A Phnom Penh Post

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D E C I S I O N S ,  D E C I S I O N S

My 21 day visa-free stay in Vietnam was coming to a close, I opened my laptop and googled “How to extend visa in Vietnam?” It turned out extending a visa would cost me a neck, ok done. Haha nope, but a whopping $300. I. Cannot. Afford. That… Juggling options in my head and low key panicking where the hell am I gonna get money, I decided to go to Cambodia. I was not gonna shell out that amount of money for a visa extension, hmmm might as well travel, right? So here’s the plan: exit on my 20th day, cross the border to Cambodia, party in Phnom Penh, party harder in Siem Reap, then apply visa on arrival in Vietnam (which costs $85: $35 for visa approval letter plus $50 for the stamp). Whew! I paid for the visa online and got my approval letter two days later allowing me 3 month stay with multiple entries.

Phnom Penh is just roughly 7 hour bus ride away from Saigon. My third time exiting a country, ugh (ubos na ubos na me). Second time solo backpacking. And my first time in Cambodia. Also, first time celebrating Christmas away from my family. A bit sad but still hyped AF.

On my first day in Phnom Penh, I stayed in a hotel. Nah, this was not a hotel nor a hostel. It’s the mansion of my couchsurfing host from Nigeria, Silver (pictured below, left).

We didn’t get to talk much, he’s busy with an event so I just rested with a hungry stomach in his pad. The following morning, he took me to breakfast. Literally just took me, I ate while he and his friend watched me eat. He said they don’t normally have breakfast. Weird. Anyways, I have a long day ahead so we awkwardly parted ways. Thank god.

D A Y  2   I N   O U D O N G   M O U N T A I N

Sokleab, a tuktuk driver, contacted me in Couchsurfing and asked if I was willing to join his tour and share cost with another tourist. He got me at sharing the cost, so I said yes. Now we were off to Oudong, a town 40 km from Phnom Penh.

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Back in the day this place was royal residence and Cambodia’s former capital for more than 250 years until 1866. Sokleab, Geoffrey and I hiked mountain Phnom Udong to witness a few majestic temples and rewarded ourselves with this view.

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It was a whole day of marveling at the grandeur of Khmer architecture. Here are just some of the sights and temples I took pleasure in capturing –

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Don’t be fooled by the serene water, this pond has starving “little monsters” waiting for the tourists to toss a bread or two.

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The intricacy of  it all got me speechless!

We also encountered some aggressive monkeys, this was the only one who posed for me.

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Plus I got to eat frogs, zoom in to the right of the photo below. I didn’t like it. At least the coffee made up for it.

 

T H E   B A C K P A C K E R S

We got back at the city at around 6:00pm and I checked in at Dynsey Flashpacker Hostel. It so happened that Geoffrey was staying at the same backpacker lodge I booked online. And for some reason, we were sharing the same room. What were the odds?! FYI this was one of the cheapest hostels here in the city, it cost me $4 a night.

The best thing about backpacker hostels is that aside from interacting with the locals when you are in a foreign land, you can meet a lot of travelers from around the world. Share a story or two, drink a beer or two (not for me, I usually drink 5 – 6 beers and I’m just getting started, eat new delicacies with Sokleab and Geoffrey, and heck yeah even join a mini birthday party when you literally met the celebrant a few seconds ago, I’m not talking about you Andor 😛 It was a roller coaster fun celebrating your birthday, Jenna. The only girl I know who decided to celebrate her birthday visiting S-21 and The Killing Fields. Then there’s Franck who I got all the good stuff. Franck, do you remember the name of the funny Chinese guy? 🙂

(From L-R, clockwise – Sokleab, Franck, Jenna, Andor and Geoffrey modeling for our tuktuk ride)

C A M B OD I A ‘S   H O R R I F I C   P A S T

I won’t dwell on the details of my visit to S-21 and The Killing Fields museum, it’s something you have to experience it yourselves. I was appalled and speechless after that ordeal. I know humans are cruel but to do that on their own flesh and blood, their own countrymen was beyond comprehension. And to think that this happened just 40 years ago, a modern day case of inhumane act fueled by blinded beliefs. I really hope and pray, History Will Never Repeat Itself. 

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“Never will we forget the crimes committed during the Democratic Kampuchea regime”

R E A L I Z A T I O N S

If you have a day to spare in Phnom Penh, I highly suggest you take time to visit these museums and contemplate how we, in our own little way, can stop atrocity like this from happening again. I know you’re thinking about NoKor, Syria, Venezuela, or even your respective country. Yes, it’s happening right before our very eyes, monstrosities still exist today. Are we doing something about it, anything just to even address these? I will leave this open ended.

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Such innocence, let’s strive to keep it this way. Let the kids be kids, let them have a better life.

A N O T H E R   D A Y ,   A N O T H E R   A D V E N T U R E

The next day I joined another city tour with Sokleab and this time around I was with a family from Malaysia. They were really nice and friendly.

We went to Silk island and learned how silk farming created a sustainable livelihood for the farmers and weavers, we also enjoyed fresh, humongous mangoes from locals, and fed some animals in the zoo.

We then tried some rice cakes at Central Market, and ended the tour at Independence Museum and Statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

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Independence Monument

Later that night, I hopped from one famous spot to another: Wat Phnom, Night Market, chilled at riverside, and met another backpacker from Switzerland, Dany. Sokleab took us to Royal Palace, Diamond Island, and Love Park.

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Wat Phnom

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View at riverside
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Royal Palace
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Diamond Island
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Love Park

A    D A Y    B E F O R E   C H R I S T M A S

Another first for me – to celebrate Christmas away from family. I was kinda sad but the adventurer in me couldn’t contain the excitement. It’s always the unknown that exhilarates me. I packed my bag, had breakfast and checked out of the hostel. Boarding a bus bound for Siem Reap and staring at the window, I couldn’t help but think of my mom, my brother and my dogs back home. They were really supportive of my decisions (yes..dogs included), even though I had major bad ones. I guess that’s what your family is for – to celebrate with you in good times and to understand you in times of the bad. Why does a bus window bring out all these emotions?! Anyone else feeling the same way? Damn these movies and K dramas!

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That’s it for now, I will be talking about my Christmas in Siem Reap, my itinerary and expenses for the entire trip on my next post! Aahhh it’s gotta be good!

Quickies, out.
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DIY Travel Philippines goes to my hometown

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If there’s one Facebook group that I am most engaged and hooked – it would be DIY Travel Philippines. DIYTP was indeed a  lot of help when I was travelling over the past year. Seriously. If not for this group, I won’t have tipid travels from Mike of Tripidito Travel. (I had the pleasure of getting their services for my mom’s birthday in Palawan and my Be Whole in Bohol escapade). There would’ve been no discounted tours, no random weekend getaways, not to mention the guides I have contacted for my Cebu adventures, Rizal hikes and of course – the friends I gained along the way.

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Speaking of friends, here they are to name a few, L-R: DIYTP Admin Midas, Dwynn, JP aka The Rustic Nomad, Redg, Ynoh, Mommy Edna, Wilbert, Joyce and another admin Bryan.

For the longest time, I have been planning on bringing my friends to Isla Verde.  There were plans, chat groups, official hashtags, even memes, but it never panned out. I can even fill an entire sketch pad with our island life drawings. Well not until last November 2016 where I actually brought three of my closest friends at work in my hometown. So – I wasn’t planning of returning anytime soon. However, there were recent unforeseeable events that literally blew me in a bad, bad way. For me to cope with it, I had to do something, I needed to be anywhere. I had to forget and think things through. Then, the DIYTP Summer Getaway happened.

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I didn’t quite realize how much the island changed the last time I was here – maybe because I was excited to tour my friends back then. But now, those “recent” events took me to a dimension like no other, a perspective no one should see. There was this certain gloom that loomed in the island. Perhaps since most of the people I know were either dead or relocated in the city.

Yes, this is a happy post, an eventually you-will-feel-good write up. Bear with me.

We arrived at Surface Interval resort around 3:00 pm. Some of us were tired and hangry (I think, aka me), but the DIY admins were very apologetic and accommodating you were not gonna be mad at them. Oh come on, we’ve been in their shoes – organizing, planning an event then things spiraled out of control.  We understood. And boy, the admins made it up to us big time. Feeding us with lechon, raffling off loads of stuff, tours to Cebu / Pangasinan / Sagada among others, travel gadgets and the coveted Trip for 2 to goddamn freaking Maldives! Thanks, Dragonfly Holidays #BakaNaman. The items to be given away were too many, we ended up getting one or two (or more – hello Mark with the three power banks). Thanks also to the organizers that sponsor the event, Robin, Geri, to name a few. Even Kim of TripZeeker was there, too!

The funny thing was, the first item to be raffled was a GoPro lanyard. The first ‘casualty’ to receive this item was a 16 year old girl named Joy. Little did we know, Joy would be the last. Yes, she got the grand prize! How lucky can she get, right? From lanyard to Maldives, real quick. Congratulations Joy!

Props to Midas and Jad who aside from hosting the program, made us laugh all the way through. Such fun times!

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DIY Admins preparing the feast. (L-R: Rach, Mich, Jad, Gold, and Midas)
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And by feast, I mean these!
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Everyone got their prize/s – now waiting for the announcement of the grandest prize of them all – Trip for 2 to Maldives c/o Dragonfly Holidays!

What did I win? A free trip to Hundred Islands from LMTA for one. Yes, I guess I’m going solo. Rub it in, DIY.

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Gimme some Open Forum vibes before Socials (pina susyal na term for walwalan)

The part I was looking forward – the walwalan portion. I had shisha c/o Muhamed, free flowing drinks, and this ingenious card game which will defo get you drunk. Thanks to Midas the mastermind. What more can I ask for! We were done at around 6am. Oh yeah, we drank, laughed, shouted, cursed more than we should, sang a few songs and maybe cried a little bit, the entire night. After we cleaned up the area, I took a nap on a bench and had breakfast on light head.

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I spent a total of 3 mins inside this tent. So much for walwaling.

The island tour began – first off to Bgy. San Andres where my father grew up. My brother and I used to go here almost every summer during our childhood days. I sort of toured some of the DIYers in the area and brought them to the light house, yes, it’s a photo ops spot.

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View from Lighthouse

Next spot, the infamous Sampalukan corals. We snorkeled and free dived – it was exhilarating! Not that this was important, but these corals happened to be a few meters away from my cool Lolo’s place.

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Sampalukan Sunset

Want to DIY Isla Verde? See my itinerary and expenses here.

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Sunset view from Surface Interval

Before I forget, the reason we’re doing this summer getaway was because DIYTP reached another year! We are now 2 years old with over 459,000 members and counting. So if you’re still not part of our community,  go ahead and join this wonderful bunch. Not only will you get access to countless itineraries, events, tips and promos, you’ll definitely gain new friends!

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Even Facebook took notice! Hi Tim and Mommy Edna who I met here in this summer getaway…
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Lighting up candles for that, congratulations DIYTP!

To know more about DIYTP, kindly visit this link. Yes DIYTP is expanding. Stay tuned for some exciting news.

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“Buti pa yung kahoy, may picture” #SquadGoals #KuyaKamiNaman

Let’s take it to the top, shall we?

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drone2Thank you JP for giving me permission to use your sick drone shots! Perhaps I bored you with words – let me show you some live visuals then.

Video credit to the amazing Tim of The Secret Adventures of SkywalkTim.

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Til my next escape to Isla Verde…

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Quickies, out!

 

Cebu Crazies

What to do when in south of Cebu?

Well for five days, we hopped from one place to another: Cebu City – Moalboal – Badian – Oslob – Santander – Samboan – Sumilon, basically enjoying every activity thrown our way. No bruises, wounds, food allergy, gadget failure & other unfortunate events aka roaches-room-invasion can bring this group down.

From perfect strangers to crazy travelers!

#CebuCrazies #quickescape #whenincebu

Full article click here.


🎧 Jonas Blue – Perfect Strangers ft. JP Cooper

Video entirely shot in GoPro Hero4. 

Enjoy the video! Please watch in HD!

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El Nido or Coron?

This is my take on the Palawan dilemma our country is currently facing. Yes, I know this is serious and should be featured on the nightly news.

Yesterday, I underwent odontectomy where my wisdom tooth #48 (lower right molar) was surgically removed. Now, I have pretty much ample time to dwell on some serious matters. One of which is the ever bugging question I received from friends, which is really is which… El Nido or Coron?

El Nido, 2012 (Snake Island)

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Coron, 2014 (Mt. Tapyas View Deck)

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My answer would always be – depends on what you’re after. The two places offer exquisite experience for nature lovers. If you’re into a quieter, more serene, soul searching vibe – I would suggest El Nido. Otherwise, go to Coron.

The much better option would be why not go and see both, right?

I did.

And boy, those trips were forever etched in my adventure seeking heart.

I ‘ll give a rundown of my travels – first up would be El Nido then Coron. So quickies, shall we?


Use El Nido in a sentence: Go for it! El Nido to go for it! (okay it sucked but believe when I tell you to go and fly here!)

My orgmates fresh outta college decided to pay a visit to Lisa’s hometown – El Nido. Who am I not to join, especially when most of our expenses will be shouldered by her. I have such great friends, right? This trip didn’t just bring me to one of the best destinations in the Philippines; or perhaps, in the world but awakened my traveling feet. 3 years later, I’ve been to major hot spots in the country and now starting a travel blog.

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Itinerary & expenses of my PPS x El Nido trip

Day 1 Puerto Princesa (PPS)

Dinner at Ka Lui – 8 to 10:00 PM (200-300php/pax)

Firefly watching – 10:30 PM (didn’t push through due to weather)

Day 2 PPS to El Nido

ETD from Lisa’s house (PPS proper) to Sabang (drop off going to Underground river) – 7:00 AM

Underground river tour – approx. 9 to 11:00 AM (Free c/o my generous friend Lisa)

Lunch – Sabang (Buffet at 200php)

ETD Sabang to El Nido: 1:00 PM

ETA El Nido: 6 to 7:00 PM

>walk by the beach, explore town, dinner and walwal!  (Expenses depend on your preference)

Oh my hello El Nido!!!

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Day 3 El Nido

> Whole day island hopping – (Package B 800php/pax)

Day 4 El Nido to PPS

> If you guys have tour packages then good for you. For those who are backpacking, you have to rent a van that will take you to PPS. Well that’s the case back then, I don’t know now if they have established public vehicles now. Feel free to comment. As for our case, thanks again to Lisa for providing the van and just had us chip in for gas which cost me a staggering 100php for a 6 hr ride.

> Lunch at PPS ( approx.150-200php)

> Rushed city tour and souvenir shopping before the flight (1000php)

Expenses:

Air Fare: Php 2600

Day 1: Php 400 (Dinner at Ka Lui)

Day 2: Php 400 (100 for breakfast and 200 for lunch at Sabang)

Day 3: Php 1800 (800 for Package B and 1000 for food & lodging during my entire El Nido stay)

Day 4: Php 1300 (gas x lunch x pasalubong expenses)

Total: Php 6,500 (including air fare)

Notes: Careful planning is the key in visiting El Nido as you will need a transportation time of about 12 hours (round trip via land). Travel and tour packages definitely make traveling easier. But hey, I’m a backpacker and a big fan of DIY trips. So if you insist of backpacking El Nido and saving money in the process, by all means 🙂

Yey we’re complete here! Let’s set another one, out of the country maybe?

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Let’s get it on, Coron!

I dare you, yes you reader, go book a weekend flight to Coron/Busuanga (preferably this coming weekend and a seat sale) and never come back. Kidding! Just a weekend trip, no plans, no ifs, no buts. I guarantee you, you won’t regret it. Well, you might. You might regret staying for just a couple of days. That’s the good thing in Coron (aside from stable commercial flights – as opposed to El Nido), you can definitely find a place to stay even after you land! And go with whatever you wanna do in the island while you’re at it.

Top View (photo taken a Mt. Tapyas View Deck)

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Yeah, you get to see that after climbing a flight of stairs, 700++ steps to be clear.

Itinerary x Expenses

Day 1

Mt. Tapyas hike (Php 100 – 3 bottled water)

Maquinit Hotspring (Php 150 entrance)

Day 2

Whole day island hopping part 1( approx. Php 1000)

It’s underwater madness down there, I am urchin everyone not to step on anything! Oops!

Dinner at local restaurant (Php 300)

Social drinks at No Name Bar (Php 300)

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Day 3

Island hopping part 2 (approx Php 850)

Ship wrecks, fish feeding, picturesque views, Kayangan lake’s brackish water.. Coron got it all!

Pasalubong hunting (Php 200)

Tipid dinner in the city (Php 100)

3 night stay at Kimberly’s (Php 3600 good for 3 pax)

  • Php 1200 per pax

Miscellaneous (transportation, bottled water, some toiletries, etc) Php 300

Air fare: Php 1200

Total: Php 5,700 (including air fare)

I got to experience Coron for 4 days in less than Php 6,000 (~$130)

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And I was dancing Nae nae long before its hype.

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See you again, Palawan! My family and I will be flying back to El Nido by mid next year. I will make sure to provide you guys with an intensive blog post by then. I realized I was there in El Nido for just more than a day. Next year, I’ll stay there for the entire week (hoping)

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Credits to Lisa, Anjo, Migs (who almost died reaching the Mt. Tapyas’ 400th step) and Poli for some of the photos posted here.

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