of course a fellow pilgrim (me!).

It's a wonderful feeling, the bond that pilgrims share, even between different countries, age group and job industries.

Here a picture taken in Santiago de Compostela almost two and half years ago.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blogging On The Camino - With Google's Blogger (Part 3)

Google's Blogger is probably one of the most used platform for blogging. It's simple, easy to get started and free. Other popular platform for blogging are Wordpress and Typepad. They are mainly for bloggers who wants more control for their blog and do not mind hosting or paying others to have their blog hosted.

Assuming you have a Google blogger's account, blogging with images is dead simple. With the USB reader for your phone's memory card, you just upload the image, add the title, the text and just press the 'Publish Post' button.


A more efficient way is to use Google's Mail-to-Blogger feature. This way you can check your emails and blog at the same time.


Setup an unique email address to post your blog under Settings -> Email. Any mail sent to this address will be posted immediately to your blog. So an mail with an photo attachment like below:


Will end up in your blog like this with the subject of the mail becomes the title in the blog.


Similarly on a mobile device with email capability, the screen might look something like this:


With a mobile device, I have the advantage of writing the posts as draft emails in advance and dispatch them out the moment I am connected to a free wlan at the library or cybercafe. In other words, if I have 2 days without internet connection, I don't have to spend extra time filling in the back logs. In addition, the photo(s) are attached directly from the phone's memory card so there's no fumbling with USB card readers.

This is what they called moblog (mobile blogging).

If you have email application on your phone but no wlan, don't use this as the cost is exorbitant for accessing the internet via the cellular network.

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Blogging On The Camino - Internet Access (Part 2)

On the Camino Frances, a few albergues have coin operated internet terminals. They are usually expensive (one Euro for only 15 minutes) and a closed system (no USB port to plug in any device).


A better way is to head for the local library (Bibloteca). They are free and most cities and town with a decent population in Spain will have one. They are usually closed after 2 pm and open again after 5 pm so you can take your siesta first and come in later in the evening.


You might have to wait your turn. Pilgrims are a patient bunch, no?

Alternatively, the majority of the libraries in Spain has unsecured free wlan (wireless lan) access. If you have a phone with wlan you don't have to wait. That way, you also allow the local kids to have more time on the computer. However, phone with wlan are not cheap.

The picture above is my Nokia E61i. All Nokia E-Series phones comes with wlan. Here is a partial list of all the phones with wlan support. The screen are small and they do require some technical know how to set up and operate. This may not be for everyone. Hopefully technology will make it easier in the future for just about anyone to use it. But for those who can hack this, here's what you can do right now with just 1 device (the really cool stuff are from point 5 onwards):

  1. Phone.
  2. Camera.
  3. Alarm clock.
  4. mp3 player.
  5. Ebook reader. (Read Paulo Coelho's The Pilgrimage during my last camino)
  6. Mail. (Including blog posting, more on that later)
  7. Light web browsing
  8. Voip (Skype or equilavalent). Cheap 2 cents a minute call anywhere in the world provided if you can put up with slight voice communication delay.
  9. Able to access the internet on Sunday even when the library is closed (provided the wlan signal is still strong from outside the library).

Next - Blogging On The Camino - With Google's Blogger (Part 3)

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Blogging On The Camino - Photos (Part 1)

Times has changed. No longer are blogs restricted to just text. Photos have become ubiquitous in all blogs.

Should you bring along a digital camera? Or camera phone? Unless you are photography buff, a 2-3 megapixel camera phone will do just fine for prints and also for blogging. That way you only need to carry 1 charger on the camino. The only requirement is that your phone must have support for external memory card for storage.


The external memory card that is bundled with the phone are usually small (around 256-512 Meg). Quadruple the capacity by investing around 30 USD for a 2 Gigabyte card. On my 2 megapixel camera phone, the estimate is around 4800 photos! That's more than enough for a few caminos without having to remove any photos from the card.

There are different types of memory cards for the camera phone. The newer the phone, the smaller the card tends to be. They are basically SD (small), MINI-SD (smaller) or MICRO-SD like in the photo above (tiny). Make sure you have a USB reader for the card. If you buy an additional MICRO-SD card, they usually throw in the reader for free. If not, a USB reader usually cost only a couple of dollars.


With the USB reader, you can plug it into any computer during your camino and have access to the photos stored in the card. This is also necessary if you want to post images to your blog. And at the end of your camino, you can use the reader to move your photos from your camera phone to your computer.

Next - Blogging On The Camino - Internet Access (Part 2)

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cinzia's Cammino di Santiago 2008

From Burgos to Santiago. From my Via de la Plata, a reunion with her together with Rosalinda and Mike in Santiago. We then continued to Finisterre and Muxia.

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Camino Via de la Plata Planner



Now that my Camino Via de la Plata is over, I had just archived to Google Docs my journey's spreadsheet with an overlay of my stops. I got the original from Godesalco.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Camino on the local Singapore papers


Denise Chng wrote a nice piece on the camino for the local papers here. She's now staying in Quebec, Canada.

No soft copy of the article is available online, but I did manage to locate her blog.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My photo of Itálica short listed by Schmap

I was notified today that my picture of Itálica (Seville) at the start of my Camino via de la Plata was short listed by Schmap. What it means is that it might be used on their site with my name credited for the photo. The photo was originally posted to Flickr.

Wonder if they know it's taken from a 2 megapixels fixed lens mobile camera?

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Monday, August 25, 2008

My web server's dead!

The problem with home hosting your server is when it's dead, that's it. Unless I intend to replace the machine, which I do not. Instead, I'll stick to Google's Blogger from now on.

Now the challenge is to see if I can find some way to move my old posts over here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Time Magazine's Article On The Camino de Santiago

It's from an Time Magazine issue dated July 5th, 2004. A great humorous piece on the Camino from Lydia Itoi called Steps Towards Heaven.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Come Walk With Me Santiago

Here's a self-published book from Josephine whom I met her in 2006 on my Camino Frances. Josephine finally completed her camino after four attempts.

Here is how you can get her book:

The book “COME WALK WITH ME SANTIAGO” tells the story of my 800 kilometre walk across Spain. It is a chronicle about this journey on foot under all kinds of conditions a long trek along Spain’s beautiful Northern provinces. All the information needed for a pilgrimage is found in this book. It also includes all information where to go day and night and how to live on this road .The Camino de Santiago de Compostella.


Price: $ 42, -- Canadian+ shipping FOR EUROPE 35 EURO-plus shipping.

Payment can be done with a money order

Include full mailing address to:

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Congratulations To Adrian And Tracy

Congratulations to Tracy (left) and Adrian (right) both from Singapore who had completed their Camino de Santiago in April 2008.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On Walking The Camino Via de la Plata

For those who are considering walking the Camino Via de la Plata, here's my take on the differences:

1. Crowd

This route is getting popular, but is still in no way as popular as the Camino Frances. At the same time, it is not as remote as the Camino Primitivo.

2. Pilgrims

Most of the pilgrims on Via de la Plata had walked at least 1 camino previously. Many may prefer to walk alone, but almost all of them will welcome the company at the end of the day. I was never really alone.

2. Beds

In almost every albergue, I manage to find 2 beds for myself. The top bunk for my stuff and the bottom to sleep. With the exception of Aldeanueva del Camino where I did not have a bed and had to stay at a hostal. There are only 8 beds and 2 mattresses there and I was unlucky that there was group of 6 Spanish pilgrims who happens to stop there earlier in the day. Beds in general is a non issue.

3. Albergue

I was unlucky that there was 4 albergues early in Extremadura that was closed for the year (suspected that it was due some dispute between the people who run the albergues and pilgrim's association). Had to stay in hostal for some of them as there are not way around it. On the other hand, there are now albergue for Salamanca and Zamora (new this year) that was pleasant surprise. In all, the infrastructure is now getting better. Best to budget for a couple of days of stay at a hostal at around 15-20 euro per night.

4. Waymarker

Generally good with the exception of a few cities with markers into the city but not out of the city. Have to rely on the information from the guide book for these exceptions.

5. Terrain

Only 1 steep climb in Andalucia, otherwise it is pretty much flat or rolling hills all the way past Zamora. However, the steep climb to Galicia and the following few days after I think is more challenging than the Camino Frances. That can be minimize if one chooses to walk and additional 35 km via Verin which is flatter than to go straight to Laza via the mountains.

6. Distances

It is tough to plan for a daily under 30 km day. Example, either you do a 36 km day (or 15 km and 21 km in 2 days). That would mean more days if one afford it. If you don't mind staying at private albergue, then there is only 1 long stretch of 38 km. Else there may be around 3 long stretches to tackle. Even on these long stretches, you can still do it in 2 days if you don't mind staying at a hostal (with around 2 km detour to and from the hostal).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ATM in Santiago de Compostela

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Dispenses money or claim shells?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Video on my Camino Via de la Plata

At just under 11 minutes, this is a long video (montage of images) of my Camino Via de la Plata spanning 39 days (normally around 35-40 days).

I was pleasantly surprised when YouTube accepted the video, as they normally would not take in any video that is more than 10 minutes long.

Choosing the music for the video had been tough. In the end I've decided on a flamenco piece (Al Di Meola - Flamenco Classical) followed by another medieval number (Dead Can Dance - Saltarello).

Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Interesting People - Sebastien and Joseba

In Zamora, I opened the door in the albergue to let Sébastien (from Belgium - left) and Joseba (from Basque - right) around 10 pm so they can crash for the night in the this new albergue's huge kitchen area. It had started to rain, and they told me that another pilgrim in the albergue had told them that they are too late and refused to open the door for them.

Sébastien and Joseba had just walked their Camino Frances. They decided to continue their journey south, sometimes via hitchhiking. They had started their own blog to record their journey, beginning from Santiago. I was just given the link to their blog and was surprise to see myself in one of their videos.

Out of the 2 videos they had posted so far:

The first video had an interesting segment of Sébastien and Joseba lining up for food outside the Parador “Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos” in Santiago. This Parador is right next to the Cathedral and was built by Queen Isabella for the pilgrims. For taking the building away from the pilgrims, the Parador offers free food daily for the first 10 pilgrims (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Unfortunately the food is like in a cafeteria, and you can only dine in the staff lounge and not with the other paying customers. You need to have a copy of your credencial to be eligible, and not more than 3 days after you arrived in Santiago. I was planning to do this but the schedule and the reunion this time did not allow it. Maybe next time...

I appeared for a few seconds on the second video, taken right after I have led them to the dining/kitchen area.

I wish them a great journey.

Video - Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre


Before I get around to compiling a video montage for my Camino Via de la Plata, here's a short one from the 3 days walk from Santiago to Finisterre, bus to Muxia and back to Compostela again.

The music is from 'Dead Can Dance' titled 'The Arrival and the Reunion'. I find this track very appropriate as it is exactly what this is, a reunion of pilgrims from our Camino in 2006, each of us coming from different directions.

For Mike, Rosalinda, Cinzia, Béné (who is not able to make it), and all other pilgrims I've met on my Camino Frances in 2006.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Finally back home

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Another compostela (in the tube). Lazy to frame it up. The real compostela is in the head. Now I need at least a 8 mins long music to compile my video of the Camino via de la Plata.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Transit in Istanbul

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Still a long way from home. No more cafe con leche, cortado, solo. Only this watered down version.

Last look at Compostela

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Before my overnight bus to Madrid to catch my flight home.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Santiago de Compostela - Botafumeiro

Took a bus back from Muxia to Compostela this morning with Mike, Cinzia and Rosalinda. I will be leaving tonight on the overnight bus to Madrid and will fly back from Madrid just after noon on Monday.

This is the video from today's mass at noon in Santiago de Compostela with swinging of the Botafumeiro, an awesome sight.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Muxia - Another Angle

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

This is a great place to stop after Finisterre.


From the phonecam of el Peregrino

After spending an extra day to rest in Finisterre and also waiting for Mike and Cinzia, we have decided to take the bus to Muxia. This is the place where Mary is to have landed in Galicia to hear St. James preach. The church is dedicated to her.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Best picture of Finisterre

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

From a poster outside the albergue. The cape and the lighthouse. The town is

around 3 km behind on the right. I am staying an extra day here.

My shell collection

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Lucky to be able to find 2 big ones.

Combing the beach for concha shells

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

One of the tradition for a pilgrim on the camino in the old days is to find

your own shell to bring back in order to prove that you have been to the

sea. Here in Finisterre, the St. James' shell is hard to find as many

pilgrims are doing the same thing along the beach.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The end of my Camino Via de la Plata

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Now I am no longer a pilgrim but a tourist. I have a few more days to relax

here and also in Santiago de Compostela before heading back to Madrid for my

flight home.

This last shot is for all pilgrims, especially for those pilgrims who walked

the camino to find their closure for their grief. God has forgiven you, now

you have to forgive yourself.

Cabo Finisterre - For the sunset

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Here the pilgrims picked their own spot to watch the sunset at the end of

the world (like birds on the cliff). Some pilgrims even burn their clothes

or things to have a new beginning. Charred marks on some of the rocks shows

traces of it.

Cabo Finisterre - Sunset

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

This is my spot. There is no more roads to walk. My journey has ended.

Luckily I don't have to walk back to my village like the pilgrims in the old


Cabo Finisterre - Faro

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Lighthouse at Cabo Finisterre. Km 0. A french couple posing for the shot.

Walking to Cabo Finisterre

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

On route to Cabo Finisterre (Cape Finisterre), another 3 km to the end of

the world in medieval times. Finisterre is actually 'End of Terra'. Although

there are many Finisterre (some around Portugal), this is the one that the

pilgrims all go to see the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. It must be scary for

most of them as the sun sets in the ocean, hoping that it will rise again

the next day.

Finisterre - Albergue

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Surprise to find a bed there. Probably many pilgrims stayed in a hostal here

as this the last stop for most of them.


From the phonecam of el Peregrino

A pleasant surprise. A Fisterana for completing the 3 days (or 4 days) walk

to Fisterra (Finisterre). This is more like a certificate rather than a


1 km before Finisterre - Day 3 to Finisterre

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Here's Rosalinda with a funny pose. Walking on the beach to Finisterre with

here poles. Mike and Cinzia stopped in Cee. Will meet them tomorrow here in


Before Cee - Day 3 to Finisterre

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Finisterre in sight (the peninsula in the background)

Olveiroa - Albergue

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

The rush for beds in the albergue was incredible. It has become like a race.

Anyway, it was full when it comes to our turn. Not even the mats in the

kitchen are available. Had to go 4 km to A Picote for a hostal with 4 beds

in the same room. At least the transport to and back to the albergue the

next day is included. Nice hot showers and beds. Fantastic compared with the

previous day in the tent.

To Olveiroa - Day 2 to Finisterre

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Happy happy pilgrims, for the photo. After that, the tongues comes out


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Negreira - Albergue

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

The albergue was full. Only the tents outside the albergue with 3 mats for 4

people. This is quite a change for me, as the albergue in the via de la

Plata is always quite empty. This tent (albergue) will be locked at 11 pm...

(pilgrim's joke)

To Negreira - Day 1 to Finisterre

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Mike, Rosalinda and Cinzia. Decided to leave for Finisterre the following

day. 3 days to Finisterre.

Rosalinda and Cinzia

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Rosalinda and Cinzia. She will be joining us to Finisterre.

Surprise pilgrim

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Michaela from Germany, also here in Santiago on this day from Camino

Portuguese. She will be going home the next day though.

Hey Jimmy I am back!

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Over 1000 km on the road, finally at the cathedral.

Day 39 - Santiago de Compostela

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

Finally! After 39 days!

Time for one more drink

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

There is always time for one more drink!

Almost there!

From the phonecam of el Peregrino

The twin towers of the cathedral can finally be seen. The way from the south

from via de la Plata looks nicer than from Camino Frances from the east.