Sunday, July 11, 2021

5 Outdoor Travel Ideas from Reba and Wu Lei We Can Take To De-Stress

July 11, 2021 0

The pandemic virtually forced us to stay at home. With nothing much to do other than wait for the world to reopen its door for leisure again.

However, as traveling slowly reopens,  adventurers at heart start eyeing destinations and activities how to make the most of the outdoor life after a year of home quarantining.

Though, things are no longer the same as before where we are free to explore the places anytime we like, we can still enjoy adventure as long as we are mindful with the health protocols and coronavirus guidelines set by the government.

Me at one of my nature trips pre-pandemic

Outdoor adventure is such a relaxing escape. It brings tons of benefits to our mental state and helps us breathe life comfortably. 

The calmness of nature and the refreshing view of the greenery fill our system with the vitality needed to go through times of uncertainties. An excursion to the mountain, trip to the countryside or simply chilling among the verdant trees in a botanical garden allow us to reboot from stress.

In addition, the natural beauty of the environment gives our soul a time to rest. It heals emotional and mental troubles especially during this difficult moment of our time.

By staring at nature alone is a gift to our sanity and vitality. It gives us a sense of balance, stabilizes our inner self and energizes our physical strength. It's a great diversion in life.

Here are five outdoor travel ideas inspired from the recent Weibo posts of our favorite C-Drama couple, Dilraba Dilmurat/Dilireba (who played Changge in The Long Ballad), and Leo Wu/Wu Lei (who portrayed Ashile Sun in the same series). 

Nature trips we can consider comes weekend, to help us slow down a bit. And take a breathe from all the muddles brought by pandemic.

1. Cycling Road Trip -  This is one of the favorite outdoor pursuits of people who love to hop in a bike. According to a cycling aficionado in her blog, "there's a feel-good factor that can be reaped from riding a bike on an outdoor adventure. It makes you smile and feel better because it is outdoor and you can bathe on the fresh air and sunlight".

Leo Wu during his recent biking road trip

Taking a cycling road trip in the countryside energizes the physical strength as you pedal through the breezy atmosphere. It also offers the best opportunity to see the environment in its natural beauty. 

2. Visit the nearest lakeside - A weekend getaway to the lake offers an opportunity to connect with nature and chill. Being in a scenic atmosphere gives us a different level of relaxation. And that's all what we wanted during this difficult time. 

Leo Wu pedaling his way through the scenic road and lakeside

The peaceful and tranquil surrounding of the lakeside provides relief and sanctuary from the chaos of the world. More over, a trip to the lakeside does good to our lungs because the atmosphere around the lake has negative ions and at its purest compared to the city air.

Qiandao lake in Zhejiang province, China

3. Chill in a mountain resort - Ah, mountain resort, who would not want to be in this tranquil place at this difficult time? Indeed, nature resort gives our body and mind an ultimate relaxation. It's a great opportunity to unwind and go off the radar for a time.

Reba chilling in a scenic surrounding

4. Dine in a Garden Cafe - Imagine relaxing in a tranquil environment, surrounded with lush tropical plants, while enjoying meals or a cup of coffee with a French toast? It's one of life's greatest comforts. 

Reba chilling in a garden cafe 

Dining Alfresco, with a view of perfect blooms and all the elements of nature, is a breather, a relaxing escape, a comfortable food getaway. 

It makes the dining experience more special and relax. Nothing beats outdoor dining in a time we all need to take a reset in life to forget the terrible things in the environment. 

So, relax, chill, and sit comfortably in a garden cafe, and enjoy an afternoon tea.

5. Walk around the nature trail - It does not have to be a rigorous mountain hike or a laborious  nature trek. A simple slow walk along the nature path soaked in verdant plants is enough to invigorate a mundane weekend.

Reba taking a nature walk

Immersing in nature is one of the ancient remedies to reduce stress and restore vitality. It does not necessarily to be very far from home, a public park with a huge portion of land shrouded with lush trees is enough to experience this comfort.

Wu Lei during his recent biking expedition in the countryside

Nature walk offers a quieter more peaceful life. It relieves anxiety and distress, as noises we can hear are only chirping of the birds, water running from a stream, rustling of the leaves and gentle swishing of the breeze.

Dilireba taking a walk in a quiet trail

A nature walk is very therapeutic. More and more people in some parts of the world take part in the so-called "forest-bathing", which involves a leisure walk around the forest or wilderness. 

Smelling the fresh blooms

It found out according to a study in Japan, that "forest-bathing" or a nature walk increases immune function and lower pulse rates and blood pressure. It also provides us with a happy hormones.

Reba doing some "forest-bathing"

So, just like what Dilireba did in her recent Weibo post - taking a nature walk and taking a whift of fresh blooms - schedule a trip to nature, mini-forest, a public park or a botanical garden near you and do some leisure stroll to calm your tired spirit and invigorate weary thoughts.

Walking along the scenic path and looking around the trees and flowers can do a miracle restoring our depleting energy and helps us recover from life's tension. The alluring view of nature alleviates distractions from the mind.

Our fave C-Drama couple, 
Reba and Wu Lei, 
taking off from their busy schedule to be with nature

Indeed, outdoor adventure is a therapy, a great stress reliever. Start planning a weekend escape from these five ideas from Reba and Wu Lei's latest outdoor trip. 

Who knows, a nature trip might be just want you needed to de-stress.

Photo credit: Wu Lei (Weibo) and Dilireba (Weibo)

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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Travel Wanderlust: A Visit To Stunning C-Drama Filming Locations

June 24, 2021 0

It's been a while since my last travel adventure. The pandemic effectively cut off everything about my travel plans, so I have not posted any articles from an actual leisure trip in almost two years. 

However lately, while watching the travel vlog of Chinese heartthrob, Wu Lei (Leo Wu), who portrayed the irresistible Ashile Sun in the recently concluded C-Drama, The Long Ballad, on his recent outdoor cycling adventure to Qiandao Lake in Zhejiang province, China, I became interested in writing a travel feature again.

Chinese heartthrob, Wu Lei, on his recent cycling adventure trip

Although borders are still close and international travel for leisure is still off the table, we can actually start planning our next trip as early as now, set the budget and do some research on gorgeous places to visit.

Eternal Love shot in Xiangshan Global Studio

Since I am kinda hooked recently to C-Drama (Chinese TV and web series), I am fascinated with the breathtaking scenery of the C-drama filming locations. And like most fanatics who became interested on a Korea travel after becoming addicted to K-drama series, I am also interested to explore the C-drama filming locations.

C-Drama filming locations

If you are frequently watching historical or costume series of C-Drama, you will notice the locations are mostly in tranquil villages, beautiful scenery, mountains, lakes and quaint towns that recreate the life of an old world.

Actually, most of it are just shot in China's two biggest film studios - Hengdian and Xiangshan Global studios. However, there are some instances when filming takes place in beautiful villages and mountainside. 

Li Bingbing as Nichang in Forbidden Kingdom shot in Hengdian

There are locations that are not just film studios, there are actually scenery. The production team sometimes will recreate actual atmosphere to suit the story. For example, The Long Ballad production team planted thousands of seeds to recreate a prairie or grassland and erected 2,000 tents to shoot the Ashile tribe scenes.

Most of the locations boast a breathtaking sight of nature, spectacular countryside scene, mountains, lakes and a bed of beautiful garden. 

1. Hengdian World Studios. Located in Hengdian, Dongyang, Zhejiang province. It is operated by Hengdian Group owned by Xu Wenrong and it is the world's largest film studio. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Asia with a recorded visitors of 20 million in 2019.

Aerial view of Hengdian world studios

It recreates Imperial Palace buildings, pavilions. Around 70% of Chinese TV series and films are shoot in Hengdian studio. Even the K-drama, Empress Ki, was shoot there.

It has 21 filming lots spread across 30 square kilometers. The tour here not only for drama memories but also making each one's wildest film fantasies coming true.

The scene takes you back in time, to the ancient world of imperial dynasties of Qing, Sui, Ming, Tang and Qin as the area is filled with glittery palaces designed to recreate the atmosphere of the country's vivid past.

It has also a theme park called Dream Valley where visitors can watch plays, live shows and movies. One of its grandest buildings is the replica of the Imperial Palace building.

Most scenes of The Long Ballad were shot in Hengdian 

Popular films and TV series shot there are:

  • Forbidden Kingdom (a blockbuster Jackie Chan and Jet Li film collaboration released in 2008)
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee film which won Best Foreign Film in the Oscar awards in 2001 starring Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat)
  • Empress Ki (Korean historical drama)
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
  • Mulan (2020 Disney live action film starring Liu Yifei)
  • More than 70% historical and costume C-Drama series are shot here. The Long Ballad, The Untamed, Legend of Fuyao, and many more.

Famous replicas in this outdoor film studio:

  • Guangzhou Street and Hong Kong Street 
  • The Palace of Emperor Qin
  • Palace of Ming and Qing Dynasties
  • Qing Ming Shang He Tu
  • The Dream Bund
  • New Yuanmingyuan
  • Dream Valley

Entrance fee: 400 yuan per person. Operating hours: 8:00pm to 5:00pm

What to do at Hengdian World studio:

  • Watch live cultural performances, shows and movies at night time at Dream Valley
  • Experience an ancient costume dress-up just like the characters in historical films and series
  • Stay in film set hotels
  • Tour around the magnificent imperial palaces, princely pavilions and replicas of old oriental streets
  • Dream bund area allows you to experience the old Shanghai

How To Get There:

It takes 4-hour travel via land from Shanghai and Jiangsu. There's no airport in Hengdian town, the nearest area with international airport is Hangzhou which is two and a half hours travel to Hengdian. But there are hotels, restaurant and shopping centers around the town.

2. Xiangshan Global Studios. A film and television studio located in Xinqiao town in the Xiangshan county, Zhejiang province. Measured at 78,000 square meters or 194 acre, it is a popular location of C-Drama historical series and films, however a bit smaller than Hengdian world studios.

Xiangshan Global Studio

Most popular films and series shot here:

  • The Return of the Condor Heroes
  • The Legend of the Condor Heroes
  • Nirvana in Fire
  • Eternal Love: Ten Miles of Peach Blossom
  • The Flame's Daughter
  • The Longest Day in Chang'an
  • Legend of Qin
  • Chinese Paladin 3
  • Sound of the Desert
  • Journey to the West
  • The Warrior's Gate (film)
  • Sacrifice (film)
  • The Four (film)

3. Yunnan mountain and ethnic village - Located in Yunnan province, this place is also famous as film location of historical series. Yunnan is in the Southernmost part of China bordering Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Tibet.

Yunnan village

It is mountainous and mostly covered with beautiful lakes, great for nature excursion and meditation. Best travel time at Yunnan is during Autumn and Spring. Its mountains are covered with cherry blossoms at springtime.

UNESCO World Heritage Site, Honghe Hani Rice Terraces

It is also home to many UNESCO world heritage sites, its most famous is the cultural landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces.

Yunnan mountainside and its ethnic village are famous as film locations of most C-drama historical series.

4. Zhangjiajie National Park - famous as the filming location of James Cameron's Avatar, it is located in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province. The best time to visit this place is during Spring or Autumn when the weather is beautiful. Recommended visit is two days to make the most of your time.

5. Wulong County, Chongqing - This area is most famous as a film location of Transformer: Age of Extinction. It is located in Chongqing  province and can be reached through Chongqing North Railway Station. 

Wulong County, Chongqing

The best travel experience in this area is through Wulong Karst landscape which comprises of natural bridges, fairy mountain and Furong cave.

Its three natural bridges are the largest natural bridge group in Asia. These three natural bridges lie north to south, crossing over the Yangshuihe Gorge and connecting the mountains at the two sides. Wulong mountain is famous as a cinematography landscape of most wuxia and xianxia C-drama series.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Where Would You Be This Weekend If Not For ECQ?

April 01, 2021 0

I would have my first solo beach trip to Puerto Galera had the government not placed the Greater Metro Manila and nearest provinces back to ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) rule. 

It seems we have not moved on from the last year ordeal, or at least improved how we handled the pandemic. Philippines is at the mercy of the devastation of coronavirus, and yet the government seems at a loose how to fight the spread of the virus effectively.

White Beach, Puerto Galera at day time

It's already irritating having to endure this situation again and again. While some parts of the world are already on the recovery period, with their effective measures to suppress the disease, Philippines is lagging behind. So non-essential travel has been stopped.

First solo beach trip

Since early this year, I've been planning to revisit Puerto Galera in my birthday this year. I would have booked in advance but due to travel restrictions and complicated travel requirements to accomplish, I put it on hold and waited for updates.

Puerto Galera trip. November 2019

In March, Puerto Galera became open to tourists. I planned to book a room accommodation towards the end of March but it was announced Metro Manila will be placed in ECQ. All my plans for a solo birthday trip to the beach became dust.

The inept response of the Philippine government to the pandemic really got into my nerve. How can they be so incompetent in a time people are so desperate to get back into life. It's so terribly upsetting.

So my planned solo beach trip this April 3, my birthday, retreated back into a home-bound agony.I am started to lose appetite in life.

But why Puerto Galera?

I love Puerto Galera. It's been my childhood dream to visit this stunning island. In November 2019, I finally accomplished this travel goal. It was my last travel adventure outside Metro Manila. 

READ: My Puerto Galera Trip

Happiness comes in waves

It's just so lovely. I mean, the wide beachfront, white sand, breathtaking view of the ocean, turquoise-clear water. Everything!

What made White Beach, Puerto Galera super ideal is its close promixity to Metro Manila. Just less than three hours travel in early morning. It's an ideal beach to spend quiet weekend with. I love the atmosphere and there are tons of affordable room accommodations and restaurants near the White Beach.

I would just want to spend a quiet weekend on my birthday at White Beach. And just imagine the world in a different time, simpler, calmer, quieter, lovelier.  

I just want to lay in the sand, feel the softness of the environment, breathe on the crisp breeze coming from the ocean, listen to the splashing of the waves, and just watch the world go by. 

And do endless beach-walk. Life is easier and calmer at the beach.

Someday, when the world is safe from the virus, I could travel again. I could have my solo trip elsewhere. I just feel at this time that I would not want anyone to accompany me on a trip. I want to be a solo traveler from now on. 

It's better to travel alone. It's more liberating and more enriching. Someday! 

Read related story: My Last Travel Before the Pandemic

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

17 Destinations In Asia For The Best Cherry Blossoms Travel

March 31, 2021 0

Cherry blossoms in Japan

Year 2021. It's still the year of COVID-19 and not the year of travel and adventure. It's pretty awful to think but it seems our travel goals need another year of extension. It starts to piss me off but there's nothing the world could do but wait a little longer.

It's approaching April, the peak of springtime, and with it, the charming view of the Cherry blossoms rises to its glory. While we could not still travel out-of-the-country to see Cherry blossoms, now is the perfect time to start planning for a Cherry blossom travel someday.

In Asia, there are three countries known for its Cherry blossoms landscape at springtime: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. 

The charm of Cherry blossoms

Why people are fascinated with Cherry blossoms? Perhaps due to its awesome hue that epitomizes happiness, romance and timeless beauty.

Visually-enticing, charming to the eyes and senses, and heartwarming, Cherry blossoms are the depiction of fantasy we all dreaming to visit. 

And while fantasy is only in a dream, we can at least make it coming true by viewing Cherry blossoms. Here are Asia's best destinations to witness this myriad beauty of pink, according to world travelers and travel bloggers.

Let's be tickled with pink!


Japan, no doubt, is the world's most popular destination when it comes to Cherry blossoms travel. It is part of the Japanese culture and its significant symbol of the spring season. 

Cherry blossoms season in Japan

Although Sakura trees are grown and cultivated around the world, none matches Japan's pandemonium of blush pink petals.

It's everywhere in the country, framing city canals, blanketing mountains and countryside with the sea of pink - and with it, the scenery of happiness and endless beauty of nature.

View of Mt. Fuji at springtime

Japan is home to the finest Sakura trees in the world where spring time saw the whole country cloak in the charm of pink.

It's difficult to predict the peak of the Cherry blossoms season in Japan, however, most travel guide to Japan suggested March to April as the best time to travel to the land of the rising sun.

Where to experience the best of Cherry blossoms travel in Japan?

1. Kyoto - This ancient capital of Japan tops the list of best places to witness the charm of the Cherry blossoms season. The full blooming season starts in the middle of March and lasts until the mid-April.

In springtime, the imperial city of Kyoto transforms into a pink of paradise. Everywhere is filled with charming sights of the flowering Sakura trees. The grand palaces, ancient temples, ornate shrines. and traditional "machiya" houses clad in Cherry blossoms comes springtime.

Although all over Japan is cloak in pink with the stunning Cherry blossoms, Kyoto offers the most stunning scenery of the blooms. Head to the Kyoto imperial palace, Kyoto botanical park, Maruyama-koen park and Philosopher's path for the most thrilling cherry blossoms adventure.

2. Yoshino - A town in Japan's Kii Mountain, east of Osaka. It is the gateway to Mount Yoshino, known as the mountain covered with thousands of Cherry blossoms trees. It is Japan's most popular Cherry blossoms viewing point.

Cherry blossoms typically start in late March down to early April where the blooms reach its full beauty. Range of elevation varies so the blooming season is scattered by a couple of days between the Shimo (lower), Naka (middle) and Kami (upper).

Yoshimizu shrine, Kinpusenji temple and Nakasenbon park are the best spots in Yoshino to experience the best of the Cherry blossoms season.

3. Osaka - A bustling city of Japan famous for its authentic Japanese cuisine, Osaka is one of the country's best destination for Cherry blossoms experience.

Its famous landmarks - Okawa riverside, Osaka Castle, Kema Sakuranomiya park, Osaka Mint Bureau and Tsurumi Ryokuchi park - are famous backdrops of sakura trees where the surroundings burst into the sea of blush pink.

4. Lake Kawaguchi - It is located in the border of Fujiwaguchiko and Minobu towns in southern Yamanashi Prefecture. This lake shines the best of its charm during Cherry blossoms season.

It is where the view of Mt. Fuji, Japan's highest peak, can be best enjoyed. And its glistening beauty rises in springtime, especially in mid-April.

One of the nicest spots of Cherry blossoms viewing is at the seaside promenade near the Kawaguchi Music Forest. 

However, travelers are being warned that Mt. Fuji is not visible whole day at Lake Kawaguchi as clouds obstruct the view of the mountain, especially during hazy months. The best time to see its charm is in the morning and near afternoon.

5. Yoyogi Park, Tokyo - This 134-acre of massive cherry blossom trees and greenery is one of the most charming spots in Tokyo for a Sakura tree blooms viewing. It is famous for picnic-at-the-park during springtime.

6. Nakameguro, Tokyo - It is considered as the best neighborhood for Cherry blossoms viewing. Each springtime, between the last week of March and early April, its canal-like waterways are teemed with brilliant pink blooms. 

Highlight of the season is Nakameguro Sakura Festival where shops and restaurants sell Cherry blossoms-inspired items along the canal.

7. Shinjuku Gyoen - A huge park and national garden located in Shinjuku and Shibuya in Tokyo. It is home to more than 20,000 trees with approximately 1,500 varieties of Cherry blossoms, thus, the best spot to experience the Cherry blossoms viewing comes spring.

Shinjuku Gyoen is scattered in three different garden style. The French garden, the English garden and the Japanese-style garden. It is the best spot to experience the best of nature in Tokyo.

However, unlike other spots in Japan for a cherry blossoms viewing, Shinjuku Gyoen is not free. It has an admission fee and opens from 9:00 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon.

8. Hiroshima Ueno Park - Located in Shobara city in the Hiroshima Precture, Ueno park is famous cherry blossoms viewing spot. In spring, the Sakura blooms around the pond create a spectacular scenery of beautiful pink blooms.


Ever since the K-pop world makes a sweeping wave across the Philippines, Filipinos cannot get enough of South Korea. However, this country is more than K-dramas and K-pop idols. 

Apart from Japan, South Korea is a popular Asian destination for Cherry blossoms. And there are many spots in the country where travelers can witness the full blooms of Sakura trees in spring.   

Cherry blossoms season in South Korea

1. Jinhae, South Korea

Jinhae-gu is a district in Changwon city, South Korea surrounded by mountains and pines and famous for its irresistible Cherry blossoms at Yeojwacheon stream and parks. 

It is at Jinhae port where the largest Korean spring festival takes place, the Gunhangje festival where Cherry blossoms are in full display. It is organized in the first week of April and visitors will have the best Cherry blossoms experience in the city of Changwon.

2. Gyeongju, South Korea

Cherry blossoms season in South Korea starts in late March and runs until the third week of April. This period offers the best of Cherry blossoms experience in this amazing country.

To enjoy the full blossoms viewing, travelers are advised to head to Gyeongju, the ancient Silla capital home to many historic sites.

During the Cherry blossoms season, Gyeongju has many festivals attributed to Cherry blossoms including marathon and performances. Gyeongju is accessible from Seoul through KTX train of express. 

3. Seoul, South Korea

The capital of South Korea is itself a myriad of beautiful things to see for travelers. It has century-old palaces, sublime gardens and skyscraping buildings. However, it's in its bustling streets that travelers see the eclectic beauty of Seoul.

In April, Seoul, celebrates the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival. Visitors can witness a myriad of Cherry blossoms beauty along the Hangang River. It's said to be filled with other eye-catching blooms such as forsythias, deutzia and azaleas.

Seoul Cherry blossoms viewing include fringe activities like street performances and fireworks. So if you want to visit Seoul in its finest beauty, consider visiting during springtime.

The beautiful spots in the city to see Cherry blossoms:

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • National Palace Museum
  • National Folk Museum of Korea
  • Changyeongqung
  • Seokchon Lake
  • Insa-dong where cherry blossoms and traditional Korean houses give an aesthetic pleasure

4. Jeju island - known as the "Hawaii of Korea", the island lies in Korea strait. It's where the spring season comes first, thus, Cherry blossoms can be first experienced at Jeju island. During this season, Jeju island is teemed with Canola flowers and the magnificent Cherry blossoms.

Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak, a UNESCO world heritage site, Hallim park, and Mount Sanbangsan, are the best spots to experience Cherry blossoms in Jeju island. Peak of Cherry blossoms season in Jeju island is between mid-March and early April. 

5. Busan - A cultural hub of South Korea and its second most populous city. Its beaming skyscraping buildings roll spaces between green mountains and beaches, while beautiful bridges span across the sea.

Busan is not only a beautiful place to explore the culture and modern life of South Korea, it is also a great spot to view Cherry blossoms.

Gamcheon cultural vilage, made up of colorful houses built on the foothills of a coastal mountain, made Busan a beautiful Cherry blossoms destination as this vibrant town transform into a village of timeless beauty with Sakura trees.


While Japan and South Korea are the most popular destinations in Asia for Cherry blossoms at springtime, Taiwan is not far behind.

Cherry blossoms in Wuling Farm, Taiwan

However, unlike Japan and South Korea, Taiwan has no specific forecast of the peak of the Cherry blossoms season.

Blossoming of its Sakura trees vary each year but generally, the best time to see Cherry blossoms in Taiwan is around January to early part of April.

Spots to make the most of Cherry blossoms experience in Taiwan

1. Alishan Forest Recreation - a mountaintop recreational area surrounded with lush forest and rolling tea farms. Famous for its spectacular sunrise and hiking trails, it is also a popular destination for Cherry blossoms travelers. It has a festival called Alishan Cherry Blossoms festival that runs between midway March and early April.

2. Qingjing Farm - Located in Nantou county, in a quaint Taiwanese town of Qingjing, the farm is famous for its picture-perfect view of Cherry blossoms.

There are beautiful scenic spots in Qingjing farm to view Cherry blossoms, at the Sakura trail and Guanshan trail. Best time to go: Middle of January to the middle of March.

3. Wuling Farm - Located in the Heping district of Taichung, Taiwan, Wuling Farm yearly organized a Wuling Farm Cherry blossoms festival between February and March. What makes this location uniquely different from other spots in Taiwan is that, it is home also to a sweeping 30,000 Cherry trees. So there's a lot more to see at this farm than just Cherry blossoms.

4. Wuji Tianyuan Temple - A stunning Taoist temple located at the foothills of Datun mountain in Danshui, just 30 minutes from Taipei city, so it's a bit accessible to travelers. 

It's one of Taiwan's best spots for Cherry blossoms viewing. What made it a beautiful travel destination at springtime is its breathtaking scenery. Cherry blossoms adorned the ornate 5-tiered pagoda and dozens of romantic lanes lined up with Yoshino cherry trees.

Friday, February 19, 2021

A Travel Hack: 10 Smart Tips How To Pack Bag For Your Next Travel Adventure

February 19, 2021 0

 OMG! Packing is boring! 

Don't worry, we are on the same track. Let's admit it, one of the most challenging parts of preparing for a travel adventure is packing our things and thinking what to pack.

Sometimes, it can wear us down, thinking what essentials to bring, how many outfit to carry, and squeezing everything on a bag.

Travel is the best escape!

Yes, it's just that packing things can be boring and daunting. We're less tolerant of the chaos associated with packing travel essentials.

We all love traveling, the joy of being on a trip is ultra relieving. But as much we love the prospect of adventure, the idea of packing drains our day. 

What will be the tip?

When I am off to an adventure, I always prepare my things based on the length of my travel. 

To maximize the space of my bag and to avoid bringing too many clothes, I usually list down what to wear everyday during my travel. 

I also list down the things I want to bring/buy while preparing my travel itinerary so that I won't miss anything.

I always carry one backpack and one sling bag during my travel

So here, for the benefit of everybody, not just for budget travelers, I gathered tips and guide how to pack smart for your next travel adventure.

How to Pack Smart:

1. Determine your destination - Before anything else, you should know your specific destination to determine exactly what things to pack. Are you off to the beach? To the mountain? To a city tour? Identifying your destination is very necessary because each type of travel adventure demands a specific clothing.
  • Beach - Hat, sunblock, sun glass, moisturizer, shorts, sleeveless, swimwear, flipflops, towelette
  • City tour - Light jeans, leggings, shorts, T-shirts, sleeveless, flat shoes or slipper, sunblock
  • Nature tripping - Cap, sunblock, sun glass, moisturizer, shorts, sleeveless, comfortable shoes, towelette, cargo pants, knit sweater
2. Prepare a practical itinerary - Every traveler should prepare a basic travel itinerary. This is a must especially if you are embarking into a do-it-yourself budget travel. Personally, I always prepare my own travel itinerary because I am not comfortable with tour packages and travel agents services. I usually embark into a DIY budget travel.

Here's how to do a practical travel itinerary:
  • Decide on your destination and be specific
  • Check online tips for that particular destination
  • Prepare a spreadsheet for this travel, separate the items into column: Date and Time, Transportation, Destination, Cost and Expenses, etcetera.
  • Accomplish each column with the necessary items. 
  • For the cost and expenses, put the estimated amount if you have no idea with the specific cost.
  • Print this itinerary and bring with you.
3. Make a list of what to bring/pack
In a separate tab of your itinerary spreadsheet, list what to bring/pack. If you are going to buy toiletries list it here. For budget travelers, here are the most basic things to prepare:
  • Sunblock - This is the most basic skincare
  • Small plastic box or transparent pouch - For your toiletries, medication, electronic gadgets
  • Sun glass - Another necessary thing especially during sunny weather.
  • Light clothes - Unless you are not taking a business trip, bringing pants and long sleeves might not be a magnificent idea. Try to bring T-shirts, sleeveless, leggings, shorts and soft skirts (for women of course) instead
  • A pair of slipper if necessary.
  • A small notebook and pen to record necessary expenses or destinations
  • A sling bag - to secure your wallet, cellphone, passport, tickets and other travel documents.
4. Choose Your Luggage
The size of your bag depends on where you are going to go for your adventure. Choose sensibly what type of bag you should bring. Usually, I only bring one backpack for my travel even the destination is out-of-the-country.
  • Backpack - Ideal for budget travelers and those adventure junkies who are off to the beach, to remote destinations and to do some nature-tripping. This is my favorite, because I can move around comfortably and no additional cost for check-in bags. I only travel light and just bring practical things, light clothes and toiletries.
  • Light traveling bag - Hand bags which cannot be categorized as backpack. At least two traveling bags are enough to pack your things.
  • Rolling bag - This is just ideal for travelers who are on a business trip but for adventurers this sounds so absurd because it is a bit heavy and looks very uncomfortable when you are constantly moving to a different area.
5. Maximize the Space in your Bag
Every adventurer know how to maximize the space in the bag. 
  • Choose light clothes when traveling, fold these clothes tightly or if you bring pants and shorts, roll these up then put at the bottom of the bag. 
  • Maximize the edges of your bag by stuffing small items like socks, scarves or small towel.
  • Prepare a small, flat plastic box where you can put your shampoo, conditioner, bath soap, put this box together with your toothbrush and toothpaste in the pocket of your bag.
6. Ideal Time to Pack
By the time you decide to pack, you have already prepared your itinerary, try to squeeze everything in your bag, as much as possible avoid bringing more than two bags. If you are a budget traveler, definitely, you don't want to have a check-in bag, a backpack is necessary then. 

The best time to pack is three days before your travel schedule so that you still have time to edit and recheck your list. Revisit your list and check your bag a day before the travel.

7. Bring something to eat and drink
This is my best suggestion! During your travel, you never know what will happen along the way, sometimes problems will pop up, like delayed flight, no restaurants along the road or worst, you don't like the food on display. Bringing something to eat is really necessary. If your travel is just nearby or if you are just taking a road trip, always bring a bottle of water.
  • Biscuits
  • Hopia or any small bread varieties
  • Oatmeal/Cereal drinks sachets
  • Milo/Milk/Coffee sachets
  • Candies
8. Avoid bringing unnecessary things
Don't crowd your bag with unnecessary things like large size containers, too many clothes, thick towel, big shoes. The following items are not necessary emergency things to pack in your bag:
  • Laptop - As long as you are not going somewhere for a business trip, bringing laptop is not necessary.
  • Big size lotions, shampoo, conditioner - Try to put these items in small containers and put in a pouch or travel-size boxes.
  • Thick towel - For sure, if you are staying in a hotel, bath towel is part of the accommodation.
  • Too many clothes - To avoid bringing several clothes that might not be used, list down the clothes you have to wear everyday, This is what I always did during my travel. For example, Day 1: Wear short and sleeveless, Day 2: Wear short and T-shirt, etcetera. Make sure the clothes you bring correspond the number of days of your travel.
  • Thick Jacket/Cardigan - Try to bring soft shawl or scarf instead
9. Consider the Season
When packing your things for your travel, it is necessary also to consider the season of the place you are visiting. Bring appropriate clothes according to the timing of the season, this is to avoid incurring additional cost during your travel for a rush shopping and avoid bringing unnecessary clothes and accessories.

10. Revisit your itinerary and Check online sources
Two days before your travel, revisit your itinerary, check your list and the things you should bring, if possible edit the list according to the needs of your travel. Check online sources also for a last-minute tip when visiting a new place.

Packing for the adventure can be hassle-free if we do it smartly. Goodluck on your next trip and happy packing!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

10 Best Beach Destinations in the Philippines For a Relaxing Walk-on-a-Beach Moment

February 17, 2021 0
White beach, Puerto Galera

Eager to go on a beach trip again?

Yeah, we love to. We all need that. We need a vacation somewhere. We deserve it to de-stress after going through a rough year. But the world is still in the middle of the pandemic and government restrictions on leisure travel is still very much in place. 

Philippines has yet to start distributing the vaccine jab, which makes traveling a bit risky and unsafe. Though more destinations are slowly reopening, I still don't have the appetite to start fixing my travel plans. Just not yet. 

I don't want to undergo such inconveniences of having a swab test, having tons of travel requirements to accomplish and, darn! I hate wearing face mask. 

I would never enjoy the trip,  So I will just wait when everything is okay. Meanwhile, I am preparing my list of beach destinations in the Philippines to visit when travel for leisure becomes convenient and comfortable again.

Prefer a beach with a long coastline

I don't like party destination beaches (except White beach, Puerto Galera) because I hate noises and a flow of a huge crowd. I prefer beaches that are quiet and calm where I could have a relaxing retreat and a moment of solitude. 

Morning walk in Boracay

I love beach destinations with a wide beachfront, sprawling ground and a great view of the open sea. And those with a long coastline so that I could have endless long walks anytime of the day. A walk on a beach is just so therapeutic and relaxing and that's what I am looking for in a beach adventure.

My attachment to the open sea

I was born and raised in a coastal town of Surigao del Sur, nestled between mountains and beaches and directly facing the Pacific Ocean.  A quiet rural area dotted by rivers, valleys, rice and coco fields. Very far from the world I lived today. 

I spent my childhood running through the rice fields, marveling at the mountains, picking seashells during low tide and chasing waves during high time.

Beach walking one December afternoon in my hometown

I would go to sleep at night with the noise of crashing waves, and would wake up to the sounds of chirping birds. During weekends and at summer time, I would take long afternoon walks at the seaside, gazing at the vast ocean, wondering what's beyond the mystical blue sea.

My happy place

Thus, a long coastline is my "happy place", my sanctuary when everything is unbearable. It is where I could be in my calmest myself, where I could have the privacy of my thoughts.

Beach walking in Aquaria resort, Batangas

Should everything is safe to embark into a leisure trip again without so many travel requirements to accomplish, my first destination is really a beach. 

Either I would go home to Surigao, or go somewhere for a beach lounging. I miss the scent of a salty ocean, the therapeutic sounds of the crashing waves, the relaxing sight of the open sea, the powdery beach sand, and the crisp breeze rolling from the ocean.

Most memorable beach walk

I have not gone much to luxurious beaches in the country, apart from Boracay and Pearl Farm, but I have some of the best beach travels where walking along the seaside became memorable.

Here's my beach walks to remember:

White Beach, Puerto Galera

Popularly recognized as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, White Beach in Puerto Galera has not lost its charm despite shifting Philippine tourism's focus to other beach destinations in the country. 

Long coastline of White beach, Puerto Galera

It's still one of the most charming islands in the Philippines to visit where a walk on a beach is the most liberating and care-free experience.

White beach, Puerto Galera

White Beach in Puerto Galera is my top favorite to revisit the moment normal traveling is back in the country. I love the experience walking in the morning along the seaside. It has a wide beach front with a great view of the open sea.

Beach walking in White Beach, Puerto Galera

The sprawling beach front, the long coastline, the brisk air coming from the open sea, the roaring of the waves, the turquoise blue water, everything is so terrific at White Beach, Puerto Galera. No wonder it's one of my favorite beach destinations in the Philippines. 

Check my trip and travel guide for Puerto Galera HERE. Or watch my Puerto Galera vlog HERE

White Beach, Boracay Island

Oh yes, Boracay! Who would not want to visit this breathtaking island in the Philippines? The powdery ivory sand, the irresistible emerald waters. The long coastline. It's surreal to always think of going to Boracay and get lost in thoughts.

A beach walk to remember. Station 2, Boracay

Apart from the watersports and high-spirited night life, Boracay offers the best walk on the beach experience due to its long coastline and fascinating view of the open sea. And you can even walk barefoot without any feeling of discomfort.

Morning walk before sunrise
Walking barefoot in White beach, Boracay

I love going back there someday and just experience life at the seaside, lay in the sand or walk barefoot and watch the world go by while waiting for the sunset.

Read my actual travel experience in BORACAY HERE!

Jomalig Island

One thing I love about Jomalig island is its secluded location and endless view of the open sea! I have never been to an island in the Philippines where everything looks like a surreal - pristine surroundings, super clear and heavenly turquoise and emerald waters, long stretches of shorelines, where crashing of waves sounded like songs of the mystical sea.

Uncanny and timeless! Like, you do not want to end the day and just want to spend time walking at the seaside, gazing at the vast ocean. Jomalig island is a must-visit in the Philippines.

Golden sand beach, Boracay

Going there is a bit difficult, unless you have the heart for an off-the-beaten track adventure. 

Sea travel seems risky. The boat travel takes more than five hours over the rough sea where waves smashed on the vessel like you've been shaken by an earth tremor. 

But the moment you reach the island, an awe of magic awaits. The white powdery sand, the stunning sea, the clear waters, the long coastline. 

Everything is so incredible at this remote Philippine island in the Quezon province. It offers the best walk-on-a-beach adventure to beach lovers.

Pamana beach, Jomalig Island
Irresistible emerald waters of Jomalig island
Lingayen cove, Jomalig island

It is a stunning island wonder that offers a sense of calmness and serenity. Its location in the middle of the rough seas provides abundance of a terrific ocean view and endless sea delights, making a beach walk here a rewarding experience.

Travel resources for Jomalig island:

Magalawa Island

Magalawa island is a remote island off the coast of Palauig, Zambales, Luzon, Philippines, spanning across 56 hectares of tropical land and white beach. 

Sand bar in Armada beach resort, Magalawa island

It has two operating resorts and the one I visited with colleagues is the Armada beach. It has clean amenities, quiet atmosphere and wide sandbar for a fascinating beach walk experience. 

I love the sandbar. It's ideal for any activities like team building and ball sports or just beach lounging, letting things go by in a day. It's also a great area to view the sunset.

Wide beach front of Armada beach resort
Life is calmer at seaside
Memorning walk at the other side of the sand bar

Armada beach resort in Magalawa island is calmer at night time. The resort has a policy of no to blasting videoke or any activities that create noise during the night, so the accommodation here is ultra relaxing.

For my Magalawa island adventure, check this LINK, or watch my Magalawa island vlog HERE

White Island, Camiguin

My travel to Camiguin island in 2010 is the reason why I became a travel blogger 😄. It was such a great experience that I began writing my travel moments exploring Camiguin, especially the White Island, thus, created a travel blog. Back then, I only had one blog - The Royals of Europe site.

White island, Camiguin

Camiguin was also the first island in the Philippines outside Southern Mindanao I've visited for a beach trip. So this beach adventure was very memorable.

White island is Camiguin's natural treasure. It is uninhabited with nothing but sandbar in it. Unlike other sandbars in the country that are attached to the mainland, the sandbar in White Island is totally isolated and literally floating in the open sea, so you feel like walking above the sea water when you do some beach walking here.  

White Island. Nothing in-between but ocean

The most ideal time to visit White island is in the early morning. Before sunrise, you should be in the island and leave before noon because it has only sandbar and no shade to protect you from the grueling sun.

Check my actual trip in Camiguin, including top spots to visit:

Beach Travel Plans

I have not traveled in over a year due to the pandemic. My last beach adventure was in November 2019 in Puerto Galera. Wish to travel again soon. And beach trip is my top choice.

Philippines is home to more than 7,000 islands and islets, so there's no short of beach destinations to choose, however, there's always an exemption. And because I love beaches with the longest coastline and with a surrounding that's quieter and calmer, I have gathered a list where I would be going next.

These 5 destinations are my top choices:

1. Long beach, San Vicente, Palawan

San Vicente, Palawan has been on my travel bucket list long before the pandemic began. I've gathered quite a number of articles and travel guides about this remote town in Palawan. When everything is okay to travel again, I'd love to go there.

San Vicente has the longest coastline in the Philippines

San Vicente is smack between El Nido and Puerto Princesa, and unlike Palawan's popular destinations, Coron and El Nido, San Vicente offers a very laid-back atmosphere and a terrific view of the open sea. 

And the perk?

It is home to the longest coastline in the Philippines, about three times the size of White beach in Boracay. And second in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia, thus, got the moniker of the "Long beach".

And that's enough to make me swoon in thrill! I love long coastlines because I can do an endless beach walk  day by day. 

Long beach, Palawan

Afternoon is always cool and ultra relax when I am in a long coastline, beach-walking. Such a peaceful feeling. I prefer a quieter environment where I could enjoy the day walking without the noise of a big crowd. I can no longer tolerate noises and crowded places. It drained my energy.

Long beach is a signature attraction in San Vicente, Palawan. It has a coconut-fringe coastline, pristine, ivory sand, stunning blue waters, and offers a pink-hued sunsets. Wow! Yeah, someday.

2. Santa Fe, Bantayan island

Bantayan island in the province of Cebu in the Visayas region is another dream beach destination. Heard a lot about it and wish to go there someday.

It's home to gorgeous beaches where atmosphere is so incredibly beautiful. Sugary white sand lapped by sparkling emerald water is the closest thing to paradise.

Santa Fe, Bantayan island, Cebu

Its most popular municipality is Santa Fe where beach side is so pristine and romantic, ideal for a whole day beach walking. The tropical wide beach front is dotted by coconut trees, good for a relaxing adventure.

3. Hagonoy, Brittania island, Surigao del Sur

Mindanao is not so popular among travelers. Apart from Siargao island in Surigao del Norte, you would rarely hear tourists mentioning about a Mindanao travel destination. 

It's due to the insurgencies in the island. The terrorist attacks, the kidnap for ransom incidents, the bandits. Inconvenience news that terrifies tourists.

But I want to debunk this notion. 

Although there are parts of Mindanao considered as hotspot or in red alert due to terrorism incidents, it only happened in some regions but never the entire Mindanao. 

I came from Mindanao, I grew up in the province of Surigao del Sur, studied and worked in Davao City. My home province belongs to the CARAGA region (Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte) and it's relatively safer for travel even for first time tourists,

Hagonoy island, Brittania group of islands, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur

The CARAGA region is peaceful and most of its municipalities are still very rural. So you would never get lost. People are accommodating and hospitable. 

The region offers the most exhilarating experience of adventure due to the natural landscape of mountains and beaches. Relatively unknown to tourists (with the exemption of Siargao island in Surigao del Norte), this unpopularity, however, works pretty well in favor of the municipalities.

It keeps the provinces in the region quieter and peaceful and less crowded. It allows plenty of space and privacy. 

It protects the environment to remain clean and sustainable. And most of all, it keeps the rates of beach resorts here relatively cheaper and affordable due to low demands from tourists, making CARAGA region an exciting travel destination.

Pristine white beach of Hagonoy island

One of these islands in my home province, Surigao del Sur, that offers the best of beach adventure is Hagonoy island in San Agustin, Surigao del sur. Just a 20-minute ride from my home town of Marihatag.

Formerly known as Oteiza, San Agustin (where both of my paternal grandparents hailed) is gifted with stunning islands (24 all) and islets called Brittania group of islands.

Papa and Mama in Hagonoy island

As most of these islands are uninhabited and almost without plants, the islands are spruced up in white and pristine coastlines with just few coconut trees, making it ideal for beach travelers who love to lounge under the warm sun.

With its terrific view of the Pacific Ocean and white sand, this island offers a fascinating adventure of beach walking and sunset viewing. 

Though we're 20 minutes away from San Agustin and my birthplace is part of this municipality, I have not yet visited Brittania group of islands, making me the only member of our family to have not set a foot in Hagonoy island.

4. Paliton beach, Siquior

So many foreign tourists are raving about the beauty of Paliton beach, in the exotic island of Siquijor, yet I only heard about this beach recently. So I got intrigued. And wanted to visit it someday.

Paliton island, Siquijor

It is located in the northeastern portion of San Juan, lies a stunning white sandy beach of Paliton.  According to the Lonely Planet article, Paliton beach has a crystal-clear water and palm-tree fringed shoreline.

And because it faces west, Paliton beach is a great place to watch the beautiful sunset. Oh, wow! Someday, hope to go there!

5. Saud Beach

Another stunning beach in the Philippines I only heard recently. Saud beach is located in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte in the Northern tip of Luzon. 

Paliton beach, Siquior

What I would love about this place is how travel resources online describe the place - calm, quiet with dazzling long arc of white sand glistening on the warm sunshine. Coconut palms fringe the shoreline 

For inquiry, you can visit their official website

My Beach Appetite

I am sort of an introvert who savors the quiet scenery and tranquil atmosphere of the beach than the crowded destinations. 

Popular beaches like El Nido and Coron in Palawan never fascinate me because of the flock of the huge tourists. Crowd and noise drain my energy and ruin my appetite of a beach holiday.

I prefer moments of solitude and calmness, enjoying the view of the ocean, the rushing of the waves, and the long beach walks.

Bayanan beach, Puerto Galera

I just want to spend a relaxing day on the beach, walking along the seashore, get lost in my thoughts and watch the world go by.  Then spend the afternoon laying in the sand, sipping tea or reading books or listening to the soft whispers of the rolling sea as sun prefers to set.

Golden sand, Jomalig island

Long coastline fascinates me, it's one of my definitions of a happy place on earth. Taking a quiet morning or afternoon walk along the shoreline resets my mood for a wonderful life. It's one of my indulgences in life.

It's pretty cool and liberating to be in a quiet beach. Someday, when everything is okay to get back on the road again, I would love to go to the beach in any of the above destinations. 

Until then. 😊


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