March 6, 2014

Friday Favorites: Places

It's no secret my dream destination is Egypt. Here's one video that makes me crave for it more.

For others, Paris is always a good idea. Here are maps drawn by Parisians themselves for places significant to them for personally. There's something charming about a place that looked so ordinary yet so special for someone. 

Some of my favorite places are abandoned yet magical in my eyes. If you need proof how beautiful abandoned places can be, check this out.

Don't spend your lifetime stuck in a corner. Take it from the movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty".

If you're still wondering where to go, check out this VisaMapper to plot your travels. It can be very handy!

Enjoy the weekend! Stay happy and adventurous!

February 11, 2014

Blog Carnival: Travels and Relationships

It's been more than three years since I can legitimately say I was out of the singles club. Yet the beginning of our relationship was geographically challenge. Our first months were spent over Skype because he was in Lipa and I was moving everyday from Cavite to Makati. I remember La Luz as our first vacation. I remember the stars that night and the candle-lit dinner. But most of all, I remember the first time we held hands while snorkeling. He did too.

Normal days apart can lead to little disputes and disagreements. At one point we thought it was not working. But I had booked a trip in October 2011 to the delicious city of Bacolod. A week before that we were not talking. When there are only two of you in a trip, you are forced to talk to each other to remain sane. I don't remember why we still pushed for that trip. I guess I was really set on going to Bacolod (hello, wanderlust!) and he was too much of a gentleman to decline. So we took that flight despite everything.

Suffice to say that it was a trip that we fell back in love just like how one would fall in love with Calea's cakes. And when you're actually standing in front of the Ruins in Talisay city, you can't really avoid the presence of love. We all want a kind of love that would remain even if somebody tries to burn it down. Maybe it's the romantic old houses or the sweet cakes or that crispy kare-kare or the sand of Lakawon island that made us go back to a working relationship. But we did and I will always treasure how Bacolod was very kind to us. 

2012 was welcomed with a trip to the charming Coron. On the first day, we climbed Mt Tapyas but the greater challenge was talking about our upcoming long distance relationship. His flight to CDO was January 2012, just a month after Sendong. It was his permanent work assignment until further notice. Further notice was like being a chance passenger. You really don't know if you'll get to go home that time.

For a traveler, distance should be nothing. We as travelers survive long bus rides, turbulent plane rides, terrifying boat rides and flat tires. Long distance relationships should survive missed conversations, intermittent internet connections and mismatched schedules. It's just like missing a flight, having no signal and schedule delays. You still push to and enjoy the journey. So we did. But it was like the rough boat ride to Lakawon island - he was sometimes more concerned about himself. I knew there was a paradise waiting so we faced the waves.

The sunny side of our relationship was highlighted in Bantayan Island back in October 2012. I flew from Manila while he came from CDO. We met in Cebu - just like in the movies. My flight was earlier than his. Until now, Bantayan remains to be one of our happy places. We spent an afternoon reading by the clear, shallow waters. We rented a motorbike, got a bit lost going around the island then sang "Leaving on a plane" while the wind was in our face. We were taken away from our usual lonely busy days. These were moments you realize you want someone who will watch the stars and sunrise with you.

We've continued our travels together in our third year. We treat our trips as our true quality time. Each trip, we are like strangers discovering each other as we discover new places. That's why couples should travel together. Nothing like being stuck in a situation in an unknown place to peel off the layers of someone. You also get to make the world your happy place.

We travel together and we travel individually. I go on my own travels. That's how love should be. Love gives you the freedom to be yourself and discover yourself (and new places). It does not constraint you. And he understands I can never be stuck in one corner for so long. One should realize that a traveler's heart knows no distance, understands the toughness of a journey, and appreciates beauty in its raw form. It knows every relationship, just like every trip, is different so it does not compare. When you're in a relationship, that's hell of a good thing. 

Unlike meticulously planned trips, you'll really never know when a relationship will end. So as the traveler that you are, just enjoy the journey while you're there. It's never really about the end of the road. At least for me. These are lessons the road has taught me.

This is my contribution to Pinoy Travel Blogger FEBRUARY 2014 BLOG CARNIVAL with the theme "The JOYS AND WOES OF COUPLEHOOD ON THE ROAD" hosted by Claire Madarang of Traveling Light . For previous monthly blog carnival topics, click Estan Cabigas' Langyaw 

February 1, 2014

Dreamy Palaui: The Road and First Encounter

It all started with a deadline. Early 2013 we found out that Survivor will be shooting in Palaui Island that year. That meant one thing: it will be closed to the public. For us, it meant we had to go there before they do. So we did.

If one wishes to go to Palaui, you can take a bus or plane to Tuguegarao then a van to Sta. Ana where you can take the boat to Palaui. On the other hand, we took a Florida Bus from Manila going to Gonzaga then had someone pick us up to reach Sta. Ana. It was 16 hours of moving from a state of being awake and asleep before we set foot on the white sands of Palaui. We left 7:00pm on a Thursday and woke up in Gonzaga at around 9:00am. Contrary to early warnings, the deluxe sleeper bus was not freezing cold. But trust me when I say we just got lucky. Do bring a jacket or blanket or both if you're planning to take the bus.

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We stopped by for a plate of Batil Patong which left us confused on how to properly eat it.

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Upon reaching Sta. Ana, we went straight to the tourism office to register. We will be staying for three days and two nights. It was only afterwards that we realized it was not enough. But you can do a day tour just to satisfy your craving. For us, we were left wanting more.

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Boat ride (rates below) would take around 20-30 minutes. For the eager, it will appear longer. It will appear shorter when going back to Sta. Ana.

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We were to settle in the barangay hall where you can rent and pitch your tent. It runs on solar energy so charge your gadgets just to be sure. Or bring a powerbank (it can save you).

It took a couple of minutes from where the boat docked to the hall. We walked on soft, wind sand with the ocean at our left and trees at our right. There were also some grave stones at some point. Wouldn't it be lovely to be buried at the shore? Your name forever facing the sea.

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We crossed a small, narrow bridge with a dry river below. That won't be our last time crossing a wooden bridge.

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We were introduced to the women of Palaui whose stories deserve another time. They welcomed us with homemade ginger tea. A drink I have been trying to copy for the past months.We ate fish, pork and vegetables for a late lunch. Afterwards, we grabbed the tent and tried to pitch it. We kind of succeeded but our guide mainly did the work. Making a mental note to learn how to pitch a tent (and maybe even buy one).

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And so we finally laid down our bags and settled. That was it - we were really in Palaui Island. And at first encounter it was already beautiful.


Boat Rates
PASAMOBA Cooperative
San Vicente, Sta. Ana, Cagayan

From Port San Vicente to:
A. Long Distance
Destination Estimated Travel Time Allowed Passengers Amount
Cape Engano 45 min 8 1,800.00
Anguib 25 min 8 1,500.00
Siwangag 30 min 8 1,500.00
Puzurubo 1 hour 8 1,800.00
B. Short Distance
Destination Estimated Travel Time Allowed Passengers Amount
Jerolinda Resort 10 min 8 300
Crocodile Island 5 min 8 500
Punta Verde 15 min 8 750
Pugo Moro 5 min 8 500

From Port San Vicente to: Additional Amount
Avalon Beach Club Php1,400.00
Orchidia Beach Resort Php1,000.00
Country Inn Php500.00
Jotay Resort Php500.00
Costa Carina Php500.00
Eden's Lodging House Php500.00
Lordwin's Resort Php150.00
Casambalangan Php1,800.00

Special Trips:
Cape Engano
Anguib Beach
Crocodile Island

For Inquiries, please contact:
Fernando Cabutin  0935-9966744
Dispatcher 0947-6340986

(Disclaimer: some photos grabbed from Patricia Mencias)

Breathtaking Batanes: Budget Breakdown

This is a trip four years in the making. Maybe a bit more subconsciously. It started with those absurd plans after seeing a seat sale of an airline that promised less then 15,000php for airfare. We were then just a year out of college. We were earning less than what we imagined when we graduated so even the seat sale was out of the picture. I bet that version of me will utter disbelief when I tell her today I went to Batanes for a total of Php6,000.00 including airfare. But I did. So here's the breakdown:

Airfare (PAL Express seat sale): Php1,757.00
Accomodation at Novita House (4D/3N): Php4,500.00
Food*: Php1825.00
Sabtang Island
Trike to Ivana Port: Php220.00
Lunch: Php300.00/person
Trike around Sabtang (with tour guide): Php800.00
Environmental Fee: Php200/person
Boat: Php75/way/person
Picture at Chavayan with Vakul at Sabtang Weavers Association: Php20.00/person
Buko at Tinyang Viewpoint: Php20.00
Jeep from Ivana to Basco: Php27/person

Batan South
Trike rental: Php1500/trike (2pax)
Lunch: Php460 (75php Pancit Cabagan)

Batan North
Trike rental: Php1000/trike (2pax)

Bike rental: Php25.00/hour
Terminal Fee: Php50.00
Souvenir (ref magnet): Php50.00

TOTAL: Php4,016.25

*We bought food (frozen chicken, beef, pork and even frozen oil) around Abad St. then we cooked because Novita House is complete with cooking utensils and stove.
** We were 4 in the group so all expenses divided by four. If you're larger in a group, you can rent a van for Php2,000.00 and Php1,000.00 for the tour guide to tour Batan (North and South).

Contact Nos.
Kuya Julian (Tricycle for Batan Tours): 0908-5529742
Ate Remy (Novita House caretaker): 09274121031
Novita House reservation: 09178415654

Ate Remy took care of our tricycle tour in Sabtang so I didnt get the contact for Sabtang.

December 27, 2013

Year-End Post: Stay Rich in Travels

An empty wallet and a full memory card. Almost every trip ends with an empty wallet and a full memory card. Despite the recent comment of my mother that I should save more and spend less, I still booked flights for 2014. If I was to run the numbers, my 2013 trips may be equivalent to a new laptop. I did have a relatively "poor" year as I moved between jobs. But I did gain a lot of experience and relationships this year. So as inspired by that famous credit card's ads, here is a run of 2013 travels.

February was for roadtrips - one for the PIHABF and Taal Town. Both times we got lost somewhere but nothing beats the Taal Town road trip in terms of missed exits and wrong turns. But ending the day with coffee and cake by the river is still a good memory. 


March was spent in Iloilo and Guimaras to celebrate my 25th birthday. Php4,800.00 was spent to experience the land tour in Guimaras then eat authentic La Paz Batchoy and the unforgettable Madge's Cafe coffee. It was also the trip that showed me a real turtle, a incredibly huge grouper, a vast plantation of mango trees and lots of starfishes by the shore. DB's Hometel was the witness to the night I got my Instax camera as a gift from J. The last day was spent church hopping and praying for a great life ahead. Last prayer was said in a UNESCO heritage site. I wanted to spend my birthdays in a new place after this trip. 

April was the month I finally set foot in Palaui Island. I cannot stop raving about this place but I am yet to write the complete story. I spent a night with friends by the shore - hearing the waves and seeing nothing. It was pitch black. We only had our flashlights and a cooler of drinks. Somewhere there was a gecko making its famous sound. We spent a day hiking the Lagunzad trail and being welcomed by the majestic Cape Engano. This was just a few months before Survivor closed the island for shooting.

April was closed by spending the weekend in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. I'm a sucker for these places. I love that the entire place is quite homey. I watched the sunset while dipped in the pool then later saw the full moon before heading for dinner. Traditional dances were performed that night. I ate the most expensive fishball and gulaman in my entire life but somehow got reminded of simpler days from my childhood.

August was spent with Greenpeace and stayed in Cebu for two weeks. Had a quick day trip to Moalboal.
Also spent my day-off with Lakbay Diva and Doi of Traveling Feet to learn free diving. Grabbed some crazy delicious lechon belly afterwards. I cannot emphasize how much lechon I ate during my stay in Cebu. Cebu continues to lure me into its beaches and beautiful sites. Still so much too see!

September was for Bangkok. Bangkok is one of my favorite places. Got to spend days with my event friends as I helped out with their biggest event for the year. We were rewarded with a stay in Shangrila Bangkok where the event was held. Nothing more precious than enjoying coffee outside the morning after the event. Grabbed bacon, hash brown, bread, omelette and brewed coffee before sitting down to enjoy the Chao Phraya River. Also spent a night going to Asiatique for shopping. Chatuchak market never fails to fill my closet.

October was spent like Christmas in Baguio with friends. Forest House definitely made us feel that Christmas is just around the corner with their decors. But another reason it felt like Christmas was the cold breeze and endless food we ate the whole weekend. We started with breakfast in Zola's. J and I ended the weekend with dinner at Baguio Country Club courtesy of J's friend. I need to go back to Baguio with my friends from UP Baguio just so I can experience more good food. Baguio made me feel like I was back in the 90's.

TOTAL AMOUNT SPENT this 2013: Php27,000.00 (more or less)
TOTAL PHOTOS TAKEN: 7,167 (and counting)

I do get to buy a new laptop with the total amount spent this 2013. But I'd rather be out in the world than in front of a laptop watching other lives happen. There's a reason I would rather stay home than go to malls or stick to my own brewed coffee than commercial coffee shops. With all my memories from three years of traveling, I don't think I'll ever feel "poor". Can't wait for new lessons and memories this 2014.

Entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for December 2013, with the theme “The Pinoy Travel Bloggers Closing the Curtains on 2013: Love, Learn and Living” hosted by Brenna Bustamante of The Philippine Travelogue.

Taal and Palaui shots from Sheila Pepito

November 22, 2013

Friday Favorites: Why We Need to Travel

We all need a little inspiration. Something to get us through our 9-5 jobs or just get through a bad day. You may be arguing with yourself that you don't need a vacation or you don't really need to book that flight. Think again. Here are some bits of inspiration (and reasons) why you need to get out of that chair. Ranging from Expedia to New York Times to a father's advice to Jon Krakauer and Instagram.

Quotes of the Week:

Click Photo for Full View

Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” ― Jon Krakauer

Something to Ponder:

Vacation Boost Pleasure, Expedia Study Finds

Too busy to travel? Don't get stuck in the "busy trap"
"Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets."

Video of the week: An Instagram Short Film
 852 different pictures, from 852 different instagram users

An Instagram short film from Thomas Jullien on Vimeo.

Wishing you adventure this weekend!

October 1, 2013

2014 Philippine Holidays

Time to get excited for next year!

Highlighted in light yellow are the long weekends. But we have a lot of Thursdays! So file that Friday leave and get away.


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