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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nomadic Experiences of 2011


I took my traveling to a whole new level in 2010, to say that I've grown content with that is an understatement as I've taken my wanderings to another height this year. Though I'm still unable to do long-term traveling because of my job - which serves as my source of income to finance my trips. I was still able to maximize whenever I can, doing so on long weekends and holidays, plus the smart usage of our company's vacation and sometimes sick leaves. While I still wait the day where I would wake up every day and treat it as a Saturday and travel continuously, these short bursts of travel experiences has taught me and afforded me to meet gregarious people along the way. Reasons why I had gotten deep into the beautiful depths of travel addiction.

clockwise: Angkor Wat, Malapascua, Coron, Kota Kinabalu, Saigon, Phnom Penh, HK, Apo Reef, Lake Sebu 
January 

Sinulog Festival - I celebrated my birthday in Cebu just in time for the Sinulog Festival. It was my first time to experience this yearly spectacle and it was everything I expected it to be, with the exception of the rain that poured heavily on some parts of the street parade. I also met a lot of new friends, aside from being able to make a side trip to the heritage city of Carcar, Kawasan Falls and the diving paradise of Moalboal.

Dinagyang Festival - I guess, I was on a festive mood this month as after the Sinulog Festival I flew back to Manila and proceeded to my day job for two days, then went flying back - this time to Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival. I joined my couchsurfing host, Joanne along with her other cs guests Jan and Alena (a German - American couple) and later on by Ada. I smoked pot, had a grand time witnessing the coloful street-fest, drank bottles of Manila Beer, ate lechon and was also able to do a Visita Iglesia of the many old churches in Iloilo, two times, once by myself and the other with Nel and her cool mom. 

February 

This month I stayed near my home base, as I wasn't able to do long haul ass trips. However, the Pyrolympics spectacle at the Mall of Asia was worth experiencing and writing about. It is another great reason for foreigners and even those living in the provinces to check out while in Manila during the month of February. It was participated by a dozen countries, each lighting up the sky with trademark fireworks and a music accompaniment, making it appear you were watching a fire dance in the night time sky. 

During this month, the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Field is staged annually. I joined a couple of friends, Cai, Josh and Darwin to witness these giant balloons fly up in the sky. Just like in the movie "Up" the sight of these objects up in the sky creates and endless scenario of seeing the world in another perspective. Its definitely not the Hindenburg, but a bunch of huge balloons, small planes and even sky divers that flew and dropped gracefully from the sky that day.

March

SoccSarGen Experience Tour II - In a familiarization tour organized by the Soccsksargen Bloggers and the General Santos Online Mag, I joined other bloggers in traveling to parts of Sarangani, General Santos and South Cotabato. For three days we were hosted generously by the people of Mindanao and did nothing but eat, travel and have karaoke at night. We went to places like Balakayo Adventure Park, DOLE Plantation, Lake Sebu, hiked our way to T'daan Kini waterfalls, learned about Aquafarming in Sarangani Bay and feasted on sumptuous breakfast at the Farm in Carpenter Hill at South Cotabato.

Re-visited Baguio - accompanied a friend who wanted to see some parts of Luzon. She grew up in the states and was keen on traveling and I was more than happy to show her to the summer capital of the Philippines. Where the climate is cool and the streets are overcrowded. That said, there is still something quite resonating about Baguio, more than the my childhood memories of spending summers here. Walking along Session Road, dining at the fine restaurants such as Oh My Gulay and rummaging among the many ukay-ukays (I scored myself a Columbia jacket for only 300.00 pesos). We also met the hippie family of the Pinay Travel Junkie while we were there.

Apo Reef - I joined fellow travel bloggers Gael, Marcos and Darwin to this island off Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro. A long trip comprising of a ferry ride from Batangas to Mindoro, a bus ride from Abra de Ilog to Sablayan and lastly a 2-hour small boat ride to Apo Reef itself. We pitched our tent, cooked "home-cooked" meals and went snorkling and climbed the picturesque lighthouse. A rewarding destination after a tiring trip indeed was all worth it.

April

Beach Camping in Zambales - My traveler friends and I went to Nagsasa Cove, along the coast of Pundaquit near San Antonio, Zambales and camped out for the night, feasting on adobo and a film showing of "Crying Ladies". It is also my first time to travel with Claire, the "Lakwatsera de Primera" according to her lola. After Nagsasa, we passed by Anawangin Cover and had lunch at the scenic Capones Island, which is highlighted by its historic lighthouse, the Faro de Punta Capones.

Epic Sandi(y) Weekend in Malapascua - A spontaneous trip that resulted from an exchange of message that started from a message I sent to a girl in Cebu back in 2008. She replied three years later and before I know it - I was on a plane to Cebu and a plan to spend a weekend in this island paradise was in full motion. Two days under the sun, beer in hand and a great company was something of an epic indeed. One of my most memorable trips so far. After this I was also able to meet fellow travel bloggers based in Cebu for a night of siomai foodtripping.

May  

Bataan Church Hopping - It was Holy Week and I didn't planned any trip, so I decided to do a visita iglesia on a nearby province. Bataan was the one that came to my mind. I also visited the war monument atop Mount Samat with my friend Rea and her brother. After that I hopped from one town to another and visited 6 churches - 1 short of the 7 needed for a Visita Iglesia. I followed that up though, by doing another round in the city of Manila the next day.

Coron, Palawan Redux - I first visited Coron with my then girlfriend in 2009 and became instantly mad about its scenic surroundings of its lakes, islands, hill-tops and a simplistic town set-up. This time I went with a friend and her friends from Cebu. It was a great experiencing Coron for the second time, plus we were able to visit the island of Culion and learned its history from visiting the Fort and the Culion Museum and Archives, especially the time when it was still known as the "leper colony" or the "island of the walking dead". Today, Culion is an island filled with life and an ideal setting for a simple island living.



June

Arrival in Chinese Territory - It started with a semi-debacle at the immigration office of Hong Kong. Held up for a couple of hours for questioning, I finally convinced them that I was just there as a traveler after I showed them my travel blog. It was enough though to ruin my planned rendezvous with the first lady of funk, Eileen that night. However, I was able to enjoy Hong Kong by visiting many places like the many temples around including the Chi Lin Nunnery, feasted on street foods, went trainspotting, crossed over to Macau, hanged out with the statue of Bruce Lee and other HK action stars and enjoyed a different side of HK in Lantau island.

Romance That Went Underground - finally saw the Puerto Princesa Underground River and felt justified at my countless votes for it to be included in the new 7 wonders of the world. We also sailed along the scenic Honda Bay, had a full dinner at the famed KaLui restaurant. Though, the promise of something else went north after the trip as me and a friend went back to our home base - which was separated by a 3 hour plane ride, the trip was special in a lot of ways.

July

K, I'm in KK - Kota Kinabalu that is. Unfortunately, not to climb the mountain - that is targeted for next year, but to just roam the city, enjoy the food, tried mingling with other backpackers, street graffiti, mosque hopping and visited some museums. I went here with my friend Josh, who is traveling to another country for the first time and it was nice guiding him not to be deported at the immigration gate and practiced with him, some pick up lines intended for the many beautiful girls we saw on the streets of Kota Kinabalu, we never had luck though. But we saw, walk and ate ourselves into this city which kinda feels like being in the Philippines, because of a large number of Filipinos living there.

August

Surprisingly, no trip was made on this month except for the last day which stretched on to the next few days of September. I did other things that are travel related. I had another article published, pushing my total to four articles that came out on "Republic of 7107 Islands Travel Magazine" - and another couple coming in the first few months of 2012. I dated someone who is not that much into traveling, which contributed to me, being grounded this month. Makes me realize that, the right girl for me is someone who also loves being on the road. So there, puzzle solved, I can now say I'm a single, semi-mad, adventurous looking for a single girl, equally nomadic, loves long butt numbing bus ride and random city 'getting lost' incursions.

September

Are We There Yet? Roadtrip to Naga, Legazpi and Sorsogon - A friend (Bammie) and I took a bus straight out of Cubao to Naga, then to Legazpi, spent a night at this cheap and antique-feeling inn, took another bus to Sorsogon the next day, then another jeepney to Matnog town which is only a short ferry ride away from Samar. Through all those long rides, we were able to visit church in Daraga, the Cagsawa Ruins minus the Mayon Volcano who hid under a thick blanket of clouds, went island hopping in Sorsogon into Barcelona (not Spain), Sorsogon before doing the trip again on reverse back to Manila.

October

Masskara Festival with the first lady of Funk - Last year I went to my very first Masskara Festival and tried couchsurfing for the first time and met many great friends in the process. (Check this video). This time, I went with the aforementioned "first lady of funk" (funk as in "soulful and groovy") Eileen and fellow travel bloggers and couchsurfers. It was a great time with kindred souls who had the same passion as myself, not having to explain why I wanna go to this place and that, because they all understand the need for this kind of life, of continuous traveling and all that comes with it. My camera may have conked out during this trip but not my desire to further travel from here and beyond.

November

Indochina Trip - A 9 day-trip to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in Vietnam and Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia. I never thought I would realize my dream of seeing Angkor Wat this soon. It was supposed to be a solo trip but when my brother found out about my plan, he decided to go along with me, which becomes an opportunity to further bond with my brother. Temple overload - Saigon foodtrippings and historical incursions to the dark past of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and the Vietnam War also opened my eyes thoroughly into the past and a sense of amazement how the people of Vietnam and Cambodia recovered well from those trying times, speaks well for their grit and determination.

December

Travel Time Magazine Assignment - I went to Malabon with Mich to cover the fluvial parade of the annual La Inmaculada Concepcion de Malabon feast for Susan Calo Medina's Travel Time Magazine. The article is set to be included in the second quarter of 2012 and right now I'm all pressured in trying to write a decent article about it haha. I just hope that writing gigs like this one will present itself more in the coming year. It might become my ticket for a long-term traveling by 2012 or early 2013.

Looking for the Robert Carlyle Character (with a map of a secret beach) in Khao San Road - I found none,  or any of the character from the Alex Garland novel. However, what I saw was a street that fits its description to perfection. Khao San Road - the starting and ending point of the Asian backpacking trail. I also saw the temple ruins in the ancient city of Ayutthaya and explored the streets of Bangkok from its Chatuchak market to the infamous Patpong street. Crossing aboard a ferry along the Chao Phraya river to Wat Arum "Temple of the Dawn" to meeting for the second time, another kindred soul in Alexandra and hanging out with friends drinking Chang and Singha beers. I will be writing about my Bangkok series in the coming weeks, wait out for that.

Travel Group Christmas Party - I missed our Christmas party at work due to the fact that It was on the same night as my flight to Bangkok, but the night before my trip, I enjoyed a drunken orgy of good vibrations-passing with these awesome people. Like me, they're mad about traveling and its inspiring to meet people of the same breathe and adornment of being out there on the road. To everyone who I have traveled with this year, to those I met accidentally on the road, to those who shared wonderful moments with me (including the non-bloggable stuff haha) I salute you and may we see more of the Philippines and the rest of the world before we all call it a life.


That sums up my travel life for 2012. In between my day job and the stark contrast of the daily life, traveling brings balance to my life. It lets me experience and see new things that one do not usually get when buried with the trivialities of everyday living. I hope, you too, could start threading your path and start packing your rucksack and head out somewhere, each time you could muster. The world is huge, but with traveling we help make it a smaller world. Small enough for people to live in harmony and more understanding of each other.

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