Sunday, June 12, 2011

On Traveling | Things To Remember

Preparing for a swim in Puerto Galera
I'm practically new to this adventure of being a Local Tourist.
But it's never too late to start.
I work as Customer Service for an
International Insurance and Financial Co.
I’m practically handling claims,
with this I have a clear view of how short life is,
people usually retire at age 65, at which time some retirees go travelling.
There are some who doesn't make it.
I mean this change of lifestyle at a late stage can be stressful;
I’ve encountered some dying on cruise in international waters or
some becoming disabled before the retiring age.
Human lifespan has become too short.
It’s always best to start your travelling adventure when you’re still young.

Just landed, Tagbilaran, Bohol Airport

Here is where I count things to remember when you're on the road.
It could be cliche..
But we have to constantly remind ourselves.
We travel to get away with something for a while.
Having that kind of adventurous spirit is a plus
aside from the fact that you go for the experience and not for some 5 STAR comfort.

Breakfast at Zola Restaurant, Baguio City
Now, to become a back packing traveler requires a bit coaxing to some.
But if you keep friends with kindred spirits, then at some point you'll be in.
Travelling with a group of people, with a travel buddy or being lonesome is different.
Waiting in Kalibo International Airport

Travelling in Groups - It's true that it's actually cheaper to do this. Everyone's got to make their own share for the travel package. But this also requires effort to organize; I mean someone has to act like a road manager to keep things in order. One more, you have to realize that you need to contend with people making it in time and occasional prim donna attitude. It would be best that you select the group members wisely otherwise you'll waste a lot of effort fixing things rather than going out there for the adventure you came for.

Travelling with a Buddy - Now this is my kind of travelling. Lucky I have my own Travel Buddy. It's a bit more expensive than travelling in groups, but there is always option if you are smart enough where to find it. Almost everyone has internet access nowadays as compared to 10 years ago. There are a lot of websites you could check for good travel package deals. Look for well maintained travel blogs to anticipate what you can do once you get to your destination. Travelling with a Buddy is fun; I could get some time alone for myself. I won’t have problems getting pictures of myself taken, otherwise I would have to ask the travel guide or some obscure fellow travelers who have no idea how to use a DLSR. With this option, I'm not force to travel light as we could always share our baggage. I would bring the Camera and tripod; the other could bring laptop or video camera.

Lonesome Traveling – This is ultimate back packing adventure. This is tricky, but then you have the time for yourself. This option can be very cheap as well because then you can do backpacking. Perform online research in where to and how to get somewhere, you're not required to hire a travel guide if you did your research well. Develop a habit for talking to Jeepney or Tricycle drivers, or in some lucky location, Cab drivers. They're always at the forefront of tourism and usually know some obscure location that a travel guide would not. In Asia by the way, haggling is a skill. You need a lot these when travelling alone as you haggle for some obscure services like transportation, boat rides for island hopping or a simple massage by the beach. Always travel light, carry your tripod with you, and try to learn washing your own clothes unless your not skirmish about wearing soiled underwear's.

Souvenir Items, D'Mall, Boracay Island
Comfort versus Necessity.
You don't need to check in to an expensive Hotel, a traveler's inn or beach lodge would do the trick. Sometimes you only need a room to lodge your things. Why choose an expensive accommodation when for the most part you only sleep in them.

What one needs to understand is that traveling is creating lasting memories, meeting people from different walks of life, appreciating nature and filling your cup of life with adventure.

Just landed, Iloilo International Airport
Start Where?
Before we start the adventure first things first, lucky for me, I am currently base in Metro Manila where all points in the Philippines meet, getting somewhere from here requires with just me purchasing online plane tickets and carrying my packs to NAIA. In a few hours, I could be anywhere from there.
But being a young professional, I can’t just drop anything on a go. Having said that, I have to first set the date at least a month prior to the trip, this gives me time to set my schedules for leaves or I get lucky, I go when I just got paid. Watch out for seat sale announcements, having facebook accounts actually help with this as I get to monitor Cebu Pacific, Air Phil Express or sometimes Zest Air. I once got berated by a newly grad yuppie insisting that he would only travel with PAL, how na├»ve and simply immature. You only get to ride these planes, and if you get it fast and safe then you’re lucky, traveling doesn’t require you to be loyal to any air craft carrier, you’re only a passenger to them in that journey.

Sagada transport
Pictures Are Testaments.
 Bring a sturdy and reliable camera. This is not a problem these days as almost everyone could carry digital cameras and the new trend of DLSR. Now having yourself a camera doesn’t mean you get good pictures, be responsible enough to know how handle a camera, I find it irresponsible if you own a DLSR but then you only use the Auto feature, you may discard it away and use your cam phone. Post production doesn’t require that you have Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, almost every laptops or computers would have Microsoft Office Picture Manager or Windows Live Photo Gallery. Adjusting contrast and brightness could be as easy as hitting the auto correct button or auto brightness. Photo Cropping is also easy with Windows Live as you can keep the original dimension of your picture while adjusting the frame. I only use HP Mini for my Notebook but this doesn’t stop me from using Photoshop and Lightroom, I’m playful with pictures and have to admit that it’s my pastime doing post production. Being a graduate of MassCom gave me an edge to this, but I’m telling you, my college professors didn’t teach me how to navigate these apps, they’re too old to understand the complexity of using Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, I learned it on my own. I’m especially outrage with people dismissing a good picture as tweaked by photoshop “Photoshop lang yan,” as if they could do it after an hour of classroom session. There is a saying that “if your pictures are not sharp enough, forget the rest”, so the rule is simple really, know how to get a good and creative angle and keep your pictures sharp.

Learn how to pack your things properly. There is a simple trick to this. Avoid packing in an entire week’s wardrobe when you’re only staying there for 3 days. You’re carrying your own weight and unless you a have a PA to do this for you, bring only the most essential of things. Just enough underwear, a comfortable but not bulky sweater or jacket, just enough walking shorts and just enough comfortable and presentable shirts, sometimes only a few shirts is needed as there is always a souvenir shop in your destination that you could check out. Do not forget to bring sunglasses, a pair of running shoes if you can’t part with it, sunscreen lotion small enough to fit your pockets, a portable pack of toiletries with shampoo and soap at least including your travel toothbrush and small toothpaste, a small pouch or bag where you can put your cellphones, wallets, ipods and digicam, and a good old sturdy flip flops. Sometimes I go without any running shoes as my pair of Havainas is good enough, as shoes could sometimes use a lot of space in your bag unless you like to carry shoe bags. When packing, try to roll your clothes. This saves a lot of space as I’m use to carrying my gym bag; it also lets you organize your things properly instead of folding them which could easily turn helter skelter once you open your bag to look for something. Towels are optional since hotels, lodges or inns will supply you with this.

I brought a book I can't put down at Puerto Galera
We do have personal things that we can’t part with anywhere we go. You’ll always find me strap with my headset, music is a must for me anywhere I go and of course my Nokia 5800 Music phone comes along with it. I sometimes carry a book if I expect to have a long ride i.e Sagada. I make sure though that the book is something I can easily put down or else I’ll be torn between finishing the book or going out for the adventure.  I’m a sucker for colored shades especially the Spyder, I have a few pairs with me, just make sure I only carry one. I always bring a pack of Marlboro lights and a small lighter. Lastly, I can’t go anywhere without my lip gloss, I don’t have to explain it, I carry it everyday and I’m not parting with it anytime soon.

Now Boarding at Kalibo International Airport
Be Safe.
Don’t forget to inform someone where you are going. This if your own safety, though sometimes your friends could track you with your facebook status, as is you’ll be too excited you’ll update your facebook even before buying your plane ticket. But this is not enough, your facebook friends will not report it if you go on missing for a week. So it’s best to let someone know where you are. Do not forget to carry ID’s anywhere you go. You wouldn’t like it if you go on missing and turn up to be on a table with a tag in your feet as John Doe.

Me trying a Shake at The Jonas - had LBM for 2 days after this.
Forget That You Are On Diet.
Unless you’re in Boracay where some guest would rather starve so they could flaunt in the beach. I’m not a food enthusiast and I’m always on a diet because of my work out, but when I’m out there I want to try everything. Even when sometimes my stomach will not agree with me, I’ll still try to eat and dine. It’s also one of the reasons why I check blogs before going somewhere as it always accounts to some good restaurants we could drop by. Why blogs? Well, a travel blog is usually an honest account of one’s experience, I also join some online forum that allow me ask any personal experience. I look for those that is devoid of marketing interest. As is, food is different in any place, I had gloated myself with lots of Vegetables in Sagada though I don’t really like eating plants, as is the preparation is good and their chicken taste different; I feasted in seafood when I was in Bohol because it’s a plenty, same thing when I was at home in Roxas City. They could prepare same breakfast dine but it would always feel and taste different in any place. So go ahead, eat without holding back.

Snorkeling, Puerto Galera
Always Bring CASH
Sure you have your ATM loaded but this technology does not usually extend to some remote places. Bring extra cash with you always. Try to also keep a wad of cash tuck somewhere that is enough to bring you home. It happened to a friend of mine who went back packing in Thailand, he’s got his money tucked safely in a small sling bag I lent him for the trip, he slipped by trusting and becoming comfortable with a local tourist there, good thing his phone was not taken and there’s Western Union almost anywhere in the world. All he had to do then is call a trusty friend back home. Sure these things do happen, but you don’t have to be alarmed. It’s only when you make yourself vulnerable to such attacks that the opportunistic vultures would just fly in. Credit Cards is not helpful at times, maybe when you’re in some known places like Alona Beach in Bohol or in Boracay where credit cards are accepted everywhere, you don’t expect a restaurant in some remote place having access to a credit card machine.

Lastly, try to have fun. You could be anywhere but if you’re mind if left where you’re work or family is. Then cut if short and go home. You’re wasting time and most especially money. Remember to be polite and respectful of the people you meet. We do have our moments sometimes but that is never an excuse. Never insult any tradition or practices that you witness just because you think you’re more civilized than others, its being cocky to the point of becoming ignorant. I heard it from a Guide is Sagada that some Tourist would come looking for Igorots, and expect these humble people to wear Igorot costume. There’s nothing wrong with this, only that the people they are asking from are the Igorot’s who take pride in their culture, Ignorant Fool, that’s what I heard. And to be honest, you wouldn’t like it leaving an impression that you are one. In some cases, it would be the cockiness of celebrities so full of their fame in Big Cities, they sometimes forget that some people from rural areas have no access to any pop media especially TV. One thing you want to avoid is insulting people in their own turf.

This post is purely based on my experience and point.
Other back packers may have their thing to share, but otherwise feel free to inform me or comment. I would greatly appreciate it.

Francis Balgos is a Call Center Agent, Weekend Travel Warrior, Amateur Spelunker, Sometime Surfer, Newbie Mountain Climber, Photography Enthusiast, Certified Beach Bum, A first born son, Faithful lover, True Explorer...

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  1. nice blog francis... :-) keep it up. - Gary T.

  2. You really are right in investing a good camera when traveling. I just traveled to Bohol with friends and it is too bad that the quality of the pictures we had was far from excellent. Just enough. Too grainy. Too dark.

  3. Camera is a good investment..
    And if you take good care of things,
    It's very rewarding

  4. A very interesting trip report. I love adventure. As a backpacker I've traveled through Southeast Asia.

    I've never visited the Philippines :-(

  5. Almost every province in the Philippines is a tourist destination! Its never too late Joey!

  6. nice tips and so true.. i just start traveling philippines hehehe.. sad to say na medyo kung kailan tumanda eh dun pa nasimulan maglibot but sabi mo nga its never too late.. heheh thanks


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