When 2010 started, I didn’t really have a concrete goal. I had ticket that I hoarded during airline seat sales, so I knew I was going to those places. What I never expected was that I’d end up traveling at least one a month this year!
Lakbay Norte group at the Paoay Church. Photo by Bong Bajo
I had no trips for January except for the week-long Lakbay Norte media tour with other travel bloggers and members of the media. In seven days, we covered 1,798 kilometers through 7 provinces on North Philippines: Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Benguet, Pangasinan, Zambales and Pampanga. It was a crazy seven days, made crazier with a very tight itinerary, truckloads of food, videoke contests and several bottles of bagoong.
Lakbay Norte marked the start of travel season and it was also when I started burning out of traveling and travel blogging.
Went back North for the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta with Lakbay Norte friends, and to Clark airport for the flight to Kota Kinabalu. Though I brought my netbook with me, I didn’t blog until the last day, while waiting for the car going to the airport. I ended up going to La Union, Baguio and Pangasinan shortly after I got back, then to El Nido a week later. Didn’t blog about the 3rd trip up North and only blogged sparingly while in El Nido. Seriously, who’d want to blog when there’s a gorgeous stretch of beach and about a dozen evil lounge chairs?
Met Chyng for the first time at Terminal 3 before boarding our separate flights to Bicol. We met up at Naga en route to Calaguas, which we both agreed was worth the travel and sunburn. Aside from the long stretch of fine white sand that we share with less than a dozen people, another thing I liked most about Calaguas is the fact that there’s no electricity and cellphone signal. It was great to completely disconnect from the world even for just 12 hours. The only other trip for March was a drive to Tagaytay for a friend’s wedding.
I typically avoid traveling during the summer months and long weekends since I know there would be hoards of travelers doing the same thing, but I was starting to go batty so I went to Baguio with Hazel. Despite it being my 5th time in the City of Pines and my 3rd time in 2010, we still managed to visit places I’ve never been to before. April was also the time I took that Carlos Celdran tour of Intramuros, as part of Team Manila’s Ang Pambansang T-shirt launch.
Traveled only once in May, but it was a biggie: the Macau familiarization tour. I went with Ivan, Ferdz and Estan, all of whom I’ve traveled with before, Christine, who I met for the first time and Kaoko, who I’ve known since 2006 but haven’t traveled with. It was four days of seemingly non-stop walking and non-stop eating. It was glorious. I capped the trip with a very expensive jump off the highest commercial bungy platform in the world: the Macau Tower.
June is like summer to me — it’s when I usually travel around Southeast Asia because it’s the start of the low season. From Manila, I flew to Ho Chi Minh using the one-way ticket I bought during a seat sale for only Php 36. From Ho Chi Minh, I flew to Da Nang (unfortunately, not a promo seat) and headed down to Hoi An. From there I took the bus to Hue, then onwards to Hanoi. From Hanoi, I flew to Bangkok, staying only for a day, before flying down to Krabi. Just so you know, June in Krabi is not a good idea. I then flew to Malaysia for my flight back to Manila.
July was the lull between trips. I had tickets to Cagayan de Oro, but the Vietnam trip wore me out (even without much blogging) and the Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur leg cleaned out my wallet, no thanks to Kinokuniya. I did have a gift certificate for Summit Ridge, so I invited Sunshine (who was supposed to travel with me to Vietnam) for a relaxing weekend in Tagaytay.
I received a very interesting invite in August: a dinner reception aboard the USS Blue Ridge, which was docked at Pier 13. The Blue Ridge is a “Command Ship for the United States Seventh Fleet” and “is the most capable command ship ever built, with an extremely sophisticated Command and Control system.” I don’t know what that means, but I do know it’s a very big boat and they make very good chocolate chip cookies (the kind that grandma used to make). August was also the month when I went back to the first country I ever traveled to: Indonesia. I flew via Singapore and entered Indonesia through Yogyakarta (for Borubudur and Prambanan), back tracking to Jakarta to see what has changed since 1995 (a LOT), then flying east to Bali (for the beach, the boys and the babi guling).
It was back to Bangkok for me and Cla for what is starting to become an annual pilgrimage to the Thailand Open. Only this time, we actually made it to the Impact Arena to watch a tennis match and harass the player’s standees. It was our first time to try Bangkok’s new Airport Link, which made me angsty about the state of airport transfer option in Manila. That trip was also our first time to visit Patpong, a place I managed to avoid even after numerous visits to the city. It’s not like it’s a place you visit when you’re traveling alone and you’re shy…
October was supposed to be my no-travel month, as I needed to save up for upcoming trips. Somehow, I ended up going to Cebu (via Clark) to buy danggit and Zubuchon and to Calbayog, Samar to watch colorful padyaks go by.
Trixie of Nuffnang gave me some good news in late October: I’ll be going to Hong Kong Disneyland! It was a fun weekend with Ferdz and Oggie, and the Disney experience was simply magical. More on that in January. I got back with just enough time to sleep and pack for my birthday trip: Brunei and Myanmar to complete the ASEAN member countries. It was, however, the people I met during the trip that made it so special.
Dela Cruz house of Piña in New Buswang, where you can buy the finest export-quality piña, abaca and nito products
Just two weeks after I came back, I fly out again, but this time with family. My brother and his family are home for the holidays, and I joined them for some fun in the sun, sand and sea. Though I usually fly to Caticlan when I’m headed to Boracay, I decided to fly with them to Kalibo and stayed back to for a four-day slumber party at Chris’
hacienda house. Chris showed me and Cla that there’s more to Kalibo than just the airport big enough to accommodate planes from Manila, Seoul and Taipei. Another high point of this month was winning the Philippine Blog Awards’ Best Travel Blog for 2010. Did not expect that at all.
I suppose you can say it’s been a pretty good year, both for traveling and my personal life. The funk I’ve been feeling at the start of the year has finally left, and I’m finding myself more motivated to actually start on the projects I’ve been putting off. I’m hopeful for 2011, but I don’t expect to travel as much as I did this year (despite having 2 trips in January, 2 in February, 1 in March already scheduled). That said, I hope to see YOU traveling more in 2011!