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.

The Year Blessed With Travel

To be honest, I thought that I have traveled less this year but as soon as I try to recollect the memories of the year that was I have realized that I was truly blessed with my travels this 2016.

I may have not jet set for the past 365 days that was but my wanders are far more valuable than thought they were.

Sagada

I like I said on my travelogue about this trip, I have long held my plans because I didn’t have a good camera and I did had a couple when I went there! I wanted to make sure that I have good equipment for this trip because I know how beautiful Sagada is and I want to capture each scenery and moment the best possible way. It was a dream come true.

Sagada

Mt. Ugo

For many years I have always fancied about going on an overnight trip up on the mountains of the Cordilleras. I never thought that this would ever come true knowing my self that I am not an “Outdoorsy” person. But I have been blessed with friends that actually encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone pushing me to my limits, without them I would have not accomplished this.

Mt. Ugo

Ilocos Backpacking Trip

One of the region that I have really not explored except for one quick trip to Vigan about a decade ago. Together with my best friend, we explored both Ilocos Sur and Norte spending most of our basking under the Sun on the sand in Pagudpud.

Ilocos Backpacking Trip

Southeast Asia Backpacking Trip

Still pending to be written as one of my travelogues, I recently solo backpacked throughout Southeast Asia for two weeks! Yes! I have finally checked this one out of my bucket list! I never thought that I would actually be able to this, thinking that it is too expensive and having no time at all. But I guess the lack of trips throughout the year actually played in favor of me allowing me to file and use all my leave credits for this trip. This one opened up my mind and empowered me giving me the courage to travel more and explore farther. Now, I want to go beyond Southeast Asia!

 

Southeast Asia Backpacking Trip

Travel doesn’t have to be as frequent as you think it should be, sometimes thee quality of travel really does matter that proved to be right for me for this year. I may not have had trips every month but the trips that I had were actually memorable and important for me, I fulfilled parts of my dreams and and pieced a part the puzzle that is me.

Cheers to 2016 and more travels for 2017!

Ilocos Norte: Day 2; Life Is A Beach

Most of time paradise is where you least expect it, when you think that a place is over rated but then proves you wrong. Many have touted that Pagudpud is the Boracay of thee north, but I am one of those who think that Boracay is Boracay this place – with all confidence can;t possibly compete with the powdery white sand of the World’s Best Island.

We arrived in Pagudpud a bit late that day, nothing can be seen anymore at middle of that pitch dark silent night. We settled in our room in a home-stay and ordered for dinner. The area though a tourist spot was still very provincial, stores close early and no “restaurants” were around the area that you can dine in. Lights out,

A plan is always a plan until you get to execute it. We are good, no I say great in planning…. but execution? Hahahaha. We planned to wake up really early in the morning and enjoy the beach, getting that morning sunshine on to our skin. But the climate control of our room did a great job and kept us tucked into our sheets well into mid morning. I got our of bed by about 9 in the morning but Jr wasn’t that keen in getting up; yep that air conditioning unit took him down.

769_102641

I decided to see the beach on my own, with no breakfast no shower I put on my flipflops and walked my self to the beach. Our home stay was located on the other side of a small municipal road and on the oposite side are the beachfront properties of big resorts. It isn’t really that bad, the beach is just a three to five minute walk.

There’s this thing that I’ve come to form as a habit for my travels, I tend to lower down my expectations for the places that I go to. Why the hell would I do that? To save my self from disappointments – oh yeah drama king am I hahaha. To be fair, I just to want to ruin my trips and the good thing is that when the destination actually delivers, I actualy get one heck of a trip; But when it does not the trip isn’t ruined at all!

Anyways, just right across the road is a small community gate that the homestay owner told us about so we don’t need to pay for any fee – yep perks of staying with a local ^_^. I stepped right in and found my self on an unpaved road, several steps more I found my self staring at the limitless ocean inviting me to take a dip.

Pagudpud

Now pickup your jaw and step into the sand Ian. I was blown away with the beauty of Saud Beach. People always say that it is the Boracay of the north, but I felt that it was unfair. Saud beach exudes a different kind of beauty, leaning towards an untouched piece of paradise. The resorts are well down on the southern end of the curving 2 kilometer white sand beach while the northern end stays pure void of any modern structures.

Returning to our homestay I caught up with Jr on how beautiful the beach is and that we should enjoy with the day, he concured. After breakfast we packed a few things on my bag and went back to the beach. We ventured further into up to its northern end, it was a weekday and lean season so we literally had the beach for our selves. We looked for a good spot to swim where we could go farther inot the sea without drowning, we’re not really good swimmers.

DSC_0069

At aboout 12 PM we walked back to our homestay for some lunch. Like I mentioned earlier we didn’t find any restaurant around our area so we picked up some canned goods from the store and some bread – diet kase hahaha. Here comes the air conditioning unit’s magic spell again, yep we lazy around after eating. Gahd that aircon really did hit our lazy buttons hard.

Mid afternoon and we stood up and got our selves back to the beach, we had a good excuse – you know, UV Rays, Skin Cancern those stuff – but really we we’re just lazy. It felt like -at least for me- that I belong to the place, you know that feeling if you live in an area that you won’t miss a thing coz it is always there? yeah something to that effect, then I come to my senses and got dragged my ass back to the sand.

 

DSC_0086

 

DSC02970

 

DSC_0085

 

The day was coming to an end kand the sky was playing with colors, shades of blue, orange and yellow painted the sky like an empty canvas. It was magical, however we need to go back to our homestay as it was getting dark. As raw as it gets there are no ilghts on the beach which I approve of.

It was just a lazy day to be honest, the perfectly hued water the fine sand and the abseence of people just made it perfect. It seemed like the beach wanted us so much welcoming us into its arms wide open. It was like it had prepared for our arrival making sure that our experience will be perfect. It was beyond perfect, it was like a dream.

DSC02985

Sagada: Mornings With Morrie

I remember this movie called Tuesdays with Morrie, it is about a student and his old professor. It tells us how we should appreciate the small things and how we should value each moment of our lives. Living life to the fullest.

Our first morning in Sagada started early, we were off to see the sunrise in Kiltepan peak; The place made famous by the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana”. We had high expectations, a beautiful sunrise unveiling the beautiful landscape covered by an amazing sea of clouds. Our van driver picked us up at about five in the morning giving us enough time to secure a good spot at the peak. There were a good number of people at the peak already when we arrived, but we were still lucky to get a good vantage point for nature’s show. Breakfast were some left overs of Prei’s famous french toast, it was a perfect meal.

The surrounding slowly brighten up like a carefully choreographed stage lighting as the sun pushes its light. We were holding our breath, waiting for the magical moment. But as we see more of the landscape, it dawned to us that there’s no show that will happen. The sky had over cast clouds, and the wind was blowing too hard for the clouds to congregate into this sea that wee are all hoping for. Dismayed as we were, we still took the opportunity to take photographs, memoirs of our time in Sagada. Though the heavens did not grant us the sea of clouds and play of colors in the sky, we were blessed to see the amazing rice terraces of Sagada.

DSC_0068

DSC_0082

Morning has broken as we head back to our hotel, we rest a bit and prepare for the rest of our day. We had some fee time in our hands, I decided to hang out at the front porch and watch people do their daily routines. walking past me carrying food, produce and household stuff. I love to feel, or at least pretend that I am a local – a part of the community.

It was mid morning when we decided to see the other sites of Sagada. I am the one in charge of research and somewhat their travel guide. I looked up every blog that I can find about the attractions and all of them were showing that one can just wander into the where we intend to go, the Hanging Coffins of Sagada. Unfortunately, as we try to enter the trail going to the Hanging Coffins we were stopped by the local tourism officers stationed there. We were told that guides are required to enter, ergo we had to pay. It was a nominal feee of Php 200 pesos for our group of five so it was not a big deal. But the trail to the Hanging Coffins, Cemetery and Echo Valley is easy and not dangerous so you really don’t need a guide. On second thought, we thought that it is better this way. Having guides take tourists around will prevent vandalism and maintain the sacredness of the burial site. It was just logical, we can’t expect everyone to act the same, also this gives additional income for the community. To be honest though, I did try to get in without a guide telling the officers that we’ll just go to the cemetery, but they were firm and that is good.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The trail leads you first to the cemetery, they call it -at least our guide tells us- as the Christian cemetery as this is where those who have converted to Christianity are buried. This cemetery is specially famous for the Panag-apoy festival every November 1, when locals burn fire to remember their dearly departed. Yes it is beautiful, but one must keep in mind that this, despite the grandeur still is a closely kept tradition of the Sagadi-ans.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beyond the the cemetery is a place called Echo Valley, like the name suggests your voice will echo a hundred fold as you shout at the top of your lungs, but please don’t over do it; it still is part of their sacred grounds. In silence, you can still feel the awe inspiring beauty of nature. How great things are in this scheme of things.

At the end of the trail the famous Hanging Coffins of Sagada is found. Our guide explains to us that they hang coffins to cliffs and caves because they want their loved ones to have easy access to nature for their needs in the after life. There was nothing grand about the Hanging Coffins, it actually is a humbling experience to have witness how life completes it’s circle. Just like how us Christians would say from dust we return to dust, the Sagadi-ans believes that from nature we will all return to nature and we will bring nothing more than but our souls.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was almost mid-day as we retreat back to the town proper. We headed to Gaia Cafe for lunch but was extremely disappointed with how bland the taste of their food was, may not be their fault though; they could be targeting the western palate. Unsatisfied with lunch we headed to a simple eatery in the market area -though the price ain’t simple LOL- Back at the Hotel Prei and John prepared to leave for the 3PM bus leaving me, Diane and Jolyn for another day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The next couple of days allowed us to relax and experience Sagada on a slower pace, allowing us to digest what happens in our surroundings. We returned to our favorite coffee shop at the end of the paved part of the road where our hotel was at. There’s just this warm atmosphere whenever we hangout there not to mention that their food tastes amazing, striking a balance between the Filipino and western palate. Mornings were nothing but waking up late having brunch and doing things as we like. It was indeed a retreat, a reset from all the crazy stress that we’ve come to be so immersed in our lives in the city.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am just glad to have finally gone on this trip, I have long held this because I kept on thinking that I don’t have a good camera and I want to make sure that I can capture each and every moment of it. But if I can turn back time, I’d tell my self go on even without that bulky camera because it’s going to be worth coming back for.

Like Morrie, this trip has taught me of simple things. Appreciate them. Cherish, and then you will feel and learn what life and living is really all about.

Sagada: Sunsets and Bonfires

Exploring the Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves is exhausting yet fulfilling. After freshening up we contacted the van driver for our afernoon tour. Honestly we were reluctant in seeing the other spots like Sagada Weaving but we did drop by the pottery house, we just wanted to see the sunset.

Still not hungry but I wanted to bite on something so when Prei offered the french toast that she made I, wihtout any hesitation grabbed one. I tell you she makes one if not the best french toast that there is!

DSC_0007

The Van arrived on time, seeing it upon we descend the stairs of our hotel. We booked the van to take us to the Lake Danum. On our way to the view point Sagada pottery we saw that Sagada Pottery was along our way, so we hopped off and took a quick tour of the place. We don’t have money soo… just a quick tour 😉

DSC_0015

It was about 5 PM when we arrived at the viewing point in Lake Danum and the sun was still high up, with plenty of time in our hands I took out my picnic blanket and made a good spot where we could all sit donw. It was just a delight when our driver decided to make fire out of the twigs around the are building a small bonfire of some sort. Everything was just happening right.

6PM was fast approaching and the sun wasn’t showing, hiding behind the clouds. We we were not bothered though may be because we know that we’ll see a spectacular show on sunrise the morning after or maybe because we were just have such a great time lounging near the small fire.

DSC_0021

We shared beer and snacks over the fire while the cool wind was blowing, it seemed enough for me. It was a great time.

On our way back Diane insisted on stopping by the Lake for some photos, I was like meh, coz the water is just brown but then i joined the photos since it was an opportunity, so touristy of me… hahaha

off we go back to the hotel.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...