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Firsts of Twenty-Fifteen

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Traveling to at least one new destination a year has become an intention I want to keep on doing while am still  able. Wandering tirelessly around buzzing cities and quiet boonies, getting lost on unfamiliar alleys, climbing summits and ascending on the tallest towers to marvel on a bird’s eye view of the city, gobbling authentic local dishes, learning the regions’ culture first-hand and even acquiring some of the land’s vernacular are part of the inveterate adventure.

Why travel? 

Traveling gives me a breather from my regular, Same Shiz Different Day routine. Makes life more exciting, it does! Plus, it widens my perspective through the different ways of living and customs I witness during my journey. Also, traveling with my family and friends creates memories for a lifetime! Aaaahw. haha!  And, traveling is not that expensive anymore!

Fortuitously in 2015, I was able to visit four (4) new destinations: Bali Indonesia, Japan, Sagada and Seoul – my four firsts of Twenty-Fifteen. And below is a summary of my 2015 travel notes from these four jaunts.

 

A good mix of tranquility and bustle

Just like Cebu, three of my international travels in 2015 have a good mix of calm that a countryside can offer and a fast-paced urban life.

Nagano, Nagoya and Nabana No Sato Prefectures in Japan are a few of my most favorite regions; so serene that I got subjected to a natural dose of sedation – a good breather from the urban life I got accustomed to. Tokyo and Osaka, on the other hand, are super fast-paced cities. Imagine I.T. Park moving in 100x fast-forward.  Teehee. Though both cities are advance enough (infrastructure and discipline-wise) to support the prefectures’ rapid living norm.

Seoul City is pretty much analogous to Makati, but is very similar to Cebu when it comes to proximity. For example,  hiking up Inwangsan Mountain and revel in an overlooking view of the city is less than an hour away by train from Seoul Station.

Kuta in south of Bali Indonesia is very much like Lapu-lapu City. It has lots of resorts and a very tourist-friendly place. Many locals know how to speak English and the people are warm like many Cebuanos. Kuta’s resort belt is battled with bad traffic though, a thing I hope Lapu-lapu City would not endure eventually when all the business developments in our very own resort belts are completed.

Sagada, the only domestic destination on my list of firsts, is a great place to vacation at to slow-things-down and enjoy a cold weather retreat. An unassuming locale where one can wallow in great adventures like hiking, extreme spelunking, chasing waterfalls and even learning the region’s very interesting culture and beliefs.

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at Kuta Beach, behind Discovery Mall Kuta, Bali Indonesia

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Sunset at Kuta Beach, Bali

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Sagada, Mountain Province

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Up we go! 

Sunset, sunrise, the city’s outline and a landscape of urban night lights are alluring spectacles. And to delight in these treats, we went high enough to kit out both nature’s beauty and the manufactured architectures in one exquisite scene. In 2015, I witnessed a beautiful Philippine sunrise in Sagada, a grand dramatic sunset in Uluwatu Bali and stunning panoramas of  night lights in Kyoto and Seoul Cities.

Sunset at Uluwatu Bali Indonesia

Sunset at Uluwatu Bali Indonesia

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A bird’s-eye-view from KyotoFushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

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Waiting for the sunrise at Kiltepan Sagada Mountain Province

The view from Inwangsan Mountain, Seoul

The view from Inwangsan Mountain, Seoul

On the topmost floor of N Seoul Tower. Seoul before nightfall.

On the topmost floor of N Seoul Tower. Seoul before nightfall.

 

Pig-out Sessions! 

An adventure is never complete without indulging in the local food. It’s part of the journey! Traveling has expanded my taste spectrum, and at the same time, made me grasp a bit of each region’s culture through their cuisines.

Being adventurous on food may have some set-backs. Back in 2008,  got an upset stomach and suspected that it’d been caused by eating  spicy food at a food stall in Bukit Bintang, Malaysia. Good thing I brought with me some loperamide tablets and Tums. Lifesavers! But hey, I survived and learned something – when Tamil Malaysians say “mildly spicy”, it’s most likely super spicy for us Filipinos (or for me at least.) 😉

From the recent travels, I also got to compare the authentic dishes from these parts of the world with the versions serve in our local restaurants. I noticed that many of the food served in our local Japanese restaurants are identical in terms of flavor with the eats we tried in Japan. Same as with the fare served in Cebu’s Korean restaurants which are very much alike with what we have tried in Seoul.

Tonkatso in Nagashino Resort, Nabana no Sato Japan

 

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Sinarabsab and Pasta at Salt & Pepper, Sagada

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Black Chicken Stew with Ginseng at Tosokchon Restaurant, Seoul

 

The Locals Way of Life

Kecak Dance in Uluwatu Temple Bali is 2015’s most exotic encounter of all. A group of men chanting in chorus the words Cak ke-cak ke, in rhythm,  repeatedly  for almost an hour. And since I grabbed an Indonesian leaflet,  I didn’t get to understand what the dance was all about until I got back to the hotel and googled it. So according to Mr. Google, Kecak Dance is based on a Ramayana tale and performed for dance-dramas.

Also witnessed the Changing of Royal Guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace, toured the hanging coffins at Sagada and toured cultural Kyoto. Will be discussing about each on a separate blog, together with specific itineraries and breakdown of expenses.

 

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Kecak Dance, Uluwatu

 

Changing of palace guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Changing of palace guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace

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Hanging Coffins in Sagada

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Kyoto, Japan

Travel Mishaps

Nagoya was the first prefecture stop on our Japan itinerary, and my blogger friend Marco Diala and I got immobilized when we had a problem operating the train ticket machines, and no one in the Nagoya Train station appears to speak english that can help us with our dilemma. And data and wifi can’t seem to reach the subway as well.  With no hint or clue on how the machine can spew tickets to our destinations after trying for an hour, we then decided to pause for a few minutes and do what we do best – EAT! haha. We found a McDonald’s near the station, had a Big Mac with a large serving of Coke while checking on Youtube for a walk-through . And in no-time, we were off  and back on track with our itinerary.

The Internet is our Travel BFF! 😛 The the locals are equally as helpful too. 😉

 

 

So which of the destinations  on the list have you been to? Share your notes with me by commenting below! Would love to compare jottings! ^_^

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