Monday, November 25, 2013

idyllic relaxation location

Bali is to Australia what Mexico is to America. Meaning, aside from the locals, there are more Aussies per square mile than any other foreign tourist.

The Hindu island is filled with shrines, temples in family compounds and on the water, cashiers who bow to you in the grocery stores, artistic dance moves and yoga galore. It also boasts some of the best surf spots in the world, especially for beginners, and a plethora of rice patties. And the farther inland you go, the more diverse the tourists become... not that Aussies aren't fun to hang out with.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

from one island country to another

Just like in birthday's past, this one was going to be a destination holiday. But unlike others, with an entire years worth of traveling from country to country in the works, I had to pick the one that would stand out amongst the others.

In all honesty, choosing wasn't difficult at all. Bali had been a target on my list for quite a while. And choosing exactly how I'd spend my day was just as easy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

ilocos sur

"Go to Vigan," was the urging I was given by every Filipino I spoke to. Not that they had ever been there of course, although they all had a desire to after learning about it in school.

Vigan is the capital city of Ilocos Sur, a region 10 hours north of Manila. In the late 1500's a group of Spanish explorers found it a suitable place to settle, so they did. Today the old Spanish architecture is the primary reason local and foreign tourists take the ever-long bus ride up to visit.

Although there may not be tons to see, the ability to stay in old Spanish mansions for $9 a night is hard to beat. The rice tortilla empanadas are quite good too, assuming you eat one with sanitary sanctions that doesn't leave you with a mild case of food poisoning.

Grandpa's Inn, Spanish mansion hotel

rice flour empanada

Friday, November 8, 2013

a journal entry

4 August 2013

Today in Puerto Princesa was amazing. First I was put in contact with people who took time out of their day to pick me up from the airport and drive me around the city on their tricycle (a motorcycle with a side car), refusing any compensation for their help.

After arriving at the hostel, I ventured off towards the beach to get a better view of the ocean and mountains. I walked towards an area that resembles the favelas of Brazil. If I wasn't me, I wouldn't have gone down the road alone - or maybe at all. I did have a moment's hesitation though. But in that moment a man on a bike appeared asking if I needed directions. He said the waterfront was just a bit further down the road. So I continued.

I passed a group of teenaged boys playing basketball on a dirt courtyard, then crossed two wood planked bridges leading through shack housing where I finally reached the waterfront.

The shoreline was stunning. A few adults sat on a cement partition wall gazing at the view.  Although their housing may not be what one would ever dream of, the view from their front porch definitely is. Two men glanced my direction and nodded at me between cigarette puffs and turned their attention back to the view.

Then the children appeared. A large handful of them. They asked my name. They asked my age. They said "good morning", "good afternoon", and I taught them "good evening". We chatted for a while, and then I left - receiving a chorus of goodbyes with them even calling me by name while doing so.

By far one of the greatest moments in this country yet.