My Most Traveled Year (So Far)

Even as I write this post, I can hear Christmas music being played in our neighbor’s house, just across the street. Being reminded that December is near also reminds me that the end of 2017 is also just around the corner. This has also made me think about the trips I have done this year.

Well, it turns out that I have only done one trip this year! By a trip, I mean taking a plane or a boat to travel away from our city. I did not include driving trips that took less than hour from our place. On the other hand, I looked back to 2016 and realized I actually made a total of 6 trips that year! In fact, it would be more than 6 trips if we consider the connecting flights/boat travel that I also had to go through to reach these 6 destinations. Three of my travel destinations in 2016 were new ones for me, two within the Philippines and one abroad.

Count it memory gaps ๐Ÿ™‚ but until today I was thinking that 2014 was my most traveled year but it turns out that I made 5 trips for that year. So overall, 2016 is the winner ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s what my 2016 travel itinerary looked like:

February – I was in Bohol for about a week. I run a training focusing on Cultural Anthropology and then spent a few days with my family in Bohol. My two brothers and their families are based there. I also had a really fun time swimming in the pool of my late Uncle’s home together with my nephew during this trip. It turned out that this was my 2nd to the last time of seeing my uncle as he passed away this year.

My trip to Bohol required that I fly to Cebu first (Butuan-Cebu) and then I took a fastcraft from Cebu to Tagbilaran. I also spent a couple of days in Cebu.

Working with this view ๐Ÿ˜Š Thank you, Lord #Bohol

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Mayย – I finally got the chance to travel to Bukidnon for the 1st time ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I was asked to help facilitate a training there for LGUs. Bukidnon, I would say, is the equivalent of Baguio in Mindanao. The temperature was much cooler there. Aside from the pineapple plantation there and of course, Dahilayan, I would also remember the clean and green surroundings.

Loving nature & the cool weather in Dahilayan, Bukidnon ๐Ÿ˜„ #dahilayan #breaktime

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July – My sister based in the US decided to visit our home province, Bohol, and my husband and I decided to go home and spend time with her and the family. Together with my other siblings, we checked in at Dumaluan Beach Resort. It was also nostalgic when we met the resort owner who had served as mayor in Panglao for several years. Our families had been neighbors when we were kids and my older siblings were his friends and playmates along with his other siblings. This trip also meant my passing by Cebu.

October – I was invited again to hold a training on Cultural Anthropology this time in Kalibo, Aklan. This was my 1st time to Kalibo and it made me discover that Kaliboย is one key gateway to Boracay ๐Ÿ™‚ย  And so after the training, I traveled to Boracay ๐Ÿ™‚ To get to Boracay from Kalibo, you can take a bus or a van. I opted for a van. The last time I was in Boracay was about a decade or so already! So obviously, there were changes ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s still a beautiful place. I had to pass by Cebu again to fly out to Kalibo.

But my trip in October did not end with Kalibo or Cebu. My husband and I also traveled to New Zealand in October ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Our travel there meant we also had to fly to Manila and then to Bangkok, Thailand first. Our stopover in Thailand gave us the opportunity to still go around Bangkok. In New Zealand, we attended a leadership gathering of leaders and pastors upon invitation by a church there. An added bonus for this trip is that we also got to spend our 7th wedding anniversary there ๐Ÿ™‚ We left Butuan on the 26th (for Manila-Bangkok-Auckland) and got back home on November 9. New Zealand is my first travel destination outside of Asia.

Amazing Akaroa #NewZealand

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November – Just when I thought my travel schedule was winding down, it turned out that I had one more trip to Kalibo, Aklan again ๐Ÿ™‚ I was asked to run again another training, this time on Resource Development. I just explored some parts of the city on this trip. There was a typhoon during the week that I was there, just when I was about to finish the training. My flight back to Cebu was even delayed because of the bad weather. But thank God, I was able to fly home safely together with some friends from the training course. I was back in Butuan in one piece soon after ๐Ÿ™‚

My initial plan is that I might take up graduate studies next year. So that might mean less travel time for me. But we’ll see how it goes. I might have just one more travel to do before 2017 ends but it is pretty clear that this year is more of a restful year for me, for us than 2016. All in all, I am thankful to God for all the travel opportunities that have been given to me not just in 2016 or 2017 but for all the past years as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Travels and Guitars

On our recent trip to New Zealand, we had a long lay-over in Bangkok. I made contact with a good friend there and we agreed to meet and do some sightseeing.

While I lived in Thailand before for 3 years, I thought it was a good idea that my friend and I bring my husband to places he hasn’t seen there before as we had spent more time in Phuket and Chiang Mai in our previous trips there.

Going around the city made me appreciate again the number of goods available at a good price there. I thought this was also true regarding musical instruments and pretty soon I was wondering where is the closest guitar centerย ๐Ÿ™‚ You see, some of our musician friends have been telling us that they thought of buying musical instruments especially guitars from outside the country as many are sold at good prices compared to those back home in the Philippines.

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With our good friend Ethel in Bangkok.

We bid good bye to Thailand when our long lay-over was up and found ourselves very grateful for friends that remain within reach and for what we saw as God’s extra favor for us to enjoy Thailand again a bit this time.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

On the day of the tour, we ย 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.

There are shops in the Marina to get food or swimwear prior to the island hopping.
At the Marina, we took our boat ride to the islands. Glo taking time to pose ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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.
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” ๐Ÿ™‚

A delicious Thai lunch was waiting for us atย 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 placeย here.

After lunch we proceeded to see James Bond Island, originally known as Khao Phing Kan.ย ย 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 ofย  Ao Phang Nga National Park.

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Obligatory pose by the island markers ๐Ÿ˜‰
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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 ๐Ÿ™‚ We went swimming and then it was time to go back home.

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

Tips:ย 

  • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 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.

Summertime in Phuket 2

Finally, here’s the follow up post on our special summer in Phuket, Thailand which I first wrote aboutย here.

For this post, I would just like to share some more photos of Marriottโ€™s Phuket Beach Club inย Mai Khao, Thalang – our home away from home while in Phuket. ย There will be one more post about our island hopping in Phuket, so you can watch out for that ๐Ÿ™‚

Below are some more shots of the resort:

Ah, I loved the orchids in the lobby ๐Ÿ™‚
Objects are carved on the wall in the lobby. So creative!

There is a large pool or body of water which can be seen while walking along the lobby. This is not for swimming though but definitely refreshing to the eyes ๐Ÿ™‚

Notice the pool to our right in the photo.
A beautiful play of light and darkness on the pool.
I enjoyed this view every time we are in the main hotel lobby ๐Ÿ™‚

And yes, there is more to explore whether by night or by day in the resort ๐Ÿ™‚ You can check out the shops and restaurants within the hotel as well as other “picture perfect areas” there.

There are restaurants to choose from right within the resort.
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We passed this whenever we head for the swimming area.
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Part of the resort which can be seen from the beachfront.
Hubby enjoying nature and the sea breeze at the beachfront ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are wondering how the resort swimming pools or our rooms look like, check out my first post here.ย Stay tuned for my post on our island hopping adventure in Phuket. Coming soon!