New Places Explored in 2016

I have to admit it was all unexpected but 2016 proved to be a year of new travels for me 🙂 I was given the opportunity to travel 3 new places this year:

  • Bukidnon – my very first trip to the “Baguio City” of Mindanao, Philippines happened last May. I had the chance to experience the beauty of Dahilayan. More about it on a coming post.
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Feeling cool and relaxed in Dahilayan, Bukidnon.
  • Kalibo – I discovered that this laid-back city is actually another cool gateway to the world-famous Boracay beach in the Visayas, Philippines aside from Caticlan. I will be writing more about this October trip to Kalibo soon. By the way, prior to this trip, the last time I went to Boracay was already about a decade ago!
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Back in Boracay via Kalibo this time after more than a decade.
  • New Zealand – My husband and I had the amazing opportunity to explore both the North Island and South Island of this beautiful country very recently. In fact, we just arrived from this trip yesterday 🙂  And yes, you will be hearing more about our lovely time there right here in this blog.
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Feeling cold but happy in Hamilton, New Zealand.

I am grateful to God for surprising me with these trips this year. While I had a desire and plan to travel to new places this year, I did not actually think at first that it would be possible 🙂  And so I am reminded of that saying: “be careful of what you wish for, you might actually get it.” Well, I am glad with what I got so far 🙂

Summertime in Phuket 3

Experiencing Phuket will not be complete, if you don’t take the time to go island hopping. And that’s just what our group did. By the way, you can check my first post about our time there and my 2nd post about our hotel accommodation.

To fully experience island hopping in Phuket, give it a full day. You have the option to make the adventure by yourself or with your group or you can also arrange to avail of an island hopping package. We took advantage of an island hopping package offered by the hotel; we got it for such good rates at that time 🙂

On the day of the tour, we  were picked up from our hotel and brought to the Royal Phuket Marina where we took a speedboat together with a group and the tourist guide. By the way, the whole package already includes snacks, lunch and drinks.

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There are shops in the Marina to get food or swimwear prior to the island hopping.
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At the Marina, we took our boat ride to the islands. Glo taking time to pose 🙂

The speedboat we got was spacious enough. There were 15 of us in the group with our tour guide. Along with the five of us (Geoff, Alice, Glo, Daryl and myself) there was a young couple, a young family of 4, then two senior couples. There were also about 2-3 boat staff.

Here’s what we experienced that beautiful, sunny day 🙂

We explored Pha Nga Bay and of course, Hong Island.

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We all got down and went sea canoeing around Pha Nga Bay.
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We went inside the “cave-like rooms” of Hong Island.
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This is what’s inside the “cave-like” rooms; it is open to the sky.

We continued to canoe around and saw the beautiful island limestone formation around the islands in the area. We then headed back to our speedboat, mindful to give a tip to our “canoe driver” 🙂

A delicious Thai lunch was waiting for us at Koh Panyee, a Muslim village on stilts over the water, also known as the Sea Gypsy Village. To fully appreciate what this island looks like, check out the video of the place here.

After lunch we proceeded to see James Bond Island, originally known as Khao Phing Kan.  It has been more known as James Bond island because the James Bond movie, “The Man With The Golden Gun” starring Roger Moore and Christopher Lee, was filmed here in 1974. James Bond island or Khao Ping Kan along with Khao Tapu are part of  Ao Phang Nga National Park.

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Obligatory pose by the island markers 😉
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Daryl is looking at Ko Tapu or Khao Tapu.
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All 5 of us by this huge leaning rock of James Bond island.

After leaving the island, we went to one more island where we spent time just cooling off from the Thai sun 🙂 We went swimming and then it was time to go back home.

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A swim before we go. At Daryl’s back is our group’s speedboat.

Tips: 

  • Wear clothing and footwear you don’t mind getting wet in as you will likely get wet during the canoeing and as you get down on the islands.
  • As it won’t be easy to find a place to change into swimwear during the tour, you can opt to wear your swimwear already under your clothes for your convenience when swimming time comes. While there is a bathroom in the speedboat, it’s really quite small 🙂
  • Don’t forget to wear your sunblock even before the island hopping trip starts and drink up plenty of water. Water is provided during the tour so take advantage of that.
  • Be wary of people who will approach you on the island, asking if you’re interested to rent their jet ski or smaller boats. Our Thai guide himself told us that some of these people would later claim you broke their jet ski or boat and force you to pay exorbitant fees.
  • You can sometimes get a free tour or huge discounts especially if you are a couple and have an invitation from your hotel for an orientation of its club sharing program.