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.

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!

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
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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)

HOW I BUILD MY TRAVEL FUND: Ways To Save Up for Travels

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I got asked a lot of times how I am able to travel. How do I afford to go overseas when I don’t make much? Some of my close friends would even joke I have a secret sugar daddy who is sponsoring my trips which I just laugh about since it is NOT true.

Traveling is deemed as privilege and luxury especially to where I am from. That’s a sure thing if you are hustling an 8-5 job and you are not paid well, you have bills or loans to pay or a family to support. Traveling would be your least priority.

I am lucky enough since I am making decently more from standard living cost. I don’t pay rent and I don’t have much responsibility so I am able to save up and build a stable travel fund. It also takes a lot of cutting back and sacrifices but it’s a matter of priority and consistency. I am sharing to you the following ways I learned from my personal experience in order to save up for my travels and might work for you too.

HAVE A SEPARATE BANK ACCOUNT FOR YOUR TRAVEL FUND

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As an adult who works hard to make ends meet at the same time preparing for the future, it is practical to have multiple bank accounts for your investments, long term or short term goals, emergency fund and also your travel fund. Treat it like money dedicated just for traveling. In that way you won’t feel guilty when you are traveling since you are being responsible and smart in your finances. You won’t be broke too after every travel since you know you have your other accounts filled. If you have a bank account only for traveling, you don’t have to re-adjust your budget, pull out money from your savings or worse borrow from someone.

  • I would suggest you use a passbook over an ATM so it won’t be accessible whenever you are tempted to withdraw it and use it in unnecessary things.
  • I’m not sure if there’s a psychology behind it but whenever I see the numbers in the passbook, it makes me happy and motivates me to increase it.

ALLOT A SPECIFIC PERCENTAGE OF YOUR PAYCHECK ON YOUR TRAVEL FUND

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I was asked a million times before how to save up for traveling and I always tell them that it is like a tithes in the church, or monthly insurance that you deduct on your paycheck. You set a percentage and you have to be consistent in depositing it in your travel fund. There are many ways on how to divide or allot your paycheck on the internet. There’s a 20-30-50 rule, a 10-20-20-50 rule and a lot more. There are tons of financial advice that you can read or watch on the web depending on the goal you are achieving and the lifestyle you are living. You just have to live below your means to make ends meet and be religious on putting that money on your travel fund.

DO SOME SIDE HUSTLE OR HAVE AN EXTRA INCOME

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In today’s world where inflation is fast and high, you hustle a lot but it seems you still don’t have money then consider making money on the side. . Anything that can be turn into extra cash, whether a hobby or a passion you have been working on or simply selling your pre-loved items is extremely encouraged to build or increase that travel fund. In my case, I teach online in the evenings or weekends when I’m free. I also do sponsored product reviews and freelance writing gigs. Even though I don’t make much on these side jobs but it can pays my get together with my friends, daily expenses for a week or increases my travel fund especially if my travel is fast approaching.

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR EXPENSES

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The number one advice I would give whenever people ask me how to start saving up. Whenever you keep track of your finances you will realize how much you are spending on unnecessary things. Then you will realize what if I just put that on my bank account or use it for my travels. There are many money tracking app you can download. I personally use “money manager” because I can set my budget on each month. It has calendar where it shows how much I spent that day, week or month. It also has statistics categorized how much you are spending on households, social life, apparel, beauty, health etc. You can also input your savings so you can monitor how much money you are making, saving and spending. With this simple tip you can jumpstart your adulting 101, improve your budgeting skills and also increase your travel fund.

CUT BACK ON UNNECESSARY EXPENSES

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Along with tracking your expenses, it will also make you cut back on things not part of your necessities. A lot of my friends told me it’s difficult to save. I always answer, yes! It is difficult to save when you always get your coffee every morning to collect your stickers to get a free planner. It is definitely difficult to save when you go shopping every paycheck. It is totally difficult to save when you eat out three to four times a week.  And it’s more difficult to save when you are always queuing in the cinema just to keep up with the latest movies.

Disclaimer: I am not shaming those people who do these. You have all the right to spend your hard earned money to whatever you like but if you are saving up you might want to do some sacrifice by cutting them back or having these in moderation. Before buying or doing something, weigh it first if it’s a need or want and you will be surprise how much money you can save.

MINIMIZE EATING OUT OR TAKEAWAYS

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Surely, there are pros and cons of eating out especially for those who don’t cook like me. It is delicious, convenient and time saving. But think about how much money you kiss goodbye in one sitting on your favorite restaurant compare to making it at home. One of the tip I learned when I was saving up to finance my travels is to make my favorite food in small batches at home. That way, when I crave for it, it is ready to be made or reheat. I realized the three meals I make is equivalent to one meal I pay in the restaurant. Sure thing, we can’t get away with eating out especially with get together but if you can make it two to three times a month and just put those bucks on your savings since you will be eating out when you travel anyway.

P.S: I’m a huge snack person so, I buy my bulk of snacks in grocery store good for a week plus I make my own drinks. That way, I don’t spend a lot on grabbing these food in cafe or cafeteria.

DON’T BE A SLAVE TO CONSUMERISM

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Yes gurl!! Been there, done that. Youtube, instagram and my favorite celebrity made me buy stuff. My friends have these cool things so I should also have them and so much more reasons to buy stuff that aren’t really working or needed in our life. The power of digital marketing and influencers these days makes us have this “buy buy buy” notion as if we “need need need” them not thinking it’s just a “want want want” instead of just “save save save” to make travel happen.

HAVING AN UPGRADE IN INCOME DOESN’T MEAN AN UPGRADE OF EXPENSES

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The Team! Photo Credit to Mr. Abel Sanyver

The title says it all. It happens especially to single young adults and professionals who got a promotion or salary increase. We tend to think since we have more money so we can now upgrade our phone, our car, our wardrobe etc. We miss the point that as long as our stuff is still running or hanging in there and we are still surviving with the lifestyle that we have, we don’t need to upgrade. We don’t need to change our old stuff and old lifestyle just because we have more money. Our extra money, we can use it for investment, savings or add it to our travel fund.

HAVE A TRAVEL JAR

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I would credit this tip to Laureen Uy. I learned it when I was watching her youtube video about saving money for traveling. She mentioned that at the end of the day, whenever she has loose change she always put it in her travel jar so that whenever she travels, she use those coins for food and drinks. I do that too. I set a daily budget and when I have something left for that day I put on a jar in my room and I use that money for food or additional budget for souvenir shopping when I travel. You wouldn’t realize how far those coins can get you. It might even fund your transportation allowance for your next travel.

So these, my friends are the things I learned and I am practicing for five years of traveling and having a wanderlust lifestyle. I hope it helps you and motivates you to start saving up for your travels.

Places to Visit in Taipei According to Locals

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Taiwan is a small country that has so much to offer from temples, historical landmarks, food and the list goes on. I like this country a lot and I can imagine living here for long term. The reasons are it is the only country I have been with very clean night markets. People are disciplined to hold their trash until they find a garbage bin. Their public transportation is so easy and convenient too. My friend and I enjoyed tapping our Easy Card in their MRT stations and buses. Oh, did I mention how their bubble teas taste so good and they’re just everywhere? Bubble tea was my new water the whole time of our stay there. But what I love the most in Taiwan are the people. They are so warm, hospitable and helpful. Even though English is not widely spoken locals are kind enough to gesture to direct you to the right station in MRT. Some would even barge in to translate your questions or what you want to say to the cashier at a convenient store. Even our Taiwanese friends who showed us around went too far on their hospitality, not only guiding and driving us to tourist sites but also talking to the receptionist of our hostel to check us up if everything is fine. I really appreciate their effort to make our stay comfortable, experience the real country and enjoy the place like a local. I would also credit them for editing our itinerary and taking us to places where most local people enjoy. So, here is the list of places to visit in Taipei according to locals.

 

XIANGSHAN TRAIL (ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN)

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For those who are active and looking for some work out this place is for you to sweat out those bubble teas you sip. A 15-minute hike to see the view of Taipei City, the highlight of this hike includes the full view of Taipei 101 and other buildings. It is best to hike this trail in the late afternoon to catch the sunset. Although it is a crowded place, it is still fully recommended and totally worth it.

Entrance Fee: Free

 

TAIPEI 101

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Used to be the highest building in Asia until Lotte Tower in Seoul, Korea opened in 2017. But still the highest building in Taiwan with 101 floors. Its 88th floor serves as an observatory with huge glass windows to see the different views of the city. It also has museums, souvenir stores and cafes. Its 91st floor is an open area with high fences to view the city without glass however the area has a limited space so you can’t really stay there long.

Entrance Fee: NT$ 600 (Php 1, 044)

 

MAOKONG GONDOLA

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Known as the most nature scenic spot in Taipei to drink quality, locally grown tea, Maokong is a quaint village located at the top of a mountain providing breathtaking views of Taipei City. Tea lovers will love this place for its wide variety of teahouses and high quality selection.  While others are here to experience the village and their tea, my friends and I came here to ride a cable car going to Taipei Zoo.

The best way to reach Maokong is to take the Maokong Gondola scenic cable car up the mountain from MRT Taipei Zoo Station, but in our case we did the opposite. We drive on top of the village and went down using a cable car to Taipei Zoo. It was at first nerve racking experience to ride a crystal clear glass cable car but it is also mesmerizing to see the view of the forest down below and the city on the window.

Maokong  Cable Car Rate:

Maokong Station –Zhinan Temple Station: NT$ 70

Maokong Station- Taipei Zoo South Station: NT$ 100

Maokong Sation- Taipei Zoo Station: NT$ 120

Easycards are given a 20% discount on weekdays, and also NT$20 discount when also used for zoo entry.

 

TAIPEI ZOO

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Obsessed with pandas? Might as well pay a visit to Taipei Zoo where you can view the pandas and koalas on a glass room. The largest zoo in Asia and home to Yuan Zai,the first giant panda cub born in Taiwan. It may take an estimated four hours to complete your animal journey but it is not your average type of zoo with its forest like atmosphere and structure. Rare and endangered species animals are also housed in the zoo. For animal lovers this is a must visit, easily accessible by public transit at the end of the MRT Brown Line.

Entrance Fee Adults: NT$: 60 (Php 105)                                 Kids: NT$ 30 (Php 53)

 

SANXIA OLD STREET

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For architectural viewing, street food and souvenir shopping, you can find them here in this less than 1 kilometer street. The architecture consists of red brick buildings with hallways connected by small lanes. The streets were lined with shops that sold dyes, manufacturing materials, tea and of course Taiwanese street food. P.S. Love their stinky tofu.

 

BITAN

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This park is a great getaway from the city. Its riverfront park is home to large choices for food, wide variety of restaurants, park amenities, as well as paddle boat rentals and is a great place to relax.  Spanning over the Xindian River is the 200 meter long Bitan Suspension Bridge connecting the two neighborhoods on the east and west side of the creek, making it one of the landmarks of New Taipei City. My friend and I had a great time paddling a two-seaters boat along Xindian River feeling the cold breeze of that late afternoon. I even had some short nap while on the boat. Lol! To my opinion this is a romantic place for couples because at night the colorful lights are turned on in the bridge and its west side with live music on the alley of restaurants on the east side. Who wouldn’t say “Yes!” if somebody proposes here?

 

HUASHAN 1914 CREATIVE PARK

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Originally built as a winery, the complex has been transformed into a multipurpose park and creative space for Taipei’s youthful art scene, and is home to multiple exhibitions and shows. When we were there the beauty cosmetic brand Shiseido is having their exhibit or product launch. We also checked out some wooden products and organic products on display. I think if you are on a hunt of something unique and creative products for souvenir this place is for you.

 

CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL

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The most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan, search “places to go in Taiwan” and it will pop first on your feed. It was built in honor of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China. The name of the square is officially Liberty Square, as seen above the front gate, however the name change was politically motivated and most people in practice still refer to the entire complex as CKS Memorial Hall. The octagon-shaped white building rises 76 meters and is covered with blue tiles with red accents. The eight sides represent the Chinese cultural symbolism of the number eight which is traditionally associated with fortune and wealth. The two sets of 89 steps represent Chiang’s age of death and lead up to main hall housing a large bronze statue of Chiang protected by military personnel that change hourly. And mind you, they’re not moving at all. Below the hall is a museum documenting Chiang’s life and career, as well as exhibits about Taiwan’s history, pan-Chinese culture and history, and the ROC’s development after moving to Taiwan. Besides the main hall, the large complex includes the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park, National Concert Hall, and the National Theater.

 

TAIPEI GRAND MOSQUE

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The Taipei Grand Mosque is a center of worship for Taipei’s Muslims community. For me personally I have a thing when it comes to mosque architecture. I adore them so much that when I saw it on google maps I make it appoint not just to pass by, but also to sit, stare and stay at the place for a little while. I would love to enter however I think we are dressed inappropriately so we didn’t have the courage to do so. So, we just content ourselves to hang around in front of the mosque and take photos. When visiting Taipei Grand Mosque, please be sure to follow the mosque rules. Only Muslims are allowed to enter the main prayer hall and second floor prayer hall is for women.

 

DAAN PARK

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Right across Taipei Grand Mosque is Daan Forest Park, a huge ecological park with a forest-like environment. The park is likened to be the lungs of Taipei with its park roads lined with trees. It is perfect for active people who love to jog and it has facilities for exercising such as cardio bikes that are also accessible in the park. Families enjoy the fresh air green space for picnics since benches are around the corner. Bushes and flower beds are planted throughout the park to help make the park into a lush, green space.  And Oh! Bonus part, we spotted some squirrels too.

 

NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM

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A fully modern museum using the latest digital technology to digitally preserve its ancient artifacts as well as high technology to improve the museum experience for visitors. It has four floors stretched with 2 exhibition halls. The museum’s exhibits continuously rotate, as only a small percentage of the museum’s collection can be displayed at a given time to prevent from being worn out. When we were there most of the things on display are lacquerwares, jars, bronze and metal decorations used during the ancient time. Those who are interested in Chinese culture and history are highly encouraged to visit the National Palace Museum, as it hosts the largest number of ancient artifacts.

Entrance Fee

Adult: NT$250                    Student with ID: NT$150

 

TAIPEI CONFUCIUS TEMPLE

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The Taipei Confucius Temple is modeled after the original Confucius Temple in Qufu, China. In keeping with the sober spirit of Confucianism, the building is made simple with southern Fujian-style ceramic applique. The main hall of the temple has a black plaque with gold lettering that reads “Educate without Discrimination.”

 

RAOHE NIGHT MARKET

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One of the oldest night markets in Taipei, the Raohe Street Night Market is a must visit destination! The epitome of a traditional Taiwanese night market, this 600 metre path along Raohe Street in Songshan District is packed with fun and interesting street food and snacks, traditional shops and stalls, and carnival games with prizes. At the eastern end of the night market outside Songshan Station is the Ciyou Temple, built by local residents during the Qing Dynasty era. Tour groups tend to concentrate themselves around the eastern edge of the market while individual travellers are recommended to walk directly past these groups for a nicer experience.

 

SHILIN NIGHT MARKET

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The Shilin Night Market in Taipei is one of the largest, most popular night markets in Taiwan with regard to food, and also one of the most popular points of Taipei’s night life among visitors. Located in Taipei’s Shilin District, the maze of alleyways is filled with a variety of local, traditional, and international merchandise that attract locals and foreigners alike. The night market consists of two major elements: general merchandise and local cuisine. Along the western edge of the market is the Shilin Night Market Food Court, an underground food paradise. Many of Taiwan’s traditional foods can be found and bought for reasonable prices from the friendly locals who are eager to let you taste the unique flavors of their traditional recipes such as Giant Fried Chicken Steak, Tempura, Bubble Tea, Oyster Vermicelli Oyster Omelet, Fried Buns and of course, the most notorious Taiwanese goodie, Stinky Tofu. Although the market usually begins bursting with activity every day in the late evening and doesn’t stop until past midnight, most food vendors will have left by midnight. So if you want to get a taste of this unique dish, get there early! The market showcases Taiwan’s culture with its vivid colours and general atmosphere, along with friendly shop keepers and plenty of delicious food and cheap clothes!

 

TAMSUI OLD STREET

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Located along the riverfront in Tamsui (Danshui), Tamsui Old Street is a boardwalk-like area full of shops, carnival games, restaurants, cafés, and xiaochi snacks. The waterfront area is a great place to watch the sunset over the Tamsui River. Vendors will generally start in the afternoon and stay open until the last MRT train at 12 midnight. I prefer this place for shopping than Shilin because it is cheaper, spacious and not crowded. There are a lot of overrun high end goods here that are sold at a cheaper price. I also saw a shirt that is similar to what I bought in Shilin for a half price.

 

JIUFEN

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Jiufen is a popular day trip from Taipei. Made popular by the Japanese anime movie Spirited Away due to its huge resemblance. This mountain town was originally built by the Japanese and now a maze of lanes and alleyways with rich history and culture. Founded during the Qing Dynasty, this small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893, quickly developing the town due to a gold rush. However it made a huge impact as my Taiwanese friend said the reason why Huangjin Waterfalls underlying rocks are color brown is because of mining. Many buildings in the town remain unchanged to this day, reflecting the Japanese influence on both architecture and culture on the island. After the war, gold mining activities declined, and the town today exists mainly as a tourist destination remembering and celebrating Taiwanese history and culture. I like this town a lot because it caters to wider Taiwanese cultural activities. One of my favorite cultural experience is making our own tea and eating some sweet desserts in A Mei Tea House, located in the tourist hot spot where famous red lanterns line the narrow stairways. This is where many tourists flock to snap their iconic Jiufen shots and where most pictures of Jiufen you see on postcards are taken. I also enjoyed writing my wishes on a lantern in Pingxi and flying it on the evening sky hoping that the heavens will grant my wish. My friend gambled on reading her fate through a stick that fall out when you shake the container. The stick that fall has corresponding drawer where your fate is written on a piece of paper. If it is bad try another round again or drop it on a box where in someone will pray for your luck to be better. Such a unique experience for travelers visiting this town.

 

BALI, INDONESIA: A DREAM COME TRUE

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Many things influenced me to dream of traveling Bali. Aside from its reputation as honeymoon place or #TravelGoal #RelationshipGoal destination, it is also tagged to be the last paradise on earth. I won’t disagree with that! The island has complete list of things to do from the peaceful and relaxing natures and waterfalls of Ubud to the noisy nightlife and beach of Kuta .

My first sight of Bali was back in 2004 when I was still in first year high school through a Korean drama entitled “Memories of Bali”. The fact that I was in love with the story and characters of it, it also convinced me to visit Bali one day. Starting that day I made it a goal to travel Bali someday when I grow older. That burning desire grew stronger when I was in university, I came across with a newspaper article entitled “Bali, The Last Paradise on Earth”. It talks about the beautiful sceneries, cultures and clear blue ocean of Bali. So I said to myself I really must go to Bali. After a few years I was already working when I watched Julia Roberts movie “Eat, Pray, Love” where it featured Ketut: the Medicine Man in Bali who predicts Julia’s future saying she will lose everything but she will gain it back and she’ll return to Bali and he will teach her everything he knows. It also shows the beautiful town of Ubud where Ketut is living and some of a must visit islands. She ended up being in love again, settling in Bali and raising some funds to help the people of Bali. Finally, the year 2017 after 13 years when a friend and I decided to backpack for a month in Southeast Asia and included Bali in the list of countries we’ll be visiting. My dream came true!

Disclaimer: Bali is one of my dream places. Yes! But not all the things I’m going to mention here will be positive or in favor of Bali! There are fair share of good and bad experiences I had during this trip and I am completely honest in writing about them. This blog is not to bring negativity but to give you an idea of what to expect. In my opinion Bali is still a must-see place.

HOW TO GET TO BALI

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Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly directly to Bali from Manila at approximately 4-5 hours. A round trip ticket cost from ₱8,000- ₱20,000 depending on the season. Airasia also flies to Bali with a layover in Kuala Lumpur at an estimated cost of ₱7,000- ₱12,000. In our case we flew from Bangkok, Thailand to Bali, Indonesia via Airasia for 4 ½ hours that cost us ₱ 6,150 each with no check in baggage.

GETTING AROUND BALI

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Bali has no fix and systematic mode of public transportation which I think is the number 1 drawback of this place. The most common mode of transportation here is either taxis and private cars (which are overprice) or renting a motorbike to go around. I read some about Kura-Kura van that goes from Kuta to Ubud however we haven’t experienced it when we were there. So we usually walk from one site to another or use Grab and Uber. However, most of tourist sites in Bali ban these taxi apps from picking up passengers due to strikes from drivers saying they’re losing their jobs so a good haggling skill is necessary to avoid being ripped off. There are also circumstances that the Grab driver will ask you to pay 3x more than what is in the app rate. My tip, book a driver that has 5 stars rate only.

WHERE TO STAY

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Originally we plan to stay for the whole time in Ubud and just do day trips in Kuta however seeing the transportation problem in Bali then it won’t be smart for us to do so. For 6 days in Bali we decided to stay in two places, Ubud and Kuta so we’ll not be very far from our day trips in each area. There are various accommodations to choose from in Bali from private villas to hotels, homestays and guesthouses. We booked our first place in Ubud in Made Arsa Homestay (totally recommended). It is 1 kilometer away from the center of Ubud but I am very satisfied with this place. I observed that unlike in other cities in Southeast Asia where it is more convenient to stay in the center, Ubud has the opposite approach. In Ubud center the restaurants and stores are more costly than in our area. Although 1 kilometer away from the center there are many cheap local eateries and food stall around here. Luckily our homestay also provides free breakfast and transportation to the center although that is not necessary for us since we are used to walking.

In Kuta we stayed in Legian Road near the beach. It is very convenient place, near stores and restaurants, pubs and clubs and all the wild night life.

PLACES TO VISIT

UBUD

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Ubud is more of countryside, nature tripping mood. The town is known as a center for traditional crafts and dance. The surrounding Ubud District’s rainforest and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, are among Bali’s most famous landscapes.

UBUD MONKEY FOREST

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Ubud Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, is one of Ubud’s most popular attractions; a natural forest sanctuary that is home to a horde of grey long-tailed macaques. The village’s residents view the Monkey Forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation center for the village. You can watch or see the monkeys and be entertained as they play or remove lice from each other. You can also feed them with bananas that can be bought in the forest or if they are curious enough they might jump into your shoulders or head and hang in there for a while. One funny thing I experienced when a monkey jumped into us for some cuddling or food the staff guarding the place would immediately shoo the monkey away but if you pay some cash they would invite the monkey to stand on your head or your shoulders so you can take pictures with them. However be warned that these monkeys are curious of everything so it is advised to watch out for your belongings and don’t bring food and tissue because chances are they might snatch those things from you. This place doesn’t only let you hang around with monkeys but also will give you a bit of a hike since it is a large forest type of place.

Entrance Fee: IDR 50,000 (₱188)

Banana:           IDR 50,000/ bundle (₱188)

 

CAMPUHANGAN RIDGEWALK

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A free and easy nature trek, popular among Ubud visitors. The area provides a great retreat and escape from the contemporary boutique, guesthouse and restaurant-lined in Ubud. The hike doesn’t only let you enjoy cool fresh air and see gorgeous hillside vista in the region, it also allows you to shed off some calories with its nine-kilometer hill track. The place is not difficult to reach since it is present in google maps and signages are present as you do your trail. At the end of the trail you will see rice paddies, some hostels and cafes that are present there.

Entrance Fee: Free

TEGENUNGAN WATERFALLS

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Hmmm.. What can I say, when we searched google for waterfalls this is the number one recommended place to us. The closest natural attraction that you can reach within half-hour transfer southeast from Ubud town. Getting to the falls is a pleasant drive down paved village roads lined with stretches of green rice fields on both sides. There are hot springs where you can take a dip if you want to be away from the crowd or a little side trip after taking photos on the waterfalls.

Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 (₱56)

Additional IDR 10,000 (₱38) if you go on top of the waterfalls.

 

TIBUMANA WATERFALLS

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A bit of an underrated waterfalls in Bali but a bit of a so so too, maybe because when we were there, there’s not much water and I’m kinda disappointed with the trash gathered in the hole at the back of the waterfalls. It is not that popular so don’t expect much crowd in the place which is good however because of that reason also there are no taxis standing by when you leave. So travellers usually either have their own drivers waiting for them or they have their own motorbikes. There’s also no restaurant around the area but there’s a store selling snacks and drinks only.

Entrance Fee: IDR 10,000 (₱38)

GOA GAJAH (ELEPHANT CAVE)

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We discovered this place by accident when we were desperately looking for a taxi going home from Tibumana waterfalls. This is an archaeological site of significant historical value that makes it a special place to visit. Located on the cool western edge of Bedulu Village, six kilometres out of central Ubud. You do not need more than an hour to descend to its relic-filled courtyard and view the rock-wall carvings, a central meditational cave, bathing pools and fountains.You are required to wear a sarong upon entering and you can also hire a guide as you go around but not necessary.

 

*note: Female visitors who are on their period are NOT ALLOWED to enter the temple.

Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 (₱56)

 

UBUD WATER PALACE

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Located in Jalan Ubud Raya, very near the market and next door to the Lotus Café can be reached on foot if you are staying in Ubud center. In the daytime, it is nice, with large lotus ponds reflecting the gorgeous Balinese architecture of the Palace facade. The palace is closed to public so you will just settle outside for pictures.

Entrance Fee: Free

 

TEGALALANG RICE TERRACES

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Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud is famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies that spread down before you and away to the rice paddies on the slopes across the valley. The high roadside location is cool and breezy however when you reach there on a sunny midday until 4 pm, prepare to be burned as the hot Indonesian sun is no joke. It is a well-known spot for tourists to stop and take photos but be aware of some locals offering to take pictures with them then suddenly would demand to pay them for it. Painters and nature lovers also enjoy visiting this spot, and there are numerous art kiosks and cafes near the ledge offering their ware. Although the entrance fee is by donation some locals around the terraces would demand you to pay them IDR 10,000 (₱38) for you to pass by since they are claiming that they own the piece of pathway way you are passing by. Some would even block the way and won’t let you pass which I find very aggressive. Anyway it is still a must see place just go there prepared.

Entrance Fee: Donation (Most visitors pay IDR 10,000 but for us we gave IDR 2,000)

 

KUTA

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An exact opposite of Ubud. Ubud is peaceful and quiet while Kuta is wild and energetic place since it is a beach and resort area in the south island of Bali, Indonesia. One of Bali’s first tourist developments where the modern era of tourism in Bali began. It’s best known for its party-centric atmosphere with wild nightlife and high concentration of bars, nightclubs, and hotels. Kuta’s Indian Ocean long sandy beach with consistent waves make it a popular surf spot, particularly for beginners, with plenty of outfitters offering board rentals and surf lessons. It is popular with younger travelers and those on a budget. There are plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from. Traffic is really mad sometimes and it can get really busy, but it is still a great place to meet people and have fun.

 

KUTA BEACH

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It’s considered Bali’s most famous beach resort destination. Once a simple, rustic and quiet fishing village, Kuta Beach has witnessed a transformation over the past years. This is due to the rise of various accommodation options, dining and shopping scenes. The rapid growth owes much to visitors, beachcombers and art lovers from nearby Australia. Expatriates also helped pioneer surfing in Kuta, as well. Don’t expect a white sand beach here or crystal clear blue sky water but be amazed with its waves that have great reputation in surfing for beginners or professional that is hyped by surfers from all over the world. Although its waves are not that high it is still perfect for beginners. Alleys of bars and cafes are lined to view the beach while relaxing on their comfortable seats or cushions with beer and live music or just simply spread your sarong and lie on the beach to get a tan.

 

SEMINYAK BEACH

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Not far from Kuta beach you will find Seminyak beach a few east feet away. The waves in this beach are way bigger than in Kuta perfect for professional surfers. The alley of bars and cafes along the beach of Kuta is stretched until Seminyak. This area is also a home to high end and luxurious beach resorts, restaurants and boutiques with a more secluded ambiance. I must say there’s no big difference between the two beaches since they’re just next to each other except their waves.

 

ULUWATU TEMPLE

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One of the comment from tripadvisor said “A so so temple located in a perfect cliff with a perfects sunset.” I kinda agree to that. First the temple is close so I can’t access and comment about it. However the location is just so perfect for sunset and ocean viewing. The high blue noisy waves of the Indian Ocean is so addicting to watch plus the fact that it has a clear blue water. Most visitors visit the temple at around late afternoon to view the sunset and for the Kecak Dance performance, a Balinese traditional fire dance that happens at 6:00 pm. Be advise to wear modest clothes in going to the temple. Sarongs and belts are provided in the entrance after you get your ticket. Be vigilant on your belongings because the monkeys here are smart or hungry enough to snatch your things away from you. When we were there several cases of snatching happened from cellphones, earrings, sunglasses, hats, cameras and water bottles. As much as possible avoid wearing accessories or just simply avoid the monkeys. Although staffs are there to help you, prevention of this situation is way better than solving it.

 

Entrance Fee: Adult: IDR 30,000 (₱112)                   Children: IDR 20,000 (₱75)

Kecak Dance: IDR 100,000 (₱375)

Private Car: IDR 300,000 (₱1,125)

  • Note: We rented a private car and a driver we met on the street. His first price for a round trip to Uluwatu temple is IDR 500,000 (₱1,870) but we haggled until it went down to our agreed price.
  • Agencies offering tours or private cars going to this temple are around Legian area. Their prices varies from IDR 350,000 (₱1,310)- IDR 750,000 (₱2,800) others include Tanah Lot Temple.

BAKUN TRIO: THE THREE GEMS OF BAKUN, BENGUET PHILIPPINES

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Bakun is one of the thirteen municipalities of Benguet, Philippines, a mountainous and peaceful province in the north. I honestly can’t imagine how peaceful and clean this place is away from the noise and other pollution in the city. Bakun can be your perfect serene place for soul searching, reflection or simply a relaxation. Let me start when the tourism officer told us that the whole municipality has a cigarette and liquor ban. At first we thought it was because of the Holy Week holiday however she made it clear to us that it is a municipal ordinance and it is strictly implemented. Therefore don’t expect anyone loitering the streets at night being drunk and causing trouble. Next, you will be amazed how clean this place is not only from the fresh air you get but also from their waste management system. They have an organized waste segregation that is followed by the residents and should be complied by the visitors. Another fact, I haven’t seen any stray dogs that wander around the streets. Dog owners are responsible enough to tie their dogs. Lastly, the place shuts down at 8 p.m. Literally, you can’t do anything here after 8 p.m as all stores, markets and eateries close in the center. Since there’s liquor ban don’t be stupid enough to wander around looking for bars. I can say staying here detoxes and cleanses our body and mind from the harsh substances and stress we have in the city.

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Bakun Trio is composed of three mountains, Mt. Lubo, Mt. Kabunian and Mt. Tenglawan. They are near to each other so it makes it easy to climb the 3 mountains one at a time in just 3 days. Although most hikers usually take day hikes to each mountain and sleep in the municipal hall in Poblacion at night, others camp in the mountain to witness the sunrise or take traverse route from Sinacbat- Mt. Tenglawan- Mt. Kabunian- Poblacion. In our case we started to hike Mt. Lubo from Sitio Dada then traverse route to Poblacion. I must say that these mountains are major climbs you need to be physically fit and mentally ready for the hike. Expect a steep, narrow with loose soil path even cliff going to the summit. I must say Mt. Kanubian and Mt. Tenglawan are for professional hikers or mountaineers. Bakun Trio is still a rising star when it comes to popularity as compared to Mt. Pulag in Kabayan, and Mt. Ulap and Mt. Ugo in Itogon. There are not many travel and tour groups that organize event in this place. However I am lucky enough to cross path with Team Ladaw, a travel group in facebook founded by young travel enthusiasts. They invite people to join them on their journey as they hike mountains, dip in waterfalls and swim on beaches. For more inquiries visit their facebook page on this link.

HOW TO GET TO BAKUN

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The Team! Photo Credit to Mr. Abel Sanyver

  1. By bus
  • Daily bus trip to Bakun comes from Caltex Gas Station Km. 5 La Trinidad, Benguet from 6;30 am-7:00 am via Bakun Cooperative Bus. It will take you to barangay Poblacion, the center of Bakun.
  • Bus fare: Php 180
  • Estimated travel time: 6 hours
  1. Private car or rented jeepney or van
  • For big groups I suggest to take rented van or jeepney or might as well your own car. It is more convenient and saves time.
  • Rented jeepney from Bakun that will pick you up in Baguio costs Php 12,000 round trip. (For inquiries contact this number 0912 807 0974)

WHERE TO STAY

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Overnight Camping at Mt. Kabunian

There are no other accommodations in Bakun except the municipal hall in Poblacion or barangay hall in Sinacbat. Usually hikers go on a day hike and sleep in the municipal hall at night. Others camp in the mountain and leave their other stuff there, just like what we did.

Accommodation Rate: Php 200/ person (with gas stove and blanket)

Php 80/ person (without gas stove and blanket)

Baggage Fee:               Php 50/ person (for overnight hike)

 

For more inquiries contact their Tourism Officer Ms. Nenita 0918 352 3722

 

BAKUN TRIO JOURNEY

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Photo credit to Mr. Abel Sanyver

We left Baguio City at 1 a.m took the Halsema Highway passing through La Trinidad, Atok and  Buguias  route. The travel took 5 hours with the rough, bumpy, curvy and foggy road. I must warn you, the ride won’t be easy. We arrived in Sitio Dada, Bakun before 6 a.m. ate breakfast and start to hike at around 8 a.m.

 

  1. MT. LUBO

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As an amateur hiker this is the easiest mountain to hike among the three. We started to ascend from Sitio Dada with a decent pathway. However when we went down the traverse route that will take us to Poblacion, it was very steep with slippery loose soil and dried leaves that fell down from forest trees. I admit I slipped a hundred times so a good hiking shoes and trail stick are recommended. The hike to the summit took us 1 hour 30 minutes while the descending hike took us 2 hours.

 

Registration and Environmental Fee: Php 100

Guide Fee:

  • Traverse: Php 800/ 6 pax (if more than 6 additional Php 100/ person, maximum of 8 pax)
  • Back Trail: Php 600/ 6 pax (if more than 6 additional Php 100/ person, maximum of 8 pax)

2. MT. KABUNIAN

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In one of native Cordilleran dialect Kabunian means God. This mountain is believed to be where their God is staying. I actually agree with it since judging how difficult the path is. It gives an impression that Kabunian doesn’t want to be bothered so he stays in a very difficult to reach place. I would describe this as the most “buwis buhay” (near death) and difficult path I ever took among all of my hiking experience so far. Aside from the steep or assault loose soil path, what makes my knees shake are the cliffs. One mistake and you are done. For those who are scared of heights like me better bag lots of courage with you. I’m telling you it won’t be easy. I admit I almost cried in the middle of the hike since it is already dark and we haven’t reached the camp site yet and seeing how far we need to hike more and the number of cliff and assault we need to pass through. The hike to the campsite is approximately 3 ½ hours, then from the campsite to the summit is 10-15 minutes and the descending hike took around 3 hours.

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The steep path to Mt. Kabunian! Photo credit to Team Ladaw

Registration Fee and Environmental Fee: Php 100

Guide Fee:

  • Day Hike: Php 1000/ 6 pax (if more than 6 additional Php 100/ person, maximum of 8 pax)
  • Overnight: Php 1,300/ 6 pax (if more than 6 additional Php 100/ person, maximum of 8 pax)
  • Note: additional of 100 Php 100/ hour after 12 noon the next day for overnight hike

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The narrowest trail I ever had! Photo credit to Team Ladaw3

3. MT. TENGLAWANDSC04960-01

If Mt. Lubo is the easiest, Mt. Kabunian is the most difficult then Mt. Tenglawan is the longest hike. Approximately 7 hours hike one way, with ascending and descending path. Gladly unlike Mt. Kabunian it doesn’t have cliff however most of the hike will be a battle between assault loose gravel and soil. Most day hikers start the trail as early as 4 am to get to the summit at 10 am or 11 am. As for my team we start to hike at 2:30 pm and arrived at the camping site at 9:30 p.m. It was very creepy to hike in a steep forest in the dark. The campsite has an improvised toilet for your call of nature. From the campsite it takes 30 minutes hike to the summit. The summit is beautiful at sunrise, mostly composed of mountain views however if you are looking for sea of clouds don’t expect it from here.

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6:30 am sunrise of Mt. Tenglawan!

Registration and Environmental Fee: Php 100

Guide Fee:

  • Day hike: Php 1,300 / 6 pax (if more than 6 additional Php 100/ person, maximum of 8 pax)
  • Overnight: Php 1,500/ 6 pax (if more than 6 additional Php 100/ person, maximum of 8 pax)
  • Overtime fee after 12 noon the next day for overnight hike additional Php100/ hour/ guide

For more inquiries contact their Tourism Officer Ms. Nenita at 0918 352 3722

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This post is made possible by Team Ladaw, shout out to the amazing team for organizing this event. For more inquiries about their upcoming events visit their facebook page on the link below or contact them at 0919 311 3226 and 0956 657 5887

https://www.facebook.com/teamladaw/