The Visa Collector

A blog about travelling with a Filipino passport, and life overseas

Archives for US, California

Power @ airport


When traveling, I lug around two laptops, a digital camera, and an iPhone. This stuff isn’t checked-in with the rest of my luggage. These are on my person as I wander around airports looking for a seat . . . and a power outlet. As an Economy class traveler, one that still hasn’t earned enough miles in his travels, the lounges are not an option . . . yet.

At most airports, there is a silent race for the sweet spot: the chair-next-to-the-outlet. These are few and far in between. If someone beats you to it . . . happily most airports I’ve been too have had clean floors. Here’s a sampling of both from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport

Some airports like San Francisco Int’l Airport (SFO) offer special booths or kiosks specifically for “wired” patrons.

Terminal 2 (Centennial) at the international airport in Manila (MNL) has powered high-top tables at the pre-departure area.

These facilities, however, are often away from the gates. So if your not careful, you’ll be at a disadvantage when the embarkation lines form, and consequently behind in the race for overhead space on the plane.

“The dream” would be to have power outlets where the seats are. Happily, airports are responding to that need.

The Ottawa airport (YOW) offers a few seats with outlets for both regular power sockets, as well as devices that draw power from USB ports.

At the moment, my favorite seats are in the San Jose airport (SJC). They’re a nice blend of style and function, just what you’d expect from a Bay Area/Silicon Valley airport.

Just a word of caution with these outlets though. Make sure that your actually getting juice out of them by pressing the red button, between the outlets, to reset the circuit breaker. Found that tid bit out the hard way.

Nov 13, 2010

Sending stuff to the Philippines


Part of this article can also be found on

It’s as much a part of a migrant’s story as visas and currency exchange: “The need to send items to the home country”.

When we were still in Taiwan, we didn’t really bother with this as much since the cost of travel to the Philippines was relatively affordable. We simply just stored up what we wanted to send home, and then brought them with us when we went home for Christmas. The equation changed when we crossed the Pacific, and into the realm of $1,000+ travel. Christmas gifts would have to handed out in our absence for most years.

My brother moved to New Jersey in 1993, and had been sending stuff to the family by way of Johnny Air Cargo since then. So when we made the jump and needed to send stuff home, it was the logical first choice as a freight handler. We found the lone branch for JAC in St. Francis Square in Daly City — 40 minutes or so away from home. We patronized them for a couple of years, and put up with the travel and parking challenges of the rather congested square.

Eventually we started looking for alternatives, and we eventually settled on a reliable, familiar, brand: LBC.

We tried out a number of LBC branches. The first one we tested was the Tully Rd branch in San Jose. The location was horrible because of the atrocious traffic. It was close to a Jollibee that we used to frequent, we were all too familiar with the fight-for-the-right-lane that led to the entry ramp for US 101. It was a hassle that we didn’t really care for, and would prefer to avoid. We actually stopped going to that particular Jollibee once we found an alternative. So that LBC branch was a no go.

We finally found a branch that we liked in a strip mall along El Camino Real in Santa Clara. We really liked this branch and stayed with them for quite a number of shipping cycles. It was close to home, and the staff was great. Sadly it closed. (We still hope they decide to re-open this branch).

There was no way we were going back to Tully, so we went about looking for an alternative, and found one at. Hostetter Rd. (near a Goldilocks restaurant). Sadly, the owner of the commercial space reportedly chose not to renew this LBC branch’s lease. So this alternative option was short-lived.

Enter the LBC branch at 344 South Main St., Milpitas, CA.

I checked this place’s Yelp reviews, and a common refrain was the seeming lack of warmth on the part of the clerks and receptionists. While I do concur with this observation, I must point out that they were pretty darn efficient. Shipping forms and replacement boxes were provided as part of a well practiced routine. You’ll be in and out in no time.

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Sep 12, 2010

The iFly experience


Part of this article has also been posted on

While on the way to Tribu Grill in Union City for a Pinoy dinner with friends, we passed by this gem.

I’d heard of this company offering time on their wind tunnels for folks who wanted to get a feel for a skydiving, but in a safe environment. iFly had a tunnel somewhere in San Francisco, and I had planned to check the place out . . . eventually.

But when we passed by this place — a mere 20 minutes from home — I just had to go. So off I went the following day with a friend and his 10 year old son in tow.

It was awesome. Check this out.

A real buddy jump, where you jump out of a real plane strapped to an experienced parachutist, can cost you up to $200, for a 40 to 50 second jump. Wind tunnel time is only $54 — for two 45 second sessions. Its true that you don’t get the view that you get in a real jump. But given that competitive skydivers use the facility for their own training, that’s saying something about the reality of the experience.

We went on a weekend, so it was a pretty full day. The slot we eventually got was for 9:30PM, despite having arrived at noon. Die-hard iFlyers reportedly come in during the week to avoid the crowds.

Hoping to go for the real thing some day . . . but this is cool for now 🙂

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Filed under US, California
Sep 3, 2010