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Monday, September 1, 2014

Product Review: AEE MagicCam S51

If there's one thing I can't travel without, it would be my camera because I need it to document my trips. (duh!) However, there are times when a DSLR just ain't fit for the job. 

During my recent month-long solo trip around Southeast Asia, I did activities that required me to use both hands or be in or around water, and using my bulky camera was just not an option. 

Thankfully, the guys at Visiontec Marketing lent me an AEE MagicCam S51 unit for this trip.

(L) The AEE S51 unit with detachable TFT screen (R) AEE with waterproof casing (up to 100m)

I started my trip in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I signed up for a one-day elephant mahout training.

The 'training' involved feeding the elephants, riding them bare-back through the jungle, and bathing them in the river.

Although the package includes a CD containing photos and video of the training, I still wanted to record the experience from a first-person perspective. 

AEE S51 in action with the waterproof casing + head strap

Before we started the activities, I removed the detachable TFT screen from the S51 unit, turned the G-sensor on (auto start/stop function), placed it in the waterproof casing, and finally attached it to the head strap. 

The elephant mahout training was such a wonderful and memorable experience for me, so I was very happy that the S51 captured it perfectly.

Here's a short compilation of the videos during the training; the slow boat ride from Chiang Khong, Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos; and the trip to Kuang Si Waterfalls (also in Luang Prabang). 

                                   Thailand-Laos 2014 from Kat Torres 
Video edited by my nephew, JC Abellar.

Please take note that no color correction/grading was applied during editing. You can watch the HD version on Vimeo.

Aside from outdoor activities, I also worked on some hotel and resort reviews during the trip.
With the S51's wide angle lens (and used with a monopod), I was able to get the shots/angles I want especially when in enclosed/small spaces that I wouldn't have captured otherwise with my DSLR.

And yeah, it's perfect for the solo traveler because it's very easy to take selfies. No need to bother other tourists for such triviality. :p

(Clockwise) Petronas Twin Towers as seen from my room at Traders Hotel KL | Selfie at Seminyak Beach, Bali, Indonesia | My bathroom at Villa Maydou, Luang Prabang, Laos | Courtyard by Marriott Seminyak's pool, Bali, Indonesia


I'm no technophile, so I really appreciate the straightforward push-button functions on the S51. It's even easier to use with the AEE App.

Simply download the AEE App from the Apple or Play store onto your smartphone or tablet to have real-time control and operation of the S51 through the built-in WiFi. You can then easily download and share/upload your pictures and/or videos to social media.      

Admittedly, I was not able to fully exploit the capabilities of this camera. I'm sure it can do so much more. 

Now that I'm starting to find lugging around the DSLR inconvenient, especially on longer trips, I am seriously looking at investing on an action cam like the AEE S51 because it's compact and would be a better companion on the road for a variety of activities.


For pricing and other inquiries, please contact Johannes Yu of Visiontec Marketing at 781-6731 or


For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sojourn Snapshots: Chiang Mai, Thailand

I'm heading to Chiang Rai today, and in the next couple of days, I'll be taking the slow boat to Luang Prabang, Laos. 

So, before I officially exit Thai soil, let me give you a quick rundown of what I did in Chiang Mai.


Clockwise: foggy day at Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang, and Buddha inside the viharn of Wat Lok Molee

Of course, no trip to Chiang Mai would be complete without visiting its many temples. In the Old City alone, there are already about a dozen - some of which were actually very close to where I first stayed at. 

The temples are different from the ones in Bangkok mainly because of its Lanna architecture. But after visiting a handful, they all started to look the same to me.

Night Market & Food Tripping

The Sunday Night Market starts from 5:00 pm until 11:00 pm. The whole Ratchadamnoen Road is closed to traffic and lined with stalls selling everything imaginable. You can buy trinkets for as low as THB10.00; clothes are usually from THB120.00 to THB250.00; and street food, usually from THB20.00 to THB60.00.

It was just a bummer that it started raining about 8:00 pm so I had to go back to the guesthouse. Good thing it was literally just a few steps away from the night market.   

Don't worry if your trip doesn't fall on a weekend. You can just go to Warorot Market. All the merchandise are from there anyway. Also check out the food court. This is where the locals eat.

Elephant Mahout Training

Definitely the highlight of my Chiang Mai trip!
Please excuse my non-existent video editing skills. I probably messed up the resolution.
Recorded using the AEE Magicam

I signed up for a 1-day 'mahout training' course at Chang Siam. Sure, the price was hefty but definitely worth it. It's an amazing experience.

Upon arrival, we were provided with our mahout uniforms; briefed about the elephants (eating and sleeping habits etc); taught how to feed them; basic commands on how to mount, move forwards, backwards, sideways, and how to stop.

We then had lunch prepared by our trainer, Nong, and shortly began our trek in the jungle. At first it was really scary riding the elephant bareback, but you have to trust yourself and the elephant, and everything will be fine. 

After our trek, we bathed them in the river and had so much fun!

It's definitely something you have to try at least once in your life. 

Rest & Relaxation

After my jam-packed first few days, I wanted some downtime and got just that at Siripanna Villas Resort & Spa. I was welcomed by the lovely staff and management, and treated to a sumptuous dinner buffet at their Slee Banyan Restaurant.  

The room and facilities were superb! They even have a working rice field where guests can try rice planting. I tried it too!  

Detailed blog review of the resort and rice planting pictures, to follow. ;)


For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Monasteries of Mandalay Part 1

Our first day in Mandalay began with a brief visit to Mahamuni Paya followed by a trip to Sagaing Hill.

Seven-tiered Pyatthat-style roof housing the Mahamuni Buddha (the most revered Buddha statue in the country)

On our way to Sagaing Hill, the driver pulled over before reaching the bridge so we can take pictures of the numerous white and gold pagodas dotting the hill.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

5 Reasons Why You Should Consider a Vacation Rental

While planning for our week-long Hong Kong trip earlier this year, I was once again faced with the challenge of looking for lodging options that can accommodate our small group, and more importantly, will fit our budget. 

I've searched high and low for family rooms, but guesthouses were either already fully booked, rooms were not available for consecutive nights on our travel dates, hotel rates were waaay beyond our budget or the rooms available were not in accessible locations. 

I decided to check on vacation rentals instead and that's how I discovered travelmob - an online marketplace where you can find and rent unique homes from local hosts across Asia Pacific.

After hours of going through their listings, here's 5 reasons why I think you should consider booking vacation rentals on your next trip:

1.  Perfect for families or groups of friends 

Over a year ago, I went to Singapore with 6 other people, 3 senior citizens included. The country is already expensive to begin with so we ended up bunking in a backpackers' hostel. 

It would've been okay, but because we were 7 in a 6-bedroom dorm, my mom and I had to share a single bed. While we saved on lodging cost, the setup wasn't very comfortable. We had to use a communal bathroom, too.