Some unplanned trips this year made me leave my day job in Cebu that led to a travel-filled second-half of 2017. This year started with the much-anticipated Sinulog Festival of Cebu City. Travel bloggers from Cebu and different cities usually have meet-ups before the parade or during street parties. The blogger-weekend continued with a staycation at Tides Hotel Boracay in the lovely island of Boracay, a week after.
Malaysia Truly Asia
I had two weeks of February spent in Malaysia visiting Penang, Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur, and Malacca. I had fun exploring the historic and colorful city of Georgetown and beach bumming in Batu Ferringhi. The Malaysian trip continued to the Cameron Highlands where I marveled at the landscape of my first tea plantation visit. Weather, comparable to our own’s Cordilleran region, allowed me to walk for hours dropping by different farms like lavender, rose, cactus, and strawberry, among others.
An overnight stay in Kuala Lumpur was my transition to another historic city of Malaysia, Malacca. The 2-day stay at the UNESCO World Heritage site was enough to discover its anecdotes, take a Melaka river cruise, and a fun night at Jonker Street night market.
Cebu Pacific Backpacker Challenge
Cebu Pacific Air’s annual Backpacker Challenge event for college students needed promotion to create buzz about the activity. Few bloggers in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao were sent to new flight destination of the airline. The only goal was to create a budget itinerary with a limited time and money. Apart from that, there were tasks to accomplish on the destinations assigned.
The challenge brought me to Biri Island, accessible to Calbayog Airport in Calbayog, Samar. I was so excited to finally tick one of my dream local destinations, Biri Island. Wading at the knee-deep waters of the mangrove area at 4 in the morning, we made our way to the rock formations for the sunrise. The sun didn’t show a spectacular performance so I just spent the entire morning hopping from one rock formation to another.
Before heading back to Cebu, I went beyond my comfort zone to push through my plans of going to Capul Island. The rough seas didn’t bother me to accomplish my desire to explore this historic island off-the-coast of Victoria, Samar. It was an abrupt yet fun stay in Eastern Visayas.
Spring in Seoul, South Korea
A free roundtrip ticket I got from my bank gave me the opportunity to visit Seoul, South Korea on the tail of the spring season. I had four days spent for palace hopping, food tripping, cosmetic shopping, and exploring destinations like the DMZ, Nami Island, Petite France, and Everland. I was also fortunate to see few cherry blossoms even if the peak for the event was already ended before my arrival.
Taipei Tales: Taiwan It That Way
After leaving my job, I went straight to Taiwan on a PHP250-worth one-way ticket to Taipei. My friends joined me on this trip where we explored the city and suburban landscapes of this tiny country. The hippie vibe, food, and transportation costs made me consider Taiwan as a quick international getaway. From the parks of Yangmingshan National Park to the northern cape with Yehliu, Keelung, and Bitoujiao and must-destinations Jiufen and Shifen. Few spare days also brought me to Tamsui and a short visit to the crazy Shinlin Night Market.
From Taiwan, I head straight to Japan for my 2-week travel around this well-loved Asian country. The friendliness of people really topped my impressions including the efficiency of mass transport and exquisiteness of Japanese food. I had a day spared at Lake Ashi which was scheduled for Mt Fuji sighting. The admired Fujisan didn’t show up but I had the whole afternoon watching the locals do fishing by the lake.
I continued my trip on an overnight bus to Kyoto where I hopped from one shrine to another. Kyoto has a very interesting history and landscape worth spending for a week. Since I had my flight out of Kansai International Airport, I spent my last few days exploring other prefectures of Kansai Region. Enjoyed a two-day tour around Osaka excluding a day spent at Universal Studios Japan for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I also allotted a day for Nara and another day for Kobe and Himeji. I really enjoyed my 2-week travel around the central part of Japan and I really want to revisit the country really soon.
Hong Kong and Macau
With the goal of availing the cheapest return flight to Hong Kong, I found myself booking a total of nine days for these two countries. We had no idea what to see and do and we know that Hong Kong was too overrated for tourists. I had few issues dealing with Hong Kong locals but we spent days visiting and experiencing the tourist attractions and activities with our 5-day Hong Kong and Macau iVenture Pass.
From a day of thrilling rides in Oceanpark, viewing the city from viewpoints like Victoria Peak and sky100, temple hopping, cable car ride to Ngong Ping Village, and a harbor cruise. To maximize the adventure pass, we had a ferry to Macau where we had a day touring around the city, watching a Broadway show, and scaling the Macau Tower.
100-Day Southeast Asia Backpacking
July 4th when I jetted off to Singapore to start my 100-day backpacking in Southeast Asia. Countries visited were Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. The hundred-day around the region made me embrace new cultures, food, and languages while meeting locals and travelers around the world. Life on the road for the entire three months was a challenge. Staying in a city or destination for few days and packing again to move to another one. Traveling allows us to meet a lot of people and this makes the experience worth remembering.
Going away from my safe zone of having an 8-to-5 job to traveling and earning nothing while on the road was a tough one. It was a hard time making two ends meet but seeing what the world offers and meeting people makes every penny spent on the road worth it. I had a bunch of friends and my very supportive family check on me while on the road.
Thank you 2017!!!
Last months of the year forced me to stay in my home provinces because I already restricted myself to travel for my funds not to deplete. Before I left my job, a colleague asked me how the rest of the months of 2017 will be spent while on the road in terms of finances. I assured him that I have enough funds to cover my planned trip for the year. Earnings of this travel blog from late last year to early this year covered some parts of my trips. Thanks to everyone who availed activities and hotel bookings on my affiliate programs. To return the favor, I promise to post and detail the trips I had this year to help you organize and plan your trips.
I didn’t imagine 2017 to be a travel-filled year for me. Some circumstances indeed force you to shut a door but it’s always great to check on the windows of opportunities ahead. Apart from the trip, another goal was to focus on creating more content for this travel website. I had the whole half of this year publishing narratives and travel guides. Few of these posts brought a significant amount of traffic and few bucks to my funds. My travel lifestyle might be in the backseat for 2018 because of some #adulting priorities. But one thing is for sure, you can still see new travel guides and funny experiences on this blog.
Thank you 2017 for giving me a great travel year. Hoping for more adventures, new destinations, and new experiences this 2018. Travel and keep exploring!