Tag Archives: travel

Mad about travel

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A number of my friends get their high from running or climbing. Most ladies I know get theirs from shopping. While some from a quick caffeine or chocolate fix.

I go mad over travel.

From scouring the best beaches to discovering adventure travel. From spending a lazy afternoon perched on the hotel balcony to getting that insane rush off daredevil what-nots. From the side streets to the main thoroughfares, from the flea markets to the big shopping malls, from the recesses of the underground to the peaks of mountains.

I go mad over travel.

Indulge your inner wanderer. Go on and hop on your friend’s ride to anywhere. Go on and board the next bus trip to anywhere. Go on and get those fingers working on the latest promo flights to anywhere.

I just did. :)

Credit: Photo owned by fellow lakwatsera Sarah Palmero.

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Manabu for a day

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Manabu Peak

Short for Mataas na Bundok, Manabu Peak is an easily accessible dayhike destination. It has an MASL of 760+ and a total trail length of 4.7 km.

The trail is interestingly shaped like a rosary with Manabu’s signature big white cross aptly capping the peak.

Perfectly manageable for beginners. The trail is visible and established. Save for a few forks here and there, it is possible to trek Manabu without a guide. If my memory serves me right, just remember to always take the right forks when going up, and (logically) the left forks when going down.

To get there by public transportation, ride the Lipa- or Tanauan-bound JAC or JAM Lines and specify that you will be alighting at the Fiesta Mall (more specifically the Lipa Memorial Park along the highway). A 100-peso tricycle ride will take a group of three to Sulok, Brgy. Sta. Cruz in Sto. Tomas. It will take you twenty minutes on the tricycle to get to the jumpoff point. Alternatively, for bigger groups, you can hire a jeepney to take you to Sulok.

A registration fee of Php15.00 is collected by the barangay. (Un)Fortunately, since our hike was on a Sunday, the tanods were enjoying their (work)day-off. :) Some useful pieces of information about the tanods: 1. pay the exact amount as some regulars say they are not in the habit of giving you change for big bills; 2. take down with a shroud of doubt the mobile number they will give upon registration as it is apparently a dummy according to my friend, and; 3. sympathize with the famous barista, Mang Perying, as he launches a spiel on how seemingly useless the collection of registration fees is since it is not the barangay who maintains the trails to the peak, but the residents like himself.

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Saigon on the move

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Metropolis on the move

The former capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) is a bustling developing urban center for the average adventure-driven traveler. Colonial structures and rugged buildings comprise the skyline. Motorbikes dominate the streets. Drivers speed through pedestrians and traffic lights. Nonetheless, tourists flock this city. I am not saying this little because of  my Vietnam experience. :) With only a day to spare to tour the city, I can only say this much given the spots we went to.

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Kingdom of wonder

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The Kingdom of Cambodia is a popular adventure destination, especially for western visitors. Before, the only thing I knew about the old Kampuchea is Pol Pot’s communist guerrilla force and the Khmer Rouge carnage. When I was in high school, the end of conflict in Cambodia drove them slowly out of isolation and into an eventual membership in the ASEAN in 1999. On top of that, who does not remember Angelina Jolie’s (popularizing Lara Croft the Tomb Raider) action sequences in striking locations in the country?

Today, Cambodia advances in its economic development process and encourages tourism in the kingdom of wonder. Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanouk are the top cities that showcase a treasure trove of Khmer culture and heritage.

With a limited schedule, my friends and I had time to visit only Phnom Penh. As the country’s capital, Phnom Penh is the economic and cultural center of Cambodia. As visualized by their French colonizers, the city looks like a scene straight from a provincial town in France (interestingly, I’ve read it used to be called the Paris of the East).

The city is very charming in its own way (albeit, dusty, hot and humid) with its old French-style structures and classic colonial village buildings dotting the main thoroughfare, the side streets and the riverfront. The lack of a McDonald’s or a Starbucks bears witness to their status as a fairly new urban center (they do have a KFC and a Gloria Jean’s). And like other third world cities, there are enterprising locals, speeding vehicles, and persistent touts. This rough change from the usual beach and green scenery might well be why western visitors troop to this Indochina destination ala-Lonely Planet style.

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A badge for my misadventures

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What started as a fun “study” trip ended on a reckless note and misfortune of a weekend.

The highlights of my overland travel with friends were not the food trips, the walking tours, and the cities’ architectural wonders; rather, the loss of my Sea-to-Summit pouch with cash and cards, and the trip to the Ho Chi Minh police station.

Last June 12, 11:30 PM (Vietnam time), upon alighting the cab at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport for our return flight to Manila, I realized my pouch was not in its usual place in the inside pocket of my camera sling bag. A few flashbacks later, I remembered sitting on the hotel’s lobby couch nursing a headache and an uncomfortable tummy. I remembered taking it out one last time to pull out a dollar for a service tip. I remembered putting it on top of the bag. But, I did not recall placing it back in the bag as I leaned back on the couch and as we hauled our stuff to the waiting cab. With the claim of a friend who thought he might have indeed seen it on the couch, the realization hit me. I left it.  On the couch. For the first time, I left something valuable. For the first time, I did not check and recheck.

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Daguldol hiking and beaching

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San Juan, Batangas

A beach and a bundok. How can I resist it?

After an impromptu invitation by a UP friend and a frenzy of are-we-going-or-not conversations, last weekend, my office friends and I found ourselves in yet another weekend getaway. From our initial plan to go to the Hundred Islands in Alaminos to the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, we finally settled at the last minute to go to San Juan, Batangas for a beach and a mountain climbing trip.

Mt. Daguldol is located in Brgy. Hugom, San Juan, Batangas. It is a small mountain range with an MASL of 670+. Classified as an easy climb, the mountain along the coast of southern Batangas is a popular trekking destination. Accessible via private and public transportation, Mt. Daguldol appeals to both tourists and mountaineers. Apart from being only four to five hours away from the metro, San Juan is also popular for its beaches in Laiya which is a nice side trip.

To get there by public transportation, ride the RRCG buses in Buendia bound for San Juan. Unlike the Lipa- or pier-bound JAC or JAM Lines, these buses will take you directly to the town proper where you can alight at the town market. They leave at 4:00 AM, 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM. Their buses can be found near the MRT or LRT stations along Buendia in Pasay. From the town market, your group can either take the public jeepney (Php40.00 per head) or rent a van (Php650.00 per way) bound for Laiya or Hugom.

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Anawangin and the almost-wilderness

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Scenery at the back of the cove

Again, Lady Luck was on our side.

In our first pathetic attempt at a spur-of-the-moment getaway, my officemates and I brought our beach denizen arses to Pundaquit in Zambales last April 9 and 10. Our chosen spot for the long weekend used to be the mountaineering community’s hideaway. Until about five years ago, the Anawangin Cove was an unspoilt weekend destination for campers.

I have heard so much about this place and have wanted to visit it many years back. The words camping, wilderness, remote and no electricity set off each group of friends I invited.

The beach of the cove is quite interesting as it is a mix of white, brown and grey sand which gives it an ash-like appearance and texture. Another surprising feature of the cove are the agoho trees that line the beach, dot the camping grounds and grow by the banks of the stream at the back. The absence of electricity and even mobile network coverage makes it appealing for those seeking remoteness.

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Lessons from their travels

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I would like to share with you some snippets of Queena N. Lee-Chua’s Eureka! article in the Inquirer’s Learning section. It captures the very essence of why traveling opens up one’s mind and eyes to the world.

Lessons from our travels

… This is why we travel: To wake up to surf and sun heralding the start of an active day yet beckoning us to nap under the trees. To feel the wind whip against our skin as we kayak and jetski, grateful to be gloriously alive on this planet. To commune with schools of multi-colored fish in shallow water, a reminder that beneath us is a world beyond our ken. To gobble up watermelon and mangoes after a swim, our bodies craving natural sources of hydration. To gaze, almost teary-eyed, at a full moon so bright it sparkles on the water, casting a light so intense that we can see kilometers out to sea.

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Mortal sins when traveling

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Erm, not exactly. Here are a few things I learned over the years when I’m off and about. Let’s just say, I learned ’em the hard (relatively) way.

1. Travel agents and bookings
They can be a lifesaver or a pain in the neck. I used to get a travel agent when going to a place for the first time. Aside from being  convenient, a reputable agency gets discounted rates on airfares and land arrangements. Published rates almost always exclude taxes. Be sure that  before finalizing a package, all costs have been factored in. Out of habit though, I resorted to planning trips and getting rates on my own. With  the almost monthly airline promos, it’s easy to score cheap tickets. When booking a hotel, try to get a quote directly from the hotel. Check booking engines like Agoda or Hotels.com, before asking the hotel for their best available rate. Do not be afraid to ask for a discount, they may or will not give it. Based on experience, I got at most 20% shaven off the published rate.   

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A conscientious tourist

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On idleness and relaxation

Any wanderer must take the Walker’s Decalogue to heart:

1. Don’t pack your troubles in your rucksack.
2. Don’t grouse at the weather.
3. Don’t miss opportunities of friendship with man or beast.
4. Don’t walk half a yard in front of your companion.
5. Don’t overfeed your body.
6. Don’t starve your mind.
7. Don’t overwork your legs.
8. Don’t lose your temper if you lose your way.
9. Don’t leave anything behind you except a good impression.
10. Don’t take away anything except pleasant memories.
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