From Tourist Attractions

Where to Shop in Tokyo

In Tokyo’s Nakano district, there was a store called “The shop that sells things people left on trains.” That was the name of the shop. And it sold, well, things that people lost during commute but were never claimed.

I was dying to see what they had in store that I rushed to Nakano on the same day that I learned about it. I swept its maze-like malls in search of it. I didn’t find it. Haha. But it showed me that when they say Tokyo has something for everyone, they probably mean it in every way. Nakano, best known as a place for the otaku, is just one of the many interesting shopping places in the Japanese capital.

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Boryeong Mud Festival: Budget Travel Guide

Summer is when the Korean city of Boryeong gets down and dirty.

It’s not what you’re probably thinking. We’re talking about the Boryeong Mud Festival. It all started in mid-1990s when a cosmetics brand launched products using the mineral-rich mud found at Boryeong mud flats, which is believed to be good for the skin. In 1998, as part of a massive promotional campaign, the company trucked the mud to Daecheon Beach and initiated mud games, thereby launching the first ever Boryeong Mud Festival. Almost 20 years later, it remains one of the biggest summer celebrations in South Korea. It is held over a period of two weeks in July.

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Hulugan Falls, Laguna: Budget Travel Guide 2016

How do you wake up a sleepy town? With a giant splash of cold water.

The municipality of Luisiana in Laguna has been dormant, barely earning a blip in the tourism radar. But as more and more Manila-based adventurers scour the surrounding provinces for amazing attractions that are easy to reach, it was only a matter of time for Luisiana to wake from slumber. And the mighty Hulugan Falls takes credit for that.

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Bagan Temples: 7 Crowd Favorites (Photos)

Bagan can be overwhelming even for the most seasoned of travelers. First, the natural conditions can be unforgiving, sometimes unbearable. If you visit in the wrong month, you’ll be wiping thick layers of dust off your face in the 43C heat. Second, the sheer number alone is daunting. Over 2200 temples and pagodas! I always joked that if you close your eyes and throw a rock aimlessly, you’re probably going to hit one. And lastly, an ocean of ancient structures that stand not too far from one another isn’t easy to navigate.

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The forecast was sunny, but it was raining when we landed in the Maldives. Naturally, I began to worry about the coming days. I didn’t come all the way here to see grey clouds looming over gloomy seascapes. The thoughts of shallow waters gently swaying below iconic water bungalows that these islands have been known for started to drift away.

But sometimes, the universe has a way of surprising us.

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Pililla Wind Farm in Rizal: Windmills Near Manila

The humming of the car engine was just about to lull us to sleep when I spotted a giant white fan sticking out in the distance. All of a sudden, everyone was alive, scanning the horizon, watching out for more.

If I didn’t know exactly where we were at the moment, I would easily assume we had reached Bangui in Ilocos Norte. But we were just driving for over an hour from Paete, Laguna, making our way back to Manila. And this place isn’t along the shores of Ilocandia but in the highlands of Rizal. Outside Ilocos Norte, it is the first of its kind in Luzon.

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Alice Springs and Uluru, Australia: Budget Travel Guide 2016

When we began our journey across Australia’s Red Center, our tour guide-slash-driver handed us a marker and told us to write our names on the window of the van. It’s a way for everyone in the group to easily remember each other’s name.

Since then, every time I looked out the window, I saw my name etched in every dawn and dusk, every starry sky, every vivid picture that sped past me. Through the glass, every place is a canvass. Every moment a masterpiece. The Outback is a wild, insane artist.

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The Rock Tour: Camping Trip from Alice Springs to Uluru, Australia

“We’re in the middle of nowhere,” I whispered as I picked up another stick.

Middle of nowhere. No other collection of three words had been as overused since we first set foot in the vastness of the Australian Outback. In this part of the world, almost everywhere is the “middle of nowhere.”

Our group was divided into pairs, all collecting firewood in between low trees and tall shrubs, sparsely fringing the red dunes. It had all the makings of a tragic thriller: temperature dropping, light dwindling, and dingoes howling in the distance. Every stick we picked up from the ground was followed by a deep sigh (or a silent prayer, had I been a theist). It was always a relief not finding a venomous snake or spider underneath. Australia’s deadly reputation is hard to shake off.

I wrapped my left arm around a stack of half-dozen sticks and dragged a whole slender tree trunk with my right to the side of the road, where our van was parked. Then, we broke the big, long branches into smaller pieces before handing them one by one to Nick, our tour guide, who stood atop the trailer and ensured that every firewood, down to every last twig, was in place.

“We’re gonna need these to sleep soundly tonight,” Nick said as he jumped off the vehicle. “We’re spending the night in the middle of nowhere.”

There’s that phrase again.

“And by ‘middle of nowhere’, I mean the middle of fckin’ nowhere,” he added before climbing back to the driver seat. We followed suit, finding our spot inside the van, where we spent the next hour wondering where the hell we were. Soon, the concrete road turned to dirt and the van shook as we headed straight into pitch darkness. After several minutes, we pulled over and braved the cold.

“Welcome to the middle of nowhere,” he said as he started a small fire, allowing us a look at our home for the night. And he wasn’t kidding.

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