Travel

Shop Wonderland

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Summer: Well, you know, I guess it’s ’cause I was sitting in a deli and reading Dorian Gray and a guy comes up to me and asks me about it and… now he’s my husband.
Tom: Yeah. And… So?
Summer: So, what if I’d gone to the movies? What if I had gone somewhere else for lunch? What if I’d gotten there 10 minutes later? It was, it was meant to be. And… I just kept thinking… Tom was right.
Tom: No.
Summer: Yeah, I did.
Summer: I did. It just wasn’t me that you were right about.

Oh man. Even though it hurts so much, “500 Days of Summer” will still be my favorite movie next to The Godfather. So yeah, when I went to LA early this year I was search of a good deli to hang out in and a good coffee shop. Sadly, I am not a deli person but coffee was my forte so I was in search of the most interesting ones during my stay. But as fate would have it, I wasn’t impressed with the selection. I guess I would have to try my luck some other time.

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The World’s Best Countries for Hiking

Hiking is not only a great deal of fun, it’s also incredibly good exercise. If you’re thinking about planning your holiday in the next couple of months, why not give one of these spots a look-in?

1. The USA

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Sierra de Gredos / Nicolas Vigier

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to hiking trails in the US, with mountains littering the country from north to south. A particular point of interest to check out is the Sierra High Route in California. The best time to visit is said to be in summer or early autumn, when the snow has melted.

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Five reasons to go on a road trip for your next holiday

I have the very ambitious plan of going on a road trip and possibly backpacking (or flashpacking?) around Europe. Ambitious because there are so many things I need to plan for — pocket money, visas, outfits, toiletries, etc. — that sometimes I tend to feel overwhelmed and have to slow down for a bit. But then again, we did drive around India for hours on end. With good company, the whole journey wasn’t so bad.

But why take a road trip as opposed to flying? Honestly, road trips really aren’t my thing but I want to be able to do it once in a while.  For one, it will give me a chance to explore more and have somewhat a different type of adventure. Second, driving by the scenic route sure beats having to sit in an airplane for hours.

Are you planning to go on a road trip in the coming months? Here are five reasons to pick a driving holiday next time you want to go away somewhere:

Explore in Your Own Time

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Whatever your planned destination, driving there means you have a chance to go at your own pace, stopping anywhere that takes your fancy, rather than being tied to flight or train schedules. Mindful traveling? Then you’ll love the fact that you can see as many destinations as you want on one holiday thanks to this freedom and flexibility.

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Climbing Mt. Pongkay Prayer Mountain, Cabadbaran City

My cousin knocked on the door at 5:30 am and said, “Kira! Are you ready? It’s time to go!” I groaned, pried myself out of bed, brushed my teeth, and got dressed. I gave my Dad (who was still asleep) a peck on the cheek and I was out. My cousin Cathy and her husband Dodong said we should head out to Mt. Pongkay, the so-called Prayer Mountain, as the view up there was fantastic. Funny, I’ve spent my childhood in this city but have missed this supposed attraction that is loved by both locals and tourists.

But first, why am I in Mindanao?

Unbeknownst to many, my Dad’s side of the family is from Agusan del Norte, a second class province and deemed as the smallest in the Caraga Region. I grew up here, spending most of my summer vacations with my friends and cousins (we had a huge family back then), and I can fluently speak the dialect of Bisaya. I’ve had so many precious memories growing up here biking around the city, swimming in the local black sand beaches of Caasinan, going on road trips to Cagayan de Oro in my Dad’s pick up long before it became famous for whitewater rafting.

You could say, I’m back because I want to explore my hometown and share my discoveries with everyone. There are so many “hidden” and scenic spots in Mindanao that I hope to feature on the blog.

So, back to the Prayer Mountain. 

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I was obviously not prepared for this, my outfit is screaming: “city girl alert!”

Located in Bgy. Kauswagan in Cabadbaran City, it is approximately 15-20 minutes away from our ancestral house. You can drive a car or a scooter, though the latter is ideal so you can enjoy the crisp morning air. The best view is driving through the highway with nothing but trees and talahib on the sides of the road.

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A day with the Aeta Tribe of Zambales

Our favorite The Circle Hostel now hosts Tribes & Treks, a full-day intense tour that leads to Sitio Yangil in San Felipe, Zambales where an Aeta tribe resides. This is a regular weekend event where slots get filled up fast, so Ian and I signed up right away last November 5.

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Now, we didn’t really do any prior preps as we were thinking that this was going to be a cinch. While none of us have had any actual trekking experience that involved hours climbing a mountain (a hill in Batanes for me maybe?), the initial problem we encountered was that Ian was apparently bad with directions. The supposed 3-hour drive to Zambales extended into 4.5 hours because we were busy chatting in the car and we missed a turn.

The second problem was the trek was supposed to start at 8:00 am on a Saturday, and yet at 2:00 am we were still on the road to the hostel. You could say, Ian was terribly embarrassed and stressed out while driving while we (another passenger and I) couldn’t stop laughing about this little mishap.

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On traveling solo: What I’ve learned so far

While I travel a couple of times a year with my family, I humbly prefer traveling alone. It’s a way for me to recharge and disconnect, and also appreciate the trip itself. Bringing a friend is well and good at times (you have someone to take your photos) but with my sales job in Manila which entails meeting a lot of people, sometimes I just want to maximize my alone time and travel solo.

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What I’ve noticed though is I get all cocky and stuff when traveling by myself. It’s the best time to be adventurous plus no one is there to knock some sense into me, which resulted to these very memorable experiences:

  • When I encountered 6-foot waves in succession for the first time and wiped out. I seriously thought I was going to die!
  • When I wanted to DIY so I rented a boat and went on a private tour to Balicasag Island. I was accompanied by two boatmen whom I had only met that same day, referred by my tricycle driver. Balicasag was an hour away on rough seas, and take note it was my first time in Panglao — I had no friends, no relatives on the island. You could say, my guard was up the entire trip.
  • When I drove a scooter up and down the mountains in Tablas Island, Romblon. If I became overly confident and missed a turn, I would’ve fallen off the cliff. Once again, I was way in over my head. I had to make a call immediately upon reaching the highway because I was so happy I had made it.

Looking back, some of these still make me laugh out loud while some were learning experiences that taught me to become more discerning. Although safety precautions when traveling are pretty standard, women just have to be extra critical and alert especially when exploring a place for the first time.

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