From Attractions

8 Popular Stops in Litchfield National Park, Australia: A Day Tour Itinerary

The plunge pool at the base of Florence Falls

On that bus, I was the only one below 40.

As I made my way to my seat, I was greeted with cheery hello’s by a bus-ful of middle aged to senior tourists, all ready to explore the wilderness. It was not my usual travel company, but it was a welcome addition to my growing list of first times here in Australia. The bus, or coach as locals call it, was bound for Litchfield National Park, 100 km southwest of Darwin, roughly an hour-and-a-half drive.

Traveling with people not my age was a breath of fresh air. As the youngest of the bunch, everyone seemed to be very protective of me. (“Watch your step, dear.“) And everyone was amused by the littlest things. (“That’s a long stick, honey.“) She was referring to the monopod. It was an enjoyable ride, needless to say.

Our Driver Guide for the day was Warren, armed with a great personality and an even greater sense of humor. How he was able to turn what could have been a snoozefest-ish drive into a humorous but highly informative journey was astonishing. He did have a lot of help from nature, though. Along the way we spotted a dingo wandering by the roadside and a wallaby trying to outrun the bus coach. But that’s not everything this park has to offer.

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Kawah Putih: Breathless in Bandung, Indonesia

Kawah Putih
It was so beautiful, I couldn’t breathe. And I mean it literally.

Our vehicle breezed through the forested slope of the crater rim, and I was reminded of how beautiful things are earned. I remember how I reached the last crater lake I set foot on: hours of trek, tens of scratches all over my limbs, a little bit of blood, and a million swearwords thrown into the air. But this is not like the last time. The road was paved, the ride short, and I comfortably seated like a boss. Not that I’m complaining.

Still, beauty is better appreciated when you move mountains to witness it. A trophy looks shinier when you make it past hurdles before hitting the finish line. We reached the entrance to the site in a matter of minutes. This is it, easy. No climbing, no sweat, no human suffering. (Human suffering talaga?!!?) There won’t be any hurdle this time, I thought.

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Asian African Carnival 2015 in Bandung, Indonesia

Asian African Parade 2015
At one point during our walk, I thought I’d be stuck there. Flooding the historic Asia Afrika Boulevard, the crowd was too thick, and I struggled to squeeze myself into whatever little gap I could find to make it through to the next block.

Thankfully, I was not alone. Alfi, an Educator at SMK Telkom Bandung, patiently waited for me on the other side. Alfi is one of the thousands of souls who offered help to make the Asian African Conference a success. It is Bandung’s biggest event, one that locals and tourists alike had been anticipating for years.

It was not just an ordinary day for Bandung. On 19 April 1955, world leaders from Asian and African countries who had just gained independence from colonial rule gathered in the city and agreed to work hand in hand. Sixty years later, this momentous event was commemorated over several days, peaking on April 24th when costumes painted the city streets with the colors of the participating countries. Saying that the event is huge doesn’t do justice to the magnitude of the celebration. It was one of the biggest crowds I have seen in my life, if not the biggest.

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You’re My Boss: 10 Filming Locations in Batanes

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Champs Elysees is one busy road.
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.

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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.

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