Monday, July 7, 2014

San Francisco

Back Story

Like a gene, the American dream has been in-borne in (almost) every Filipino. We grew up in giant cans of finger-coloring Planters Cheeseballs and triangles of Toblerones from US base Duty-Free Ports. We learned our first vocabularies from American pop songs. We built dreams from the infinite pool of Hollywood movie scenes that have swooned us over. Dream men included :p.

It would be easy to understand that we all have our magnified and photoshopped image of how the "greatest country in the world" would be like. It's definitely in the bucket list.

First chance I got, I didn't pass up on my mom's invitation and obliged to march and queue up to a Travel Expo. The airfare was irresistibly half the normal price! (I will be advocating for this travel expo for the rest of my life!)

The Trip

The first leg of my America initiation trip was San Francisco. As soon as I landed in San Francisco International Airport, boy did I think I was back in NAIA. The arrival area was flocked with men and women of my same make, only in slanged accents and a lot of super thin eyebrows!

San Francisco is a city brimming with art and soul, and one ambivalent weather, too! San Francisco could just be rightfully nicknamed the city of layers!

Without further blah, this is San Franscisco in pictures.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


No photographs nor words can capture the magic of Batanes enough. One needs to be there to understand the raves. To experience. To feel. To see. To hear. To be captivated. I can only try.



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Batcave

Les Bambous Boutique Hotel (found via Airbnb)


Siem Reap International Airport

Places/ Things to Do Only in Siem Reap

Visit the Tomb Raider Movie-Famed Temples

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

On to the 2nd leg of the Ho Chi Minh City-Phnom Penh-Siem Reap Travelthon and we found ourselves in the bus crossing the Mekong River on a barge, a few hours after we left Saigon.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ho Chi Minh City 2013

Airport: Tan Son Naht Airport

Vietnam has been like a third, fourth, fifth home ever since my sister's family relocated here. I've been in and out that the frequency caused its automatic drop from my priority to-go list.

But a perfect combo of Cebu Pacific irresistible promo fare and gastos-magnet friends can make you forget you have a list in the first place. After a message thread, a mini Southeast Asian tour was in order that shall commence in Saigon.

Cambodia has been escalated to my hit list since its proximity to the Philippines held it a constant loser to the where-to-go battle--that mentality that it's just there, it's easy to go anytime. I want it off my list so bad that the first chance I get, even if we had to pass by Saigon again (against state-of-the-pocket advice), I grabbed.

Before I detail what I loved about Cambodia, let me show you a few new things I saw in Saigon this time around.

The Batcave:
Lofi Inn Saigon
Pham Ngu Lao- The Backpackers' District

Full moon in Lofi Inn Saigon Roofdeck

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Begnas, Sagada

There are serendipitous events that leave our beings changed. I know I wanted to immerse in a local tribe as a bucket list but I didn't know it was going to happen this trip. The entire beautiful, magical accident started from an unknowing conversation.

I was looking at the tourism flyer of Sagada, and read about a tribe ritual that happens only five times in a year. One month said June. I thought, what are the odds that it was going to happen on our weekend stay so I shrugged it off. 

Sagada, Mountain Province

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Majestic Kiltepan Sunrise, Sagada, Mountain Province
From Victory Bus Liner in Cubao to Dangwa Terminal in Baguio City (6 hours)
From Dangwa Terminal in Baguio City to Sagada Town Municipal Office (6 hours)
A total of 12 hours road trip and aching butts, but definitely worth it!

Sagada Bus Schedule from Dangwa Terminal in Baguio (iPhone Photo by LA Madridejos)

The Batcave
Rock Inn
We stayed at Rock Inn the first night out of heeding recommendations but then the 4km walk to the town was proving to be impractical, albeit worthy ambiance and scenery, so we decided to transfer to a Trip Advisor-stamped guesthouse. We met the really nice children of the house owner who alternately picked us up and sent us off in different kinds of vehicles! They were eloquent and a pleasure to talk with.

George Guesthouse
This is a 5-minute walk to the Municipal office, which is the center of everything. It was nothing fancy, just a functional bed, private bathroom, and interesting fellow travelers from all nations, mostly young, who you can hear discussing previous trips and tips from x country over a meal. And yes, they just met there. This is just palpable travelers bliss.

We decided to gather all energies possible the first afternoon we arrived for the tours we signed up for. It was the best decision. 

*Every tourist is required to register at the Tourism Booth prior hotel check-in or tour, for documentation and proper identification. Tours are centralized which I think is a very good system that every province should implement. Rates are standardized, guides are on queue, everyone has equal chance at a job. Best of all, it works!

Only in Sagada

Central Sagada Ecotour

When we signed up for this 3-hour loop hike, we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, until Manong Aklay, the old local guy in the tourism booth, said it was a good warm up for the caving later in the day. Oh boy was he right! It was a rollercoaster on land going up and down the hill passing by:

St. Mary's Church, a quaint town church in the middle of the Sagada

School boys from a nearby private school passing by St Mary's Church
Cultural "playground' for the Sagada kids. Found along the way to the church, in the town's center

Looks like New Zealand! On our way to St Mary's Church

 The Echo Valley Hanging Coffins - yes, it's really echo valley, as our guide Kuya Rendel urged us to shout our names, and foolish as we are, heard echoes of what beautiful names!

More hanging coffins in the middle of the valley.

The Hanging Coffin Burial Tradition

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