Project 2 Weeks Out: The Bangkok Life (Part 2)

How do you recover from a hangover and still manage a full day of exploring. I guess I just have to find out. I remember downing a couple, or was it three? bottles of Singha before walking down with another cup of beer back to my hostel. It was an awesome night of drinking alone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being sarcastic here or anything. The introvert me did enjoy the night.

I had a full day of walking and eating planned for the day. But first, breakfast.

I walked around my hostel searching for food. But there was nothing open that early in the morning. I had the impression that Thais generally don’t start their days early like Filipinos. Are we the only ones who wake up five in the morning? Anyways, I walked a couple of blocks and saw these small carts but they didn’t seem to register as breakfast to my brain. I walked further and over the bridge and another block away and voila! I smell breakfast!

 

I found this couple cooking up freshly fried dough served immediately while brewing coffee on another table. I’ve never seen real, freshly brewed coffee made on the sidewalk in the Philippines.

I sat down on one of their tables set up on the side with some locals joining me for the morning. That unfamiliar tone and sound reminded me that I am in Thailand. I got more appreciative of the morning. The roads were still calm the air a bit cool and crisp, and the crowd has not risen to venture the streets of the Khaosan district.

Coffee was amazing and the bread just complimented the morning’s soft atmosphere. After finishing my cup, I walked back to my hostel. I packed for an entire day of walking and sight seeing. The plan was to do a walking tour of Bangkok old district. A pre-planned route was mapped out making a short bearable walk from one spot to another. This way I wouldn’t notice that I’ve walked so much until my feet actually hurts. That was expected.

Since I thought of having Khaosan road as my base in Bangkok, I placed my starting point there. I walked back to the area from my hostel and found my self to my first temple. Ever. For real. The Wat Chana Songkhram Rachawora Mahawiharn (of course I googled it this time! LOL) more popularly known as Wat Songkran, this temple comes specially alive during Songkran. As the name suggests, the temple is specially dedicated to the celebration of new year that the Thai people loves welcoming with water fights in the city.

Experiencing my first temple was something. It was an overwhelming

 

 

 

 

 

I lost track of time and spent a good hour in the temple. The atmosphere was just so calm and relaxing as if I was on a retreat. But I had to get my self back on track, there’s a lot more to see this day.

I continued walking down the road until I got to this round about with elephant heads towering over the streets. I don’t mean to be rude, but Thailand’s culture is totally different from the Philippines. Every scene was as exotic to my eyes that I’d take sneakily take photos of people both lay and monks walking around.

 

My next destination is a small community block dating to the early 20th century. I’m not really sure why I wanted to see this place but I was intrigued. There was some sort of mystery to it that made we want to check it out. It was not the usual Bangkok attraction. From what I know, this use to be part of the place grounds but was then converted by another king and was made into a housing project (if I am not mistaken).

 

 

The buildings there today is said to look exactly the same as about almost a century ago. The people who lives there came together in restoring this historic place. Yes this is a living and breathing community with people living and working in and around the block. It’s just so nice to think that it is possible to have these kinds of places exist. That it doesn’t have to be touristy at all for us to save such heritage.

I walked around the community for a few minutes. The day was so hot that I started looking for a store to buy some water. I saw some people congregating at a nearby store looking corner so I approached. I was just so glad to see tables and chairs under a good shade. The heat was unrelenting though. The hot air was as damp as it could be that it felt just as hot even if I was not under the Sun. I inspected the store a little more seeking for something more than a bottle of water. Then I saw a sign on one of their fridge “Coconut Ice Cream”. God I need it badly right now I said to my self. I ordered one. Little did I knew (I only found about this when I got  back to Manila), the ice cream that I was eating was actually the best coconut ice cream there is in Thailand as hailed by Luis Vuitton.

After a few more minutes, I felt I’ve recovered enough to continue my journey. Man, looking back this was November when it was suppose to be cool but no! It was sweltering hot that day! Anyways off to my next destination; The Giant Swing.

Honestly the giant swing is nothing more than a tall red wooden structure. It used to hold the royal swing that was used during special occasions. It is said that only important cities in Thailand have these giant swings reaffirming Bangkok’s special role even before it became the nation’s capital.

Just literally right across the giant swing is the Wat Suthat. I don’t really know if this temple has some historical significance to Bangkok but this is the most memorable for me. I got in at the time when there are people praying. Not just some ordinary prayers said secretly in their head. It was a prayer resonating across the majestic halls of the temple; it was a mesmerizing chant. I stepped in and sat among the locals. I somewhat felt so calm and relaxed that I wanted to finish the entire prayers. I closed my eyes and just listened to the tones so foreign yet so beautiful to my ears.

I had to make a conscious effort to extricate my self from the hypnotic atmosphere of the temple. It was so enchanting even just sitting there and listening to their chants was such an experience. You can just get lost in the feeling of peace and calmness.  I didn’t notice I haven’t had lunch yet and it’s past 1PM already, I wouldn’t have notice it if not for my grumbling stomach. I have one more stop though.

There’s another temple near Wat Suthat. A less glamorous and smaller temple, not a Buddhist one. This is the temple of Brahmin. A small temple of golden hindu gods for priests, teachers and protector of sacred scriptures.

 

 

I didn’t understand anything at this temple. There wasn’t enough to read. Inside the temple though, there’s this certain feeling so different from the Buddhist temple I just visited. No offence but it was a bit off of a feeling. I walked through the entire hall of the temple and got out right away.

My stomach reminded me that I should be going now, foraging food.

Walking straight to the Democracy Monument then turning to one of the avenues radiating from the roundabout, I discovered a spot. It was a restaurant serving some sort of noodle soup in a bowl. The serving was in small portions at ฿12 each. It was perfect for me at that time since I really don’t eat in volumes back then.

From a stack of bowls the cook took one and poured in some soup. It was served to me along with some condiments like chili and vinegar. It was an interesting bowl of noodles. The soup was not that spicy hot, hence you get a cup of chili on the side if you want to level up. The store also served Chicharon and bread similar to what I ate that morning. I ordered both and a glass of some sweet tea they also sell.

It would take a few month after before I would learn that what I ate is called as Boat Noodles. These are bowls of noodles  in small portions because they were originally sold people working on boats. Hence the small serving so the food wont spill when the boat rocks.

My next destination as the Golden Mount. I tried using the maps manually since I didn’t had internet (and i forgot that I had Maps.me that time) and this is where the fun begins. I followed a small alley that seem to be like a short cut to where I wanna go. It took me to a residential area and it wasn’t something tourists would normally go through. But the path was promising. I saw signs pointing to a temple. I just followed them until I unexpectedly found my self inside the Wat Thepthidaram Worawihan.

 

 

I left after checking out the the big halls that were mostly closed. Truth is, I may have spent more time trying to figure out how to get out of the compound. Fortunately I found my way out.

Beside this Wat was a park with the king’s statue on it. It was a nice park but it was so hot I didn’t notice that one of the places i wanted to see was totally at the back of the park, the Lao Prasat!

 

On my way to the Golden Mount passed by this bridge that I later learned was built a hundred years ago. It’s amazing how Thailand has managed to preserve such structures. It also helped that the country has not been conquered by any other country. Thailand also has not gone through any serious or heavily damaging war in its history.

I bought my ticket to the temple as I arrived. On my way up, it felt a bit more comfortable with the mist machines spraying cool mist. The stairs go round the hill all the way to the top where the temple is built.

 

 

Half-way up the stairs an amazing view of Bangkok awaits you. The view point overlooks the Wat Saket school compound with its beautiful Thai architecture themed roofs. I could have spent more time here just looking at this beautiful view, but I got a list to finish on this trip. I continued  walking up until I reached the temple. Like the usual, I took off my shoes and observed. People were praying and meditating. The wind blowing was so refreshing. It was an escape to the scathing heat of the Bangkok weather.

Exploring the temple I noticed people were going to a certain direction with a line growing. I lined up and found the main altar. It was beautiful corner where a Buddha is enshrined. It seemed like it was telling you to join him and meditate. If only you could. If you are lucky like me you can spend a little more time here, I was last on the line and no one else followed. See that photo below? It was a challenge taking that photo. The area was sooo narrow but thank God for wide angle lens and bigger sensors on mirrorless cameras.

On your way down the temple you will be taking a different set of stairs. Remember that view earlier, make sure you take that. Fortunately I didn’t pass the opportunity to take a picture of it. Anyways back down the hill, you will find another chapel like structure. People buy gold leaves then puts them on the Buddha. Don’t ask me why, I don’t have an idea either hahaha!

I got a bit lost on my way out so I rewarded my self some iced coffee. I sat down on the small cart’s tables and chairs set up just outside the temple gates. After chatting with the vendor for quite a bit, feeling a little rested already I continued by journey to my next stop. Near the old bridge I passed by earlier is the canal boat terminal. I wanted to take it to my next stop but I got overwhelmed as I couldn’t understand the system. Later on, I learned that it actually wasn’t going my way. Nothing lost there.

 

Bangkok has so many temples that you’d be templed out if you visit all of them. It seems this old part of the city is just blessed with so much beautiful and intricately designed detailed architecture. As I navigate the streets to my next temple, I chanced upon another beautiful structure. I’m not sure what it is called but it was definitely worth stopping for this.

They say the next stop I’m going to is the birthplace of the Thai massage. This is where the famous massage was created and still is being taught to people to this day. It was worth the long walk. Welcome to Wat Pho.

 

Though this place is famous for Thai massage it was not the reason I came here for. I wanted to see the huge reclining Buddha that is said to be the biggest reclining gold plated Buddha in the world. The biggest or not, it was amazing. I took off my shoes and placed in the plastic bag provided. I carried it with me. At the side of the temple are small metal bowls where you can drop coins at. They say that if you manage to properly distribute the coins up to the last metal bowl is that your wish will come true.

 

 

Outside the reclining Buddha’s temple is the monastery. I saw people talking or praying with monks. They may be asking for prayers or blessings. It seem like it. There was a sign on the entrance that I don’t understand. I didn’t have any business there anyway so I just walked away.

Near the Wat Pho temple is the Grand Palace. I thought it over if I should go or not and decided to skip it. Entrance to the palace is quite expensive at ฿500. It was closing already in a little more than an hour so I thought of going there some other time. I wanted to make sure that I get more time spent exploring the palace than I can that time since it was that expensive. Then again I should be leaving for another city the next day, so I guess that’s a good reason to come back to Bangkok.

The grand palace and Wat Pho is located near the banks of the Chao Phraya river and across it is another symbol of Thailand’s rich culture, the Temple of Dawn. Also known as Wat Arun, this temple though one of the famous landmarks that identifies Thailand ironically showcases a Prang. This tower built in Khmer style was originally built as a Hindu temple to the god Aruna. Today Wat Arun still is venerated though as a Buddhist temple now.

Entrance fee to the temple it self is about ฿45 but it was closed to the public when I visited due to the massive restoration that was going on. Nevertheless, being on the public grounds around the temple was enough for me. From there I had the opportunity to gaze at the intricately designed temple.

I watched the Sun lie low while at the temple grounds. It was quite unusual for me, as a photographer I have this fascination with light and how it affects the things that we see. It was almost 6 PM when I decided to move on with my journey for the day. I boarded back the ferry and cross the river seeing that beautiful view of the Wat Arun once again from the other side of the river.

 

 

My hostel is about 3 kilometers, you I’m cheap but also I want to savor Bangkok with all what is left of my time here. I decided to walk. A few minutes into walking I saw this tent where people were lining up. As I get nearer I learned that these were tents giving out food for FREE! They were giving out free food (I later learned) as their act of kindness in memory of their recently passed king. I lined up and was practically invited to eat as they hand me food. I sat near the gutter and ate my free food along with local Thais who are in the area.

 

 

It was a good meal and I thought that it was in good timing since I was planning to walk all the way back to my hostel. While I gallivant along the my way back my eyes caught attention. A pier! I’ve always wanted to experience  riding the Chao Phraya river ferry. I think this is one good way of avoiding the traffic (though its very minimal around this district). I hopped on the water bus packed with locals, nope I didn’t take the more expensive tourist boat. Even if I was willing to take it, it still wouldn’t take me all the way the stop where I need to go.

 

 

 

The river smelled something. It wasn’t that pleasant of a small at all. It reminded of me the Pasig river, albeit a bit more tolerable. It was fast and easy to navigate. A conductor takes your payment if you haven’t at the ticket post. I was aiming to get off at a specific pier that was less than a hundred meters from my hostel. I miscalculated my stop and prematurely got off the boat. Well at least I had fun and cut my walk into half. Just my luck, I found this lady selling a crepe like sweet cream wrapped in a barquillo like bread. It was ฿5 each and the lady gave me freshly cooked ones. Meal is now complete!

 

To be honest I was kinda lost and it took me another good hour to locate my hostel. I got to my bed and closed my eyes and woke up a few hours later startled! I realized that I forgot about something. I opened my computer and checked my itinerary. I was right! You know that feeling that there’s something that doesn’t seem right then confirming it? Well I just forgot that I was suppose to leave for Pattaya that night. But I was so tired. All the walking from the day rendered me useless and lifeless. So I slept the night through and opted to leave early morning the following day. I guess this is how I say goodbye to Bangkok.

Part 1: Flying Out
Part 2: Finding My Way Home

Part 3: The Bangkok Life (Part 1)
Part 4: The Bangkok Life (Part 2)
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Project 2 Weeks Out: The Bangkok Life (Part 1)

Dead tired, I slept as soon as I was given a bed. I was too tired that I had no trouble sleeping even if it was sweltering hot. At last at 5 PM they turned the AC on. Ah thank God! I snoozed a bit for a few hours and woke up around 9PM.

Dang I slept! That was me regretting that I snoozed for a couple of hours. Hahaha! I really wanted to explore at least the area right away, but I was just too tired. I stood up immediately from the bed and checked on my gadgets that had been charging for the last few hours. I was so excited and hungry that I was soooo ready to eat! But then, my gadgets didn’t charge. It could have been because of the charging head or cable. I honestly don’ know. With the little battery life I had I took my vlogging cam with me and my other camera, got out of the hostel and just started walking around.

I deliberately tried to get lost and walk away from most of the foot traffic. I wanted to see something not so on the list for Bangkok. You know what I’m saying? Ugh. A few minutes, okay maybe about fifteen minutes into my walk  I think I saw what I was looking for. Something not touristy. It was a park by the banks of the Chao Praya river with a magnificent structure that may have been built as a fortification. I walked into the park and guess what, I found what I was looking for.

I am not looking for something that I think would get sensational. I look for something that feels so mundane that makes you feel as if you are a local yet so beautiful. It wasn’t something huge that people should start flocking, like I said it was just beautiful. As i walk towards the edge of the park and into the banks of the river an breath taking view dawned unto me. The magnificent Rama IV bridge at a distant.

Spending about a few minutes in the park was awesome. Looking out at the bridge gave me some sense of realization that, hey Ian, You are here! You are finally backpacking across southeast Asia, this is really it!!! On the left side of the park is a beautiful pavilion. It was off limits though. Maybe it’s an important structure of some sort but I didn’t find any markers on it.

 

It’s amazing how you can forget that you haven’t had food yet for so many hours and that you are actually hungry when you see beautiful places.  Until you remember you are hungry. Hahaha!  I decided to move forward and continue walking on the street that I was at. There was nothing much going on in that area and I was really hungry.

A few meters more I found a map! At this point I’m not that familiar with Khaosan road’s geography yet. The hungry kid inside me said, look at that freaking map that’s posted out of no where and get your self some food! I learned that I was just still a few hundred meters from Khaosan.  I tried to navigate the streets to Khaosan but somehow I got unintentional lost this time. I found my self surrounded with loads and loads of food stalls. It didn’t feel like it was Khaosan, I said to my self. I searched for street signs, that was quite difficult, and was surprised to learn that I am on a food street called Rambuttri road.

I really didn’t knew anything about this street. All I cared about was Khaosan road and its party scene. But then Rambuttri for was better. It has proper restaurants and bar that you can step in. As for a budget traveler like me, there lots of street food options where you can eat on their sidewalk setup chairs and tables. From soups to main dishes till you crave for something sweet for your desert, you’ll find everything here.

Almost at the end of the street, I saw an interesting stall. A mix of familiar ingredients but completely new way of preparation is presented. It was what I have been waiting to taste on this trip. An authentic Pad Thai. I’ve tasted Pad Thai before from a Thai restaurant in Manila, but I want to taste an authentic one. The sight of the stall stopped my foot and held my breath for a good few seconds then had a good deep breath.

I walked right up to her stall and tried to order one. It was a challenge. She could barely speak English and I had no clue how to speak Thai. But she did knew her ingredients. I think she assumed that I want to order Pad Thai (it was her main product) and started asking me if I wanted shrimp or pork and if I wanted it spicy.

 

She asked me to sit down and wait as she tosses my food to be cooked on her flat pan. The smell of it was so fragrant that it build up my excitement and anxiousness to finally taste a real Pad Thai. A few minutes later she handed me a plateful of Pad Thai goodness. I felt overwhelmed with how much Pad Thai there in that plate all for just 45 Bhat.

A medley of rice noodles  spices pork bits and vegetables tossed together in a flat pan. It was a feast for my eyes. I could have taken a million photos on my phone before I actually started eating it. I mixed this concoction of goodness to evenly spread the spices. Smoke was still rising from the dish complimenting the bright red spices adorning the dish.

The Pad Thai experience was just awesome. Better than expected. I might just got lucky that I found the Pad Thai lady. But the night still is young. I walked through the whole Rambuttri street. Apart from food, there are stalls that sell clothes and souvenirs. One stall caught my attention, it was selling Muay Thai clothes. I was really a fan of the sport but it was just too expensive, so I gave it a hard pass.

I took a right and followed the flow of people. My instinct was right. There it was, the center of the backpacking universe as they call it. I have seen the street already that day but it was different at night. The vibe was so alive like everyone has no plan of sleeping until they’re drunk enough to pass out. It was electrifying.

I’ve always seen my self hanging out with travelers on this street but I’m only staying for a couple of days. It was too short to make new friends and the French Canadian guys in the dorm I was staying with weren’t really into making friends. I paced back and forth Khaosan to find a good place to sit in by my self and just have a beer or two and watch people. I didn’t want to be in the loud bars -gahd am I that old already? lol – and found a nice calm atmosphered restaurant.

I sat and ordered a bottle of Singha and just watched other travelers pass by. Some just arrived others leaving while others seem to be lost in the crowd finding their hostel. Khaosan road maybe a bit too much for some people. Others may say they hate it deeming its so much of a cliche. But Khaosan road gained its reputation for a reason and being at the crossroad of the backpacking universe is just one experience a backpacker must have at least once in their lives.

This Post is part of my Project 2 Weeks Out. I traveled through the Indochina region for 14 days on my own. This will be a series recounting the adventures and misadventures I experienced the entire two weeks of my travel 

Part  1: Flying Out 
Part  2: Finding My Way Home 
Part  3: The Bangkok Life (Part 1)
Part  4: The Bangkok Life (Part 2)

Don't forget to sign-up on our mailing list for updates

 

Project 2 Weeks Out: Finding My Home

Do you ever get that inexplicable feeling whenever you land in a place you have never been to? Me too! I had mixed emotions as the plane landed at the Bangkok airport. But one thing was for sure, I was confident that I am prepared or so I thought (that I was prepared). I’ll talk more about that later. Anyways, I know everyone was eager to get out of he plane after being stuck in that tube for hours. But hey, you know the doors ain’t open yet. Worst, you know that there’s gonna be a bunch of people standing on the aisle. All of them trying to get their bags from the overhead bins. You also know that you won’t get through to the door until everyone at the front rows gets off.  So peeps! Come on! Chillax!

I finally got off the plane and followed the flow of people to the immigration center. It’s this huge hall where lines snake around poles leading people to some desk. While in line and filling up my arrival card, I noticed a field asking for my hotel. Remember I said I am confident earlier? Well this is the point I threw that I idea out the window. I calmly took my phone out and searched for some wifi. Luckily, Bangkok’s airport had one, albeit it was really hard to connect. My heart beat a bit faster. I was praying that the airport police wouldn’t notice me and question me what’s the hold up about. I was trying to manage reserving a hotel for a good 30 minutes. I wanted to make sure that the immigration officers can verify my accommodation. Finally, I booked one!

I went back to the immigration hall and fell back in line. It was fast, pain free and not much questions was asked. Stamped, I am in! The Bangkok airport has an industrial design with its interior. It was actually a bit of a surprise for me. I’ve imagined the airport interiors to be some what with modern and clean lines just like its exterior. Anyways it was okay. As soon as I got out to the arrivals area, I quickly looked for the money changers. I checked each and every shop only to find out that they were giving the same rate. One tip though. Don’t change all of your money here., try to go to Pratunam. I, on the other hand changed my entire Thailand budget here. No biggie though, it wasn’t that big of a budget! lol!

While having snacks, I was trying to figure out how to get to the city. Being a train fan, I was torn on spending a little more on taking the metro to the city then getting on a cab to Khao San or just take a bus straight to the center of the backpacking universe. I looked for the information office to see what are my options. They advised me to just take the bus, but the railway fan in me won. With much hesitation I find my way to the airport MRT station. I bought a one way ticket all the way to Phaya Thai station, as advised by the tourism officer. It was a good 30-45 minutes from the station to the end of the line.

I was advised at the airport to take a cab from Phaya Thai. But then my stingy adventurer mind kept on saying JUST TAKE THE FREAKIN BUS! Hahahaha! I gave in. The information counter at the station instructed me to get to the Victory Monument station from where I can take a bus to Khaosan road.

The Victory Monument probably was the first landmark I’ve seen in Thailand. To be honest, I am a bit overwhelmed at this point.  it’s now about past 12 in the afternoon, 1PM I think and I’ve not ate anything yet except for the light snack in the airport. I walked across the pedestrian platform that safely takes people from one corner of this busy intersection to another. Here, buses from all over the district stops, drops off and takes passengers with them.

I was waiting for a bus of a certain route, a number assigned. I thought I saw one, but hesitated. Was I scared? That certain bus doesn’t come too often. I had to wait for another good 30  minutes until another one finally comes around. I got on the bus and took the seat available nearest to the door. The bus had a lady conductor and with this bamboo like contraption she uses to hold both tickets and coins, she tore a piece of a ticket for me for a measly 15 baht.

The lady conductor dropped me off near a plaza, I was told that here is where I get off for Khaosan road. I crossed the street and saw signs leading to the famed street. I checked on the street address of my hostel. After walking through Khaosan road from one end to another and back I didn’t find my hostel. I looked at the hostel address again and realized that it’s not on Khaosan! ugh!

Feeling a bit dumb of my self, I pulled out my phone and opened my Maps.me app. I searched for directions going to the Flying Cow Hostel and guess what? It is off Khaosan road by almost 1km. I started walking away from the famous road towards the western part of the district. Through an alley, off a bridge, a couple of wrong turns and several blocks later I found my home for the next couple of days in Bangkok.

The hostel’s reception doubles as a cafe and bar during the day. In a true hostel fashion, I walked in at an empty reception and table full of blokes drinking beer. I waited a few minutes until the receptionist came. I paid for my bed and was led to the dorms. It was a simple bunk bed with curtains for doors. Like most hostels in Bangkok, Air conditioning is off during the day and doesn’t come on till about 5pm. But I was way beyond that. I just wanted to lay my back on this.. uhmm… well…. quite hard of a bed. Well that is what $4 gets you. It was enough anyway, enough for me to get comfy or was just really exhausted for travelling more than half the day? So I lay. This is home for now.

This Post is part of my Project 2 Weeks Out. I traveled through the Indochina region for 14 days on my own. This will be a series recounting the adventures and misadventures I experienced the entire two weeks of my travel 

Part  1: Flying Out 
Part  2: Finding My Way Home 

Don't forget to sign-up on our mailing list for updates

 

Project 2 Weeks Out: I’m Flying Out

It was just a dream that became a plan, that became an adventure. For years, I’ve dreamed of seeing southeast Asia like I’ve never seen any other place before. Southeast Asia was a dream land for me. I would often day dream about walking along the streets of Saigon and just sit down at a random food stay in a corner. May be think of going on adventures with some stranger I met on the road and make memories. It was some sense of freedom that I was dreaming about. Much like how I felt the first time I moved out of my parents house.

This is it, here I come Indochina.

Planning took forever and it never felt that I was done planning until the day I left. I would keep on recomputing and rechecking on my itineraries, bus tickets and hostel reservations. There’s this  sense of uncertainty that made the trip seem to be more exciting. The feeling of unpredictability appealed so much to me, I was so ready for adventure!

And so the day came. I packed up everything, fitting 2 weeks of my life inside a 45 liter bag. I asked my dad to bring me to the bus stop since it was about past midnight and there were no cabs going out of the village.  My house is about one and a half hours away from the airport. A bus and a jeepney ride after I was at the airport trying to hold my self together. I was nervous, I was trying to snap back into to my self, that this is really happening.

There’s one thing you should know though. This was not suppose to be a solo trip. I invited my best friend to be part of it, I mean wouldn’t it be a lot more fun if you have someone to go on adventures with? Unfortunately He bailed out. Anyways it turned out fine.

Arriving at the airport with enough time, 3 hours before my flight I foraged for food first.

My head was scouring through my memory if there’s anything else I have forgotten to buy or bring. I wanted to make sure that I had everything and just buy at the airport if I forget something at home. Knowing that I’ve not left anything I ate breakfast at Jollibee.

 

After filling my tummy, I went to pay for my travel tax. Yep Filipinos pay the government each time we go out of the country. As I approached the Check-In counter area I was greeted with a line I couldn’t imagine could happen that early in the morning. So I fell in line just like everyone else. When it was my turn I gave my passport and itinerary. I asked for a window seat as usual. I like windows seats not just because I like watching my window as we take off but it is also a good place to sleep during flights. Wish granted.

Like the usual, there’s a huge line of people trying to get through. The immigration officer didn’t ask much, just asked for my return ticket. I got stamped out then through security. This is also the first time that I am taking a flight in the morning. Most if not all of my flights arrives at night time or leaves really late at night since they are the cheapest ones.

For the first time in my life, I welcomed the sun while watching planes come and go before me. It was magical for me. We boarded the plane and as always I boarded last. I save my self from standing in line while all seats have been reserved for you. When the last person in line went through the gate I stood up and boarded. As I enter the plane I find my self way at the back of the plane. I stood in front of the row printed on my boarding pass and there was this white guy occupying my seat. I’m not the confrontational type, so I called on the Cebu Pacific flight attendant to help me out. She didn’t even bother to inform the person that he is on the wrong seat, she just asked me to take the last row. The entire row was empty, and since the seats do not recline on that row I just used all seats as a bed! To be honest I would had still wanted my original seat. But all is done now anyway.

 

Off to the skies we go. I try my best to sleep since I’ve been awake since the night before. I’ve only managed to get a few naps or so I think. I’m actually not sure how much sleep I was able to snag. I wasn’t keeping track. I tried to sleep as much as I could, see even though I love flying I’m not the best at it. I get terrified easily with turbulence and crazy things start running through my head almost instantly.

A few hours after, the captain spoke on the intercom informing us that we are nearing our final descent, the time and the weather in Bangkok. A few minutes more, touch down. Welcome to Suva… heck I can’t even pronounce it! Welcome to Bangkok!

 

This Post is part of my Project 2 Weeks Out. I traveled through the Indochina region for 14 days on my own. This will be a series recounting the adventures and misadventures I experienced the entire two weeks of my travel 

Part  1: Flying Out
Part  2: Finding My Way Home
Don't forget to sign-up on our mailing list for updates

 

MEANDER TAIPEI HOSTEL REVIEW

I rarely never go on birthday trips, so when I decided to go on one I made sure that it’s going to be a good one. So I booked my self a ticket to my favorite city (out of my country) Taipei and thought that I should give my self a treat and get good accommodation.

After sooo much research on where to stay with the kind of budget that I have I was able to find the best deal I could. The hostel was tucked right off Zhongxing Bridge near the Danshui river. It was the right amount of accessibility and peacefulness, this is the Meander Taipei Hostel.

I arrived at the hostel a bit two early for check in and it was a full house. So one of the staff -Wendy gave me a nice tour of the hostel and some more information on what to do around the hostel.

 

 

 

 

 

Since my bed was still being made I opted to see some sights first and come back later that day.

When I got back, I was lead to my bed by another staff at the upper floors. I was assigned to a four-bed-room along with other backpackers. The room smelled clean and warm which was so comforting against the cold Taipei weather. Each bed is furnished with comforters and linens that will just make you want to stay in bed all day!

The beds in the dorm room offers some privacy with their capsule like enclosures and curtains. The dorm room also has its own shower and toilet that are immaculately clean. This is somewhat a super special detail if you ask backpackers as we are used to shared baths outside of our rooms. The best part of this is that there’s no shortage of hot water when you shower while the water pressure is just awesome.

 

 

 

 

Aside from dorm rooms Meander Taipei also has private rooms that you can book if you are not that accustomed to sleeping in dorms. They have amazing amenities for each room with personally appointed furnishings.

I love how Meander Taipei is located. It is perfectly positioned at the end of the Chengdu road, a few blocks away from the Ximen Station. I like its location because it is not far from the main hustle and bustle of the Ximen District yet offers a quick retreat when you need some peace and quiet.

Mornings are also hassle free as you will wake up to a continental breakfast buffet where you can get some coffee, tea or hot choco at the counter. Fruits are also served while Porridge is readily available for those who are seeking for a nice warm soup dish.

 

 

 

 

 

If you have nothing to do outside or just too lazy to go out (like me most of the time) Meander Taipei has a great common area where you can hang out or actually work if you have a remote job. They have huge communal tables that are near power sockets if you need to plug in you dying laptop or tablet. WiFi connection everywhere in the hostel is also superb that I could just upload a VLog on Youtube at a fraction of the time I would normally spend in the Philippines.

The price of Meander hostel is slightly higher than many of the hostels in the Ximen district, but I think is quite reasonable. You can only expect top notch quality rooms from the hostel that are all sound proof! If you are looking for something special yet still affordable and reasonable at the same time, I can assure you that Meander Taipei hostel can definitely fit the bill.

Meander Taipei Hostel
108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Taipei, Republic of China.
+886 2 2383 1334
You can book them through Booking.com or Agoda.com

Throwback 2017

February is over, yet here I am trying to write this post. A year-end-summary-post of some kind. Tradition, can’t break it. Albeit, late for 2017. Looking back at my year I think I did pretty well for some jobless dude.

I started 2017 thinking that I’ll be staying home more trying to come up with some great idea that will make me rich… errr more like survive the year without getting a job. Ha! It turns out the opposite though, I actually dove deeper into travel!

My travel year started by crossing out one of my bucket list items; The Sinulog. I remember almost not going on this trip. I only had a one way ticket to the Island.

January –  Sinulog Festival /Bambanti Festival

The festival that I’ve been dreaming of seeing finally has been crossed out of my list. Albeit, I really didn’t see the festival proper, but that just gives me a reason to see it again.

February – Liwliwa


March – Taiwan

The trip that I was most excited about last year, my return to Taiwan. My favorite country in the world! This trip had one purpose, to experience the hot springs tucked in the hills of Beitou. I wasn’t disappointed at all.

March – La Union

.Not really my trip but my friend invited me to join her and just loosen up a bit from work (as if I had one lol)

April – Sagada

Another invite. My friend Diane’s uncle came to Manila for vacation and wanted to visit the mountains. So Diane tagged me along to re-experience the caves of Sagada. Not so much to talk about this trip really hahaha!


June – Quiapo Photowalk/ Tabaco Festival

On a rare chance my schedule actually worked for one of my friend’s invite

 

July – Boracay

I bought a ticket for about 200 pesos two way on a seat sale to this island paradise. What sucks though on this trip is that it was raining the entire time I was there! Good thing I had great accommodations at Sinagpa Backpackers and W Hostel so I still had a great time!

August- Taal Vista

You know how important a good hotel is? Well Taal Vista proved it to me. There was a hurricane when I visited the property but there was so much to do to keep me entertained in the Hotel that it didn’t matter if I couldn’t go out. Thankfully on my last day the Sun showed it self and I enjoyed the pool!

November – Guam

I am a sucker for seat sales and yes I booked this on one. I’ve always wanted to see this Island and see how American it is… well… I’ve got a whole post coming up about this but just give you a hint, its full of drama! Haahaha…. watch out for it!

Well I guess that rounds up my 2017. I am just glad that I managed to survive and even travel that entire year from what I got from my benefits from my previous job. It was an eventful and exciting year indeed, I hope I can still pull it off this year!

Must Eat food in Belize

Belize has Mexico towards its northern borders and Guatemala towards the west and the Caribbean Sea on the east side. Although overshadowed by its better-known neighbors, Belize is still able to hold on its own and shine on the map of tourism because of its untouched jungles and pristine beaches, and not to miss, the rich culinary scene. The small but diverse country reflects its amalgamation of ethnicities in the Belizean kitchen. Here, one can savor dishes from all over the world that have been reinterpreted the local way. Explore Belize, not just for its spectacular views and incredible adventures but also for the new taste sensations that arise from the melting pot of different cuisines! All you need to do is book yourself a Belize overwater bungalow with great views, impeccable services and get ready for an extraordinary journey.

Belize is well famous as a Foodie’s paradise because of the abundance of different mouth-watering cuisines that are sure to keep you salivating and come back for more! Here are some of the most popular dishes that are a must-have while in Belize.

Belizean ceviche
Ceviche is found all over South America, Central America, and Mexico. However, there is something different about Belizean ceviche that is made from raw conch and shrimp. Typical ceviches are heavily fish based and are sweeter.

 

Pupusas
Pupusas can be easily bought from street vendors and are simple, crisp and saucy. The stuffed corn pancakes were brought by refugees from El Salvador, and today it is a very popular snack. Enjoy homemade hot sauce and coleslaw with your Pupusas. It is no wonder to see pupusas become a hot favorite and the delicious little-stuffed corn pancakes can be had any time of the day. The best part is that they come in many different fillings and flavors such as spinach, mushroom, pumpkin, banana, seafood and more.

Chimole
Don’t miss out on this unofficial national dish that is black. The color is because of the broad mix of spices such as the dried red pepper of Yucatan, that is roasted till it is black. The roasted pepper is then grounded with garlic, cumin, and oregano and made into a paste. This is a chief course soup that is made with chicken, lots of veggies and hot spices.

Escabeche
The roots of the exotic chicken soup, Escabeche can be traced back to Yucatec Maya and Spanish cuisine. Lightly broiled and seasoned with oregano and thyme, the chicken is served in a light and clear soup which is seasoned with onions, allspice, black pepper and Jalapeno pepper. The soup base is made of white sugar cane vinegar and chicken stock and is served hot with corn tortillas.

Conch Fritters
Conch fritters are counted amongst the most popular appetizers in the country. It is hard to resist the intriguing mix of chopped conch meat, flour batter, and a spicy dipping sauce. Conch fritters can be easily found in the restaurant menus in the country. As Belize lies in the beautiful Caribbean, it is no surprise to see some excellent seafood, and deep-fried conch fritters are a great hit among the locals and the tourists.

Cochinita Pibil
Cochinita Pibil a traditional dish from the Yucatec-Maya origin and the roasted pork dish is called as Pibil Pork in Spanish. The meat is marinated in an acidic orange juice with annatto seed paste, allspice, garlic, and onion. The meat, wrapped in plantain leaf is kept inside a roasting pan inside a clay oven with firewood. It is smoked and slow cooked for hours until the meat gets succulent and tender.

 

 

Rice and beans
Belize Rice and Bea dish is simply delicious and should not be missed. It is cooked in coconut milk and with a wide range and choice of meat such as lobster, shrimp, chicken, pork, beef or game meat. The meat is cooked with recado and garlic and can be fried, stewed or grilled. When cooked, the meat is placed unto the rice and beans and with the meat or chicken gravy. It is a sinfully delicious dish that is fast turning into something like the national dish.

Belizean tamales
Also known as bollos, tamales are a traditional Maya and Mestizo food. Belizean tamales are different from the Mexican tamale as they are wrapped in plantain leaves in place of corn husks. The seasoned chicken or pork is wrapped in soft corn dough and then steamed in plantain or banana leaves.

 source

 

Belizean Desserts
Local Belizean deserts are many, but the top choice is Soursop ice cream. The sweet and tart Soursop fruit is a leading anti-oxidant and very healthy. It is widely available in Belize and enjoyed with condensed milk and chilled. Another favorite dessert Cassava which is also very nutritious. Craboo is also known as nanche is an ice cream which is made from the different fruits that grow all over the countryside.

Belize Fruit Cake
This is a traditional Belizean rum cake and is baked with preserved fruits and is popularly served during holidays. There is a generous dose of dark local or Caribbean rum in the Belize fruit cake which has a moist inside and a thin brown crust outside. One can enjoy the cake with a soft drink, lemonade or even with a glass of locally made wine. Black Fruit Cake is made with caramel coloring, while the White Fruit Cake is without the caramel. Belize Fruit Cake is a must during the Christmas.

source

 

Corners Of Quiapo

ho doesn’t know Quiapo? Manila’s busy downtown diversely populated by people from different walks of life. Colors everywhere. I have been planning to go back to the streets of Manila and shoot. So when a friend invited me for a walk around this district, I bumped a couple of appointments that day and said yes.

Axl and Dennis are friends who like me, loves the city. But what sets them apart is their immense knowledge about its history. I love walking with them as it makes me feel that when we talk about history is something common and a part of our daily lives.

Quiapo Photowalk

We met up at Kasa Boix, a Spanish era house currently owned by the Jesuits. The house has a long history of neglect bounded by the unwelcomed settlers. About a hundred families live in the house. Just imagine the stress it gives to the structure. Not that I am heartless, but you are living free and uninvited at least respect the structure and do not alter it. Anyways, its a long story though.

Axl’s group are trying to help survive the house with its beautiful and intricate architecture. The battle has been long and still is on to save the house. But they are not giving up. I got interested with the history of the house. The smell of mold invading the house as the wind blows was a bit of a challenge for breathing. I wonder how these families keep up. Axl enthusiastically retold  a bit of the stories of the house from the spanish till the early 70’s when it became a boarding house.

Quiapo Photowalk

We moved on through alleys I’ve never been to. There were are lot of old houses with bits of history told to me as we walk passed by and sometimes through them. Sometimes it gets a bit sad hearing how elegant these houses used to be but has now been left to despair. After a few minutes we found our selves along what used to be Manila’s most beautiful street, Hildalgo street.

Hidalgo street used to be lined with magnificent houses of Manila’s elite. It used to be called as calle San Sebastian as it leads to the beautiful sole steel church in Asia imported all the way from europe, The Basilica of San Sebastian.

Quiapo Photowalk

 

Quiapo Photowalk

The church is specially popular for weddings, no wonder that there was one when we arrived. Walking pass the side of the church I was reminded how the church was endangered by a former parish priest.  He attempted to bore a hole at the back of the church using an acetylene torch to the horror of conservation activists. Quiapo Photowalk

Quiapo Photowalk

Quiapo Photowalk

I was telling Axl and Dennis about this eclectic looking building that I found somewhere within the depths of the internet. So I was really excited to find out that we are actually going to visit this iconic heritage building, the Ocampo Pagoda. I wanted to go inside but apparently the structure has been converted into a dormitory and people actually live there. It may not be an ideal situation for the structure but as long as it would help survive the building, I am for it. At least they didn’t tear the thing down.

Quiapo Photowalk

Quiapo Photowalk

The original property was huge. We can find various remnants of the entire compound. Even the fire box can still be found near one of its former gates. Thank God, no one has attempted to take this! Further down in one of the alleys, Axl took us to one corner. We found a statue of three people dear to the owner’s heart. His wife and two kids.

Quiapo Photowalk

Quiapo Photowalk

Next  on the list is the Quinta Market. The district’s old market was demolished to give way to the new one. I didn’t take photos inside the new market. It was just sad and too dark inside. Outside though is a different story. Commerce is alive, everyone is busy transporting their goods from one place to another.

Quiapo Photowalk

Quiapo Photowalk

Quiapo Photowalk

Furthere down the street is this conic building being used by SM as their outlet store. This used to be a hotel with the top as a revolving restaurant, the first in the country.

Quiapo Photowalk

Quiapo Photowalk

a lola waiting for the bus to pandacan

Quiapo Photowalk

Later that day, we found our selves at the famed street of Escolta. Coffee was good at The Den found in the ground level of the First United Building. This artsy cafe’s interior will just stimulate your creativity and make you want to work more on your projects. It was a nice breather before going to our last stops. The coffee shop was a perfect oasis from that day’s scorching hot air.

Quiapo Photowalk

Dang, I could really never get a perfect photo of this building. I just don’t know what’s wrong. This is the central Post Office of the Philippines. I am not sure if it is the light or something but I could never be satisfied with my photo. We decided to call it a day at Estero de Tondo. It was a fun and productive day for my brain. I can’t wait to go on a walk around this city again with these awesome duo!

Mt. Ugo: Going Beyond My Limits

As I attempt to start this story, I try to recollect my memories on how it all started. How did I got my self hiking this monstrous mountain.

Towards the end of 2015, I finally faced my fears and hiked solo. It was something that I have always wanted to accomplish. This fantasy of walking around nature while thinking about things in life. I am glad I did. On this solo hike I went the down the mountain with a couple of friends. Then one of them stuck out and together we hike some more. Meet Louie. On one of our hikes, we randomly joined a group of hikers looking for people who can fill slots. This is where we met Jurish.

Life got in the way of hiking. My friend and I hiked a little lesser together till work totally hindered me from going. But she together with Jurish hiked on forth.

Even though I never get to join them in their hikes, Louie still updates me with them. Luckily, I got a bunch of leave credits that will expire and I was forced to take them ^_^ . So I plotted my dates and prepped for the hike.

Conquering Mount Ugo

With a bag full of things that I am not quite sure that I’ll be using yet still feeling under-packed, I joined the team waiting in Kamuning to start our journey.

One butt numbing bus and a monster jeep ride later we arrived at the jump off point in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. Last minute preps were made before we said our prayers to start our hike. I was nervous, this inexplicable butterflies in my stomach started making my heart pump harder. My brain started creating these thoughts of what ifs. What if I never make it to the end? What if I fall off a cliff? What if some rebels kidnap us? Yes I was silly nervous. But I didn’t let it show, maybe it actually manifested more as excitement.

 

The trail started with a series of stairs up to a village. The first few hours were a series of assaults that made us start thinking of the usual lines “what have we gotten our selves into?” LOL.

Long walks are nothing if you are with friends, oh yeah I almost forget, I invited Prei (my former officemates) and John (Prei’s boyfriend) and it was epic. I was really impressed how they managed the whole trek even though this was their mother mountain. Yes, a major hike for a first hike…. Hahaha well I did warn them yet they still pushed through, I was really happy.

After the walk through the series of stairs through the mountain side village, the scenery started to become like a park. It actually felt like we were in one of Baguio’s parks with all of those pine trees. We decided to take some good rest at this area, we knew that we will still be facing some serious assaults.Mt. Ugo

 

Mt. Ugo

The sun wasn’t showing it self that day, we were lucky; It made our hike relatively leisurely. The clouds slowly embraced the trail giving this mysterious feel like it was trying hide something from us. As we progress into the trail the heavens showered us with drizzles of rain as if it was playing us making us switch on and off from our rain coats.

It was a busy day for the mountain. Aside from a few groups including ours hiking that day, trail runners were every where vying to be the king of the mountain. We took rest in one of the sheds along the trail where we met one of the runners. He was a bit disappointed because he didn’t made the cutoff time. But then as soon as his friends arrived they pushed through and conquered the trail with or without any recognition, a true athlete indeed.

Mt. Ugo

As for us, we continued our journey to the summit. Honestly I didn’t knew how long the trek was going to be, but that wasn’t an issue all I want was to scale the mountain with friends. That was enough for me.

The trail continue to be as picturesque as it promised on the photos that I’ve seen online. As usual I and Louie are last on the pack, we just can’t help but take photos.

Mt. Ugo

 

Mt. Ugo

Light started to become scarce as we progress, but it was a show by it self. The sky started playing with colors with hues that just takes my breath. Then darkness fell and the rain started pouring. We were still last on the trail with one of the guides. Thankfully, Jurish went ahead of us. He was the kindest of all that I have ever met. He went ahead and made sure that our tents are pitched on the ground to shelter us when the rain pours. Then it happened. The rain fell from the heavens and the strong wind on the summit wasn’t helping at all. I tried to help with the remaining tents that needs to be pitched but the cold got the best of me. I surrendered and retreated inside our tent.

Socials

One of the best part of hiking overnight are the Socials. This is a moment where hikers get to know each other but sharing stories over food and drinks. This was my first. Honestly, I am uncomfortable with such events. But I wanted to make this first one memorable. So with all my energy I went out of my shell. I prepped my psych to mingle with others. I was ready. But then the rain wasn’t stopping.

I collected everyone’s food assignment while Jurish started preparing food. There was something more special about this climb though, it was Louie’s birthday. Jurish connive with me and Amy to surprised Louie with a improv birthday cake. We made all excuses for louie to stay stuck inside our tent while I and Jurish joined Amy in her mansion-like-family-size tent! LOL! We then called Louie to come in, as soon as she opened the tent’s door we started singer her birthday song!

The rain started to weaken to a drizzle, eventually stopping. We called everyone who was still up, it was funny how tried to fit everybody in Amy’s tent. Eventually people started joining and we had to move out of the tent. We shared our first mountaineering experiences and why we climb mountains. It was a good experience for someone like me. I feel icky when I have to do things as such. But I was there all prepped up to interact, so I did. It was a pleasant experience.

The wind got colder and the rum wasn’t helping at all. I decided to retreat within the comforts of our tent. Louie got a head of me, so i found her all tucked in and cozy. I tried my best until I found a good spot and fell asleep.

The Morning After

Mt. Ugo

The air was crisp and fresh. The wind wasn’t blowing as hard as last night but the temperature was still almost freeing. Wrapped in our cold weather clothes (yeah, I can’t say they’re winter clothes. Hahaha!) There was a bit of clearing and a promise of a sea of clouds. I can see this sheet of clouds starting to move in and form some kind of pool, I put my hopes up too soon though. The wind started to blow real strong and broke the clouds into fog. Soon enough there was nothing to see in the horizon, just a massive curtain of white clouds.

Mt. Ugo

Mt. ugo

Mt. Ugo

After a few group photos, we decided to move on and reach for the true summit from the campsite. The trail to the summit was simply stunning. Lush flora can be found as if it was a garden perfectly tended by someone. We thought that that was it, there’s not going to be some sort of clearing. But patience does pay a lot. A few more moments the sea of clouds was back and we could see the horizon. It was magical. We took as many photos as we could of each other, solo, group. Whatever that we can think of! Hahahaha! I was like thinking hell yeah I’m gonna take as many photos as I can cause I can’t imagine my self trekking that long again. Or am I talking too soon? Hahahaha We’ll see.

Mt. Ugo

 

Mt. Ugo

 

Mt. Ugo

 

Mt. Ugo

Time came that we need to start descending. This time we had a schedule, a time to meet. The jeep that we hired was only going to wait for so long. But trail, it just so picturesque and yes we were last among the pack.

The trek down hill may not be as difficult as going up, but it was a bit more taxing on our knees. It was all worth it though. The scenery along the trail was worth every step that we took. This trip has been some sort of a challenge for me, emotionally and socially. I am glad I did it.

As we have washed up, we boarded our monster jeep and headed to the municipal hall and received our hike certificate. Yes, it is written on paper. We completed 32 kilometers of the entire trail. It was a trek worth remembering for a life time.

Finding The Best Hotels Via Traveloka

There are so many things that we learn by traveling. We learn from the places we go to, our experiences and the people we meet. On a recent trip across Indochina, I learned one thing that has helped me saved money ever since. It is not a special technique or discipline but something a lot easier to accomplish, it is an app called Traveloka.

I’ve always thought I have this exceptional skill of finding good deals over the internet. But when I met this Filipina while waiting for someone in a hotel lobby I was baffled at how much was she able to book her hotel room far cheaper than what I found. She then pulled up her phone and showed me her Traveloka App.

traveloka app

This is how easy it is to get the best deals around.

First you need to download the Traveloka App on your phone. Once it is installed, tap on the hotel button and start searching the area where you wish to book. You can search for specifics by using the filter and sort feature of the app! You can also check out reviews sourced from Tripadvisor, a highly respected review forum straight from the app so can have a feel of the hotel’s service. Once you have selected the hotel of your choice, you can then select the room that you like!

traveloka app

Choose your hotel

traveloka app

 

traveloka app

Choose the room of your choice

 

 

After selecting your room, you will be taken to the details page where you can review the guest details. Once you confirm that the details are correct tap on the next button so you can process your payment. What I like most about this app is that it doesn’t just confine you in one payment option via credit or debit card, they also accept payments through their payment partners such as banks, Cebuana and 7Eleven – how convenient right!? You will then receive your voucher itinerary after your payment has been posted, the advantage of paying through credit card though is that you get instant confirmation!

 

Traveloka App

Put in your details

Traveloka app

 

Review details

Traveloka App

Traveloka App

 

traveloka payment partners

After learning about Traveloka, I have since made the app as my primary search app for not just hotels but flights as well. I also like the fact that they reward people who believe in them, imagine just by signing up you will get special rates emailed straight to your inbox every week! I’ve compared their prices with other booking apps but it only shows that Traveloka mostly offer the best prices that there is. I also like the fact that their reviews are sourced from tripadvisor as it is the go to forum for experienced travelers who have seen the best and worst of hotel services giving you a honest review of the properties.

However, don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and download the Traveloka App today and compare prices from their competitors. I very much confident that just like me, you will be surprised on how cheap you can secure rooms for your next trip. Like I said, it has become my primary search tool for hotels flights already and with their convenient payment options there’s always a way for everyone to get the best rooms available for their next trip. Enjoy!

Ilocos Norte Backpacking Day 3

Last day, the most difficult part of the trip. There’s always this feeling that you don’t want to leave just yet but you have to.

Waking up ahead of JR I decided to take a  last walk along the beautiful beach of Pagudpud. It was a beautiful morning with a couple of dog with their owners walking along the coast. The Sun was high up but I couldn’t feel it burning on my skin as the cool wind blows from the vast sea.

ilocos

It was about 10 when I felt the need to bite on something, so I walked up to one of the hotels’ restaurants along the beach to see what I can eat. Meals are a bit pricey since it is a tourist area, but I thought hey this is my last day and it would be great if I can indulge inot something a bit more luxurious. So I sat down on one of the alfresco dining areas and ordered a TapSiLog ( a Filipino meal composed of fried rice, egg and tender meat) for about 150 pesos.

ilocos

There was nothing exceptional with the meal, it was meh. I swear I could find a better version of this meal somewhere in Mandaluyong at a third of the price. But hey I was there to enjoy so I did, not minding the price and just enjoyed the beautiful view from where I was sitting.

After that good meal, I decided to go back to our room to fix my things. But as I take a step nearer to where we are staying the sea just seam to keep on inviting me, beckoning for me to jump right in for the last time. I.am.Just.Human….. I gave in. For one last time i swan into his beautiful turquoise water.

30 past 10, time to go back or else we’ll miss the bus.

We quickly packed our bags and and hailed a tricycle to the town center where the buses are.

ilocos

By noon time the bus started navigating the roads back to Laoag at a steady pace, it was as if the bus knew how I felt about leaving making it easier for me to say good bye to this beautiful coastal town.

We reached the capital city of the province by three pm. As we got off the bus we saw an old looking structure and as we approached it we found out that it was actually the Ilocos Norte museum. Since we thought that we still have lots of time to spare, we decided to go in and explore it.

ilocos

After seeing the museum we were hoping to do a tricycle tour around but it was a lot more than we expected it to be so we decided to just go on DIY and see the Paoay church and the Marcos Museum, our main destination.

ilocos

it was just unfortunate that the mausoleum was closed when we arrived due to “power outage”. There was a group who had been there for a while, hoping that the mausoleum would open. Unfortunately, closing time came and the power was still out. The group was really upset but there’s nothing that we could do.

So we decided to move on leaving this unhappy group behind. Next on our list was the Paoay Church, an Augustinian Spanish colonial church made of coral stones. The church is particularly known for its massive pillars of architectural style popularly called earthquake baroque.

Ilocos

Chills ran through my whole body as I stepped into the church. The church that I only used to see on text books is right before me. The church is simple interiors and its simplicity works best as the attention of the people hearing service will be focused on the altar. I stayed inside the church for quite a bit, feeling God’s presence. I sat down and talked to him. I closed my eyes and told him of what my heart aches, desires and hopes for. I may not hear his voice literally but I know hat He has heard my prayers.

ilocos

It was awesome that our short backpacking trip culminated with a prayer. It was a roller coaster experience for both of us – him being a newbie backpacker and me backpacking with a friend for the first time. See, I am not a good companion when it comes to tandem backpacking. My social skills are waaaay below average, at least now I know some one can survive my stupidities.

We got back to Manila full of memories and stories to tell of our misadventures and experiences. we honestly could have done more, but time is not on our side. Then again that gives us a reason to go back. Till next time Ilocos, see you then.

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