Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Its not always "All by Myself"

I do a lot of traveling alone.
When I started, there was some discomfort in setting out solo but it didn’t take long to get used to it. And then, I started to prefer it.
However, in recent months a dormant desire to take more trips with a travel buddy keeps trying to surface like a tulip bulb pushing up through the dirt in springtime.
There are many things I enjoy about taking trips on my own – things that if I had someone by my side, I may not come to realize.
I didn’t know I could do that..
I started my first ever solo travel last February 2012 to a very far but exciting place. I don't know anybody else but just myself and my sense of adventure. I talked to locals, long hours bus rides, walking under the heat of the sun. Its quite inconvenient if you imagine bit its all worth it. Since then, I have done many things that some would think are risky or unreasonable but traveling without someone to lean on forces me to do things I might not otherwise do and continues to teach me that many limitations are self-made.
Give me some time to think about it. Being an introvert, alone time is what recharges my batteries. I gain strength from the moments I steal away for myself. When I travel alone I often take time to process life and the experiences I’m enjoying along the way without feeling guilty or anti-social.
It’s all about me. I know it sounds selfish but a lack of interpersonal complications is also a plus to being a party of one.
I make my plan. I see what I want, when I want to see it and I don’t have to consult anyone else for his or her opinion. If I want to take a 3-hour detour to nowhere or get on the road before sunrise or go on a weekend getaway on the spur of the moment, I can. My agenda is the only one I have to consider.
As much as I revel in being an independent lady-traveler, there are definitely tough things about being the one-and-only. There’s always a flip side.
It’s all about me. While it is less complicated to gallivant alone, it can also be isolating. Sometimes I want to engage the opinions of a companion. I like getting a different perspective on where to go and what to do and bouncing plans off a trusted friend can reveal a change in the itinerary that might lead to places I wouldn’t have discovered on my own.
There are many times in my solitary excursions when I would welcome help and ideas and would happily defer to the wants and needs of someone else, were he or she there sharing the experience.
You had to be there. This is my biggest issue with traveling alone. There is no substitute for being there – even phone calls and text messages in the moment (if that’s even possible) does not convey the feeling and the experience you find in a certain place at a specific time.
How many times have you listened to other people’s vacation stories that meant nothing to you or wanted to poke your eye out instead of look at every photo in your friend’s 15 full-sized photo albums?
Going to new places and doing things I’ve never done before are important pieces of my life. The memories I catalogue while traveling are often monumental – good or bad – and just like all monumental things in life, it’s more meaningful when those things are shared with someone.
As I contemplate less solo adventures and more buddy travel, I recognize there’s a time to travel alone and a time to travel with others. One isn’t better than the other, just different and perhaps, different is exactly what I’m looking for right now.
Let’s get to know each other better. Traveling with another person is an exercise in vulnerability. It takes a level of openness to share excitement and frustrations and logistics with someone else.
It’s not always easy to maintain my best self when I’m out of my environment and everyday isn’t as predictable as my normal routine. However, this is a good thing.
Taking a trip with a friend, significant other or family member is a mix of highs and lows, for sure, but when I give myself and the other person room to be who they are it allows each of us the opportunity to appreciate the other in ways that simply going out to dinner once a week won’t do. Getting past the surface creates real relationships and traveling together is one way to get past the superficial.
If you don’t believe me, try getting lost in a suburban place at 3am with your phone dead, you know no one else and taking a 12 hour bus ride. You’ll get to know your travel partner in a hurry – and then you’ll laugh about it for years to come.
Do you prefer to travel alone or with a partner?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Journey to the Island of the Giants

IMG_1898Summer has officially ended when we decided to explore this place. Rainy season has actually started and the ‘habagat’ winds already started cursing the seas so this journey is somewhat labeled ‘life-threatening’ for those who have weak hearts. This island has  a lot of white sand beaches and places of interest.  Unfortunately, tourism is largely undeveloped in these areas and is very inconvenient for tourists to get, so only travelers willing to go the extra mile can experience the beautiful sights of this island. Smile
I have been looking forward to exploring Isla Gigantes when I saw a friends post in facebook. ThiIMG_1917s place looks very interesting to me. I just got lucky because most of the members of my team have this adventure seeking spirit and is eager to discover the island too.
And theIMG_1923 planning took place, we researched the accommodations and at the same time the projected expenses for this overnight adventure. We ended summing up to Php1500.00 per person, that includes the fare from Bacolod – Iloilo VV (Php 380.00) , the fare from Iloilo to Carles supposedly but ended up in Estancia (Php 330.00). Our meals (Php 150.00) and the accommodation (Php 150.00). The boat rental Php 5,000.00 including island hopping (Php 400.00).
We left Bacolod early of June 18 and we were so blessed that the sun is shining brightly, this is the sign of fun adventure. We embarked OceanJet 7:45AM trip and at exactly 9 AM we arrived in Iloilo Port.  We then headed to atrium for last minute shopping and breakfast before we go north bound, off to TIMG_1970agbak Terminal and look for the Carles bound Van.  As originally planned we are supposedly jumping off from Carles to Isla de Gigantes but we reverted it to Estancia Port instead.  That’s how flexible we were.Smile
Isla de Gigantes, Carles is a coastal town located in Northern Iloilo.There are 2 possible ways to get to this place, you can either take a route from Estancia Port or its mother place, Carles.  We took the Estancia gateway to Isla de Gigantes because according to our Van Driver, vessels are much bigger there compared to the ones used in Carles which we think is a safer optiIMG_2031on, not only that, it’s a way cheaper than Carles in all ways
It took us more than 2 hours ride from Iloilo city to Estancia port where our adventure awaits. Upon setting our feet on Estancia Port, Mr. Joel Decano our contact person which happened to be one of the tourism officer in Carles and at the same time the ones in charge of our accommodation in Gigantes meet us and explain the options that we can take so we can get to the mystic island safely. He told me that we can take the passenger vessel from Estancia to Gigantes (Php 80.00 per person) or we can hire a private boat that will take us to the island, stay there overnight with us and at the same timeIMG_2100 will be used for our Island Hopping the next day (Php 5,000.00 max of 20 pax). We had a hard time deciding because the Office gave a heads up that the sea is quite rough and it’s safer to take the passenger vessel but the disadvantage is to leave the island by 9 am. The passenger vessel cruises only once a day to and from Gigantes.  From Estancia it departs exactly 2 PM daily and from Gigantes 9 AM daily. So we then decided to take a private yet smaller boat to take us to the island, this will serve as our sea transportation for this entire trip. So off we all hop and the journey towards the mystic island of Gigantes officially started. I have read that’s its more than an hour trip from Carles to Isla de Gigantes bIMG_2085ut it took us more than 2 hours to reach the island from Estancia Port. Few reasons I can site, the boat that we hired is slower, the sea is not cooperating during that time and lastly Estancia is way distant compared to Carles. Makes sense? Nevertheless the journey seemed to be fun because as we cruise the ocean, I discovered some entertaining facts about Gigantes. According to Sir Joel it was named after a remnant discovery by their ancient folks, they believed to have discovered remains of Giants ranging from 7 to 12 feet tall. It was placed in a wooded coffin.   Not only that, there are a lot of exciting things that we can do once we step our feet on the island. Caving, Swimming, Trekking to name a few. To top this one, is to feast yourselves with Seafoods. The place where we landed is known to be the “Scallops Capital of Carles” so for those who love to eat scallops out there, this is a must see place for you.
We landed in Brgy. Asluman, Isla De Gigantes North. We don’t have a choice but to soak in water because the boat can’t get near thIMG_2169e shore. There is a bamboo raft that should be used to take us to the shore but its useless, the waves take us away either so we then decided to just jump off and walIMG_2145k towards the shoreline carrying all our stuffs. The base camp where we will stay is kind of far so we took a motorcycle to take us there (Php 10.00 per person). The accommodation is cozy and actually beyond what I expected. We only have to Php 150.00 per head and we what we’ve got is a very nice place.You can choose if you wanted to stay in a concrete house or a native one, I will suggest the native one because electricity in the island is from 5PM-12MN only and if weather is too humid, then you will have difficulty sleeping.  People were very friendly and accommodating to our needs. Sir Joel told us we can go caving if we want once we have settled ourselves. Its 2 hours trek to and fro. Since everyone is tired, we call it a day and just set ourselves for dinner.
While I did my ‘take-a-look-at-place’ sir Joel told me that there is a light house 3 Km away from the base camp. Me, Pre, Ellen and Dane took that challenge and see for it for ourselves, it was quite a long walk though but upon reaching our destination, it’s just worth it. While trekking to the light house we cant help but notice thIMG_2200e vbillages on the area seemed to fond in watching TV, they have flat and wide screen TVs and watch out most of them if not all have Satellite dishes Smile.  The lighthouse is located in the northernmost part or Isla de Gigantes North, the view itself is just astounding, it’s on a top of a cliff plus sunset gets in the way. We headed back to the base and then settled ourselves for a seafood fiesta dinner. After that, a small get together, sing-along with drinking session and a bonding while soaking in spring water Jacuzzi. We called it a day and prepared for a more adventurous trip tomorrow at sunrise.
We woke up early the next day to start the day with a long trek toward the Isla de Gigantes Norte Cave. We pass by the village and a little jungle before entering the cave. This calls for an adventurous spirit.. so here we go!! Say level 3 out of the 10 for mIMG_2224e.  This cave will require you to crawl, jump, and pass through slippery pavement but nevertheless I’ve proven that we are stronger than any challenges. These people took initiatives on how to get to the finish line, that’s what it all matters. In the end, its how you survived the journey. Teamwork and at the same time following exact instructions from the guide really matters. When they tell you use left foot, then use it otherwise, its going to be really hard. We’ve manage to end it with happy smiles, though tired, but it’s a sense of fulfillment that despite all the challenges, we survived. Some were telling themselves, I didn’t know I am capable of doing that. It’s also a realization, that if you are just determined to finish something its actually possible.
We headed back to the base camp aIMG_2359nd after that, we packed up and headed off back to the boat for our island hopping and fun-undeIMG_2362r-the-sun part of the tour. First stop, Sand Bar. When we arrived, the rest of the members were like hopping kids, excited for that great splash. The waves were strong but its fun as well, they look like chasing each one of us, its an amazing Splash of Fun. Some of us are fond of collecting shells so precious and hazel did their thing while we are having fun playing with the strong waves. Then we headed off to Antonia’s Island to have our lunch and proceed to our next destination. We are suppose to drop by the lagoon but because of the strong current, Mr Boatman said that’s dangerous to go there so we headed back to Estancia Port.
It was a short but really fun visit to Gigantes Island. It’s a small yet very exciting island where everything you wIMG_2507ill look for adventure is there. A piece of advise, a minimum of 2 nights is really required to rove arounIMG_2433d both North and South Gigantes and its neighboring islands. Summer is the most perfect time to go there but according to Sir Joel Decano, anytime so long as the sea is calm so you can really enjoy the place.
Till next time, Gigantes, an Island that have fulfilled my thrill seeking spirit.   For adventurous, this is really the place to be, no cellphone signals Smile
Special Thanks to Sir Joel Decano of Carles Tourism and Gigantes Hideaway.
For those who are planning to Visit Isla de Gigantes, feel free to leave your comments here or you may reach out Mr Joel Decano @ 09184685006.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Day in Iloilo with a college friend

IMG_1347I left Bacolod with a very enthusiastic spirit..this will be another fun filled adventure…looking forward to more bus rides and more site seeing activities.  This is my Panay Domination – starting line – Iloilo City.  I took a ferry boat from Bacolod to Iloilo (OceanJet). Since the purpose of this travel is to see more places at a lesser cost I prefer OceanJet compared to the other three shipping lines as this is known to be the cheapest but at the same time provide a comfy ride.  For a round-trip fare you only need to pay Php 410.00. I departed the City of Smiles at exactly 9:15 AM and touchdown Iloilo by 10:30 AM.   I've been to Iloilo several times but never had the chance to roam the place myself using public transportation so I can be familiar with the route.  This feeling alienate me but of course my adventurer spirit dwells more than the child in me.  As we arrive in Iloilo City I've been seeking assistance from
Jaro Churchpeople I knew to give me directions on what route to take to get me to my desired destination.  I was just lucky though that a colleague happened to be on the same trip and offered to show me around famous landmarks where I can easily take a ride.  As mentioned, I have been seeking assistance from friends who happened to be living in Iloilo, I got lucky again coz a college friend offered me to tour the city, her being a personal tour guide and driver Laughing out loud.  Epic failed again for taking public transport around the place. Its okay, this is going to be fun and memorable.  She took me to a seafood restaurant as I requested to have seafood for lunch though I will be going to the seafood capital in a while. After that sumptuous lunch and a great talk, we reminisce college days where all we can think is have fun. People that we miIMG_1358ssed,  experiences that we cant forget, everything under the sun. Whew, that was a long time ago. After lunch, we went to an entertainment-missed-so-long habit, “billiards.” Yes, I do play billiards way back in college, but this skills were kept because I haven't had the chance to play since I started working in a corporate environment.  I just realized that I missed Billiards that bad, we haven't noticed that we are already playing for 3 hours. Smile We headed off to SM City Iloilo to buy something before I jump off to my next destination.  She offered to take me to Tagbak Terminal where all busses and jeepneys going to different parts of Iloilo and the rest of the Panay Island were stationed.  We passed by Jaro Church and of course, instinct calls, we passed by a Bell Tower and a structured church. We pulled over, I took pictures of the place and off to another destination. 
Thank you Ems for that wonderful afternoon ride in Iloilo.  I promise to go back to Iloilo and explore the place myself.

Why Travel?

IMG_1520 Ever wondered why there are a lot of people who wanted to travel?  If a person decide to leave the comforts of their homes and venture other places there is a reason behind it.  Whether that cause of travel is out of impulse or purposely done,  it makes one think about the reasons why people travel. 

Let’s look and see if ever the reasons I listed here answers your question why you are travelling or will be travelling.

1. Romance- There are thousands of people who are involved in long distance relationships. At some point though, they need to see each other. For the sake of love, people will travel for hours to spend as much time as they can with the love of their life.

2. Relaxation- All work and no play is not a good thing. People need to get away from the stress of everyday life, and a nice sunny location with a beach might just be what the doctor ordered.

3. Family/ Friends -Many people have family/friends that are located in different parts of the world. They need to visit with them even if it's for a short period of time.

4. Religion- There are places in the world that hold religious importance for many people. Religious travel is often related to a purpose such as seeing where the last pope was buried, or traveling to the town where Jesus was born.

5. Death- A relative, friend or acquaintance has passed away and travel is required to attend the funeral which is located out of town.

6. Honeymoon- You're getting married and are going somewhere special to celebrate. This usually occurs right after the wedding, but there are many occasions where people celebrate a honeymoon years later.

7. Education-You're getting your education somewhere other than where you live or you are going away on an educational school trip.

8. Celebration- Wedding, Anniversary, Birthday, Birth- There's always something to celebrate and it doesn't always happen where you live.

9. Medical/Health- Sometimes the treatment you need isn't available in the city/town where you live. Often the best medical care is costly and requires travel to receive it.

10. Work- Job requirements might mean a fair bit of travel is involved. Even if the travel is within your own country it still has a purpose attached to it.
Overall, traveling can be a wonderful experience or it can be draining, expensive and just plain torture. Nonetheless if you need to go then embrace it for what it is, and try to make the best of it even if it wasn't planned.

For me, traveling is my way of self discovery and challenging my limits. A way to discover new places and cultures of people and at the same time getting away from the stressful work environment which I know most of you will agree. Smile

Cheers to all travelers!!

Thoughts on traveling and selflessness...

We are faced with choices every day of our lives and for the most part we all do what we want to do. Everybody wants different things out of life. Some want to have a family, a business, successful career, study abroad, buy a house or you know maybe see the world. Who’s to say one is better than the other or one is considered selfish while the other selfless?
If some people decide to make their dreams come true by investing in something like a house or a car, or maybe take advanced courses..something that will make them happy, is it being selfish?

Being selfless is defined as someone who cares about other people more than themselves..how can you share happiness and love and life satisfaction if your not happy?
.. for me happiness is being able to step on a foreign land, learning their cultures or just blend with them naturally..will I be considered selfish too?

We all deserve a life we aimed to have...its the same as fulfilling a dream as well but on a different context..we may never know those people who are traveling are helping others too..in our own subtle ways.. Is it being selfish? :)

What do you think? ♥♥♥

Cheers to all travelers!!!

How To Plan a Solo Travel

Solo Traveling trips can be extremely dangerous. Before you decide to take the risk, courage check and also take the time to know the place your going to. Of course, no matter how fearless you are, but given that the place is just too risky, why will you go? With that said, there are also rewards along with the risk.  Solo Travel  is a great escape from the insanity of the modern world.  Traveling alone  allows you to soak in nature without the constant interaction that a chatter partner would provide.  However, without another pair of hands, feet, and eyes, the dangers of solo travel increase exponentially.
Here are the tips I can give to those who wanted to take the first step of exploring the world alone:
  1.  Know the risk – know the place your going.   Anytime you venture out to new places, always take time to prepare. Do a lot of research about the transportation, the accommodations, and the culture of the place.  Check all the rules of your chosen destination well beforehand so that the trip can be as memorable and fun as it can be.  Take advantage of the modern world now with the aid of world wide web, there are a lot of bloggers posting helpful tips about places they have been to, you can take some of their ideas especially the tourist spots and the “how-to-get-there’ tips that they have posted.  It can also be helpful to get a map yourself so you get directions of each and every preferred destinations.
  2. Let several people know your plans. First off, get a map of the area, and plot your general course for the duration of the trip. You may find this constricting, but is it vital (in case of something bad happening) for rescue crews to pinpoint your probable location. Either show this plan, or email it to several friends.  What I usually do is to maximize the usage of social networking by updating my status every departure and arrival on a particular place
  3. Be Ready for Anything – Be Flexible. A cellphone,  some change and bills on your pocket will really help. Although this travel has been prepared well, its inevitable that there might be alterations and you will end up changing what has originally been set. Do not just go on travelling within your set budget, it can be lower than expected and sometimes more expensive, but you need to get ready for anything that will happen along the way.
  4. Pack Well – Just bring the basics but the necessary ones.  This is my favorite part of the planning process. Packing of things can be tricky if you don’t know the basics. First you have to prepare clothes and underwear needed based on the number of days that you will be travelling.  If your going to beaches, then a pair of beach wear is necessary and do not forget the sunblock to protect you from the scourging heat of the sun. If you will opt for a mountain resort, then you  may want to bring long shirts that can protect you from the changing temperature once you reach the resort and also from the bugs that might prick you along the way. However, it is important to not pack to heavily, as a heavier pack is more likely to cause injury, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid. Not only that it will cause injury but this will decrease the fun of your journey especially if you need to hop from one city to another that requires changing of accommodation too.
  5. Make friends along the trail. Travellers by nature are usually very nice and open to people. Stop to chat if they seem in the mood. The exchange of information will usually give you clues to how the trail is up ahead, and increases both your safety, and theirs. Not only that, they can be useful to take pictures too and make the moment more memorable.
  6. Be Smart and Use Common Sense. In other words: Don't do anything stupid. You are in a foreign place and safety should always be your main priority. Remember, no one is there to laugh if you hurt yourself, or get lost which means no one is there to help you back up, too.
  7. Bring a sense of Adventure and Enjoy. Despite the dire picture I painted, the peace and silence of a solo trip can make all the potential problems seem like a small price. Enjoy the freedom of moving about in unspoiled wilderness without distractions.