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Travelers Love Coffee

I love coffee. A satisfying sip of coffee is like a rush of energy that runs through my veins, every time.  The fragrant flavor of a high grade coffee heals my headache but most of all awakens the happy hormone in me.

Looking around, there are so many coffee shops that serve really good coffee with different blends and flavors.  But, there is one coffee adventure that raised my coffee experience to another level; that is when I traveled to Vietnam. I bought my first coffee in Vietnam at the sidewalk. It was different from how I see coffees are prepared. As I watched the vendor, she poured condensed milk in the glass then, a small amount of concentrated liquid form coffee and a hot water. The taste was exceptional based on the fact that it was just made at the side of the street. The flavor was strong, there’s a little taste of bitterness mixed with sweetness. It was perfectly mixed. I paired it with their famous Banh mi which was very delicious too.

Vietnam’s coffee is rich and aromatic in flavor. I really think that Vietnam is very blessed to have known as one of the best destinations in Asia with excellent coffee varieties. Their traditional preparation of coffee is amazing and gives more value to every cup they serve; from mild, rich, strong and not too strong coffee flavor. I am guessing that all these emanated from Vietnamese customs and culture just like in any country.

In general, did you know that coffee is believed to have many health benefits? Such as,

  • Reduces depression
  • Lowers risk of Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia
  • Lowers risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Reduces pain
  • Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Improves energy level
  • Helps burn fats
  • Helps protect liver
  • Lowers risk of some types of cancer

The pursuit of coffee adventure starts when you speak with the locals who know better where great coffee places are. Don’t plan too much. Just get there. Walk in the streets. Learn to be carefree. Connect with the locals. Have fun and share some!

Travel Sale Fair in Manila

I think, everybody is thrilled to hear about sale and discounts. Who doesn’t want to get more by paying less? Travel enthusiasts and wanderers should try attending a travel fair.

We arrived at the Philippines’ World Trade Center in the afternoon. We paid P100 for the registration and entrance fee. There were long lines everywhere, starting with the registration booth, lines for those who wanted to withdraw money from the ATMs, line at the photo booth and for the travel bidding. Entering the venue, it exuded so much excitement and busyness. Looking around, everyone has his own itinerary. Trying to resolve inquiries on travel bookings, hotel reservations and adventure trips. There are a lot of booths for travel agencies that offer different kinds of services like booking domestic and international flights, visa processing, tours and other related travel packages. A few number of booths were also selling travel accessories, travel gears, traveling bags and luggage. And wait! Do not forget the discounts went as much as 80% less the original price.

It was the first time I attended a travel fair and I felt overwhelmed with the discounts that each travel booth offers. I discovered new travel destinations within the country. I also got acquainted with the new airline companies that started to service different tourist destinations in the Philippines. I noticed the participation of Philippines Airlines, Cebu Pacific Airlines, Air Asia, AirSwift and SkyJet Airlines.

In the venue, you get to feel how vibrant the people are, trying to get the most from their budgets. There was no haggling definitely because they had fixed discount prices but when you get to have a nice chat with your travel agent you might still get a little more deductions. We had it! It’s an absolute delight.

Trying to get some leaflets and brochures from different booths made me think that there’s still so much to explore. Still so many stories to write and tell. Different faces, different places and different experiences. Every place has something very unique to offer.

I can now feel a slight adrenaline rushing through my veins by just thinking of the tour we booked in the travel fair. I will be traveling with a good friend who appreciates anything new to her eyes and I like it. I am sure we’ll enjoy and get a new kind of adventure there.

Traveling makes me humble, have some fun and grateful.

 

Hundred Islands National Park

If you love island hopping and never care to be roasted under the scorching sun then, be ready because the Philippines is the place to be! Wander and hop from island to island all day. According to National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the Philippines now has 7,641 islands but around 2,000 are only inhabited.

Speaking of islands, not far from Manila is a bountiful province of Pangasinan. The Hundred Islands National Park is located in the City of Alaminos. It was documented that the islands are scatted in Lingayen Gulf, total to 124 at low tide and 123 at high tide. Four islands have been developed for tourism: Governor Island, Quezon Island, Marcos Island and Children’s Island. Most islands are like broccoli formed when observed from an elevated position.

For backpackers and travelers who are using public transportation, I will provide the travel itinerary based on experience. As most travelers will agree, traveling is sometimes really stressful especially when things don’t go according to plans. Time is very significant.

Take Victory Bus Liner trip to Alaminos from Cubao terminal. The fare is P400 and the travel time is 5-6 hours depending on the time the bus left or the traffic along the way. I normally travel early in the morning because there is less traffic and I find it faster to get to the destination. If you arrive in Alaminos late in the morning, it is not advisable for you to still go the Hundred Islands Park. The best part of enjoying the view to the park is by starting it very early in the morning. You get to the see the stunning beauty of the sun while rising.

There are transient houses at the pier, hostels and hotels in the city. Decide where to stay depending on the budget. The tricycle drivers approaching those they think are tourists in the city offer places to stay like transient houses. You may check them out because they’re considerably cheap but comfortable if you travel in group. The room prices could range from P1000 to P1500 per night.

The Alaminos’ Tourism office is along the road and is located at the park. Any inquiry about the boat prices, where and what to do in the Hundred Islands are welcome there. A few meters from the office is the line of tricycles that can take you to the Lucap wharf for P15 per way. To reach the wharf is approximately 10 minutes ride. There is a registration fee per tourist and a form that needs to be filled out at the Lucap wharf. The boat rental fee is 1500 and that is for the whole day if you decide to stay longer. Bring some food and water on the boat because the food prices in the park are significantly expensive.

The boat driver will be your tour guide as well. They normally provide brief backgrounds of some islands in the park. They’re pretty informative and helpful. If you even get lucky, you will hear detailed folklore stories from them.

 

Remote Paradise of Anawangin Cove

Ah, the smell of the sea… the waves crashing on the shorelines. So calming and inviting even when you don’t know how to swim, isn’t it?

Beaches never failed to excite me all the time. I have been to Anawangin Cove a few times already since 2011. At that time, the place was still undeveloped and unspoiled. Though, it is undeniably a paradise ‘til now. Back then, there was no electricity or generator being used to light up the place or water pump. There was no sari-sari store where you can buy coffee or food in the island too. Now, there’s one store available that sells basic needs. Also, there is already an extended campsite which can accommodate more campers. The campsite and the beach are crowded on holidays and weekends. Additional shower and comfort rooms for men and women have been built for use. It is pretty much well organized this time as compared to the early years.

Traveling from Manila, I normally ride Victory Bus Liner going to Olongapo from Cubao via SCTEX for P235. From Olongapo Victory Bus Liner terminal, I ride a non-air conditioned bus to Iba or Sta. Ana, Zambales for P40 and get off at San Antonio Proper. If you do not want to transfer buses, call Victory Bus Liner to know exactly when their schedules are for buses traveling to Iba or Sta. Cruz Zambales or check their website. Just ask the bus conductor to drop you off at San Antonio Proper or just tell them that you’re heading to Anawangin Cove.

 In San Antonio Proper, there’s another tricycle ride for P35-P40 per passenger each way to reach Pundaquit beach. Before going to Pundaquit, ensure that you have the supplies you need like food, water or even toiletries. There is a 7-eleven store or local sari-sari stores close to where the tricycles park. Not far from 7-eleven, there are stalls where fried and roasted chickens are sold. The store at the beach only sells basic necessities like coffee, biscuits, shampoo, bathing soap, etc. Be prepared because these might not be available if they run out of supplies. But hey! there are ice drop vendors at the beach which will help you quench your thirst in the middle of the scorching heat.

Once you have everything you need, talk to the tricycle driver to make the arrangements of boat rental for you. The boat rental fee is P1500 round trip. If you did not bring a tent with you, the rental fee for a small tent is P100 to P150 but if you need a bigger tent, it should cost you more or double. Remind the boatman when you wanted to come back or be picked up.

At the cove, you can have a walk to the other campsite through a wood bridge. The reason why there is a bridge is because there is a small lake that separates these two campsites. There, you can take selfies and groupies as what everyone loves or just take a walk to enjoy the view and its fresh air.

At night, there’s not much activity you can do. It is advisable to bring a flashlight, power bank and portable speaker so you can also listen to some good music while waiting to fall asleep or even while having some nice conversations with friends or family. A bonfire at night is majestic!

In the morning, I recommend that you climb the hill at the beach. In the last 4 visits I did, I never tried it but when I did the last time – I promise, you will not regret it. The view of the surrounding beaches is stunning. Beautiful it is! You’ve got to try it too.

 

Captivating Malaysia

Salaam-Alaikum”, “selamat pagi” are the first words I learned when I first landed in Malaysia. The country is divided into two parts, East and West Malaysia (Kota Kinabalu & Kuala Lumpur). Majority of the people living in Malaysia are Muslims. However, there are Indian, Chinese temples and Catholic churches existing in the country. Ringgit is the currency of Malaysian money. The travel time to KL is approximately 3 hours & 45 minutes from the Philippines by plane and lands in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. KLIA2 is the airport for low cost airlines.

Petronas’ eighty-eight story Twin Tower located at the City center is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Kuala Lumpur. It can be reached via train or cab. It is most attractive at night when the lights are on. At the ground floor of the tower is a shopping center comprised of famous local and international brands. You may check out their food courts where you can have variety of options. You’ll have to buy a card and top it up so you can choose any type of food available. I bet you’ll never go hungry if you just roam around the place. Just located near KLCC is the Central market established since 1888. This is a hub for jewelry shops, textiles, chocolate stores, perfumes, accessories, local & foreign clothing brands, shoes, antique stores, money changers, some restaurants and etc.

If you’re looking for some mild adventure then, I suggest you head to Batu Caves. Riding a train from KL Sentral to Batu Caves is the most economical way. Never lose the reason why you’re traveling. Talk to the locals or the security personnel and ask which way you should go to reach Batu Cave. Wait for the Komuter Train on platform 3 and remember that Batu Cave is the 8th station from KL Sentral. You may also check Uber as an option to reach Batu Cave. I had a tour to the Dark Cave for 35 RM but there wasn’t much extraordinary to see there – just the feel of the adrenalin rush from the total darkness inside. Climbing the steep 272 stairs to reach the Temple and Dark Caves is a real challenge. There are friendly and naughty monkeys all over the place. Be attentive around monkeys because they could just grab stuff from you, including food. Avoid feeding them.  There are stalls and local restaurants in the area. Not far from the fountain is a tent where a lady tattoo artist offers hand temporary tattoo. I tried it! She’s artful and exceptional!

There is so much more to explore in Malaysia and I am so thrilled to try them once I get the chance to go back in the future.