Finally! Imma cry!

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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nacpan calitang beaches el nido

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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Negiyaki — wheat flour, kujo onions, eggs — with shrimps and clams (JPY 735)

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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The imposing Osaka Castle (Osakajo)

OSAKA CASTLE PARK, JAPAN: Toyotomi’s Dream

Daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi did not want a castle. No, he did not want just a castle. He wanted a castle modeled after his predecessor Oda Nobunaga’s headquarters but grander in every aspect. He wanted the grandest castle in Japan.

He knew what he wanted. And he had it done.

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The changing of the guards begins!

The Changing of the Guards at the MARTYRS’ SHRINE, Taipei, Taiwan

There was urgency in his voice as our tour guide pressed us to hustle into the shrine grounds. It was past 4pm and the site would close in an hour.  Like obedient kindergarten kids, we swooshed out of the bus and into the front gate.

The Main Sanctuary of the Shrine
The Main Sanctuary of the Shrine

The National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine (or simply Martyrs’ Shrine) lies on Chingshan Mountain along the Keelung River. Built in 1969 in the Zhongshan District of Taipei, this memorial houses “spirit tablets” of around 390,000 individuals who lost their lives during the many wars that Taiwan fought including the Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.

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Irawan Beach, San Vicente

IRAWAN BEACH: The Soft Stunner of San Vicente, Palawan, Philippines

I watched my friend Brenna bury her soles in the supple ground as she waltzed her way to the end of the cove. She was not looking back, not even once. Her eyes were fixed to the glowing dunes that make up a mini-mountain range by the shore. Behind her, a trail of deep footprints. I shook my slippers off and followed her.

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The wave-patterned mosaic floor of Senado Square

Feast and Facades: A Walk from Senado Square to Ruins of St. Paul Cathedral, Macau

It was supposed to be a short walk. But it was impossible to not take the time.

My senses were overloaded upon crossing Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro. Distinct and impressive facades delighted my eyes. The clanking of the shoes on the mosaic ground was music to my ears. And the scent of pork chop buns that some tourists held while wandering around gave me more motivation to explore the area.

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Our ferry!

HOW TO GET TO LANGKAWI from Kuala Lumpur by Sleeper Train and Ferry – Malaysia

The overnight sleeper train to Langkawi from the capital is set to leave at 9:20 pm and arrive at Arau Station, the stop closest Langkawi, at 8:00am. I’m sure there are other ways to do this but this is how I did it so this is what I’m sharing. So here it is — a detailed guide on how to reach Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur airport by overnight sleeper train.

Our first glimpse of Langkawi!

First things first: It would be best to book in advance especially during peak season. If not, well, you can always take your chances at KL Sentral.

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Hong Kong Island's stellar skyline

HOW TO GET TO AVENUE OF STARS from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station on Foot – Hong Kong

A trip to Hong Kong is never complete without a stop at the Avenue of Stars. That’s why it is no wonder this spot is packed with tourists day and night. Lying along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, it provides incredible views of the Hong Kong Island skyline and Victoria Harbor. More about the Avenue of Stars here.

The most impressive transportation system in Hong Kong is its expansive and interconnected MTR lines. Getting to any part of the city is much easier via the MTR. The same can be said about the Avenue of Stars, even though it still requires a little bit of a leisurely walk.

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The superstar is here: The Peak Tram

HOW TO GET TO VICTORIA PEAK from Tsim Sha Tsui by MTR – Hong Kong

The Victoria Peak is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hong Kong. It allows breathtaking panoramic views of Victoria Harbor. More about Victoria Peak here.

The best way to get there? By the iconic and historic Peak Tram, of course. From the Lower Terminus located along Garden Road, getting to the Peak is easy. But getting to the terminal, that’s the confusing part.

Most budget hotels and guesthouses in Hong Kong are in Tsim Sha Tsui, an urban district in Kowloon. If your hotel is located here and you wish to get to the Victoria Peak, here’s a quick guide using the city’s expansive MTR system and the iconic Peak Tram.

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