I was walking around the graveyard feeling a bit too spirited. And by spirited, I mean tipsy. There I was, exploring what many consider the world’s most visited cemetery, half-drunk. It was four in the afternoon.
I never planned on having a drink on the way here. How it happened is a a long story, but here’s the short of it. Having worked all morning and having nothing but a serving of crepe the night before, I finally emerged from my hotel totally hungry. No, famished. It was past two, and I was too starved to actually care about where to eat. I could eat the first person that I could grab in the streets of Paris, and I wouldn’t mind. With my fingers shaking and tummy grumbling, I swore to dine at the first restaurant I would lay eyes on. A block later, I was standing in front of a pizzeria.
“Bonjour,” greeted the waitress smilingly. (I know, people always say to me that Paris has the grumpiest waiters, but I never encountered any of ’em grumpy ones the whole time I was in town.) She told me that the place was open, but since my timing was weird, all that was available was pizza.
“And it might be too much for one person,” she warned.
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I am ready.”
As I stood on the edge of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, I tried to remember the last time I did abseiling (or rappelling, as it is called where I’m from). It brought me to my high school years, when I was a little bit more physically fit and nimble. That was probably 15 years and 50 lbs ago. I remember the first time I did it, I had no qualms at all. I stood atop a cliff unshaken and fearless. I even volunteered to be the first to do it among my friends, when no one else would step forward.
For some reason, it was different this time around. Over the past decade and a half, I have evolved into this overthinker who paints every possible scenario in his head. I knew I had nothing to worry about. Stuart, our instructor had done this many times every single day for years. When he asked if anyone of us wanted to do it first, I raised my hand but Vins (my blogging partner, the other Poor Traveler) beat me to it. I was thinking, the longer I wait, the longer my brain gets consumed by thoughts of my extinction. “Travel Blogger falls to his death,” not a very good headline for the next day.
Samut Songkhram is located southwest of Bangkok, Thailand. It is the smallest province by land area but big in agricultural crops and marine life, thanks to its location just by the mouth of the Mae Klong river. You could tell just how fresh their seafood is when you start sampling what they have to offer in one of their floating markets. “The traditional Thai way of life is very alive here,” our tour guide Tipie proudly shared.
Here are the 4 destinations that we had the pleasure of visiting during our time in Samut Songkhram.
When I quit my full-time corporate job a couple of months ago, I thought I could finally have the time to update this blog on a regular bases. But I was wrong. Love happened. Pag-ibig happened.
All You Need is Pag-ibig is a Star Cinema entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) this year. When I was first invited by Director Antoinette Jadaone to co-write this, the concept was so distant from it has become. To be honest, I declined initially. I just didn’t know where to get the time to do it. But it is hard to say no to somebody like Direk Tonet who, as Kris Aquino put it, has the ability to make stories feel like “it happens to all of us and yet she does it a cinematic way.”
And just like her previous films, this movie uses a key Philippine destination as a setting to the story. That Thing Called Tadhana captured the sunrise at Kiltepan in Sagada; You’re My Boss showcased the romantic charm of Batanes. (Related: 10 Batanes Destinations Featured in “You’re My Boss”)
All You Need is Pag-ibig harnesses the beauty of a few spectacular sites in Coron, Palawan, to help develop the love stories of Anya and Dino (Kim Chiu and Xian Lim) and Love and Dom (Kris Aquino and Derek Ramsay). Because the movie isn’t showing yet and I don’t want to spoil it, this will just be a simple list. I will update this next week and identify which specific sequences were filmed here.
Here are the filming locations.
After working hard all year, and looking forward to your much deserved break, nothing beats cruise holidays. Island hopping between Caribbean islands such as Aruba, Antigua and the archipelago of British Virgin Islands sounds like a luxury few can afford. However, you’d be wrong!
The surprisingly affordable trip of a lifetime is perfect for families, romantic couples, or simply for those looking for something a little different from their holidays. And it’s the simplicity of a cruise holiday that attracts many, into the bargain. After boarding your cruise liner, unpack once, and relax as you set sail to your first destination. The liner acts as your hotel for the entire trip, so you don’t need to hop on and off, unpacking your belongings at each stop on your itinerary. Additionally, with many packages, the entire trip is all-inclusive. Food, drink entertainment and accommodation are all often part of the deal, leaving you to sit back, and relax, knowing you don’t need to spend extra.
Do you remember your crush from High School? That girl who would sit next to you and walk away without saying a word? That guy who would text you a random greeting and then ignore your replies? That date who would tell you the sweetest things one moment and then make you feel unworthy the next? Batanes is that crush. She’s hard-to-get, a tease, and definitely a heartbreaker.
It takes more than drive to get to Batanes. She’s distant and has one hell of a temper. You’ll be facing the biggest storms if your timing is not right. But when you finally get to know her, she’s incredibly easy to fall in love with and hard to let go.
Here are 12 magnificent sites waiting for you in Batanes.
I honestly thought I was going to die.
When I reached the top, I dropped my backpack unconsciously and mustered all the energy I had left to catch my breath. I was vomiting air, and my chest was starting to tighten. Ten minutes and ten gulps of water later, I began feeling alright. That quick climb kept me grounded both figuratively and literally. I remained seated on the rocky ground, wondering how it came down to this.
I loved hiking. I loved it because I could do it well. I’m never the strongest person in the group, but I used to be so nimble and swift. Whenever we would trek to a mountaintop, I would always be the first or second to reach the destination. I could climb trees effortlessly. I could slide down slopes unscathed. And I could run fast. Before this, the last time I trekked for hours was at Mt. Melibingoy (Mt. Parker) in South Cotabato in 2013.
What a difference two years make. Since that climb, I got myself a full-time office job again, gained pounds (lost count), quit regular jogging, and restarted chain smoking. And it all led to this: me, knees shaking, wheezing like a dog in labor, but too embarrassed and stubborn to quit.
And why would I? Just in between gasps, I could see just how stunning the place was. And if it’s any indication, then I was in for a bombardment of gorgeousness. Assuming, of course, that I make it alive.
It only took two steps for me to slip and hurt (and almost break) an ankle. Considering how much time it took for me to find this place, I was absolutely determined to push through with the climb. Never mind that I was limping in pain — my clumsy ass be damned — but this was my last evening in Taiwan. Nothing was going to stop me from making it a memorable one.
Darkness has already set in when we arrived at Dalongdong Baoan Temple, a Taiwanese folk religion temple. The site was built from 1805 to 1830 by the clans of Tong’an District who later moved to Taipei, which gives it its name Baoan, meaning “to protect those of Tong’an.” The temple was included in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.
During its construction and early days, Baoan Temple was funded by four clans: the Wangs (who donated the land), the Chens, the Changs, and the Tsais. They are also credited for the creation of what was known then as “44 Kans” (or 44 shops), which became the center of the Dalongdong community at the time.
Being a full-time employee in Manila is no joke. Every single morning, stress (in the form of horrendous traffic) greets you even before you step into the office. Then you spend at least nine hours of your day working your butt off. You end the day enduring another hour or two stuck in a sea of cars. When you get home, you just collapse into your bed because you’re too tired to do anything else. The next day, you repeat the same routine all over again. No wonder we have an undying love for weekends.
But you know what we love more? Long weekends. When a non-working holiday falls just around a weekend, we know it means more time to relax, pamper ourselves, and do the things that we love. One of these: travel.
The best thing about Metro Manila is that no matter how stressful it can be, it is surrounded by countless wonderful provinces. Previously, we wrote about 15 cheap but awesome destinations near Manila. The list covers places that can be reached through a 5-hour drive from the capital, perfect for a regular weekend getaway.
This time, we’re expanding the coverage. Long weekend means more time, and more time means more options. We asked Filipino travel bloggers for recommendations, and here are their top picks. (Not in any particular order.)