From Attractions

BATANES: 10 Locations Where YOU’RE MY BOSS was Filmed


Batanes isn’t new to the local movie scene. Filmmakers attempting to capture its sheer and undeniably cinematic beauty have used the country’s northernmost province as setting for their treasured stories. The most notable of these are Hihintayin Kita sa Langit and Batanes, Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan.

The newest addition: Star Cinema’s summer offering “You’re My Boss.” While the majority of the sequences were set in the corporate world, the latter part was shot in Batanes, with its mesmerizing landscapes giving a stark contrast to the usual office setting. Starring Coco Martin and Toni Gonzaga, the film used Batan and Sabtang Islands as the places where the characters’ budding romance fully blossomed.

Disclosure: I co-wrote the film with its director, Antoinette Jadaone, so of course, I am promoting it. There are a few spoilers below so read at your own risk.

Anyway, here are the 10 destinations in Batanes where “You’re My Boss” was shot.

Read more

High On Inspiration: 5 Asian-Inspired Restaurants in Dubai

Dubai Restaurant

One of the terrific things about Dubai is the sheer variety. This is especially the case when it comes to places to eat, and if you’re a fan of Asian cooking styles then Dubai certainly won’t disappoint. Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine lovers will all be in their element. Here are just a few Asian-inspired restaurants you’ll want to try out while you’re in Dubai.

Read more

Overnight Junk Cruise in Halong Bay, Vietnam

View from the mouth of Sung Sot Cave.

“We’re on the wrong boat,” he shouted in utter exuberance as he turned his gaze back to the nearby junk. The other boat was having a party, complete with loud electronic dance music that reverberated onto the walls of ours. Kid — his name was Kid — posed as though he was ready to jump into the water and swim to the “party boat”, as what he called it. The only thing that stopped him was the humongous jellyfish that Matt caught earlier that night. “There might be plenty of them where it came from,” Matt warned.

“I’m right where I want to be,” I said joshingly as I climbed the stairs in search of a little quiet. This was exactly how I imagined my day would end — lying comfortably on the top deck of the boat, with a drink in one hand and a Neil Gaiman book in the other under the velvet skies. Starless — stars have become as elusive as peace of mind these days — but the emptiness was oddly therapeutic.

Read more

8 Must-See Castles in Ireland

Irish Castles

Ireland is spoilt for choice when it comes to castles and for visitors and locals alike, it can be hard to decipher which are worth a visit. Our infographic reveals the very top castles in Ireland and provides you with all the information you may need if you’re planning a visit. Each castle in Ireland has something unique to offer, whether it be its history or architecture, and we highlight these important key features in our infographic too.

Read more

Bangkok, Thailand: The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Images of garuda (mythical bird-like creatures) wrap Phra Ubosot, the temple's main building. Each garuda holds a naga, a snake deity.

We almost skipped it, and it would’ve been a mistake.

Stupid as it sounds, what to wear is one thing that I usually do not pay attention to when planning for a trip. I would check the weather, directions, admission fees, but not the dress code. So basic but often gets overlooked by me. This flaw became obvious when I visited the Grand Palace.

The sign by the entrance was clear as day. No shorts. And that’s exactly what we were wearing that afternoon. A guy by the gate was renting out pants, but my thinning wallet was adamant in saying no. I proposed to my friends that we skip it and continue the temple-hopping another day, when we are better dressed; they agreed in a heartbeat. As we walked away to the pier, I felt my feet get heavier in every step. A nagging thought screamed that there might not be a next time. I halted, asked my friends to head back with me, and checked if there was a workaround somewhere. The pants vendor by the gate was forceful in stopping me from entering — “Shorts not allowed. You have to buy!” — but I waltzed into the site anyway. Good call. Visitors can actually borrow pants! A 200-baht deposit is required, but it is refundable. In no time, we were lining up for a wardrobe change.

Read more

8 Tourist Attractions from Champs-Élysées to The Louvre: A Paris Walking Tour

Looks small but...

With a paper plate of chocolate-banana chocolat banane waffle in one hand, I surveyed the park for a vacant seat and found one punctuating a grove of manicured trees. Sweet, I whispered as I pulled a chair and settled. The scene was just as cliché as I imagined, but, heck, I was loving it. I was enjoying waffles in one corner of the Tuileries Garden and listening to Lana del Rey while keeping my eyes on that pointy metal structure that poked the Parisian sky — the Eiffel Tower.

View of the Eiffel Tower from one edge of the Tuileries Garden
View of the Eiffel Tower from one edge of the Tuileries Garden

But the world-famous landmark would have to wait at that point. It was my first day in Paris, and the tower was not yet part of the plan. That afternoon was reserved for Champs-Élysées, ending here at the Tuileries Garden. Just in front of me was Place de la Concorde, Paris’s largest public square. The place is peaceful now. Over 200 years ago, however, it was the site of one of the most important events in French history. This was where King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine. Today, the only commotion that occurs here is that of tourists finding a good spot for a quick rest after hours of sightseeing.

My walk began at the other end of Champs-Élysées, a 1.9-km long boulevard that connects Place de la Concorde and Place Charles de Gaulle. A stroll along the famed avenue introduces many of the city’s most popular tourist spots. Here are some of them.

Read more

Wat Pho: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand

The gigantic reclining Buddha

I was given a small sack to put my shoes in as I was approaching the door. Despite the big crowd outside, I was delightfully surprised to see the hall almost empty. Too bad it lasted for only a minute as others flooded in immediately.

Wat Pho is famed for the enormous reclining Buddha that it shelters. The 15m high and 43m long image rests inside a well-decorated hall. While I was expecting the image to be big, I was shocked to stand before a massive, massive figure. Its highly ornate feet alone are 3m tall and 4.5 m long. (Can you picture that?) The statue itself is covered and surrounded with Buddhist and Thai symbols.

Read more

Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn in Bangkok, Thailand

A yaksha and the 70m spire of Wat Arun

Two years ago, I was already halfway when I decided against climbing all the way to the top. The gloomy skies were starting to spit showers, and I was terrified that the floor would turn slippery any moment. The stairs of Wat Arun were rather narrow. I was as clingy to the hand railings as I was to my ex. But that’s for another story.

When I returned to Bangkok this year, I paid this temple another visit, only so I could finally reach the top level of the site’s main spire.

Located on the west bank of Chao Phraya, Wat Arun Ratcha Wararam Ratchaworamahawihan is dedicated to the second reign of the Chakkri Dynasty. Known to locals as Wat Chaeng or Temple of Dawn, it is believed that King Taksin, after escaping Ayutthaya which was attacked by the Burmese, reached the place just before sunrise. He then made the place the chief temple. It once housed the precious Emerald Buddha and the Phra Bang (another important image) which were moved from the Lao city of Vientiane.

Read more

Corregidor: 12 Historical Sites to Visit on a Day Tour

The Mile Long Barracks measures only a third of a mile. But since it has three levels, it pretty much spans a mile. Almost.

They were in Manila for business. Saritha was from Bahrain and Scott from the United States. How I ended up in their company was the result of a friend’s blackmail spirited persuasion. My friend Grace wanted to show them around as it was their first time in Manila. With Scott serving in the military in the past, Corregidor was an easy pick. But Grace thought that me tagging along would make the trip more insightful. Silly her, it was my first time in Corregidor, too!

The tranvia is the most common form of transportation in Corregidor.
The tranvia is the most common form of transportation in Corregidor. Look, there’s Scott and Saritha!

I have lived in Manila for almost a decade now, but I had never left footprints on Corregidor Island. It was one of those plans that I often overlooked because of proximity. (I always had an excuse along the lines of I-can-visit-it-anytime-anyway.) It just won’t happen. But with a friend constantly bugging me, it finally did.

Corregidor was officially called Fort Mills during the American era but was also commonly referred to as “The Rock” for its terrain and fortifications, and “Gibraltar of the East” for its resemblance to Mediterranean Sea’s peninsular fortress. Strategically located at the mouth of Manila Bay, it is the biggest of the heavily fortified islands that make up the harbor defenses of the capital.

Corregidor Island and its position in Manila Bay. Alright, I'll say it. It looks like a sperm cell.
Corregidor Island and its position in Manila Bay. Alright, I’ll say it. It looks like a sperm cell.
Caballo Island used to harbor Fort Hughes. It is situated off the tip of Corregidor's tail.
Caballo Island, one of the smaller islands in the Corregidor group. It used to harbor Fort Hughes. It is situated off the tip of Corregidor’s tail.

It played a pivotal role during the Pacific War, with its fall signaling Japanese victory and the start of their occupation of the Philippines (1942-45). We all know how horrible that turned out to be.

Read more

The Fugu Factor: A Taste of Danger in Japan

Pufferfish Sushi

I picked up the paper-thin slice of fish and silently hoped it wouldn’t be the last thing I would do. That night, I did not plan on having fugu, Japan’s deadly delicacy.  I did not plan on dying, either.

How I ended up at a fugu place was a matter of fate. Like the last time I was here, I could not choose where to have dinner. Picking a restaurant is never easy in Dotonbori. Osaka is the center of the Japanese food culture, and it can’t be any more evident in Dotonbori. Dozens of food places, from small kiosks to proper restaurants, flank the main street and its inner alleys, bombarding tourists with countless options if not blinding them with giant electronic displays. I checked out one menu after another and still could not pick one, for the life of me. It was only when I felt my knees begin throwing curse words at me that I finally declared to enter whatever establishment was behind me. I looked up and found a giant pufferfish lantern dangling overhead.

Uh-oh. Not that.

A giant pufferfish lantern hovering above the main street
A giant pufferfish lantern hovering above the main street

Read more