MUSIC VIDEOS THAT WILL MAKE YOU WISH YOU ARE TRAVELING RIGHT NOW!

With most of us still on quarantine we can’t help but to wish to be on holiday somewhere except our house. Given the situation all we can do for now is to reminisce the old days when we used to have all the freedom to be anywhere in the world. As we wait and hope for this pandemic to be over, here are the good old music and their videos to enjoy and remind us how traveling used to be.

I Got U by Duke Dumont ft. Jax Jones

This music video will remind us how good life was before pandemic happened. How a lot of us are wishing to escape that city life and spend holidays in the tropics. With the world shut down and border restrictions, how we wish we have that VR giving us a close to reality experience of the tropics. Resort living, white sand beach, swimming in a clear blue water and sipping cocktails on beach parties, you would wish you are in Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand right now where it was shot.

Perfect Strangers by Jonas Blue ft. JP Cooper

This is literally a story of travel romance a lot of backpackers can relate to. When a man and a woman traveling on their own cross paths, and ended up being together or maybe just another casual travel fling. As travelers, we can totally relate to the music video scenes where a traveller got attracted to a fellow traveler at first sight. Keep on bumping on the same stranger in different places and having mutual connection that usually ends up hitting it off together. Watching the music video makes me miss dating on the road such as a day hike, a motorbike city tour or simply just watching the sunset together by the beach. Whether it’s a casual travel fling or start of something serious, you can never deny that travel date is the best date ever.

Guns and Roses by Helly Luv & Ardian Bujupi

The first impression I got in this Kurdish song basing on the title is drugs and killing. (Please don’t come after me for thinking that way.) Thanks to Google translator and the English part of the song I came to understand it’s about working hard and luxury living. However the best thing that hooks me into the music video of this song is the location. It features fast cars in the desert, sailing in luxury yacht and simply enjoying life. This song can be an inspiration to hustle now and enjoy our travels later when everything is back to old normal.

Tropical Love by Nadro and Timmy Commerford

The lyric of this song is a message for those who want to travel long term, book one way ticket and never look back. Aside from the lyrics the views in its music video are also spectacular. Beaches, safaris, waterfalls plus a drone shot of Table Mountain in South Africa. Remember the time when you were waking up with the view from a villa in Bali Indonesia? The next thing you know you are catching a flight to South America. Ahhh, The good old days!

Sweet Chin Music by Kid Ink

This 3-minute track features Kid Ink rapping in the bustling city of Bangkok showing the busy streets filled with tuktuks, temples and hustling people.

If Life Is Too Short (Cover) by Music Travel Love

A cover song of the original 90’s soundtrack of The Mofats by Music Travel Love features the foggy view of the Pu Chi Fa Mountain in Chang Rai, Thailand. The mountain is well known for many tourists catching the glimpse of the sea mist at dawn. If you are on a hunt for acoustic versions of songs in the 90’s with top notch sceneries on their background check more of Music Travel Love videos on YouTube.

Lean On by Major Lazer & DJ Snake Feat. MØ

The 18th most viewed video on YouTube is a track shot in the beautiful state of Maharashtra, India. Although some scenes were filmed in the Golden Hall of Stockholm City Hall, the musicians showcased their modernized Bollywood dance. Major Lazer mentioned that they were always been a culture mash up and to them, India feels like some kind of special creature with one foot in history and one firmly in the future.

Came Here For Love by Sigala, Ella Eyre

Sigala and Ella Eyre released this song in 2017 and it is still on my playlist up to this date. The song says “I came here for love.” And for the love of traveling we will surely appreciate the music video that was filmed in the colorful houses of Las Palmitas neighborhood in Pachuca, México. It will remind us of the other colorful neighborhood in South America such as the Favela in Brazil and the hillside houses in Lima, Peru.

This Girl by Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners

The remix of this track has the catchiest beat of all. I don’t remember anyone not liking this song when I introduced it to them way back years ago. The music video shows a boy and girl meeting on a cruise ship then later became a couple. When the ship reached the shore, they explored the land, coming across lakes and hills. They later discovered a cave and begin dancing in the cave over a bonfire. It shows another travel fling but this time focused on young flame. Well, it can’t be helped and a lot of travelers are aware of that. The stunning place is the Greek island of Milos, in the Cyclades.

Nobody to Love by Sigma

Although the lyric of the song is repetitive, the music video exhibits a fresh view of Cape Town in South Africa. It shows two girls on a road trip enjoying life and some African dancing talent. The message of the song is probably when you got nobody to love go grab your bff and hit the road together.

*Bonus: If you are into EDM check out EDM Crusher on YouTube. The channel has great travel music video uploads.

I QUIT SOCIAL MEDIA AMIDST PANDEMIC AND HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED.

Social media has been a part of most of us since its birth in 2009. With them installed in our smartphone we can easily access up-to-date information, see people’s posts and share things about our lives. It made us keep up with each other’s lives even from far distance. However with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus it becomes an overwhelming information overload from heartbreaking news, political controversy to personal rants. Although there are still positive posts available to lighten up the day, they are easily buried when an update about the virus is uploaded.

WHY I QUIT?

As of this writing I haven’t been on social media for more than 5 months already. Since the outbreak in March social media became a toxic place to check in and unfortunately I also became that toxic person who complains about the situation. For months being locked up at home and still having an alarming rise of positive cases, I can’t help but to put my frustrations on social media. For me the more increase in positive cases means the longer it takes for us to get out from this dark tunnel we are stuck in. I became very opinionated in a bad way constantly battling with people I don’t even know on the comments section of news articles. Things got worse for me when I see my friends’ posts overseas back in June when they can already do non-essential travels domestically and nearby countries because the borders are already open for them. I know that FOMO should not be present in this time of pandemic but as much as I am happy for them doing fine and having the freedom to roam, I find myself pitiful for not being able to step outside. My mental well-being and productivity was affected badly. I realized I have to do something about it so I quit.

HOW I QUIT?

I thoughtfully consider a lot of things before quitting such as where to get updates and information. Social media is the fastest and most accessible source of up-to-date information. I still want to be informed so I watch news on T.V and read articles that appear on my Google app. I also subscribed to a local news blog in my hometown that regularly post announcements from the mayor’s office and regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) including scheduled power interruptions.  

For the moment of truth, I don’t want to just disappear online leaving my friends wondering what happened to me so I posted both on my Facebook and InstaGram that I will be taking a break from social media. I apologized in advance for any messages that I can’t read in the future but I assure them that they can reach me thru my phone number. Right after that I uninstalled all my social media accounts including Messenger and Whatsapp. I decided to include my messaging apps to experience living offline more.

WHAT HAPPENED?

CONSTANT DEBATE WHETHER TO GO BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA OR NOT

The first two weeks is a continuous argument within me if I should re-install and log in to my accounts again. I am worried if I am getting enough information or I am missing out with important ones. However, when a close friend mentioned how stressful it is to open Facebook. I figured out I am on the right track.

I LOGGED IN TWICE

I had two “cheat days” on my social media cut back. On Day 6 and 24, my two close friends from overseas were having their birthdays. I re-installed my InstaGram to send them my best birthday wishes since it is the only way we can connect. Upon receiving their replies, I immediately uninstall my account again. That way, I can save myself from any post that can trigger me because to be honest I am not yet confident that I am mentally and emotionally stable from what is happening at that time.

I GOT THINGS DONE

For a short amount of time, I was able to have my anti-flu vaccine, visit my dentist and take my glasses to my ophthalmologist. These are essential appointments I put in the back burner believing I don’t have time. But the truth is, I got distracted with the notifications that appear on my screen. I spend hours and hours browsing on social media starting when I woke up and in between my daily task not realizing how much time was already wasted.  When I quit, I got more time for meaningful task to be done and build productive routine.

MY PHONE BATTERY LASTED LONGER

During my social media detox the main function of my phone is an alarm clock for work. I still receive messages from work thru skype and e-mails so I use it to communicate with my boss and some friends. I also use it to read news from Google and watch YouTube videos on my free time at work. Surprisingly, I only charge my phone once in 2 days. I never expected my phone battery to last that long especially in the past when I used to live for social media I need to plug my phone twice a day and carry a powerbank everywhere.

I WATCHED TV A LOT

Since I started working in college, I was too busy to sit down and watch T.V. I was not a T.V- person for 10 years now. In the age of social media, we can say that T.V is not a necessity because we can now access everything on the internet and even news can now go live on Facebook or YouTube. But when I decided to live offline the only entertainment I have is the television in our living room. I watched Asian dramas dubbed in Tagalog and Filipino dramas, which I keep track of every episode. I also regularly turn on the T.V at noon to watch a noon time show that features inspiring stories of people in this time of pandemic. I discovered how I like to watch more on bigger screen than the small one on my phone.

I READ A TON OF BOOKS

I’m a reader. I grew up reading encyclopedias, dictionaries and Guiness World of Book Records. I also have a good amount of book sitting on my shelves that were hand me down by my friends and family. However when social media took over my life, they end up collecting dust and never touched simply because I prefer to read blogs on social media plus I  became more drawn into videos. When I left social media for a while, I got fascinated how fast I am at reading. I was able to finish 3 books in a month and go through all those books I have. I also became a regular customer of a Book Sale store near my place. Something I love about reading print materials is it takes me to a different world where I don’t have to worry on what is going on. I just have to go with the flow with the story I am reading and just look forward to the ending. It helps me reduce my stress and anxiety.

I RENOVATED MY PLACE

On the second month of my journey, I got inspired with all the videos of room make overs and house tours that pops on my YouTube feed. I decided to go all in and change the aesthetic of our house especially my room. For the past years, I never paid attention to my place simply because I have been constantly traveling most of the time and was never at home. With the community quarantine that is still going, I am forced to stay at home so I witnessed how our house was falling apart. With social media out of the way, I have more free time to nitpick the things to be done at home including the smallest details that needed repair. I used my travel fund to convert my old room into a functional bedroom and work space. I never thought that I have a creative side when I handed my design to the contractor for the renovation. This is by far the most productive thing I did during the whole quarantine.

I FOUND CLEANING TO BE VERY THERAPEUTIC

I am a clean and organized person to begin with but throughout this journey, I got myself into doing more household chores. I doubled the amount of housework I do with my excess time. I cleared and dusted every corner of our house and regularly cleaned the bathroom twice a week. Cleaning became my daily home workout. I felt better after getting rid of dirt. It also made me feel accomplished when I go around the house with dry and dust-free counters, tables and floors. This task is my escape from negativity of what was going on because it made me focused on making my place better without thinking of anything else.

THE RESULT

When I re-installed my accounts including my messaging apps my messages was blown by my friends who showed their concern for not hearing anything from me for quite some time. Although I’m better at handling things I saw online now I will still not be active and I will continue to log out from time to time to make way to more productive stuff and projects I am working on. Gladly, my absence in social media made me built a productive routine that I religiously follow. There is something peaceful about not knowing anything. My social media detox made me realize a lot of things. Social media is not bad at all. It is just how I dealt with it in the past. Unfortunately, I handled the things I saw badly. I focused more on the negative side than the positivity it brings. I let my insecurity won over other things I should be grateful of such as staying healthy and still having a job. Along the way, I had deep thoughts and evaluated my relationship with social media. I figured that I am okay without them. I can totally get by.  However, I also miss so many things on social media. I miss seeing and liking my friends’ posts. I miss keeping up with them. It felt so weird when I logged in again for the first time in many months. I was totally clueless of what happened to them especially when two of my friends got married and I wasn’t able to congratulate them. I started reaching out again to them although I am not as active as before. I also wanted to go back to reading useful articles about travels and watching entertaining videos. I realized that the comment section is a huge trigger to me especially when it comes to controversial news so I decided to quit reading and leaving comments on any articles to make my life at peace and also to save my time. These days whenever I see a controversial articles I just skip it to save me a lot of energy and remain unbothered.

My Life Could Be Short: How Terminal Illness in my Family Inspire me to Travel More

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“Enough!” I usually get this comment when people around me learn that I’m packing my things to leave our small town to travel again. My sister would even spill the tea to me about our neighbors and family friends including my older brothers saying that my lifestyle is such a waste of money. I got used to all of that and just try to understand since I am raised in a culture and environment where young people like me are getting a career, building their own houses and starting their own family so I just shrug them all off. I used to think like that too before I discovered my love for traveling.

I first got into traveling to break that boring work, party routine I have in my early 20’s. I booked a long weekend getaway to Thailand that turned out to be so much fun. There were many spontaneous things that happened including life changing experiences. Traveling opened my eyes and changed my perspective in many different ways. I learned a lot of things I never had in 4 corners of a classroom. I got so much to be thankful because of traveling. I matured, became open minded, more accepting and totally became non-judgmental.  But I must say I have bigger reason why I am continuously traveling.

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This is something personal and actually the main reason why I’m traveling none-stop. I don’t have good genes to begin with and three of my immediate family passed away due to terminal illness. With that, I decided to invest in two things my health and experiences on the road.

In May 1991 I was just 5 months old when my father passed away because of liver cancer. I never got the chance to meet him but I heard from my sibling that he is a kind-heart man with alcohol problems. In 2009, I just started university when my loving mother left me so I became an orphan. The same with my father, she died due to liver cancer. She’s not alcoholic but they said that her mother also died in terminal sickness. It is probably some sort of genes. The year 2015, I just got into traveling when my 37-year old sister finally said goodbye after 8 months of battling with lupus. She’s a very health conscious kind of person. She neither smoked nor drank and she loved vegetables. It just happened that she’s born with that illness.

Every time I go to doctors to get different vaccines for protection against diseases and boast my immune system, they ask me why I want to get this vaccine. I always mention to them that both of my parents died in cancer. They don’t ask any follow up question but instead they usually end up giving me recommendation for another vaccine. Recently I just finished my Cervical Cancer vaccine one of my gynecologists suggested me to get an MMR vaccine while the other wants me to get IPV also known as Polio vaccine.

Before my sister’s death, both of my parents live until their 60’s. I thought I might live that long and that’s enough for me to graduate from university, get a stable job, build a house and start a new family. It’s a very typical life routine. However because of this, I realized that my life might not be as long as my parents. As a result I started to invest in experience through traveling because if the heaven up above decide to just give me a short life at least I filled it with a lot of memories and worthwhile experiences.

WHAT HAPPENED IN MOC BAI BORDER?

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Photo by vietnam-service.com

Whenever people asked me what my most memorable experience on the road is, I always mention them what happened on December 17, 2016 while I was crossing the border from Cambodia to Vietnam. Although it happened years ago my memory of this event is still clear.

Warning: This could be a bit of a horror story and you might see it as a negative side of Vietnam. I am asking you to look at my story as a travel experience and not as a backlash.

Disclaimer: This post is not in any way throwing shade or negativity against Vietnam. I love Vietnam! It is one of my favorite countries in Southeast Asia and honestly I am looking forward to living there again in the future. I am just simply sharing my experience in crossing the Vietnam- Cambodia border.

The Border

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Photo by sunrisehotel.com.vn

Mộc Bài is an international border gate between Vietnam and Cambodia located in Tây Ninh Province, Vietnam and Bavet border gate, Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia. It is a popular and the busiest gateway from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and vice versa.

I crossed this border thrice. The first two was when I was living in Vietnam and the most recent one was when I was backpacking in Southeast Asia.

For Philippine passport holders, we are visa free for both Vietnam and Cambodia for 21 days. If you are not applying for a visa on the border then your journey will be smooth sailing because the bus assistant will do the job for you. He will just simply collect you passport, guide you with immigration procedures then finally return your passport with entry stamp. However, if you are applying for a long term visa then that’s a different story.

My Story

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I was living in Vietnam for three months with a business visa. When my visa was about to expire, I am advised to renew it thru exit/ visa run. As per my agent’s advice to leave the country and go back after few days because it will be more costly and complicated to extend my visa without leaving Vietnam.

A month before my scheduled exit my friend told me that she paid $50 for her single entry business visa in the border. I got confused because to my knowledge it should only cost $25. I entered Vietnam thru Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi with the same visa and it only cost me $25 with a receipt. According to my friend she doesn’t have a choice because she was scared that her bus will leave her on the border. This alarmed me so I contacted my agent immediately. I told her about the situation that my friend had and she promised to look into it. Two weeks later I received a call from her. She notified me that my invitation letter is ready and reminded me that I should only pay $50 in the border.

*To obtain a business or long term tourist visa you have to get an invitation letter from a travel agency. The price varies depending on what visa and the duration of your stay. As for my second visa, I opted for 3 months multiple entry business visa which cost $200 invitation letter and another $50 for the visa sticker.  It is processed in the visa desk by the immigration officer in the airport or border.

*The fees are collected in USD.

The morning before we board our bus to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam after spending 3 days in Phnom Penh, we had a chat with my friend’s housemate over breakfast. We talked about the difference of extending visas between Vietnam and Cambodia. He mentioned that in Cambodia, it is cheaper to extend your visa in the immigration office without leaving the country. He also mentioned the small corruption that is going on. According to him he should just pay $30 but he paid $40. The $10 is for the immigration officer’s tip that is pretty common. I suddenly remembered my friend’s story from last month so I quite expected that I could be charge more in the border. I decided to screenshot an English phrase in google translator to Vietnamese language, “give me a receipt”.

 At 8 a.m we took the bus to Saigon. As usual, the bus assistant collected our passports. We also gave him our invitation letters. When we reached the border at 11 a.m, he called us to take the two motorbikes waiting for us. He told us in broken English that they are his friends. They will take us to Vietnam border to get our visas. Confused, I asked him why we are going with these guys and our stuffs are still in the bus. He explained that while other passengers in the bus eat, we should go ahead because our visa application will be take some time.  My friend who is with me starts to panic and doesn’t want to go on a separate ride so we squeezed ourselves in one tiny motorbike. It was a 15-minute muddy and dusty ride. We exited the Cambodia border pretty quick but when we entered the Vietnam border that’s when the drama happened.

As soon as we entered the building our driver nodded to some guys who are waiting by the stairs. Three guys approached me and the other two went straight to my friend. They started mentioning visa so I thought they were there to assist us. But judging the way they look, I don’t think they are immigration officers. They are wearing a dirty utility or construction suit. Even though I was doubtful, I still followed them. They led us to the side where the filthy lockers full of web are located. It looked so creepy but I tried to stand it. They collected my passport and invitation letter along with my 2×2 ID picture. One of them is filling up a form with the details on my passport. The form was in Vietnamese so I don’t understand what it said. When they were done they asked me money. I asked them how much. The guy with the form wrote “$70” on his palm. As expected I am being ripped off. I told them it should be $50. I also heard my friend having an argument with the other two guys to pay $50 when it is supposed to be just $25 for her Single Entry visa. I explained that my agent told me that I should just pay $50 but these blokes can’t speak English so they gestured that my visa is Multiple Entry. I insisted that I know everything and mentioned that the airport charges $50. One of the dudes argued in broken English “Moc Bai Border different. Airport $50, OK! Moc Bai $70.” It was an endless tiring debate until I raised my hand and loudly said. “OK OK OK. $70! Fine but give me receipt!” The three guys got confused. “Receipt?” They looked at me wondering what I’m talking about. I took out my phone out and showed them the screenshot of the translator I had before. “Give me receipt!” One of them responded quickly, “No receipt. Moc Bai, receipt no.” I looked at the three of them with my roundest eyes, my resting bitchiest face with my both hands on my waist and I screamed, venting all my frustrations. “NO RECEIPT?! NO $70!” They instantly realized that I am not here to be deceived so the man holding the form said in a trembling tone to give him $1 for the form. My face didn’t change as I hand him the $1 bill. As he intimidatingly received it, he pointed the small immigration office near the creepy lockers where we were. He told me to submit all my documents there. When I turned around I saw around 40 people looking at us. They must have been bothered with the commotion I caused considering how loud my voice was. I smiled at them as a sign that everything is fine.

I lined up to the small booth. The motorbike driver followed me and asked me to pay him for the ride. With an irritated tone I asked how much. “$3” he replied I gave him 3. Instead of leaving he asked me for another $3 for my friend’s ride. “$3 for you, $3 your friend.” He said. My eyes got rounder again and place them closer to his face. Before I start saying something, he took off at the speed of light. People around me noticed it and started laughing. A co-Filipino told me that’s how it is in the border so I have to be extra careful with people approaching me because they usually take advantage of foreigners. A second later there was a tap on my shoulder. It was our bus assistant. He handed our backpacks to us. I was baffled. I held his hand and asked “Are you leaving? Wait for us. OK?” He just smiled and left. A foreign guy answered on his behalf “Don’t worry they will wait.” But that didn’t calm me because I can’t see him. Disturbed with the situation I asked around if there are buses from the border to Ho Chi Minh. Gladly, some people answered, there are and they don’t cost much but they advise me to be vigilant again of whom to inquire because some sees the situation as an opportunity to charge me three times more than the fare. After an hour or processing and waiting we got our new visa. We walked outside the building and good Lord our bus was parked on the side waiting for us. We walked in and saw dozens of annoyed people. We smiled and apologized for taking so long at the immigration and delaying the trip.

The Visa Process

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The whole visa process from standing in line, submission of documents, waiting up to the releasing of visa took more than an hour. I am considered lucky because some people had to wait longer. One of them even complained to the officer when I had mine since he had been waiting for three hours already. I felt sorry for him and I understood how he felt but I am also not sure what the process is like as they just collect all our documents and we were asked to wait for our name to be called. While waiting I had a chat with some Filipinos whose been crossing the border many times. They told me that Asian passports are given more privilege and processed faster than the others. I don’t know if it is true since I only applied for a long term visa in that border once.

 

The Scam

Regarding the scam that I almost fell into, just in case I paid $70 they will submit my documents to the immigration officer and they (scammers) promised it will be piled on top and will be the first to be processed. That is what I heard as they desperately try to deceive other people when I was observing them. The building was quite small so I can pretty much see the movement of the people. Also, I ended up paying $60 to the immigration officer without receipt. I didn’t argue since I am already tired, hungry and just wanted everything to be done.

 

My Thoughts

You might think it is only $20 and that’s a dirt cheap amount of money. However in Southeast Asia $20 is a huge amount. You can do a ton of things with that money. I’m a budget traveler so my fund is limited. If we give in paying them $20 for me and $25 from my friend, imagine how much bucks they can get in a day considering the number of people applying for a visa in the border. It will also encourage them more to continue this kind of business and corruption.

My Struggles as a Traveler during the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown

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Hooh! Where or how should I start? So, we have this pandemic that unimaginably shuts down the world. I never imagined this coming. I must admit I am one of those who took this virus lightly at first. Although I have been reading and asking my friends from the medical field about 2019 Novel Corona Virus. I must admit that I am a bit bias. I relied on sources saying it is not as deadly as SARS or MERS or at least that’s what I want to believe as I still continue to travel days before the outbreak. I even find it absurd when people online suggested a city lockdown. I thought it is not going to happen until March 16, 2020 when the Philippine President announced the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine. That is when the tables turned and my most unexpected event happened.

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I live in Benguet Province which is part of the Luzon Island so obviously I am affected by this lockdown. In our humble Municipality of La Trinidad, we are under 24-hour curfew. That means no one is allowed to be out wandering around the streets and public area with the exemption of frontliners and essential workforce. Each barangay (district) is only given ONE DAY in a week to go out to attend to their groceries, banking and medical needs from 8 am-5pm. In my district, our schedule is every Tuesdays. On Sudays it’s total lockdown. NO ONE is allowed to go out unless it’s an emergency or medical circumstance. Walking around is also not allowed as this will be considered as grounds for “Loitering” and you will be arrested when caught. When you are arrested you will pay a fine or you will be in jail for two weeks. Yes! That’s how strict it is in my hometown.

My initial reaction is quite fine. I didn’t panic and took it positively. “It’s just one month.” I thought. But that one month was extended to one and a half up to two months as of this writing and only God knows until when. There’s no assurance that we’ll all go back to normal even the lockdown is lifted. So as days and weeks pass by I noticed how I struggle a lot and raised some issues I never thought I would have when I still have the freedom to roam around.

Financial Lost

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I believe that most of us are experiencing this. In one snap, we are out of job or have our paychecks cut in order for our companies to survive. Although I am lucky to land on a project and work in-house for few weeks with a company during the quarantine period plus I have some savings aside for months of being unemployed, that didn’t give me any assurance at all. My livelihood depends on travel and the industry I am in is badly affected by this crisis. My plan to launch my business has to be put on the back burner and it is so heartbreaking since it is months of sleepless nights, hard work, and labor. I totally don’t have idea when will I get a job again and for the first time in seven years I felt financially unstable.

Being Unmotivated

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Travel is my number one source of motivation in life. I can go through months of hard labor and saving up thinking at the end of the season I’ll be packing my bags and exploring new places. But with the increase of positive cases everyday, it is uncertain when can I do this again. For almost two months of being lockdown with very strict implementation of quarantine policies I must say 70% of the time I was not productive. Before, whenever I feel unmotivated I usually go out for a walk to get some air and reward myself with milk tea but this simple joy of mine has been taken away. With that being said, I end up not doing much. My brain just shut down wasting my time looking at the ceiling for hours. I felt like I got too much time on my hand so the things I am working on can wait until I feel motivated again but that never happened. As a result I did not accomplished much.

Depression

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As a traveler, I am in my happiest when I step outside going on adventure but during the quarantine I felt caged. That’s the exact way to describe it. I have never been this sad since my mother and my sister’s passing way back years ago. It felt doomed for not having a breather. I sometimes find myself staring outside the window crying without any reason. My sleep pattern was badly affected too. I am wide awake at 2 or 3 a. m which gives me more chances to entertain my 2 a. m. thoughts. The worst part is my nightmares. I usually have nightmares about me and my loved ones caged in a hospital. It is so scary.

Communicating

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This time the best alternative to hanging out with our friends and our loved ones is through video call. I sometimes had Face Time with my friends overseas and my family for a bit catching up. However, I also find myself having difficulty talking to them. When I talk to my loved ones I just want to share positivity and good things. But, what can I share at this moment? There’s nothing going on with me compare to when I was traveling. The fact that the lockdown is such a toxic time from news, social media to people has added to my difficulty in reaching out. Some of the people that I adore are just so opinionated since we have so much time to be involved. And these ones are the main reason why I distant myself to them.  I don’t want to vent out my frustrations or rant to them. Some of them have different opinion from me and I don’t want to argue especially talking on the phone is quite different from face to face conversation. There are more chances of being misunderstood.

Dealing with Social Media

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Social media should be a good medium for information sharing, fun and inspiring others. At least that was how I see and use it during my traveling days. However, I noticed that few days before the lockdown it started to be toxic and became worse as quarantine approaches. It was full of negativity with a lot of bad news and overflowing fake news. I saw a post of a friend raising an argument regarding how deadly COVID19 is and yes, she’s up for a fight while another would always post the increased number of cases then followed by criticizing the government. I am not exempted when I made a six-word sentence comment on an article. Someone came for me throwing harsh words even criticizing my looks. I ended up deleting my comment and promised myself to NEVER give any of my two cents anymore. I also logged out but since social media is my only source of news I logged in again two days after and just unfollowed those undesirable people on my feed. Gladly, I am doing fine.

Boredom

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Admit it! Eight weeks of quarantine is too long. Even though you are the most productive person in the planet there are times that you get bored too with too much time and nothing to do. Although there are trends that went viral on the internet to ease boredom it wasn’t enough for me since I am living a complete different lifestyle before, waking up in different places doing various outdoor activities.   I am not used to following certain routine.

Fear of Missing Out

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Now this is pure selfishness you may say. I know this type of feeling should not be present during this time of crisis. The first weeks of lockdown were really bad for me. I hated it. I hated the situation and the atmosphere of it. It even added whenever I check my friends’ ig stories and posts from overseas. They say they are on quarantine but how come they can still go out and play golf, some of them would go hiking and cycling for the whole day and others don’t have lockdown in their cities at all. At that point, I started questioning how the government is handling the situation. How come other countries are not having a lockdown and their citizens are free to move around while we are locked up in our home. But then I realized we have different situations, facilities and approach from other parts of the world. I should just start trusting the process of this and do my part. To stay home! I stopped snooping at my friends’ posts and just focus on my well-being during this quarantine.

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Overall, it is not that bad at all. On the positive side, during the lockdown I learned to slow down, pause and appreciate things. I start noticing the beauty of my neighborhood which I just ignored the whole time. I made productive daily routine which includes allocating time to do household chores, watch travel movies (to keep me inspired), k-drama, read books, and work out. I turn off my phone data from time to time and only use it for a certain amount of hours per day to attend to my e-mails, updates regarding work and to check in with my friends and family. I learned to be kinder to myself. I start accepting that if I didn’t accomplish anything today so be it. There’s still tomorrow to do it. I constantly remind myself of my life mantra “If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.”

*Bonus part, I deep cleaned my room and collected more than a kilo of dust (not a joke) which will not happen if it were because of the quarantine. LOL!

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM TRAVELING

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Experience is the best teacher! I heard this for the first time when I was in high school. At that time, I just thought it is the normal cycle of life. We are born, study in school, graduate, get a job, build our home, start a family of our own, send our kids to school, grow old and eventually die. Coming from a small town in the countryside I must say my knowledge and experience in life was very limited. All the life lessons I learned are from the experience my mother, my teachers and what the church I used to attend taught me. However, things turned into 180 degrees when I started traveling. I got to learn things I haven’t learned from school and experience things I could have imagined. Some experiences are good while some are not but one thing is for sure it made me a better person.

*Disclaimer: These are all from my personal experiences that I am sharing. You may agree or not but just saying that we all have different experiences and situations in life.

Keep an Open Mind

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I was raised in a conservative environment where certain standards serve as guidance on how to live and how to act in order to fit in. As a result, I was always confused on why some things are unacceptable when I can’t see anything wrong with it. Along my journeys I met the most amazing, accepting and non-judgmental people who would say nothing but good things. I learned to see the good things in every place, people and culture. Through them I learned to be more understanding on everything whether it is cultural, political, religious belief or personality difference. We are all diverse and that is beautiful. I realized that as long we are sensitive to people around us and respectful to our unlikeness we can all get along just fine.

Being Independent

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Being independent does not only count on traveling alone but also taking good care of myself that includes some adulting stuff. Traveling to new places, living overseas and exploring the unknown taught me to be resilient and to step out of my comfort zone without depending on other people. I walk places alone, eat by myself, take care of my finances and do things on my own without worrying what other people think.  It is the best and most liberating feelings I ever had.

Cultural Sensitivity

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It irks me when people would drop comments about something better in their country versus the country or the place they are visiting. Sure, it’s very common to compare but do you know what this place or people are coming from? I heard a lot of people being so judgmental on others’ cultural practice but have you dug deeper or talked to the locals about it? Remember that these cultures that we mock were practiced millions of years ago and people are just doing fine before we even encountered it. There are cultures that are deemed unaccepted to the culture we are raised to but it would be helpful to observe and learned first before opening your mouth.

 

Proper Etiquette for Travelers

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Putting your dish away in the hostel, asking permission before you take photos on sacred sites, people and with other people, observing proper dress code at sites, greeting and smiling back at locals, asking your fellow travelers if you can upload or tag them in your photos are some examples of right conduct while traveling. Not only to leave them a good impression and being polite but also to show sensitivity to the space we are sharing and acknowledging their presence.

 

Experience over Material Things

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You must have heard this from many motivational speakers and read it from many travel bloggers but it is true and I am living by this statement. In my first year in the working world, I used to go shopping every pay check to relieve my stress and be happy. Yes, the material things I owned gave me sense of fulfillment but only for a short time. When I embarked on a journey of packing my bags and catching flights I realized that the experience I have on the road, meeting new people and learning new culture are lifetime happiness and fulfillment that I need. I also gave up my old lifestyle of collecting things and choose to collect experience that would last a lifetime. Experience, I will share to people and to my future offspring hoping it will inspire them. Experience, I will cherish and will never regret when I reminisce in my grandma days.

 

Travel Responsibly In Terms of Environmental Consciousness and Exploitation

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Something that I learned from people I met along the way and from what I see with my own eyes. Environmental deterioration is such a huge problem right now and admit it tourism play a big role in this. Being sensitive and caring for the environment is a responsibility of each and every one of us. We only have one world and we don’t wish our future generation not to witness its beauty. We have to be responsible even to our small gesture like keeping your litter until, you find a trash bin. Through the years I learned how to travel sustainably such as using eco-bags and bringing my own reusable straws, spoon, fork and chopsticks until I incorporate them to my daily life even when I’m not traveling. I know it is a bit of an effort but I consider it as doing my part to our world.

 

Another issue that we should be concern about is the exploitation of animals and people for entertainment and tourism. Most people are not knowledgeable about this dark side of tourism. It pains me whenever I see photos of elephant riding in Southeast Asia. My heart is also broken when people patronize tourist trap tours in villages run by third party agencies. I felt that I have the responsibility to educate people about responsible tourism. To my dear friends and readers anything involving animals and people in an unethical way for the sake of tourism and entertainment is not acceptable and should be banned. I am asking you to skip these activities. If it is a package tour do not choose these ones because if there are no consumers then there won’t be producers.

Disclaimer:  I am not in any way against village tours. They are worth visiting however, be sure to choose your tours well and do your research before going. Some tour agencies give very little money to the people of the village or they don’t give any benefit at all. Some ethnic minorities also are forced to do something they are against their will to attract visitors. They don’t have proper health benefit, income and education and most of them depend on the tip or “dollar money” given by tourists.

 

Realizing How Lucky and Privilege d I am

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Being able to travel is a privilege. That’s a fact especially coming from a developing country. Not everyone can be able to step outside and see the world. In my culture, most of us are obliged to help our family financially so we prioritize to support our loved ones. I am grateful for having a very understanding family who supports my decision in traveling the world. This alone is a privilege of mine. For years of backpacking, I witnessed people who wish to travel and live a similar lifestyle of mine but couldn’t due to responsibilities. I saw people having no roof above them and struggle to make ends meet day by day. I also talked to someone who gambled everything he had to leave his troubled city and trying to survive doing dead end jobs. I seated next to locals on a train ride putting a smile on their faces while batching their products to be sold in the market despite the fact that 2 minutes ago they almost pass out carrying the 60 kg sack of vegetables into the train. I chatted with a very wealthy young heir who has all the material things he wants however he is not given the time and freedom to explore the world because he is pressured with responsibilities to run his father’s business. I had numerous encounters with women crying on a plane because they have to leave their family and their children as young as 1 year old in order to work overseas and make money for their future. These situations impacted me to be thankful with what I have in life. I will quote a statement of someone when I complained how life has been rough on me in the past. He said “Stop comparing your life to others! Think about those who struggle and unprivileged who wish who has your job, your experience, your health and your ability. All your experiences on the road could be equivalent to their lifetime experience or none at all because they are stuck in something they can’t go out.” Those are the words I live by up to now. I must say I am purely happy and contented with my life right now. With these privileges that I have, I promise to stop complaining, be kinder and be more emphatic to people’s situation.

 

 

TOP THINGS TO DO IN LAOS

Laos is a favorite of mine since the day I step on it. For five years traveling in Asia and nearly touched down all the countries in the Southeast, Lao PDR stood out and has a special place in my heart. With the country’s slow pace life, kindness of people, cleanliness, simple and peaceful living, I won’t mind coming back over and over. This underrated paradise sitting in the landlocked area of China and the rest of Indochina countries has a lot to offer. From food, nature, temples, water activities and parties, you definitely can’t ask for more. When you set foot here, it will surely be part of your top destination. For my two previous journeys from the northern to the southern part these are the top things worth doing.

Chase Waterfalls

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Laos will never disappoint you with waterfalls. It has the reputation of possessing the biggest, tallest with clearest blue water worth chasing for. From Kuang Si and Tat Sae in Luang Prabang to Tat Fan twin waterfalls in Paksong Bolaven Plateau, you can’t help but to be amazed how postcard worthy the images are.

Waterfalls Entrance Fee: ₭ 10,000- 20,000 (₱58- 115)

Catch the Sunrise and Sunset in Mt. Phousi

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The most stunning ig worthy view is the sunrise and sunset of Mt. Phousi in Luang Prabang. Hiking up the temple on top of it will bring you closer to witness the huge sun rising and setting. I would advise to get there earlier because along the way you will surely stop to take photos and appreciate the overlooking beauty of Luang Prabang. Be sure to check out the temples you pass by while going up the hill and get a nice spot while waiting for the sun.

Entrance Fee: ₭ 20,000 (₱115)

Learn to Cook Authentic Laotian Food

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Isn’t it frustrating to know that you can never have authentic Laotian food again once you leave? Well, might as well learn how to make it by signing up for a cooking class. Many restaurants in Vientiane and Luang Prabang offer 4-hour small group classes. The class covers picking ingredients to the garden or local market, learning about local herbs and produce that makes the dishes flavorful and interactive know-how discussion with local chefs to gain more understanding about the dish. It is a perfectexperience especially for those who love to cook. Who knows this might land to be your next business. *wink wink

Cooking class: $60-80 (₱3000-4000)

Tubing

DSC00909-01 Tubing is one of the signature activities in Laos. Vang Vieng Province, the center of water activities offerscountless package tours for tubing. There are many ways to enjoy this activity such as tubing through a cave, chilling in a blue lagoon and half day tubing activity in Namsong River. Sitting on a tube and letting the river flow takes you is the most classic and preferred by many visitors. This activity includes different stops along the river. Each stop has drinks and games you can play. It is an opportunity to meet and bond with other travelers. Although local guides are everywhere to check on people tubing, be sure to take care and make safety your priority. Be warned that the river flow might be rough in some parts. If that happens, hold on to the rope and make a stop at the side of the river and wait for the water flow to be calm again. When you book your tubing activity, you are advised not to consume too much alcoholic drinks. Bring waterproof camera or dry bag because you will be soaked in water and will surely leave all your things wet.

Half Day Package Tour: ₭ 50,000 (₱286)

Whole Day Package Tour with Lunch: ₭ 200,000 (₱1,150)

Party For Free in Vang Vieng

C360_2020-03-02-09-53-25-572-01For party goers out there Vang Vieng is for you. It is not only known for water activities but for parties too. It is comparable to our very own Boracay (before the close down). During the day, visitors are busy doing their water activities and at night the main road is lit with music from different bars and pubs. Two of the most popular are Sakura Bar and Vivo Pub. They offer customers wide range of upbeat music and FREE UNLIMITED whisky during their happy hour. Yes! You read it right. Drinks are free and unlimited from 9 to 10 pm in Sakura Bar and 11 pm to 12 midnight in Vivo Pub. They are just few meters away from each other. So be sure to arrive at those bars during their happy hours. Just head to the bartender and grab those free glasses.

Learn their History at Lao National Museum

DSC00850-01If you are a museum person and curious about how Laos evolved through the years, check out Lao National Museum in the capital city, Vientiane. Learn their colorful history, from colonial time to their current leadership. How Laotians started their country, its struggles, how they end up after the world war and their current political situation. It is mind blowing and very interesting. Reading their manuscripts will make you intellectual too.

Museum Entrance Fee: ₭10,000 (₱58)

Lie in a Hammock In Front of Your Bungalow along the River

C360_2019-10-03-21-21-17-514-01Don Det one of the three islands in Si Phan Don, South of Laos is known for the real slow pace Laotian life vibe. Backpacking or traveling long term can be tiring sometimes because of the amount of things to do and enjoy. For travelers looking forward to lazy days, making a stop in this island for a few days will address the issue. You can stay here to take a break from the busy activities during your journey. There are activities to enjoy in this island such as Irrawaddy dolphin watching and Li Phi waterfalls tour but the highlight of this place is lying in a hammock all day being carefree of what will happen throughout the day. It is an ideal place to totally relax and recharge by doing nothing. Imagine a day riding around the island by bicycle and lying in a hammock in a hot lazy afternoon. How does that sound? For me, it’s paradise.

 

HOW TRAVELING CAN’T MAKE ME KEEP A RELATIONSHIP: Confession of a Traveler

 “When are you getting yourself a partner?” asked by concern family members and friends of mine during get-together since I am away most of the time. They haven’t heard about me dating anyone nor see me post on social media being with someone so they are excited to know if I already brought home a man to be with and will soon settle down. To their dismay I always just smile at them as a respond whenever these types of questions would arrive at a lunch or dinner table during occasions. But these types of awkward situation make me entertain questions in my head “Bakit nga ba?”(Why?)

 

When I attended my childhood friend’s wedding she introduced her husband as her “travel buddy” in her speech.  It is interesting to see her post about their travels and vacations on social media. Then I thought “I have been traveling for almost six years and I haven’t found my travel buddy yet”. I laughed at that thought but some realizations also made me think why I am single and cannot keep a partner.

 

Traveling Can’t Make Me Stay

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I am a traveler and when you say traveler, it is not only going on a trip or a vacation. It is also constantly moving and seeking places. I travel for work, leisure, and experience. But the most important thing is that travel is part of my life. It is something non-negotiable that I can’t live without. I am so grateful and privileged to travel and keep my job at the same time. This gives me opportunity to be away and explore other places and try new things. However as I progress in places I visit it also signals the downfall of the relationship I have. Most of the guys I met wouldn’t want their girl to be away from them for quite long. That means it is either I have to let go of my travels to pursue a man (which is not going to happen) or find a man who will understand my lifestyle (which is not the case with a lot of guys). As a result, I am going solo.

 

I Can’t Afford To Date

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The cost of dating can be sometimes unbearable on my part.  Do you know how much would it cost to go out, go on vacations, buy gifts and celebrate anniversaries? Being raised as independent, I am a firm believer that women should also pay a fair share of financial responsibilities with their partners. My experience backpacking for years and being with the company of fellow travelers, I am used to picking up my own bills. The same is true with my dating, believe it or not every time I go out on a date even if it is the first one I always offer and insist on paying at least half of the bill. That way, when my date and I didn’t turn out to be compatible at least he won’t resent me because I paid my part. Dating and traveling could be both pricey to keep up but I would rather spend my money surfing or hiking than dining with someone.

 

Dating On the Road Usually Ends Up Going on Separate Ways

 

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Living overseas and being on the road enables me to find love and potential partners. However such situations will not make it permanent most of the time. The next thing you know, you are both bidding your goodbyes. I heard a lot of stories of finding their forever while traveling but not every traveler has similar fate as them. I know to myself that it takes a lot of time, effort and compromise for their relationship to work and that is something I am lacking. Not that I’m stubborn but I just don’t want any of us to give up our hard earned ambitions to follow the other. Especially if our goals and own growth are heading to different directions. This is just too much for me and I don’t want to be neither selfish nor selfless. Therefore, it is better to let go than being resentful to each other just in case the fire stops burning.

 

I am ONLY Interested in a Guy Who Travels

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Some of my friends call me picky or has high standards but that’s not the case. It’s better to say I have a specific standard. I am always attracted to guys who see travel as a way of learning the unknown, appreciate new culture, keep an open mind about the different beliefs, tradition and always up for a new adventure. Unfortunately, in the place where I am from most of the guys there sees travel as luxury, waste of money and couldn’t understand my traveling life. Although, I tried really hard to show them and prove their opinion wrong about traveling, it is not working. So I decided to give up because I don’t want to force myself to a man who is obviously very different from me.  We are two different people, having different mind-set, priorities and lifestyle. So, K! Bye!

 

I Haven’t Found My Travel Soulmate Yet

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Some of you might have thought while reading this article to find a man who has similar lifestyle and go on adventures together. I did millions of times and I did everything I can to keep him too. I tried my luck with guys who are in traveling industry, travel junkies and simply travel enthusiasts. But in this journey called life, we all have our own bucket lists not just of places we want to visit but also achievements we want to reach. It takes a lot of hard work to touch them down. As a traveller I also have my own big dreams of where I want to be and so they are. When your plans and goals don’t support each other then it is better to grow individually than being together. It is heartbreaking to cross path with someone with the right feelings but can’t stay at each other’s lives. Sadly, we have to go our separate ways in the end to fulfill our dreams and our travels.

 

Of course, I won’t blame travel for everything. There are also other factors why I can’t keep a relationship out of this context. But I know to myself whether I stay single or find my lifetime travel buddy, I will continue my journeys. Travel and I have a solid bond. For all those years traveling I learned one thing “Finding love could be easy but keeping it would be the most difficult part.”

That “Pinagtagpo Pero Hindi Tinadhana” Situations While Traveling

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You probably heard a lot of traveling couples on social media finding their love while on the road. Well, I also dreamed of that one point in my traveling life. Being on the road gives me a humongous amount of opportunities to meet new people and probably meet my Mr. Right A.K.A my-hopefully-Mr.-Travel-the-World- with Buddy. Those chances come in different plots and twists just like movies and drama. As an avid traveller but a little bit “marupok” (weak) when it comes to love and attraction, I encountered endless beautiful and unique connection while going on adventure by myself. Unfortunately, due to some circumstances they didn’t end up into fate. Here are some of my epic fail love (or maybe not) stories while on the road.

 

We Were Both Expats

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I was on a day trip in Vietnam when I met this guy on a day tour. I was currently working and living in Hanoi and he was having a 5-day lay over. He’s a Turkey based pilot who regularly flies in Hanoi and Saigon twice to thrice a month. We clicked so well since, we both love to travel and we love sharing our experiences to each other. During the tour we were inseparable probably because we are already attracted to each other. We are also no longer focus on what the tour guide was saying because our attention is both on our stories. For me, that time and place was magical. I thought to myself he could be the one. After the day trip, we decided to grab some draft beer in Old Quarter, Hanoi. After that night, he asked me if I want to see him again the next day before he leaves. I said “Yes.” He added he’ll be back after a week and it would be nice to meet again. Of course, I agreed again thinking it could be my destiny. The next thing, we regularly hanged out and go on trips whenever he is in town. Until the sixth month, my company back home called me telling me to pack my bags because the contract is over and it is time for me go home. Few hours later, I received a call from him saying he is being transferred to South Africa and we couldn’t see each other for a while. I stopped believing in romantic destiny after that time. LOL!

 

I’m Heading North, He’s Heading South

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Back when I was backpacking in Southeast Asia few years back. I met a guy in a border ride to Laos from Cambodia. We are both traveling alone and heading to similar place, Si Phan Don, Laos. As soon as our eyes met it started an infinite conversation about our travels, hometowns and more until we reach our own hostels. The next day, I accidentally bump into him again in Li Phi waterfalls. We had lunch together and continued to explore the tiny island by bike for the rest of the day. We discussed our routes and destinations too. After Laos we are heading to the opposite direction. He’ll be going to Vietnam and I will be continuing my journey in Thailand.  Despite that we still agreed to chill in the hammock and swim in the river the next day. We even caught the sunset together. I also encouraged him to go all the way until the North of Laos which I already pass through so he can see the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls. On my last day in the island, he told me he can adjust his travel and come with me in Thailand. I refuse because he’s been there already and I know how much it would cost him to rebook his flights, cancel his hostels and how complicated the process of entering Laos again since his passport is not visa-free. Also, I felt burdened to ruin his plans and I don’t want to take any responsibilities if we suddenly realize we are not really into each other in the middle of the journey and end up arguing. So it is better to go our own route and let our memories be just a part of our beautiful history in our travels.

 

I Forgot to Get His Phone Number Though

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This one is unexpected. I was planning on sleeping the entire flight from Mandalay, Myanmar to Bangkok, Thailand when a cute and tall guy who is just my type seated next to me. It was the tail end of the plane and the whole row is only the two of us. My plan on sleeping didn’t happen when the stewardess asked us both who needs an arrival card. I said “Me.” He looked at me and asked if I was Thai. I said, “No!” That’s the start of almost 2-hour conversation, exchange of smiles and looking at each other’s eyes. We were talking about our home country. He is from Malaysia and I have been there a couple of times so we had a long chat about it. He also mentioned that he’s been traveling often in Manila because they have a branch company there. He’s an engineer and currently deployed in Myanmar so the flight we are taking is only his connecting flight going home to Kuala Lumpur. I was thinking of getting his phone number already before we say goodbye however fate must be picking on me. When we took the bus going to the arrival area of Don Muang airport it was full of passengers so we rode different buses. As soon as I reached the arrival platform I tried looking for him but he is nowhere to be found probably he is in his boarding gate already. I never saw him again. And I regret not getting his phone number earlier.

LONG WEEKEND TRIP IN BRUNEI AND KOTA KINABALU: Free Things to Do plus Itinerary

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I am currently working on my goal to travel all the countries in Southeast Asia. As I hit Brunei, the second to the last country of my Southeast Asia leg, I also included another country nearby. If you’ve been a follower and a long time reader of mine, you know that whenever I have a chance to hit another country I go all in and travel it even if I have a very little time.

*This travel itinerary can be very chill to others but some may find it very busy and compact in schedule. It all depends on your preference but I still hope you will find it helpful.

BRUNEI

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Abode of Peace as marketed by their tourism organization is still an unknown destination for many people. Some people would even find it boring as I read blogs while doing my research and talked to my friends who have been there. Most of them didn’t actually recommend it. However I know to myself that there will be something in this place that others may not find attractive but something worthwhile for me. It just all boils down to our preference. So I took a leap of fate and book the flights for a long weekend holiday.

How to Get There

Cebu Pacific serves 8 pm direct flights to Brunei from Manila on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only, while Airasia flies twice a day daily. Average cost of round trip plane tickets may cost Php 3,000-5,000 depending on the season. In my case it was a New Year holiday so I paid ₱5,600 one way and ₱3,000 from Kota Kinabalu to Manila.

Places to Visit

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Brunei has a lot of museums, art galleries and mosques to check out that are free of entrance. If you are looking for an authentic Bruneian experience check their 38 kilometer floating village. Want nature tripping? Go and see their proboscis monkeys via river cruise or hiring a water taxi driver to drive you around. You can also include Ulu Temburong National Park to witness their virgin rainforest while walking on the treetop canopies. But since this trip is only a long weekend holiday and the fact that Kota Kinabalu is squeezed in, I only settled in the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan.

Yayasan Sultan Haji Hasannal Bolkia Complex

A nearby mall from Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque where you can get good angles for photos and sight of the mosque. It is just a typical mall where you can shop and chill to avoid the midday sun of Brunei with lots of shops and restaurants to choose from. It has a souvenir store called BWN Souvenir Centre worth checking out because of its lots of good finds to bring home.

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

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Built on artificial lagoon on the banks of the river, the mosque is a place of worship for Allah but also an attraction to visitors. This place is picturesque and not very tourist infested compared to the other mosque. In fact, when I was there I witnessed two local pre-nuptial photo shoots.

Jame Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque

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It is probably the more popular mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan out of the two because of the influx of tourists when I was there. It is built in 1992 to celebrate the 25th year of the sultan’s current reign. At night, when it is lit, its golden domes are shinning and very stunning to look at. Just be aware of the schedule where it is open to have fully access of the mosque. Although visitors are still welcome around the vicinity and in front of the mosque even when it is closed, it is still better to have a full experience of the place.

*I checked the schedule of the opening hours thru google maps.

Istana Nurul Iman

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The palace is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei and the biggest private residence in the entire world with 1,788 rooms. However, it is only worth a visit during the Hari Raya public holiday where it is open to public and visitors have the chance to meet and greet his Highness and the rest of the royal family.

Gadong Night market

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A place to quench thirst and satisfy hunger! With a lot of food selections to choose from, from Borneo cuisines to flavorful fruits at very affordable prices, it is surely the answer for your food trip.

Kampong Ayer

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This is a must-see place when visiting Brunei. The century-old village on stilts above the water is a reflection of the ancient Bruneian life. The village has a mix of ancient and modern houses because a lot of them these days are made of 2 story concrete cement with attic. It also houses Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery where visitors can learn the history or the floating village.

Getting Around the City

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Bandar Seri Begawan is a small city that you can actually walk from one site to another. However, the strong sun does not allow it. From the airport there is a public bus that can take you to the city center which only costs B$ 2 but it only runs from 6 a.m to 6p.m. After that your only option is to take the taxi which is B$ 20-25 (₱756- 943). There’s also no taxi app available in this city and the bus routes are not registered in google maps. So in taking the city buses, better ask the driver if it is going or passing by your destination. English is widely spoken there anyway so there’s no problem in communicating with the locals and asking directions. In case of tours, you can book with a travel agency or water taxi drivers would politely approach you and offer you an hour or more tour. The cost varies from B$20-35 (₱756- 1,312) depending on the site s you want to visit.

Traveling To Kota Kinabalu

Going to Kota Kinabalu from Brunei can be both accessed by bus or ferry. I chose the bus because it is the easiest, less complicated and most certain one. I booked a Jesselton bus thru Sipitang express online. The fare is MYR 100 (₱1,300). The bus leaves from its station in Jalan McArthur just be there 30 minutes before your scheduled trip. The journey is about 8 hours with 3-4 times entry and exit between Brunei and Malaysia territories. So if you want to collect stamps in your passport, this is the way to go.

KOTA KINABALU, MALAYSIA

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The city is the capital of Sabah, Malaysia. It is known for its stunning beaches perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving and home for the 4,095m-high Mount Kinabalu.

*Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to explore this city too much and didn’t have the chance to check out any of the places mentioned above because I only stayed here for around 32 hours which means, I have to go back here. Anyways here’s my city tour and places I visited for the limited time.

Places to Visit

Filipino Market

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I don’t know why it is called Filipino market because most of the products sold here are wide range of Malaysian produce. It serves clothes, accessories, gadgets and food so if you are on the hunt for some souvenirs you may want to check this place out.

Kota Kinabalu Waterfront

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A one-stop dining and entertainment centre and a popular hangout place for both locals and foreigners. Here, you can chill and enjoy the beach view while waiting for the sunset.

Signal Hill Observatory Platform

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The highest point in the city with an open deck area where visitors can witness an amazing view of the city extending until the beach. It is also a good spot to catch the sunset. It requires a little exercise when you hike up the 250m stairs, but if you are not up for that you can take a taxi going up the hill.

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

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The second main mosque in Sabah is another stunning attraction worth visiting. The mosque seems to float on top of the water but it is just a man-made lagoon nestled around the mosque that creates a reflection and illusion. This place can hold 12,000 worshipers. Non-Muslims can’t have an access inside but you can still view the mosque from the front. Be aware to dress modestly because this is a place of worship.

Entrance Fee: MYR 5

Getting Around the City

Similar with Bandar Seri Begawan, Kota Kinabalu is also a small city that can be accessed on foot. Public buses are also working but no visible route in google maps so better ask the drivers if the bus is passing by your destination. Again, English is widely spoken here so it is not difficult to ask for directions. Unlike Brunei, taxi apps are available too with friendly drivers to keep you entertain during the ride.

ITINERARY

Brunei

 Day 1: City Tour

  • Istana Nurul Iman
  • Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
  • Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex
  •  

Day 2:

  • Proboscis Monkey River Cruise (book through travel agency or water taxi driver)
  • Kampong Ayer
  • Jame Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque
  • *Gadong Night Market

 Day 3: Travel to Kota Kinabalu

  • Arrival in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • Filipino Market
  • Cente Point
  • Kota Kinabalu Waterfront

 Day 4: KK City Tour

  • Signal Hill Observatory Platform
  • Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
  • Sunset Cruise (book through travel agency or hostel)