Jeonju: Beyond the Bibimbap


While planning for my Korea trip (yes, again! ^^ 4th time!) last May, I made sure to include Jeonju in my itinerary after reading somewhere that it’s the motherland of bibimbap. Who doesn’t love bibimbap? It’s such a healthy and fuss-free meal!

There are a lot of highly recommended restaurants to try bibimap in Jeonju but we decided to ate at Gogung since it was just near the hanok we stayed in and it was the nearest in our vicinity where were already hungry. To make sure we get to try different bibimbaps, my friends and I ordered a set meal that comes with a serving of the Jeonju traditional bibimbap, Jeonju dolsot bibimbap and Yukhoe bibimbap.

Three kinds of bibimbap!

Of the three, I still liked the Jeonju traditional bibimbap the most as the other two were a bit too spicy for my liking. All were delicious though! Even the side dishes (the soup!!!) were great. It was definitely a worthwhile dining experience!

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Nara’s Charm


I had the chance to visit Japan in October 2018 for free (thanks to a cancelled flight to Busan!). Knowing how beautiful Japan’s naturescape will be, I already had high expectations for its “sereneness”. There were four cities on my itinerary: Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Osaka has beautiful parks and castles. The cleanliness of the city (much the rest of Japan) is impeccable. Nagoya, on the other hand, is architecturally stunning. It will be a haven for people who love modern structures. Kyoto is a mix of old the new. It’s city center is modern but as urban as Nagoya and Osaka. Then, interspersed in the city are the reminders  of what makes Japan, especially its history and culture, so distinct.

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Ultra modern structures in #Nagoya.

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Nara, on the other hand, was quite a surprise for me. Deers were the only thing that I know about the place, only to find out  that it has a lot of charms. By Japanese city standards, Nara is small. In fact,   one can visit the major tourist sites in one day and access them all by foot. For a small city though, structures in Nara are astounding and are spread out horizontally.

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Google Hacks for a Breezy Do-It-Yourself Trip


There was a time that I was able to write a travel diary after every travel. I even managed to write one entry per day of a travel! Wow! Where did I get all the time?! But then life and wanderlust happened. I planned travels faster that I could write about them so now I have 4 years and 22 trips worth of backlog!

In those years of traveling, I’ve only booked a tour package thrice: during a trip to Bohol in 2014, a trip to Northern Vietnam in 2015, and a trip to Sagada in 2016. The only reason I did so was because I was travelling with a large group and the public transportation option between our target destinations was not very convenient. More often that not, I prefer planning my own itinerary because I usually set a maximum budget per trip. I then adjust my itinerary, accommodation, food and transportation options according to that maximum budget. And how do I manage to do this? It’s through everybody’s best friend: GOOGLE!

Yeah, Google has been pretty much my travel planing bff in addition to Booking.com. There are so many travel apps around but I always go back to these two for a seamless travel plan. Below are some of the Google hacks that I love and use a lot in planning my travels:

  1. Looking for cheap flights through Google Search

The best way to know about flight promos is still to subscribe to the alerts of plane companies. But there’s also a feature in Google Search that allows you to search for the lowest flights. Just type the IATA code of your origin and destination airports, then Google will give you the different flights available. You can further refine the search according to price, travel period, etc.

Flight search from Manila to Bangkok.

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That Day in Spring


I patiently waited for the next bus that will take us back to Busan, South Korea. It a was cold night back in April. I was in Jinhae Bus Station, happy and contented after experiencing my first cherry blossom festival.

Surreal.

We were not the first persons in line so I thought my friend, Ate B, and I might not be seated together. True enough, when the bus arrived, the window seats got filled quickly. We ended seating across each other in aisle seats. I glanced at my seatmate and noted he was probably a European based on the language he was speaking while on a phone call. A few seconds after his call, he was sniffing and he took out a roll of tissue. I thought to myself he probably has colds due the weather.

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An Ode to Kaya


I love kaya toast. Did I say that? Yeah, I love kaya toast…specifically Ya Kun Kaya’s toast. Who doesn’t love Singapore’s national breakfast? I am drooling just thinking about the sweetness of the kaya and a serving of a perfectly soft-boiled egg. Here in Manila, I usually get my fix of kaya toast in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 branch of Ya Kun Kaya. When I am flying from NAIA 2, I make sure always drop by Ya Kun Kaya before heading to the boarding gate. Sadly, this year I had less work-related travels (though I am not asking for more) compared to 2017, so less kaya toast for me.

Thoughts about kaya toast always brings back good memories. I recall when and I two friends were in Singapore, being the aliens that we were, we went all the way to Chinatown just to get our kaya toast fix. The Ya Kun Kaya branch we went to did not even have its own stall. It just a had a small counter and several tables and chairs in the food court of a mall. We sat there in the middle of a humid afternoon, sipped our coffee, and spread out a map of Singapore in our table to figure out where to go next. What was so funny was we belatedly realize there was Ya Kun Kaya store just a flew blocks away from our hostel in Bugis.

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Surprises in Manila


I’ve been living in Metro Manila for almost 12 years now yet I realize there is still a lot I do not know about it especially its capital, Manila. It actually took an invite from a friend from Cebu to go out of my apartment on a rainy day and realize that…

…San Agustin Church has a very dramatic altar. I’ve passed this church several times but it was only yesterday that I sat inside the church for awhile and absorbed its altar’s beauty.

 

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Earth


I love nature. I love the Earth. I love this planet. Everyday, I wake up thankful for this beautiful world God has given us.

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#Rugged.

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(Nacpan Beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines)

 

Everyday, I  ask myself what have we ever done to deserve this place.

(Hulugan Falls, Laguna, Philippines)

 

And everyday, I hope that mankind will collectively ensure that future generations will still have the same kind of earth to enjoy.

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Speechless. 😍

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(Sagada, Philippines)

 

This post is in an entry to the DailyPost photography challenge Earth .

New Year and Philippine Waterfalls


It might be too late to greet everyone a “Happy New Year”, but hey a happy new year to you! 🙂 How was your new year? Mine was pretty uneventful. I spent it in my hometown in Bicol, waited for the clock to strike 12 on the the 31st of December, then I slept. Even my blog was uneventful. For the first time, I did not write a year-end post.

Anyway, to start this blog’s year and to lessen my travel diary backlogs, I thought of sharing some of the waterfalls I’ve been to in the Philippines. The Philippines is not only blessed with beautiful beaches but with bodies of freshwater such as lakes, waterfalls and rivers. It’s a good  idea to check these out and include them in your must-visit list this 2016:

  1. Hagimit Falls 

Gentle slopes

Hagimit Falls

Hagitmit Falls is found in the island of Samal in Davao del Norte. One interesting feature of this body of water is that it actually a series of falls. The falls above is just one of the more gently sloping falls. The one below is more “rugged”.

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Ornate


It’s no secret that I am very interested in Korean history and culture. This is the primary reason why in my travel bucket list, South Korea was the first country I listed that I want to visit. Last year, I was able to cross out that item off my list. That trip to South Korea marked my 1st overseas travel and what a gamble it was considering I had to apply for a visa.

South Korea has a very rich in history and it has done a very good job of preserving its historic places.  The presence of several palaces in the heart of Seoul amidst modern infrastructure is a testament to that. Of the five (5) palaces found in Jongno, my favorite would have to be the Changdeokgung Palace. The  palace complex is especially lovely during autumn.

While walking around, I chanced upon these quarters with a very ornate roofing. Imagine the detail placed in designing them.

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Check out  this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge with the theme Ornate.

Thoughts and Singapore


As an ASEAN country, it can’t be helped that the Philippines is often compared to Singapore. After all, Singapore is an epitome of a success story from its efficient government, transportation system, sustainable development strategies, etc. Considering it is such a young nation (at 50 years old), one can’t help but be amazed at how fast they have progressed.

Marina Bay Sands: one of the icons of SG.

Marina Bay Sands: one of the icons of SG.

I had the opportunity to visit the country last September for a training on the co-benefits of climate change and health. It was my first time to go there and it was great because part of my training was on the policy process of Singapore for environmental protection and air pollution management. I had nothing but admiration for how they do things in the country. At least from the training alone, I got the impression that the local leadership is strong and has good vision. Policies were evidence-based, and properly implemented and monitored. Pride is imminent not just in the manner our speakers, who were government officials, talked about their work but even in the way ordinary Singaporeans whom I had a chance to interact with speak of their government.

SG: Cultural melting pot

SG: Cultural melting pot

One does not even need to be in a formal training to learn a lot about the country. I realized from my daily encounters that the citizens are highly aware of their history particularly of the reforms Lee Kuan Yew carried out. They are also very knowledgeable on laws from housing, waste management, energy efficiency to air pollution and of the heavy repercussions for violating the law.

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Managing How to Work, Study and Travel Simultaneously


The other week, my classmates and I were joking on our Facebook group what we would award each other for our upcoming graduation this July 25. One classmate said he would give me a “Master Procrastinator Award”. I was appalled so I asked him why.

He replied, “Because every time I am cramming for our paper or an exam, I would see in your posts that you are either in Korea, El Nido or some random beach. You don’t seem to be bothered by school or work at all”.

Am I one?? (Image credits to keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk)

I was surprised that some of them had a perception that I am a “procrastinator”, so I clarified that when I am on travel, I bring my iPad and laptop. I study while waiting in airports and ports. I write papers at night or during the wee hours of the morning. I always put my phone on roaming to make sure I don’t miss anything work or school-related while I am overseas. Simply said, I multitask.

I always get questions related to this: How do you juggle things? How do you manage to keep up at work and school and still get to travel? So I thought I’d share of some of “tactics” of how I managed to do all three for the past years:

1. Multitask but do so efficiently. This is inevitable. I am not someone who can let go of my day job just to prioritize school or travel. I don’t have someone who I can say I can lean on  in case I get into financial trouble. I don’t want rely on scholarships either because in the Philippines, more of often than not, stipends are delayed. I also still send money to my family back home every once in a while. Multitasking is not ideal, but to be able to do all things I want to do and have to do, this is the compromise I make.

I am lucky enough that my classes are online. So while on travel, I can still participate in class discussion late at night or write papers at dawn. When I have something important for work that coincides with my travel, I usually check my email at least three times a day to make sure my workmates would still get the information they need from me.

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Door


It’s so hard to blog these days. I don’t  know if it’s a matter of my busy schedule or simply because I don’t have the drive. Anyway, for some “I am alive” post, here are some “historical” doors I want to share with your guys. Most of these are doors in old Spanish houses across the Philippines.

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Tested by time.

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I like lines, symmetry, history and contrast.

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Take time to realize… The unknown.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

See a variety of doors at Daily Post.

Enveloped


Hi everyone! How’s your summer (if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere) so far? Mine has been hectic and arid! I’ve been in delulu the past few weeks which pretty much explains my absence in the blogosphere. I turned a year older (yes, I’m now 26!), entertained a bunch of foreigners for a week due to an international conference our office is arranging, and completed my requirements for my post graduate diploma degree. Hurray! I am now graduating! Next semester, if I still have the drive, I will now enroll as a Masters Degree-proper student. One more year till that coveted XX X. XXX, MIH.

Anyway, for this week’s theme “enveloped”, I am sharing this interesting rock structure which I came across in one of the islands of El Nido:

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Seems like I’m inside a fossil, enveloped by hollow structures of bones right? 🙂 Check out more entries at Daily Post.

Early Bird


As the saying goes, “the early bird catches the worm”. I say, the early bird catches beautiful sunrises. 🙂 Here are some astounding sunrises I was able to witness when I was in Dumaguete City:

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These were taken from the city’s Roxas Boulevard which has a very good view of sunrises. Hence, I made sure to book at a hotel facing the boulevard. Imagine having this view every morning. 🙂

Check out Early Birds at Daily Post.

Peaches and Friends


While waiting for our train ride to Hanoi, Vietnam in a restaurant somewhere  in Lao Cai a few days ago, my three friends decided to go out for a bit to look for peaches. They’ve been craving for peaches since we saw some in Bac Ha market earlier in the day. They asked me if I was coming, I told them I will just stay in the restaurant   since I don’t like peaches that much.

While waiting for them, I noticed that a Vietnamese girl in the next table was fidgety. She kept glancing around while holding her phone. So I asked her, “Are you looking for an electric outlet?”

She replied, “Yes. I need to charge my phone.”

I noted someone charged his phone near my table earlier  so I told her, “There’s one near my table. You can use it.”

She smiled and thanked me. She then asked me if I am from the Philippines since I speak good English. I responded affirmatively and thought finally someone guessed my nationality correctly. I was still mistaken as a Thai by some in Vietnam.

We then talked about her job, my job, her country and my country. She was very curious about the Philippines and certain places she wishes to visit. She even knew about Cebu Pacific’s piso seat sale.

After conversing for about 10 minutes, she excused herself . When she got back she offered me a peach as a sign of thanks. I almost said no but thinking there was no harm in trying to eat a peach, I accepted it. My friends arrived shortly, epmty-handed. When I asked if they were able to find peaches , they sadly replied they were not able to find a fruit vendor that sells them.

The Vietnamese girl probabaly heard our conversation so she went back to our table and gave each of my friends a peach. She said she bought a kilo in Bac Ha market and couldn’t finish it all by herself. My friends looked so happy and  enjoyed    their peaches with big smiles in their faces.

I smiled as well astounded at how the situation turned out. Fate? Coincidence? Whatever it was,  I was just glad to be able to make friends. 🙂