Reciting a Brief Prayer at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem | Israel

December 07, 2016

I can’t remember exactly where and when I first learned about the Wailing Wall. I’m sure it was sometime during my childhood. Being an earnest reader of history books, I came across the fascinating account of Israel, from its birth of a nation in 1948 to the Israeli-Arab Wars and going back to its ancient times. Early on, I'm already made aware of its significance as one of the leading emblems of Judaism, and that it also played an integral role in other religions such as Christianity and Islam.  

people praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
The Western Wall is open to people from all faiths to visit and pray

The Motorbike Road Rush to the City of Pines

November 30, 2016

Devoid of any experience between the wheels of these big two-wheeled road monsters we refer to as “big bikes”, I still view the film Easy Rider with fascination and the source of my desire to someday acquaint myself with these types of motorcycles. My previous conception about the men who ride these powerful machines of motorbikes are synonymous with the wild and colorful characters the late Hunter S. Thompson rode for a year with and wrote about in his career-defining book Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.

Deer hunting (for selfies) and heritage sites in Nara, Japan

November 22, 2016

‘OH, deer,” I muttered to myself as I sensed how these lovely creatures seem to almost outnumber us two-legged humans, who are all trying to corner them into taking selfies in the park that day. An estimated 1,200 sika deer romp the grounds of Nara Park every day in paramount freedom enjoying an almost rock-star status, brought about by their historical designation as messenger of the Gods for many centuries. According to a story handed down from more than a thousand years ago, Takemikazuchi, a Shinto God from Kasuga Shrine, descended from his world and appeared at Mount Mikasa riding a white deer. In the aftermath of World War II, the deer’s ‘divine’ distinction was replaced by a ‘national treasure’ designation, to ensure their protection while at the same time, tapering down their religious significance. 

Marky Ramone Go in Nara Deer Park
'Feeding one of the many Deer with deer cracker

Postcard Series: Business Class | Thai Aiways

November 16, 2016

As the old saying goes; there’s always a first time.  On this trip, it’s my turn to fly on a business class. When I started traveling, I told myself I will be fine even If I stand inside a plane, as long as I get to travel. Flying on a business class wasn’t in any realm of possibilities as I know I could not afford it. Good karma indeed comes knocking when I get invited to a media trip to Thailand. A bonus: we get to fly on a business class of Thai Airways. So yeah, I did took advantage of the unlimited wine.

Things you need to know before Tibet Trekking

November 15, 2016

For the greatest adventurers trekking in Tibet is one of the must-do things on the list. In recent years, more and more tourists are coming to Tibet only for the unique treks and the majestic landscapes and scenery. Tibet is the highest region in the world, with an average altitude of 4,800 meters. Often is regarded as the "Roof of the World" or the "Third Pole." The reason for that is the number of glaciers and the volume of ice that lies within the Himalayas.

Kyoto: Of polite people, tidy streets, heritage sites, fascinating culture and then some

November 12, 2016

It was almost to the year when I capped my first trip to Japan by spending days walking aimlessly around Tokyo—getting lost while discovering the character of its gigantic city spread over towering skyscrapers and spacious sidewalks filled with hastening crowd. A total of 12 days constituted my first foray into the Land of the Rising Sun, and yet, I still desire for more. Only India had me yearning for a return trip to the same country too soon—and in Japan I felt that same attraction quite hard to resist.

the winding bamboo path leading to Tenryū-ji  temple

Following the Way of Jesus Christ in Israel

November 10, 2016

Savoring my first breath of air in the very birthplace of Jesus Christ, I instantly noticed the sudden shift of scenery as I stared out the window of our chartered bus. What arrested my attention was the fusion of colors representing the fertile lands dotting the countryside of Israel. The new topography that replaced the red desert dunes that dominated the landscape of Jordan provided a new visual spark for me to scrutinize. While I would miss the staggering golden tints characterizing the spectacular backdrops of Wadi Rum to Petra and to Amman, these fresh set of scenery added to the high I was feeling that moment.  Coupled with a realization about how this trip is turning into notches more epic, I glazed at the backdrop with intent focus. Within moments away of tracking the path of Jesus Christ, an emotional air got through me – and knowing how extraordinary it is for anyone regardless of faith, to step into the very heart of the Holy Land – I felt all the good karma overwhelming me.

Marky Ramone Go in Old Jerusalem
The Old Jerusalem is seen at the background.

Mouthing 'OMG' while Feasting on Ōmi Beef—a Popular Wagyu Beef in Japan

November 03, 2016

A trip to Shiga prefecture in the Kansai district of Japan won’t be complete until you roll your tongue on the mouthwatering Ōmi beef the region is known for. Billed as one of the top three kinds of Wagyu beef in Japan—along with Matsusaka beef and Kobe beef—Ōmi beef is also considered as the oldest beef brand in Japan. Accordingly, Omi Beef is sourced from the Japanese Black (Kuroge Washu) beef cattle breed that make up for over 90% of all Wagyu raised in Japan.

Jordan | A Slow Stride into the Lost City of Petra

October 29, 2016

“A rose-red city half as old as time,” poet John William Burgon has said of it in his 1845 Newdigate Prize winning poem Petra.

Concealed from the rest of the world for many centuries before it was rediscovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812, the ancient city of Petra stands out for its rock-cut architecture where old settlements, royal tombs, temples, and palaces were directly hewn out of massive rock walls.

Levy Amosin

The Unlikeliness of Being a Speck in the Otherworldly Wadi Rum | Jordan

October 28, 2016

The landscape of Wadi Rum almost empties your soul of worldly worries. Looking at the immense rolling hills entwined with chiseled canyons and sand dunes blemished by camel footprints, one is reminded of the words of British archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat Thomas Edward Lawrence more famously known as Lawrence of Arabia, when he described Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing, and God-like.

Things to Do in Universal Studios Osaka, Japan

October 20, 2016

What does it feel like being Harry Potter for a day? Or chasing bad guys hopping from one building to the next ala Spidey? All that plus a lot more becomes a reality inside the magical world of Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. Japan has become a popular travel destination for Filipinos in recent years mainly because of the appeal of its rich culture and traditions, sumptuous cuisines, efficient mass transport system, neat cities and theme parks that blows your mind with unending thrills and excitement.

The Madaba Mosaic Map in Saint George Church | Jordan

October 12, 2016

When I was a kid, I’ve gotten used to completing mosaic puzzles my parents love to buy for me. I guess, that’s where I started visualizing places as most of the pictures I solved where of mountains, oceans, cityscape and even world maps. This is the reason why upon learning that our first stop would be in a church featuring an ancient mosaic map of Jerusalem and its surrounding biblical places, my enthusiasm was further buoyed. 

the entrance to Madaba Mosaic Map in Saint George Church
Saint George Church in Madaba

6 More Isolated Beaches To Visit In The Philippines

October 11, 2016

Traveling around the Philippines provides travelers endless opportunities to detach oneself from the bustle of big cities. The moment one hits the road, the chances of wandering into an isolated location increases rapidly as the many charming towns along the way could be gateways to exotic beaches. If you’re looking for the perfect place to enjoy the tranquility of Mother Nature, here are six secluded locations where you can lie down on the sand and bask under the azure-colored sky.

list of Secluded beaches in the Philippines
Guess where is this beach in the comment section

The Great Food Raid in Nagoya and its Surrounding Prefecture

August 31, 2016

The country of Japan always ranks high among the best food destinations in the world. Even prior to setting foot in this land of the rising sun, every time I see myself circling buffet tables I always dive first on the Japanese food section, filling my plate with all sorts of Maki rolls and sashimi. When the Ramen craze hit town, I made it a point to try out one Japanese restaurant each week and order a different ramen flavor. Even though I am hundred thousands of miles away from the real thing, my worship of Japanese cuisine mirrors cult-like proportion.

Asari Kamamabushi Gozen Meal

Interview with a Backpacker: Journeying James Betia

August 27, 2016


THE backpacking culture in the Philippines has grown significantly in the last few years. Coinciding with this development is the emergence of many travel bloggers who have peppered the social media with inspiring travel narratives and images of picturesque destinations.

James in East Timor

Eco Hotel Panglao, Bohol: A Charming Green Abode in the Lively District of Alona Beach

August 12, 2016
After a rugged night missing out on much needed slumber I arrived in the province of Bohol under sunny skies – barely escaping the wild weather brewing in Manila. I have been looking forward to a return trip to the island of Panglao and as I survey the scenery along the way I can feel sleep starting to take a grip of me. The idea of resting would soon come as I arrived at the doorsteps of Eco Hotel and was handed my room key fixed in a small wine cork. The amiable front desk staff smiled and welcomed me instantly. Preparing to nap the remaining morning I hurriedly entered my room – a King Studio nestled beside the garden side, only to be greeted by an interesting set of interior fixtures; the eco bricks adorning the walls of the shower room, the headboard made of reclaimed woods, up-cycled wine bottles turned into hanging light fixtures, a framed art work featuring intertwining tree branches and the wooden based aesthetics made from refurbished furnishing - all combined to give the room a unique and Earthly vibe.

Desert Glamping at Sun City Camp | Wadi Rum, Jordan

August 09, 2016

My first time spending a night in the desert was in Jaisalmer the day before Holi Festival in 2014. It was a wonderful experience sleeping on just a single mattress laid out over soft fine sands—under a canopy of stars. I would have been fine with a similar simple set-up for our accommodation in Wadi Rum. But man oh man, imagine my surprise upon seeing the place we would camp that night. It was like straight from a folk tale from Arabian Nights.

Cruising a Narrative in the Backwaters of Kerala

July 23, 2016

Almost lost and rendered inconspicuous in the stirring narrative of Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things”, the famed backwaters of Kerala left a mark in my imagination, and eventually contributed to my fascination and obsession of visiting the country of India. After the travel Gods blessed me with a two-fold opportunity to venture into this culturally rich and often misunderstood nation, I have also – at both times, managed to witness the sultry setting of these famed backwaters – where the unforgettable characters whom Roy has created; shaped their own ‘social space’, and nurtured the bonds between each other to deepen. 

Nacpan Beach: the Last Starry-eyed, Lovestuck Journey of the Previous Chapter | Palawan

July 07, 2016

How do you recall a trip with a special someone who is no longer in your life? As someone who now belongs to the plethora of people who came and went, leaving only traces of their presence? As a travel writer, I never abandon narrative because I need to write about a place I've visited in the past. In this case, a location where we spent the happiest chapter of our brief relationship. For better or worse, it entails digging with bitter overtones at fond memories.

Sunset in Nacpan Beach
Approaching Sunset

My Return Trip to the Heritage and History Bursting Plains of Bagan, Myanmar

July 06, 2016

As a traveler I usually embark on journeys to places I have never been to before. This rule though, comes with a few exceptions. Among the places I have returned sooner than I expected was Bagan in Myanmar. I always feel I have some unfinished business after I arrived home from my first trip there in March 2013. The itch to resolve that became the sole reason why exactly three years later – I penciled a plan for yet another jaunt to this ancient city. This time, I arrived as a solo traveler and armed with a lengthier period of time in exploring this olden city crawling with centuries-old temples and pagodas.

Temples, pagodas and monasteries of all sizes dominate your view. I spent a number of afternoons parking my e-bike on a random spot and striding aimlessly until I discover obscure ruins where I will find a quiet time to be alone with my thoughts

Caliraya | A Weekend Nature Rush at Aquascape Lake Caliraya

July 05, 2016

of Glassy Lake, Floating Cottage, Watersports and then Some

Nothing could come very timely than a chance to escape Manila’s gloomy weather. A typhoon just whizzed by the city and left a somber mood as bleak as the gray skies. An hour of buzzing through the southern highways leading to Laguna has revealed a sunny set of blue skies. “The weather is looking great, I thought it would ruin our trip” my friend Faith excitedly tells me as she steers the wheel of her car. Earlier in the week, an invite from Aquascape Lake Caliraya popped up on my inbox inviting me to visit their “small nature haven” located in the scenic surroundings of property at Eco-Saddle in Caliraya Lake. After a brief online introduction I said “Yes” and instantly, images of the lake stemming from earlier journeys to that part of Laguna came flashing back to my mind.

floating cottage at Aquascape Lake Caliraya
The Floating Cottage of Aquascape Lake Caliraya

Sending an SOS to the World to Save our Seas | La Union

July 04, 2016

I always associate the swell-filled beaches of La Union to a chill weekend – that’s why when an opportunity presented itself to go back, I quickly grabbed the chance. I remember when I was still working in a conventional office, I would head out to this place just to let my occupational burn-out simmer. I tried learning surfing to the point of passing beginner’s stage but unlike riding a bike, learning to surf takes continuous practice. Next time I found myself trying to get stoked over a surfboard in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur, I crashed and swallowed nothing but sea water. 

View of the AG Sano-created Sand Art from above

Nomadic Experiences in Print

June 30, 2016

When I started this travel blog in 2008, I merely saw it as an avenue to branch out from my nonsense writings on my personal blog. I was not even traveling much at that time other than the normal summer excursions to provinces located within a 3-4 hour radius of Metro Manila. However, along the way I've become more and more fascinated with the idea of traveling as I recount how it all started on this blog's "About Me" page. Anyway, other than the two to three folds increase on the numbers of my travels around the Philippines, other rewards and opportunities soon followed - one of which was the chance to contribute an article for a local travel magazine.

The Ruins of Caesarea Maritima | Israel

June 30, 2016

Before proceeding to Mount Carmel in the city of Haifa, we made a pit-stop at the ruins of an ancient city founded by Herod the Great in 25 BCE. The Caesarea Maritima is an ancient city situated on the coast of Mediterranean Sea on the edge of Sharon Plain. Despite being flattened by passage of time with scattered ruins today, this old city formerly known as Strato's Tower, still abounds with historical remnants of a glorious past.

Caesarea Maritima

Finding a Discounted Hotel Rate Using the Traveloka App

June 30, 2016

There was a series of meetings I needed to attend to in Manila and look for Apostille services – both for work and leisure (no, it isn't Tinder date) so I decided to examine numerous options online to find an affordable hotel located at the heart of Manila city. I tried all the popular online booking sites and was ready to make a reservation when I chanced upon an advertisement of Traveloka in facebook.

A few moves of a thumb and you're on your way to finding the best deals with Traveloka

A Lonesome and Pleasant Retreat at Bagan Lodge Resort

June 26, 2016

Feeling the chilling wind of 4:00 am Bagan I walked gingerly towards the front desk manned by a drowsy staff. I momentarily feared intruding on his quiet time when he suddenly rose from his chair and displayed a wide smile upon noticing my presence. “Welcome to Bagan Lodge do you have a reservation?” he asked me as if it is a normal occurrence for a guest to walk in during such ungodly hours. “Ah yes” then I told him my name. “Oh you are the travel blogger from Philippines” he trails his speech with an animated demeanor. I sighed a big relief learning with finality that they are indeed sponsoring my three nights stay in Bagan.

Bagan Lodge Resort

Extending our Nature Spree to Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge | Samar

June 11, 2016

Fresh from a two-day shindig at Kalanggaman Island, we pit-stopped for a night in Tacloban City to load up on Giuseppe’s pizza and pasta. The next morning, we all hurried out of bed just before sunrise planning to cross an iconic bridge and kayak another one. Since we’ve all been to San Juanico Bridge before, we decided not to stop and proceed directly to the town of Basey, Samar. Known for its local industry of banig (mat) weaving, Basey is also the jump-off place to Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge Park.

The water was so inviting here

The Quiet and Colonial Ambiance of Hotel by the Red Canal | Mandalay, Myanmar

May 20, 2016

As the customary way of commuting in Myanmar, upon our arrival at the bus terminal we then boarded a Japanese pick-up truck they called as “lain-ka” (line car) – that will deliver us to our respective hotels / hostels. Already finding my seat at the spacious 12-seater back of the truck along with four other Western travelers, the driver who is pointing a finger at me recited aloudYou will be the first. I reckoned Hotel by the Red Canal – my accommodation in Mandalay, will be the first destination along the route. I nodded my head as I look forward to taking a short rest before meeting in person, a Filipina expat I met through Tinder.

Mandalay Myanmar
Hotel by the Red Canal's Spice Garden dishes a stellar feast

Learning the Art of Creating Food Replicas in Gujo Hachiman, Japan

May 20, 2016

Even though food replicas are a common sighting upon entering most Japanese restaurants, I often give zero care at its creation process nor its origin. Totally lost on me are the amount of craftsmanship and skills required to mold each food replica items from drippings of wax. Joining the Cebu Pacific Nagoya Familiarization trip changed all my indifference towards this form of art. I got the opportunity to learn more about this inventiveness when we made a pit stop at Gujo, Hachiman to visit the Iwasaki Mokei or otherwise known as the “Sample Village Iwasaki”.

Stratworks' charming Kezia holding her lettuce creation

Backpacker’s Home Away from Home: Travelers Share their Favorite Hostels

May 10, 2016

No thanks to filmmaker Eli Roth, Hostels have become a popular choice of accommodation for backpackers in the past several years – largely due to word of mouth from seasoned travelers, who have sworn about its homey ambiance. I remember my first ‘hostel’ experience during my first trip abroad in 2007 wasn’t nowhere near any good. Bed bugs, dirty linens and snoring dorm-mates had me and my brother awake most of the night. That however, didn’t discouraged me from staying at other hostels as I amass miles on the road. Doing so, also helped stretched my travel budget and I’ve come to experience the best of what a lot of these establishments has to offer aside from economical accommodation. Hip and trendy interior, a lively common area where I get to hang out with other travelers and most of all; travel advice I get from the staff – who in some cases are experienced backpackers too. Wanting to learn if I share the same love for everything ‘hostels’, I asked fellow travel bloggers about their most memorable hostel stays. 

Where to Stay in Camotes Island: Mangodlong Paradise | Cebu

May 05, 2016

After a day filled with exploration and feasting on local cuisine, we finally settled down to our home in Camotes Island. Along with fellow travel bloggers and friends from the Tourism Board of the Philippines, I welcomed the chance to rest my feet and savor the day’s experience lounging by the beach. Good thing, our resort: Mangodlong Paradise is situated just in front of a white sandy beach. Chill time has now commenced, I told myself as we check-in to our separate rooms.

Mangodlong Paradise  in camotes island
Blues everywhere. The good kind of blues

Keep Kalm at Kalanggaman Island

May 04, 2016

Bunched along with the other passengers inside a cramped up van I awoke at the sight of blue waters edging the shorelines of Western Leyte. I suddenly felt inching closer to my destination. I sent out a text message to my friend Gaye “I think I’m 20 minutes away from Pamplona”. Dizzy from my ride I meant to write “Palompon”, a thriving municipality gifted with a fertile coast that also serves as a jump off point to Kalanggaman Island.

drone shot of Kalanggaman island
Kalanggaman Island\s trail of beauty

Padyakan sa Bataan: Pedaling Enthusiasts Race through the Scenic Loop of Mariveles

May 03, 2016

It was during the fad of phony Facebook events such as “Suntukan sa Ace Hardware”, “Bardagulan sa National Bookstore” when I received an invitation to cover a cycling competition called “Padyakan sa Bataan”. I though it was too good to be true, but it turned out legit. Bataan has been holding this cycling event annually for the past few years as an activity to accompany the Araw ng Kagitingan celebration every month of April.

Killer Loop of Mariveles Bataan

Poler Express: Falling in Love with the Great Outdoors

May 01, 2016

I was first introduced to the great outdoors living from one tent to the next, hiking from one mountain to another as a member of the UST Mountaineering Club during my college days. To this day, I can still clearly remember the sight of the cloudless sky at night inhabited by glittering stars, and hearing nothing but the buzz of insects around us. I became hooked to that kind of life that it comprised all of my wonderful college memories more than my academic endeavors itself.

#CampVibe Campsite

Ferra Hotel: My Happy-Hour Enclave in Boracay

April 06, 2016

It took me a couple of nights before I adjusted to the wild pace of Boracay's nightlife. I spent my first few days just chilling at station 3, watching the sunset with an ice cold beer on hand and hanging out with a friend and meeting new mates as well. By the time I transferred to my second home in the island, the petite and modern looking Ferra Hotel, I was just starting to adapt to the magical 'happy-hour' vibe of the island.

facade of Ferra Hotel
The Post-Modern Look of Ferra Hotel's facade

Meet the Participants of This Year's Cebu Pacific #JuanForFun Backpacking Challenge

April 01, 2016

Fifteen college students belonging to five teams are on their path to becoming afflicted with a good addiction. Becoming travel junkies is just around the bend for these lucky 15, as they experience adventure in this year’s Cebu Pacific #JuanForFun Backpacker Challenge. Just like in the previous editions of #JuanForFun, Cebu Pacific is pushing the envelope once again by adding additional spice, to make this year’s challenge a more exciting one. Returning are celebrity coaches; musician Champ Lui Pio, Internet star Bogart the Explorer, and travel writer Jude Bacalso. They will be joined by first-time coaches; actress, singer and blogger Saab Magalona, and TV host and VJ Robi Domingo.

Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham: Leading the Charge in the ‘No-Frills’ Hotel Industry

April 01, 2016

Do not be fooled by which category Microtel Inn and Suites fell into; it’s ‘no-frills’ concept isn’t a giveaway for you to expect less coziness—when in fact, theirs is a hospitality brand that is blazing the trail in providing affordable yet comfortable accommodation in the country. As evidenced by their numerous branches dotting strategic locations all over the country--Microtel maintains that consistent quality that has guests opting for more return visits and new travelers such as myself, discovering and experiencing their signature friendliness with gusto for the first time. 

Boogey-ing to the Raucous Beat of the Ati-Atihan Festival

March 21, 2016

I awoke at the first instance of sunlight on a Saturday morning, keen to witness the colorful street parade of the contingents, whose snaring drums already started to reverberate across the town of Kalibo. Joining some friends from Air Asia and fellow media members, we marched to the rendezvous point of the participants and I was quickly greeted by a snowballing euphoria. All around us were men, women, and children adorned in colorful costumes and face paint, all eager to put on a show. Even a day away from the highlight, I already felt the Ati-Atihan reaching fever pitch. “This is going to be a rocking weekend,” I told myself.

Levy Amosin in Ati-Atihan Festival

A Date with Daet (Camarines Norte)

March 10, 2016

Camarines Norte is more than Calaguas and Bagasbas. Here, places off the beaten track to explore:

If the map of the Philippines were a banquet table filled with a variety of cuisines, the Bicol region would be where the cheese section is. Always overlooked, but as every foodie agrees, one should never miss this part of the table. The same philosophy applies to this region situated at the tail end of the island of Luzon. An often unnoticed province belonging to this region, Camarines Norte lies quietly, waiting to be discovered—either by transient itinerants on their way to Mayon Volcano in Legazpi or the whale shark watchers en route to Donsol, Sorsogon. To the few who stop by, Camarines Norte’s tourism trail only consists of the surfing spot in Bagasbas and the Calaguas and Mercedes group of islands, disregarding the fact that hidden among its rustic towns are the many jump-offs to more pristine islands and adventure sites.

Approaching Calalanay Island

Creekside Makati | Hotel’s Gritty Character, Good Location and Other Happenstances Equated to a Good Stay

March 08, 2016

If looks could fool I would have to say Creekside Makati Hotel definitely pulls a fast one on you. It did just that on my first impression of the place, as I stood downstairs while asking myself if I am at the right building. It reminded me of old apartments I’ve seen in movies where cops would always bust open the door to catch a suspect. After confirming with a cigarette vendor lingering outside, I learned that Creekside Hotel situates on the second floor of this 80’s-looking establishment in Amorsolo Street. A few steps away from the equally nostalgic-inducing Makati Cinema Square.

The Entrance of the hotel leads you to a cozy and spacious reception hall

Lima Park Hotel Presents: 2016 Philippine Hobie National Championships | Batangas

March 03, 2016


The clear blue sky calls for all sorts of outdoor activity. With the calm Taal Lake spread out in front of us, one would think a Zen fishing trip is in order. Nope, its even better. Because other than the scenic lake, dozens of colorful Hobie Cat—small sailing catarman made by the Hobie Cat Company—were neatly docked on the shore fronting Taal Lake Yacht Club. These sails and its respective sailing crews were gathered for the Lima Park Hotel 2016 Philippine Hobie National Championships.

Sara Abdollahi