How I Quit My Job and Became a Full-time Travel Blogger

It didn’t happen overnight. That’s for sure.

It’s not like I woke up one morning and just called it quits. Well, actually, it was kind of like that. I woke up one dreary morning, and as I was forcing myself to get up, I caught something painted on the ceiling — my future. Of course it wasn’t real. Of course I imagined it. But as I lay in my bed looking at the big white canvass above me, I began to realize that this was not the life I wanted to paint on it. I just could no longer beat my alarm clock and wait for it to ring just because I dreaded to wrap myself in another business attire and do the whole 8-5 routine.

That morning I decided to quit my job. But not so fast. If I was going to do it, I would have to do it right.

I never planned to be a travel blogger. If my college self would see me now, he’d be like, “Dafuq are you doing with your life? There’s an effin’ career ladder in front of you, effin’ climb it!

My whole love affair with plane tickets and seat sales started in 2007. My grandfather passed away, and I had to fly to Puerto Princesa to attend his funeral. In the middle of mourning, I could not help but be blown away by the sheer natural beauty of the place. On my flight back to Manila, I promised myself that I would return, and this time enjoy it. A couple of years later, I was able to do just that.

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HOTEL CHUO OASIS: Where to Stay in Osaka, Japan

Hotel Chuo Oasis was my first choice when I was browsing online for affordable places to stay. Just by reading the reviews, I was already sold. It has a stellar 89% rating on Hostelworld, 83% on TripAdvisor, and 8.2/10 in Agoda. Although listed on Hostelworld, it is not a hostel but a hotel. A very affordable hotel, considering how expensive everything is in the mighty city of Osaka.

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TOEI MOVIE STUDIO PARK, Kyoto: A Japanese Pop Culture Immersion

Bang! I didn’t realize just how much of my early years had been taken over by the Japanese until I was standing in the middle of the movie park.

I may be a foreigner here, but everything around me looked and sounded mighty familiar. There’s a ninja statue clinging on to the wall in one corner, an anime robot in another, and two samurai warriors fighting in a make-believe Edo town. All that was missing was a hentai screening, and the characters of my puberty would have been complete. Tee-hee.

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TEMPOZAN FERRIS WHEEL: Sunny Surprises in Osaka, Japan

Even before six o’clock, I was already at the foot of the giant spinning wheel to catch the sunset. But I forgot one thing: I was in Japan. And in Japan, the summer sun sets much later, at around seven.

The enormous Tempozan Ferris Wheel
The enormous Tempozan Ferris Wheel

When it finally dawned on me, I painted a smile on my face. Just a few minutes earlier, I dashed from the train station to get here thinking I would be late for the heavenly show and worrying that I wouldn’t have enough time to explore the rest of the area. But look at that, I got an hour to spare. Sometimes the universe knows just how to surprise me.

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INSIDE BAGUIO’S MOST HAUNTED: The Laperal White House

I felt a strong presence inside the house.

Artful presence, nothing paranormal. Art has taken over the first floor of the Laperal White House, but most people are here to satisfy their curiosity about the feared and unexplainable.

The very supernatural presence of Mica. Don't worry, she's very friendly.
The very supernatural presence of Mica. Don’t worry, she’s very friendly.

They say that behind the mist that blankets the hills and streets of the City of Pines are countless mysteries and tales of horror. The map of Baguio, they say, is dotted with haunted houses and cursed hotels that have sheltered restless — and sometimes hostile — ghosts and spirits. One of them — the Laperal White House.

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5 Must-Visit Sites in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan: A DIY Walking Tour

There were four pictures hanging on a wall just outside Tenryuji Temple. Each frame showcased the visual character of the site per season — clad in the fiery colors of autumn, dressed in white snow in winter, adorned with the pink glow of cherry blossoms in spring, and, finally, drowned in a sea of verdancy in summer. Three of the four scenarios would have been such a first-time treat. I had never seen autumn leaves or snow or cherry blossoms. Unfortunately for me, it was midsummer.

Hello, summer.
Hello, summer.

The deciduous forest of the Arashiyama district was very lush and green — awfully green — during my visit. Green is great; I love green. But as a guy who hailed from a tropical island carpeted in evergreen rainforests, it was not really the color I was excited to bombard my eyes. The farther I walked into the place, the more I realized that it was a mistake booking June tickets to Japan. What was I thinking? Was I even thinking when I booked it? But kicking myself in the butt lasted for only a minute. Summer may not be the best time to be here, but the proverbial silver lining appeared amidst the greenery. There were fewer tourists, and the weather was pleasant, perfect for a long afternoon walk. That or I was just mastering the art of sweet lemoning. Tee-hee.

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6 Popular Restaurants in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Dining is a big part of travel. Food is an essential part of any destination. The same holds true for El Nido.

Although this humble town tucked in the northern tip of Palawan does not have a distinct, world-famous cuisine, a trip here is not complete without trying its many restaurants — something I failed to do during my first visit. My equally wanting wallet at the time could only spew enough money for bread for breakfast and street barbeque for dinner. Not complaining, but still.

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First Taste of Marang Fruit – South Cotabato, Philippines

Prior to this trip to South Cotabato, I was starting to think that marang didn’t like me. At all.

Marang before getting whacked open
Marang before getting whacked open

Three times I had been to Davao City. Three times I bought a whole marang fruit. Three times I failed to have a taste of it. Like most of my romantic relationships, the marang spoiled even before I could dig into the juicy part. I had never tasted it for I would always take the fruit to Manila and wait for it to ripen. It would then sit on the dining table until it rot under my nose.

So I gave up on it, and buried the thought of it gracing my palate in the deepest recesses of my unconscious.

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The Twin Beaches of NACPAN and CALITANG: El Nido, Palawan

We were in the mood to bask in the sun that morning. El Nido wasn’t.

It was sweet and sunny when we left our hotel. Despite the heavy rain the night before, we kept our optimism on the way to our destination. As I sat inside the van, I thought, “This is going to be a great day!”

All of a sudden, the vehicle stopped. It was bogged. The continuous raining the past days had turned the dirt road into chocolate marshmallows and now swallowed the tires of our van. We hopped out, removed our slippers, and walked several hundred meters barefoot to the beach. Still, nothing was going to spoil the day!

It's a dirty business crossing this road.
It’s a dirty business crossing this road.
The locals, even children, see the bright side!
The locals, even children, see the bright side!

“Keep calm and be positive,” I said to myself while I straddled the chocolate-flavored road. “As long as it doesn’t rain, this is going to be a great day!”

And just like that. Rain poured. Hard.

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DONGURI OKONOMIYAKI DINING: Where to Eat in Kyoto, Japan

Every time I entered a restaurant required a leap of faith.

Meals in Japan are expensive by Filipino standards. Before going in, I would stand by the doorway, check the menu too many times, and stare at the prices as though they would change if I look long enough. Blame my limited budget, voracious appetite, and fickle state of mind.

Yes, meal time was always painful for me during my Japan trip. Except at Donguri.

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