(Travel Diary) The Historic City of Silay


I usually try to schedule an out of town trip during summer. In the Philippines, school break falls on the months of April to May so I have come to associate summer = vacation. Now that I am working, I maintain that association by going on vacation trips during summer.

In the summer of 2014, I went to the provinces of Negros Occidental, Guimaras and Iloilo in the Visayas area of the Philippines with my high school friends, Cez, Thomas and Galembs. Our trip lasted for four days. Our entry point was Silay City in Negros Occidental, then our exit point was Iloilo.

The next travel series I will share are what I have to come to call as “BIG trip”. It stands for Bacolod-Iloilo-Guimaras.

Balay Negrense, one of the famous old houses of Silay.

Balay Negrense, one of the famous old houses of Silay.

1st stop: Silay City

Bacolod is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental but its airport is located in the province of Silay, which is about a 30-45 minute ride from Bacolod City. Silay City is one of the two museum cities in the Philippines, the other one being Vigan City in Ilocos Sur. It has been referred to as  such due to the number of preserved Spanish houses in the city. In the airport, we were even given a map which detailed where all the Spanish houses were situated.

From the airport, we decided to proceed first to El Ideal Bakery, of the most must try’s in Silay, to eat breakfast. The restaurant-bakery is is also housed inside an old Spanish residence! Continue reading

Refreshing


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Wading in a stream.

Walking in the fi

Walking in a field.

Simple life is refreshing.

Check out “Fresh” theme at Daily Post.

The Walls of Ancient Seoul


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The old walls of Gyeongbokgung Palace.

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Living quarters at Changdeokgung Palace.

DSC02375Getting lost in Bukchon village.

Stunning photos of “Walls” at Daily Post.

(Seoul Diaries) Discipline is a Way of LIfe


Upon arrival in Seoul last October, the first places/things my friend Me-an and I agreed to look for was food and money changer. So upon depositing our luggage in hour hotel in Jong-no, we went straight to Myeong-dong. Upon getting off the subway station, the first restaurant we saw was McDonalds. We agreed to just eat there because we were already so hungry.

Thankfully, ordering was a breeze. The staff at the counter understood basic English and I was still decent enough to understand that “in-here” means “dine-in”. Ha! I was also amazed at the presentation of the cheeseburger. It was a far cry from the way cheeseburgers are served here in in the Philippines!

After I was done eating, I immediately stood and about to head to the door when Me-an stopped me. She said I have to pick-up the wrapper of the burger and the glass where I drank from and throw it on the garbage. I looked around and realized there was a “self-service garbage disposal counter” and people were indeed throwing their own garbage. I thought what a neat practice it was, something I was not used to seeing in the Philippines.

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Reward


I am not into parties, branded bags, shoes, clothes, jewelry etc. etc. So, how do I reward myself?  TRAVEL!

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Somewhere in El Nido.

As this quote says: “I would rather own little and see the the world than own the world and see little of it.” 🙂

In the outskirts of South Korea.

In the outskirts of South Korea.

See how others define “Reward” at Daily Post.

That Place Called El Nido


El Nido is probably in the travel bucket list of every Filipino, if not at least on the list of hardcore travelers. And it is for a variety of reasons: it’s the Philippine’s last frontier, it’s gorgeous, it’s untouched by urbanity, etc. etc. Despite these, El Nido remains an elusive destination for most us due to rumors that it’s an expensive destination, it’s very hard to reach and so on. Is El Nido too good to be true then?

El Nido: too good to be true?

El Nido: too good to be true?

I had the chance to test how true these rumors are when  my friends and I booked a ticket to Palawan during the Cebu Pacific Independence seat sale last year. With sufficient time to save and plan, I realized El Nido is a very manageable destination for a budget traveler like me. Two weeks ago, the dream travel finally came true, and my friends and I saw ourselves in the fine white sands of El Nido.

Never say no!

Never say no!

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Palawan and the Rule of Thirds


Of the basic photography techniques, the “rule of thirds” is my favorite. It’s one, if not, the only technique I bother to familiarize, practice, and painstakingly try to polish. If perfectly executed, it can bring a photo into a whole new dimension.

For this week’s photo challenge, I did not take new photos (when did I, anyway?) but instead share some of my old shots where I tried to employ “rule of thirds”. These photos were taken during a travel to Puerto Princesa, Palawan last December.

One of my stops in the city was a butterfly garden but it was not the butterflies that caught my attention but a dragonfly. I rarely saw dragonflies now in Metro Manila. 😦

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Rarity.

Puerto Prinsesa is known as well for its beaches. I had a chance visit the islands around Honda Bay, one of which is Starfish Island where I took these:

Waiting is the name of the game.

Waiting is the name of the game.

Freed.

Freed.

The “rule of thirds” is a such a joy to practice right? I could probably post tons and tons of practice portfolio. Hah! But for more astounding photos employing the technique, check out Daily Post.

Yellow


I love the color yellow. It’s so alive and  warm. It  also reminds me of so many things… a bright sun, a delicious sunny side up, and a cute duckling among others. For this week’s theme, let me share some beautiful pictures from my trip to South Korea last October. I can still not get over how beautiful autumn is and I probably won’t recover anytime soon. 🙂

Lovely colors. :)

Lovely colors. 🙂

Simply stunning, right? :)

Simply stunning, right? 🙂

These trees would look lovely with Christmas lights! 🙂 It’s almost Christmas everyone. How are going to spend the holidays?  I am off to my hometown tonight for much deserved break.  Hope I can still squish another post before the year ends. Happy Holiday! 🙂

Check out more “Yellow” posts at Daily Post. 

(Dumaguete Diaries) Where Bad Food and Interiors are Non-Existent


Forbes has recently listed Dumaguete City as one of the best places to retire around the world. My first reaction was, “Why?”. The city does not have the urbanity of Iloilo or Cebu. It’s not even in the level of Bacolod City yet. Apart from Silliman University, it does not  have major attractions. But then I realized, Dumaguete City is a great jump off point for so many other great places like Siquijor, the Twin Lakes of Balinsasayaw, the Manjuyod Sandbar, and so on.  And come to think it, when one retires, one may not exactly wish for a very busy city but rather for a more laid back one that is still in close proximity to relaxing places. Dumaguete fits that bill.

Rizal Boulevard: I would love to see this every morning!

Rizal Boulevard: I would love to see this every morning!

When I asked myself the big “WHY”, I also overlooked that the greatest asset of Dumaguete is its food. I can’t recall eating a bad dish in the city! In fact, I and my friend didn’t do anything but eat when we were there last September. Restaurant owners also invest in interiors.  I couldn’t find a restaurant, even small ones, with ugly interiors! I even joked that perhaps it’s one of the city government’s requirement for the renewal of business permit. Here were my case studies:

Case Study 1: Lab-as Restaurant

Situated the outer skirts of the city, Lab-as offers a variety of seafood dishes at surprisingly affordable prices! My personal favorite would have to be the baked scallops.

Out of focus shot. :(

Out of focus shot. 😦

Lovely food aside, the restaurant had a very homey feel.  There’s something about the wooden interiors that made me feel so relaxed. The staff was very accommodating goo!

Lovely!

Lovely!

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Angles in Seoul


Angles one can find in Seoul…

…on a cold night by the Banpo-Hangang bridge…

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..in the palaces of Chandeokgung..

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…and in the sturdy World Peace Monument.

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Angular Photos at Daily Post.

Achievements


2014 has been a remarkable  year so far. I have been able to cross out a lot of things in my bucket list. Here are some of them:

1. Fire a real gun. I got lessons from the son of a general when I was in Guimaras last May!

Bang!

Bang!

2. Have my passport stamped. I did not just get a stamp. I also had my first visa! My South Korea trip was so memorable because it’s my first overseas travel, and well…it’s South Korea and it was autumn! 🙂

<3.

<3.

3. Conquer my fear of water….slowly. I love beaches but I don’t snorkel, dive or do any sort of water activity that requires me to put my head under water. But when I was in Balicasag Island in Bohol last August, the life under the water was simply too beautiful to pass. I dipped my head in the the shallower parts of the sea just to witness what the fuss was all about. And boy, I am glad I did! 🙂

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(Seoul Diaries) Sawa dee Krap


You might find that there’s a disconnect in the title of this post. It’s related to my travel to Seoul but talks about the Thai way of saying “hello”. You see, I had very interesting tales associated with this greeting when I was in Seoul last October.

Upon arrival in Seoul, I and my friend Me-an immediately braved the cold streets of Myeong-dong to look for food, the best dollar to won exchange rates, and cardigans to augment our cold weaponry. I was in  awe  not just of  the number of people in the area but the variety of things that can be bought. Myeong-dong truly lives up to its name of being one of Seoul’s premiere shopping destination!

Myeong-dong for you!

Myeong-dong for you!

After happily walking out of a small stall, my spirit was blown out of my body when a man selling bags greeted us  a with a very loud, “Sawa dee Krap!”. We just laughed  so the man smiled back. Perhaps he was thinking “I got this in the bag”. Too bad just we laughed out of shock and the hilariousness of being mistaken as Thais.

On our 2nd night, we ventured to the more artsy street of Insadong where I found out street performances and magic shows are just ordinary happenings.

Yeah. Figure it out.

Yeah. Figure it out.

Paintings for sale at Insadong.

Paintings for sale at Insadong.

While quietly checking out the stalls, we were surprised again when someone shouted at us, “Sawa dee Krap!”. By that time I figure out I really probably looked like a Thai.

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Photo Essay: Baler (Part 1)


I am trying to catch up with my travel diaries  but since my work and graduate school activities also involve a lot of writing, I barely have time to write for this blog. My backlog has now totaled to four travels and this does not even include my  unfinished Ilocos travel series. So, I thought of a roundabout solution about my dilemma and I realized photo essay is the way to go!

First stop is Baler, a town in the Aurora province of the Philippines. It can be reached through five-six hour bus trip from Manila. I went there around the end of January this year. It was an unplanned trip. A friend called me  up to ask if I want to go to Baler on a long weekend. Being the wanderer that I am, I accepted her invitation.

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Rocky cliffs of Baler.

 

It was very cold  and a bit rainy when we went there. It was the peak of the northeast monsoon int he Philippines so temperatures were around 12-18 degrees Celsius.

A falls by the highway! Yup! Just beside the highway!

A falls by the highway! Yup! Just beside the highway!

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I Fell in Love with Autumn


Months ago, I bought a plane ticket to Seoul, South Korea to satisfy my wonder of what it feels to walk and live in the place whose culture I am so fascinated with.  Little did I know that beyond quenching my wonders, I would also fall in love…. with a season.

The beautiful trees in Changdeokgung Palace.

The beautiful trees in Changdeokgung Palace.

It was my first time to see autumn, and boy, it was love at first sight. It was such a surreal experience for someone from a tropical country to witness the changing of seasons.

The Deoksugung Palace Wall.

The Deoksugung Palace Wall.

The best displays of autumn foliage were on the countryside, particularly Nami Island and the area around Petite France. Nami Island is hands down a beautiful, beautiful place.

It wasn’t even the peak of autumn yet, yet the countryside was already so beautiful. How magnificent would these places be at the peak of autumn?

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Dreamy


Siquijor is a quaint small island in the Central Visayas, Philippines. The island is perhaps best known for its tales of mambabarangs or sorcerers.  I visited Siquijor last month and I was quite surprised that its beauty goes far beyond the mysteries that people have associated it to. Its beaches are untouched by urbanity and its waters are one of the most turquoise I’ve seen in the Philippines. The picture in my previous post was in fact taken in Salagdoong Beach, in the town of Maria, Siquijor.

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What caught my attention the most; however, were not the beaches but the Tupalos Marine Sanctuary and Tree Houses. The locals built a walkway and tree houses among the mature mangrove trees. The tree houses were even for rent! My favorite was the walkway that extends beyond the mangrove forest to a cottage in the open sea. The view was outstanding and I thought how nice it would be to live in such place and wake-up to the peaceful view. So dreamy!

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Check out more dreamy places at Daily Post .