That Thing Called Final Destination

Sagada, Mountain Province, the Philippines

March 1, 2015

That indie romcom That Thing Called Tadhana – Tagalog for¬†destiny – inspired me to trek the mountains of Sagada (sorry, not sorry to the recent “spare Sagada” online movement). As our group emerged from the rock art-adorned¬†Latang Underground River, the guide pointed at a vertical wall of limestone we would be scaling up. Wooden coffins protruded out of niches seemingly beyond reach from any direction. It left to the imagination how the Applai tribe had hauled unwieldy log coffins up steep rock faces to inter them into narrow crevices.

Coffin in a Cliff @ Sagada

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Fields of Gold

Bhaktapur / Pokhara / Kathmandu, Nepal and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

February 25 – March 1, 2013

The low-hanging sun and a blanket of yellow flowers conspired to set a Pokhara hillside ablaze. This field of gold, one of enchanting natural beauty, was comprised of mustard plants, their flowers looking every bit as bright as the sauce squirted on hotdogs. Miles away in Bhaktapur, the dusty, sunny valley was similarly touched by Midas. I was reminded that it took mustard seed faith for me to realize my dream of visiting Nepal, and that dream bloomed before my eyes like a mustard flower.

Mustard Field @ Pokhara, Nepal

Mustard Field @ Pokhara, Nepal

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Deep Down in the Depth of Sumaguing Cave

Sagada, Mountain Province, the Philippines

March 1, 2015

Airplane turbulence aside, there had been very few instances, if any, in my travels when I feared for my life. I usually perished the thought of perishing on my journeys; otherwise, I would never embark on one. That sense of trepidation, however, came over me as I stood transfixed at the jagged jaws of Sumaguing Cave, aka The Big Cave, in Sagada. Stalactites and chiseled boulders protruded like menacing teeth around the black hole that dropped deep into the mountain. Would I offer myself to get swallowed up by this monster of rock?

Me, Cindy, Melds, Sham, and Sukwoo at the Jagged Jaws of Sumaguing Cave @ Sagada

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Web of Rice

Banaue and Hungduan, Ifugao, the Philippines

February 28, 2015

Who would travel ten hours by bus to Banaue only to miss seeing the postcard-famous Batad Rice Terraces? This tourist, apparently. Fresh from a butt-busting bus ride, my friends and I were herded off by jeepney to People’s Lodge and Restaurant for a meet-up with tour guides. A blind date, as it were. They recommended less touristy rice terraces, although Batad was scribbled in the itinerary as a come-on. We could not tell whether it was our limited time or a web of lies that denied us a stop at Batad; instead, we spent our precious half-day in town at Hapao Rice Terraces.

People’s Lodge and Restaurant @ Banaue, Ifugao

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Just One Day Out of Life

Baguio City and Tuba, Benguet, the Philippines

February 21, 2015

The best vacay was not a place; it was time. Exactly what my BFF Ki needed: Time. Although he wanted to wake up in a different city, he actually needed “just one day out of life,” as my favorite holiday song went, away from the pressures of a sales job. He decided to drive to Baguio at the eleventh hour; we literally left at 11PM. With the connection of three expressways (NLEx, SCTEx, and TPLEx), travel time from Manila had been halved. In only four hours, we could feel the nippy Baguio breeze on our faces.

Ki and Me @ Safari Lodge, Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City

Ki and Me @ Safari Lodge, Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City

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Soul, Korea

Busan / Chuncheon / Sokcho / Seoul, South Korea

October 22 – November 1, 2014

In my travels, seeing the beauty of the world was a given. The beauty of humanity? That was the cherry on top. In my first trip to Korea, I experienced no lack in genuine hospitality. Kindness was most disarming when least expected, and it was my most precious take-away. At the departure lounge for my return flight, I posted my gratitude on Facebook:

A friend said I conquered Korea, but it was Korea that conquered me. Coming from a K-hood, I thought the country was just a bigger version. Indeed, my Korean experience was bigger – in memorable firsts (1st fall colors, 1st summit climb, 1st studio recording, haha) & in K-style hospitality & kindness from friends & strangers alike. Language barrier be damned, we connected in more profound ways than words. That’s what travel is: both visitor & visited connecting in this shared space. To realize that the world is for sharing.

Clockwise: With Wowie and Her Home-Cooked Brekky, My Travel Mates Cindy and Melds, Wowie and Our Pasalubong Mug, and With Sis. Loreta @ Busan

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Tricycle Tour Through GenSan

General Santos City, the Philippines

March 29, 2014

There could never be a more intimate place for family bonding than in the cramped cab of a tricycle. We were shoehorned with our knees knocking together inside the four-seater, and we were not even tall people. The motorized tricycle was considered a poor man’s taxi. Poverty aside, we did not have much choice. In General Santos City, taxis were hard to come by, and the taxi driver we eventually got kept asking us for directions. So off we went on our day-long DIY GenSan tour on a trike.

Tricycle Tour @ General Santos City

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