From Tourist Attractions

Bagan Temples: 7 Crowd Favorites (Photos)

Bagan Temples

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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MALDIVES: Budget Travel Guide

Maldives

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

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

Australian Outback Travel Guide

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

Australian Outback

“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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La Union Food Trip: Where to Eat in San Juan

La Union Food Trip

The municipality of San Juan in La Union has been hit by a series of waves.

The first wave of tourists was composed mainly of swimmers and sun-worshippers. For decades, San Juan was known simply as a beach town, just one of the many that freckle the map of Northern Luzon. But as roads stemmed deeper into the more remote corners of the island, the ever-fickle tourism shifted its focus to several more dazzling coves, including those in Pagudpud to the north and in Pundaquit to the south.

The next wave brought with it a new breed of beachgoers — surfers. From July to March, the shores of San Juan are slapped with swells of five to six feet, pumping new life to the sleepy town, paving the way to become the region’s surfing capital, and putting La Union back on the tourist map.

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Corregidor: 5 Reasons to Stay Overnight (Other than Ghost-Hunting)

Corregidor Tour

We watched as the sun took a dive, leaving behind a luminous, honey-colored splatter across the sky. Spending most of my time in big cities, I have learned to appreciate every moment I am treated to a clear view of a glorious sunset. And I stood there, atop the cliff, just taking it all in, not minding at all that I am in what many consider one of the most haunted places in the Philippines. Darkness was creeping in, but our tour was just beginning.

Corregidor is known by many nicknames: “Fort Mills” during the American era, “The Rock” for its terrain and fortifications, and “Gibraltar of the East” for its resemblance to Mediterranean Sea’s peninsular fortress. Because of its strategic location, at the mouth of Manila Bay, it played a pivotal role during the Pacific War. Its fall signaled the start of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines (1942-45). Thousands of souls from both sides perished in the island: most killed during battle. Others chose to end their lives instead of waving the white flag.

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8 FREE and Cheap Things to Do in Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira

As soon as we hopped out of the van, he drove off. Our driver dropped us off where the road almost meets the sea, and just left us there with no explanation, no suggestion on where to go or what to do, no fcks at all. I looked at my equally confused co-visitors and let out a gentle laugh. We all thought we signed up for a tour. Apparently, what they meant for tour was simply a ride.

For a brief moment there, I doubted whether we were in the right city. Although along Morocco’s Atlantic coast, Essaouira looks more like a Mediterranean town with a North African attitude. The citadel is predominantly white, rising from a rocky shore, accented by cerulean boats. Gelato shops mark some corners, and European restaurants punctuate some streets. Yet, a walk is impossible without running into locals clad in djellabas and being treated to the aroma of cumin-mixed tagines. And while it is home to multiple ethnic groups, it is distinctly, undeniably Moroccan.

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