Wednesday, January 6, 2016

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

There’s a nostalgic feeling when lounging at the airports’ departure area and witnessing the chaos of travelers as they check-in and bid farewell to their friends and loved ones.  While currently at the airport, I found myself lurking – at my own social media accounts and smiles once in a while (as if I am in a lucid interval) as I reminisce the year that was. 

I found true friends.  I lost some.  I chose to leave the indifference and move on.  YOLO as they say – you only live once.  I found comfort on the few choices of friends I have and traveled with them.

I never made year-end posts since I started blogging.  But this year may be quite different that I opted to immortalize 12 of the best for this year’s travel itineraries.

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

12. HONGKONG: NEW YEAR’S EVE WITH THE FAMILY

My siblings and I live independently from each other, in fact cities and countries apart.  If there is a day for the whole year that we are accustomed to seeing each other, wherever the rendezvous may be, it is the New Year’s Eve and the 1st day of the year naturally.  And for the year 2015, we witnessed the countdown at the Victoria Harbor of Hongkong amidst the sea of people, no festive dining table but only chips and beer in tow while the skies lit up in colorful patterns of fireworks.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

11. CEBU, CITY, PHILIPPINES: A UNIQUE SINULOG FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

Of the many years I have been visiting Cebu City for the Sinulog Festival, this was the first time I have witnessed the Grand Parade.  It was honestly exhausting considering the long list of the number of participants and the urge to document all of them in their vibrant and colorful costumes adding up to the graceful routines they present at the streets.
BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES
THE STREET PARTY HAS JUST STARTED
BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES
WITNESS THE GRAND PARADE - THE SOBER HOURS
But what is more exciting and fun is the controversial street parties at the Baseline after (or during) the parade.  Contrary to reports, it was an orderly chaos that I have encountered.  The crowd goes wild but in a disciplined manner (gets?).  Whatever happened that night, I went home earlier than the usual with water-based paint covering portions of my face and my shirt.  Unlike drinking sprees in the years before at bars and sidewalks, this time is quite different and I enjoyed it.

10.  KALINGA, PHILIPPINES: MEETING WANG-OD AND TREK TO THE MOUNTAIN VILLAGES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

I have no intention of getting tattooed, meet the last traditional tattoo artist of their tribe, Whang-Od, and trek to the mountain villages neither.  But we made it all happen in a day.  We visited four (4) villages in one day, met some local residents including Whang-Od and turned tour guides into friends.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES
AT BUTBUT VILLAGE
Browsing through the best nine photos of Instagram for the year 2015, 6 out of 9 in my account were photos taken at Kalinga.  The trek for hours indeed becomes bearable when the backdrop is scenic and rewarding to the senses. 


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

9.  DAVAO CITY, PHILIPPINES: TRAVEL WITH A CAUSE

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

When I was invited by Cebu Pacific Air to attend an event at Davao City for the symbolic adoption of the Philippine Eagle “Mindanao”, I was more than honored that I cannot turn down the invitation.  As a blogger, this is my first time to partner with a domestic airline company.  



The free time during the event was allocated to meet Davao-based bloggers/travelers and though drinking spree has restricted and shortened hours, it was an unforgettable one.  I can't wait to be back this year.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

8. KUALA TERENGGANU, MALAYSIA:  THE ROYAL EVENT AND A NEW DISCOVERY

This year is the first time I have heard of a place named Kuala Terengganu.  Through the invitation of Terengganu Tourism Board and Gaya Travel Magazine of Malaysia, together with travel writer friend, Edgar of Eazy Traveler, I am fortunate to have been invited to a royal event.  We attended the 10th Anniversary of Sultan Mizan Royal Foundation where the sultan himself graced the event at Lake Kenyir.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

Interesting sights and culinary treats were part of my discovery at Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.  I love how culture was preserved on this side of Malaysia and how eco-tourism sites are well-maintained.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES


7. DUBAI AND ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: THE SUMMER SOLO TRIP

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

Filipinos are almost everywhere in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  I was never alone during the entire day trip, since I was accompanied at times by my friends Issa, Aaron and Shera, who are now living in UAE.

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

Despite the intense summer heat accompanied by buckets of perspiration outdoor that reaches for more than 50 degrees, I still enjoyed the sight-seeing and the over-all experience.  Seeing the architectural masterpieces of Burj Khalifa and Burj Al-Arab are enough for me actually, though I wonder sometimes that it could have been more fun if I have more friends with me to share the trip.  I am never used to solo travels after all.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIESBEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

6.  BALAYAN, BATANGAS: PARADA NG LECHON WITHOUT LECHON AND THE SIDETRIP 
 
Being a sport is the name of the game.  Drenched in water even my camera at times, we braved the streets of Balayan to witness their festivities in a mix of traditional and modern celebration.  There was an ongoing foam party on one side before the parade started.  It was the first time I have experienced the feast of St. John where all (no exception) is ready to be drenched in (clean) water.

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

Apart from lechon offered by the local residents together with a bottle of beer for breakfast, the following day we searched for one and none was available.  The side trip to the town of Taal is likewise a good vantage of historical discovery.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

5.  MACAU AND HONGKONG: WALK AS LOCALS WITH A MIX OF LUXURY

Nowhere in the trip were the usual tourism landmarks considered when I, together with Carla, Christian and Marx visited Hongkong and Macau, with the exception of course of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ruins of Macau.  But in a different way to visit the site, like what other local residents do at night, it served as a plaza where some gather for food trips and us for a booze fix.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

With no itineraries or maps on hand, we walked.  Walked through alleys and unknown streets of Hongkong and Macau to search for food and simply play the game of discovery and adventure.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

And one of the highlights of our visit is to experience the world’s largest water-based show, House of Dancing Water, at the City of Dreams Macau. 


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

4. BORACAY, PHILIPPINES: A CELEBRATION OF LIFE

I had a lot of memories at Boracay Island (good and mostly bad).  I have chosen to forget the bad memories but every time I visit the place, I tend to remember the past.  Moving on, I was supposed to go to Tokyo for my birthday (thanks to a seat sale) but plans changed.

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

I usually don’t celebrate my birthday in the country.  I’m not bragging about it in case you find it one but it’s just my way of pampering myself and being alone or at least together with some of my closest friends.  I want to skip parties and where everyone makes friends with you because it’s your birthday.  And I made the right decision.  It was both fun and relaxing.  I enjoyed the waters of Puka Beach and the sense of exclusivity attached to it.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

I have to say, my 2015 stint in Boracay was so far the best stay I had in the island as of writing.  I only had good memories which keeps me smiling each time I recall.



3. INDONESIA AND MALAYSIA: THE ASEAN PASS

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

If not for Carla and Christian, it would be impossible for me to explore my dream destinations in Southeast Asia.  Asian history fascinates me and you could just imagine how I felt when we saw the Borobudur Temple just before it closes to the public in less than an hour and the Prambanan Temple, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

I joined them only on the first leg of their two-month backpacking trip which started in Cebu, then to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Bali and Yogyakarta, Indonesia and back to Manila through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES
PURA BESAKIH, BALI, INDONESIA - MOTHER OF ALL TEMPLES
BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES
BEACHES OF BALI
BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES
ULUWATU TEMPLE, BALI, INDONESIA
BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES
VIEW OF MOUNT BATUR, UBUD, BALI, INDONESIA
If only there were no time constraints, it could have been the cheapest way for me to set foot on all Southeast Asian countries.

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

2. STAYCATIONS WITH FRIENDS

It is really true that no matter what the destination is for as long as you have the right companions, everything will be fine.  Each staycation has a story and memories to share.  I would like to believe that my travel buddies and I have known each other through the varied staycations we’ve had and all these experiences made our bond stronger.  

I found a lifetime friendship in them.










1.     BEIJING AND SHANGHAI, CHINA: FIRST WINTER

My mindset was to spend white Christmas in one of the famed mountains of mainland China.  But all domestic flights were cancelled from Beijing which made us accept our fate that there will be no snow for this trip. 


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIESBEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIESBEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

The below zero temperature though was a consolation for us.  With like-minded companions, we just have to make most of the situation.  Beijing is one of my favorite cities in mainland China for the great mix of culture and commerce on every alleys and streets.  The Mutianyu Great Wall, Forbidden City Palace Museum, Beijing Zoo, Temple of Heaven and a lot more discoveries were enough reasons to say that the trip to mainland China was all worth it.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

Even the food trips at Shanghai was a good choice, in the likes of fried dumplings, xiaolongbao, and of course lumpiang shanghai (not the local name of course), not to mention the constant landmarks – The Bund, People’s Park, and Yuyuan Garden to name a few.


BEST 12 OF MY 2015 TRAVEL ITINERARIES

In a relaxed mode, I enjoyed my first winter trip at mainland China in the company of great travel buddies, Kirk and Mark.


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A new year has come and definitely travel plans laid. So when you see me lurking at the airport, rest assured I am about to transform travel itineraries into good lasting memories.

Note:  All photos are taken from social media accounts (my own and tagged photos from friends)

5 comments :

  1. One of my top 3 is our staycations. Saya! Cheers to more [mis]adventures this 2016.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Naks! To more adventures and your 2016 inspiration! *excited na kami haha* Happy New Year Atty!

    ReplyDelete
  3. happy New Year ALT. I love you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, as in just wow. It would take me a lifetime to travel these places and you only did it for a year. (insert worship emoticon here). Great list Julius, hope to join you in some of your travels soon :)

    ReplyDelete

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