Nomadic Experiences of 2016

I started 2016 with a craving for obliteration and in search for a riot. In a figurative manner yet tilting slightly into literal boundary. I was rebounding from yet another failed shot at a relationship. As I hear comforting words from friends who remained, murmurs of an old saying that slices through among kindred souls, rang loud and clear; “there’s nothing traveling cannot fix”. So there it goes - the road pointed me the way and I shuffled my feet, moved on and embraced the year with a newfound appetite for life.

Jump shot in front of the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
2016 amidst all of the world’s problems and sufferings, became a year of wondrous images for myself – filling my memory vault to the brim - on and off the road, I relished at the company of new friends, nameless strangers and even prospective lovers that came and gone. More importantly, the places I visited took the starring role, as I continued doing the thing I love the most; traveling.

January under the stars listening to beating hearts and pounding drums

A couple of travel writing assignments had me covering windswept little boats sailing in Taal Lake, to the boisterous and colorful Ati-Atihan festival in Kalibo. After which, a camping trip to the beautiful sandbar of Kalanggaman had me and a few close friends; downing a bottle of vodka over conversations that lingered deep into the night – until we sat and stared at the spectacular nighttime skies filled with stars. 

Kalanggaman Island
February goes back to solo on the road and a return to Bagan

The end of the love month of February had me starting my journey to Singapore before returning to Myanmar passing by Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. Once again, the friendly thanaka-covered faces of the Burmese people made me feel at home.

"We've only just Bagan"
March in the party island for the first time and meeting Linda

Another writing assignment took me to a beach camping trip  in Bataan and flying to the party island of Boracay a few days after.  A week under the sun and staring the magnificent sunset of the island took a backseat to a chance meeting with Linda. The story stays at it is – but remains open to revision depending on future events (which involves heaps of things happening in serendipity starting with getting a Schengen visa). 

Boracay with Mia, Mayan and Linda
April went hiking and into the island where ‘Palo Sebo’ was played

Explored a waterfalls in Bataan with fellow travel bloggers and new friends from the Bataan Tourism Office. Another trip to Cebu had me traveling into the island of Camotes and for the first time witnessed the Filipino traditional game of Palo Sebo.

A game of Palo Sebo in Camotes Island

May walked the way of Jesus Christ’s cross in Israel, scaled Mount Sinai and jumped for joy in front of the Pyramids in Egypt and became a speck in the otherworldly settings of Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan

A writing gig for Manila Bulletin took me to the countries of Israel, Jordan and Egypt as an embedded writer for a Holy Land familiarity tour participated by travel companies belonging to the NITAS group in the Philippines. This trip is definitely one of the best travel assignments I've ever had. 

at the Siq leading to the Treasury in Petra (Jordan)
the old city of Jerusalem is seen at the background

June came and brought me to the province of Antique

A Still feeling the high of the Holy Land, I welcomed the month of June by packing my backpack to the province of Antique. Upon arriving, I quickly found myself adoring its natural gifts in the forms of white sandy islands, forested mountains, wild rivers, picturesque rice terraces, towering waterfalls and quaint towns. If there is one underrated province in the Philippines one needs to see, it should be this one. 

Things to do in Seco Island
Baking rocks in the hot sun @ Seco Island

Kruhay under the sun. 

July dished a double dose of weekend fun in the great outdoors 

Then came July. I got to spend a couple of weekends on a nature trips to two solid destinations in Luzon. I traveled with college friend Faith to Lake Caliraya where we stayed at this beautiful floating cottage. The next, next weekend, I met new friends as I joined April and her TripKada buddies to an daylong excursion to Minalungao Natural Park. 

Faith Calimlim
The glass-like Caliraya Lake

August had me hanging out at the island of the Giants

I finally set foot on Gigantes Island in the province of Iloilo. We feasted on scallops and other fresh seafood while setting out on an island hopping tour of the archipelago dotted with islets and a hidden lagoon. Upon returning to Manila, I rode shotgun with Travel Concierge's Ride Along Motorcycle Tours to the city of pines. 

Aph Cruz
Cabugao Gamay Island

Sara Abdollahi
Get your motor running

September was a return to the land of the rising sun kind of month

A year after my first trip to Japan where I found myself walking aimlessly fascinated on the streets of Tokyo, I once again was gifted by the travel Gods with another opportunity to explore its wonderful culture and historic sights to another round of satisfying wandering particularly in Kyoto and Nara

Ayi Del Rosario
at the Tori gates of Fushima Inari-Taisha

Koryn Iledan and Jomie Naynes
Feeding a deer with a piece of cracker in Nara

October taught me that cruising isn't only for the rich and a-mous. 

I was fortunate to have landed a 5-day writing assignment covering cruise ship travel. Doing so, I have observed that most guests aren't the retired ones living on rich sums of pension money as most passengers were of families and young professionals who saved up for a holiday on the high seas. I also learned that with many cruise companies operating nowadays, there's a lot of great deals even a bloke like me can also afford—thus making cruise ship traveling not only exclusive to wealthy holidaymakers anymore. 

Audrey Trinidad
With fellow travel bloggers aboard Star Cruises Superstar Gemini

November ushers my first ever business class flight to Bangkok and to Chiang Mai plus an encounter with cute little crawlies

Flying business class even for a short 4-hour flight to Bangkok and then another 2 hours to Chiang Mai was a welcome departure from my usual journeys aboard low-cost airlines. First, there's overflowing wine, better food and spacious leg spaces and bed-convertible seats. Those were just a small part of what became a super fun media trip to Chiang Mai blessed with great company among fellow travel writers and new friends from Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways. 

Jamie Fournier
with fellow travel writers, friends from TAT and Thai Airways. And yes, that's Tim Yap with us

That same month, I got to meet the most adorable creatures on Earth: little newly-hatched sea turtles. I saw them being set free to the ocean during the Pawikan Festival in Bataan. Despite only less than 10% of hatched sea turtles survive into adulthood, it was still a good experience seeing them crawl into their natural habitat. 

Levy Amosin and Colz Vidal
Take care out there. Survive and come back to hatch more eggs please

December took me from sea to summit and back at the beach again 

I capped the year with a few trips to the ocean, the highlands of Luzon and back to the sea again. Got invited to spend a couple of nights at Utopia Resort in Puerto Galera with a few friends on the first week of December. Several days later, I joined Meaningful Travels PH in their outreach slash tour in Barlig, Mountain Province where we mixed exploration, cultural learning and sharing of blessings such as school items for the local elementary students. Just before 2016 ended, I joined a friend to attend for a pre-New Year's concert in La Union and spend a few days beach bumming with a cold beer on hand. 

And just like that, 2016 was a WRAP. 

Karla Ramos
View from the veranda of our cabin

Sophie Gianan
The rice terraces of Barlig