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Fountain of Youth in Bali

Friday, July 22, 2016
I'd like to think everyone of us will have that one remarkable trip that endures us. You know, that trip you'll keep talking about that soon everyone will get tired of hearing; that trip you'll end up craving for, wanting to relive every moment, recreating that same feeling but doesn't quite compare; that trip you'll look back onto when you've reached past your prime, thinking how time could've betrayed you.

I'm talking about that trip to New York with your girlfriends, the Vegas trip of 2012, or that weekend in Cancun where details of that trip are still a bit hazy.

Uluwatu temple

I think this was it for me... this Bali trip with my friends. Those five days in Indonesia seemed like about a full week's worth of activities but it still felt short. We didn't sleep much. We ate a lot. We moved a couple of times. We told a lot of stories. And we got high on cat poop coffee... well, some of us did. It has been a few months already and I'm dying to go back.

From the cleansing water at Ubud to the climb at Mount Batur, the surf at Uluwatu and everything else that I can't talk about, it was in every sense of the word, perfect. Well, sort of.

Take away the traffic jams, the scams, and the untimely death of a digicam, you get a forest of green rice paddies, a waterfall that's ideal for the hashtag #doyoutravel, and a small corner of a shore overlooking corduroy waves with surfers catching the perfect swell. And then maybe if you're lucky, a sunset so peaceful, so serene, you vow to come back to this place as much as you possibly can.

New Waves in La Union

Friday, April 22, 2016
Life's pretty exciting. Even if for most of us, it means sitting in front of a computer and waiting for something great to happen, we get to have these moments - moments of bliss and ecstasy that we soon crave and cling onto. I'm talking about that time you went backpacking across Indochina and went tubing in Vang Vieng, or that time you went on a spontaneous road trip with your friends, or even that time you just dove off a pier because why not - moments wherein you just completely seized the moment.

But I get it, not everyone has the courage to step out of one's comfort zone, to be crazy (/stupid), or to do whatever the hell one wants. But sooner or later, you'll learn that life's a lot more fun when you stop caring about what other people might think and just do it.

I remember the first time someone asked me what's the craziest thing I've done. I tried to think of something cool to reply but nothing. I then tried to actually think about something crazy I ever did but still, nothing. OK, maybe I had one but that was more stupidly-irresponsible than fun-crazy.

I had been so safe for the longest time. Sure, nothing's wrong with safe, it's just that sometimes I envied the people who could just let go. Do whatever. Jump off a cliff, maybe. Or even just dance like nobody's watching... and then upload it on youtube so everyone can watch.

And so, I thought, if there's people out there YOLO-ing the shit out of life, why can't I do the same.

Leica Montano

Seasick Dream in Siargao

Wednesday, March 2, 2016
It was Saturday and the sun was out, thankfully. I was worried because of last night's rain. I biked down towards Cloud 9 and zoomed past the people by the hotel across, went down a few more meters and passed by endless rows of coconut trees, a neat, little souvenir stand and another bike rental shop. From there, I could almost hear the surf. I was excited, mainly because I wasn't really zooming but rather I was struggling with the rusty bike the old man gave me and I was about to reach the end of my joyride, finally getting my much needed rest.

I amused myself at the thought of possibly living in this tiny island. You know, wake up, surf, breakfast at the usual and then disappear to some fascinating part of the island. I found myself dreaming of someone else's reality; someone else's island life. And then I thought, much like any other place I fall in love with, I could live here. Yeah, I'd come back one day and never leave.

Leica Montano

From above, Siargao is a lush of greenery, surrounded by magical surf breaks. To some, it's another tranquil island with beautiful beaches but to most, it's a place where they find home and it's not hard to imagine why. And who can blame them? No one wants to leave paradise. Plus, with everyone being very welcoming and hospitable, you'd instantly feel like you're part of their community. And in some way, you already are.

You'd be eating at Mama's BBQ one night and then suddenly there's talk of going to this body painting art night happening across the street. Or, you'd be invited to go to this after surf party thing at Bravo and end up making a furry friend over tapas. Or you'd hear stories like someone getting stabbed by a fin the other day or stories about how the old super typhoon damaged some places. It's all interesting and it's all part of the reason why you want to stay. Because in some cliched way, it really is the people that make the place.

How To Do Thailand (From Bangkok to Phuket)

Monday, January 18, 2016
Everybody's got their own crazy Thailand story and every one of those people would probably try to one up the other, telling them theirs is the craziest. Just google "crazy Thailand stories" and with a few clicks, you'll end up reading about the Full Moon parties, drug dealing tuk-tuk drivers, and the classic getting-hit-in-the-face-with-a-live-goldfish-shot-out-of-a-stripper's-vagina. But I'm not here to do that.

Sure, I have a few stories - like the one where I saw the best twerk show of my life, or that one time an angry Thai man shouted at me from across this field for whatever reason, or that one night my friend and I were about to enter this shady disco bar (...) - stories I would never tell my grandchildren about. [But nothing too extreme to worry my mom about.]

I'm here to tell you about my first real, independent travel.

Bangkok, Thailand

8 days. We were only there for 8 days... and it's already one of the best trips I've ever had (even though the gods of Thailand did not like me at all).

You see, I wasn't even gone that long. But when you're away from all sorts of responsibilities for a week, you start to get comfortable being amidst people who can't speak your language. You start to get comfortable living off your suitcase and running out of clean clothes to wear. You start to get comfortable being away from everything that screams "home." It's exciting, fun, and new every time. You go to sleep at night, thinking of what could possibly happen the next day. Your mind wanders but nothing prepares you for the madness that's about to happen.

And then it just hits you one night, it's your last day and home doesn't sound so appealing at all. Even though you've started longing for your bed at home, you still wouldn't mind sleeping at a couple more hotel beds. You've just gotten into the pace of traveling from one place to another and stopping feels like the worst idea ever. Because even though there were some downs, the ups were some of the best ones anyone could ever imagine.