Boracay is probably the most famous destination in the Philippines, and more than a million visitors visit the 7km long island each year. But for some hardy travellers, they might find the island overly touristic and gimmicky: McDonald’s and 7-Eleven chains sprouting amongst local shops, restaurants and bars with exorbitant prices above the country’s norm, flashy resorts constructed in between shabby villages, children building sandcastles for tips and over-congestion marring the natural beauty of the white sand beaches.
If you share these sentiments and crave a more local experience untainted by tourism, you can consider visiting these 3 islands in the Philippines instead:
1. Siargao (Mindanao)
Boardwalk leading to the “Cloud 9” surfs
Tidal pools at Magpupungko during low tide You can carry these stingless jellyfish on your palm!
How to get there: 45-minute flights ply the Cebu-Siargao route every 1-2days.
YAY: If you are a surfing enthusiast, Siargao is the place for you! The earliest surfers experienced such euphoria from riding the waves, that they dubbed the waves “Cloud 9”. If you are a non-surfer, don’t worry. You can visit the gorgeously green Magpupungko Tidal Pools which appears during low tide, or go for a boat-tour to the jellyfish lagoon (!!) in the Sohoton Cove National Park.
Continue reading Boracay?! Why not visit these 3 Filipino Islands instead?
Sunrise vs sunset: It is said that those who prefer sunrises are optimists who look forward to the start of a new day, while those who prefer sunsets are pessimists who brood over the events of the past day. I prefer sunsets but I do not consider myself to be a pessimist; instead, I am just a lazy ass who loves to sleep in! :D It is an ordeal to wake up for sunrises – hitting the snooze button numerous times, rubbing my sleepy eyes, burying my face in the pillow, tossing and turning around, before crawling out of bed grudgingly. But, for these 3 sunrises, it was definitely well worth my effort :)
1. Mount Merapi, Jogjakarta
Continue reading 3 Favourite Sunrises of Mine
I love sunsets til the extent that they are a quintessential part of my travels! Observing how the sun casts an orangey glow onto a foreign scenery – be it buildings, lakes or mountains – is always magical. It envelops me in a moment of mystique, resulting in me feeling almost ‘zen-like’ and at one with the world.
Recollecting on the sunsets I witnessed during my travels, these 3 especially stood out:
1. Mount Fløyen, Bergen
I was already in a euphoric state of mind from visiting the magnificent Bergen fjords the day before. Adding to that, I rode a funicular for the first time to get to the top of Mount Fløyen. Seeing this gorgeous sunset over the lovely city of Bergen was the final icing on the cake! Hence, it is no surprise that this sunset appeared first on my list. Oh – and given the high cost of living in Norway – it was particularly satisfying to sip our orange juice costing 10 Norwegian Krone that we bought at the supermarket, while waiting for the sun to set :)
Continue reading 3 Favourite Sunsets of Mine
“Hiking?!?! No wayyyyy…” I have never been an outdoor-sy person, and although I am by no means out-of-shape, I am not in-shape either. So, I have never thought that I will someday go hiking!
So, when my friend pitched to me the idea of hiking Mount (Gunung) Merapi – I surprisingly said yes. But at the back of my head, I kept thinking “well, If I can’t do it, I could just stop halfway up the mountain and enjoy the view from there”. (PS: Little did I know, the view is actually obstructed by trees all the way, and it’s only at the summit that you get a clear view)
Gunung Merapi – standing at 2,930m – is one of the deadliest volcanoes
in Indonesia, with the last major eruption in 2010 killing 38 people.
So, at 2am in the morning, this virgin hiker wore his winter boots (the closest substitute to hiking boots!), carried his backpack (stuffed with 1 litre of mineral water, 1 litre of energy drink, two packets of biscuits and a few chocolate bars!) and started to climb Gunung Merapi with his friend, 2 German tourists and 2 guides.
Continue reading My Virgin Hike: Mount Merapi
New Zealand is famed for its scenic landscape – with majestic mountains, pristine lakes, daunting volcanoes, rolling hills, sandy beaches and breathtaking fjords dotting the entire country. So for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to be one of the highlights of my Kiwi adventure, it is pretty god-damn spectacular! It certainly lives up to its acclaim of being “one of the best day-hikes in the world”.
Continue reading Trekking Tongariro