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. 

'Feeding one of the many Deer with deer cracker

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.

The Old Jerusalem is seen at the background.

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 projects a unique attraction highlighted by its rock-cut architecture where old settlements, royal tombs, temples, and palaces were directly hewn out of massive rock walls.

The Unlikeliness of Being a Speck in the Vast Otherworldly Setting of Wadi Rum

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.

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.

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

Eco Hotel Panglao, Bohol: A Charming Green Abode Smack 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.

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 and Calitang Beach: One of the Last Starry-eyed, Lovestuck Journeys of the Previous Chapter

July 07, 2016

How do you recall a trip with a special someone who is now out of your life completely? As someone who now belongs as among the surfeit of individuals who came and left – leaving only traces of memories? As a travel writer I resort nothing to narrative abandonment, as I need to write something about the place I visited in the past. In this case, a place where we spent the happiest chapter of our brief time together. For good or for ill, even it means digging with overtones of bitterness, at fond remembrances.

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 Eco Saddle; of Glassy Lake, Floating Cottage, Watersports and then Some

July 05, 2016

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 the Cottages and Many More team popped up on my inbox inviting me to visit their “small nature haven” located in the scenic surroundings of 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.

The Floating Cottage. Photo credit: WindowSeatPH

Sending an SOS to the World to Save our Seas

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.

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.

Resorts World Manila

June 10, 2016

Resorts World Manila is fast becoming the hottest attraction for leisure and entertainment in Asia. It has world-class facilities, from modernized musical theaters, to the best in the cinema technology to being the best venue for high rollers on its state of the art casino floors that is up to par with some of the world’s largest casinos. Comprising three floors of slot machines and table games, it has indeed become one of the best hotels and casinos resorts in Asia. Before you go to a real local casino, you can spend some time to practice online in some casinos sites. That way you will get to know how it works, how to play, get familiar with the various games they have, and maybe even win real money.

Enjoying 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.

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. 

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.

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

Cebu Pacific marks 5th Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge with biggest prize yet

April 30, 2016

A "1-year unli-flights for winning team". Yes, you read that right. One year of jet-setting across all CebPac destinations to satisfy your wanderlust. 

Cebu Pacific (CEB), the Philippines’ leading airline, kicks off its Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge season dangling the ultimate travel prize for students – a one-year travel-all-you-can pass for the winning team!

Team Juan Big Fight: Aaron Crisostomo, Asia Wy, and Kyle Favis of Ateneo de Manila University conquered heights and were hailed as the Ultimate Backpackers in last year’s Juan for Fun. 

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.

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.

8 Things Not to Do in Los Angeles

April 01, 2016
Everyone thinks about celebrities and Hollywood when they think of Los Angeles. It’s a popular travel destination for both domestic and international tourists. The city is full of wonderful things to do and amazing experiences to have. You can stay in luxury vacation rentals in Los Angeles and eat at the top end restaurants. Any trip to LA promises to be unforgettable.

Photo credit: LA Times

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.

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

Starring the Eternal Splendor and Love Story of Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

February 21, 2016

Breathing fog out of my mouth, we stride the streets embraced by the darkness of the winter tail-end dawn. I feel my body shivering not because of the cold weather, but of my overflowing enthusiasm knowing only the thick walls separate me before I finally laid eyes on the Taj Mahal. It has been a long journey for me to get here – both literally and figuratively.

A Walk Along the Streets of Tokyo (part one)

February 16, 2016

The lyrics to an Audioslave song hums in my head “I walk the streets of Japan till I get lost. Cause it doesn't remind me of anything”, as I find myself on a slow stride along the random streets of Tokyo. Fresh visuals regales me everywhere I direct my gaze, regardless of the countless films I watched beforehand set on this bustling city of 13 million souls. Exploring a new city always presents the best feeling in the world – the sensation of not knowing what situates around the bend, only learning about it as I turn and walk closer, gifts me with an ultimate high always reminding me why I love to travel.

The unwavering lights of Tokyo are in rhythm to the constant movement of its people

A Leaping-Hog Day Canyoneering from Alegria to Badian

February 14, 2016

How LSS-ing on a Van Halen song helped me ‘Go ahead and jump’

Whenever I hear the word ‘canyoneering’ before, I instantly associate it with the gorges of the wild outdoors of Colorado Plateau in the United States, digging from memory the glossy National Geographic pages I read growing up. Imagine my excitement when I started hearing word buzzing from Southern Cebu about a similar activity stretching from the waterfalls of Kanlaob, Alegria going downstream to Kawasan Falls in Matutinao, Badian.

Why Go Backpacking in the Philippines?

February 10, 2016

During my movements abroad on pit stops at various hostels, I see other travelers lingering at the common area looking at the map of the country we’re in – and scanning collectively, the map of South East Asia. These are the times when everyone’s conversation touches no other topic but travel. Once the discussion turns into “where are you from?” and I tell them I am from the Philippines, most would give me a look as if ours isn’t part of the Far East. A very few brightens up their faces and would swear at the splendor of Boracay, Bohol and mention a couple of places in Palawan that stood out in their mind.

Grab a beer & chill at the many beaches such as Nacpan Beach / El Nido, Palawan

Autumn Breaks at the UNESCO World Heritage Village of Shirakawa-go

January 24, 2016

With a couple of mornings already under my belt, my Japan experience continues to defy my expectations. Imagining to be greeted by towering skyscrapers that dots the skylines of Tokyo and other cities in this country of the rising sun, our jaunt so far, impresses me with endless postcard-like countryside scenery. Directing my gaze outside our bus window, I see the gleaming landscape in the process of changing hues and colors as the lush forests from the distance starts to adapt to the incoming autumn season. As a newbie traveler in Japan, I am also experiencing for the first time the forthcoming fall season.