You could tell if a destination is gaining ground in terms of tourism when their infrastructure starts improving. During my recent visit to Tawi-tawi, I was able to climb Bud Bongao again. I certainly noticed a new building, paved stairways and other pleasing developments. It was eight years ago when I last climbed Bud Bongao. A time when there still a heavy stigma hovering over the province. But now that stigma is slowly lifting. People are learning that Bongao, Tawi-tawi is relatively safe which resulted to a three-fold increase in tourism arrivals just this year, 2017. At the forefront of the province’s tourism project is the Bud Bongao Eco-Tourism Park. A 342-meter high sacred mountain with an imposing presence at the center of the island.
“What is your intention?” The staff from Sak Yant Chiang Mai asked me while deciding on the tattoo design I would have. After spending 4 days of doing yoga at Suan Sati, I wasn’t expecting to hear that question which also usually starts a yoga session. But it does makes sense. Tattoos are something that’s contemplated upon. It’s a permanent mark on the skin. So for me it should have meaning. One thing I do know for sure, I will get a traditional Sak Yant tattoo on this visit to Thailand.
Driving out from one of the country’s fanciest airport, the Iloilo International Airport, the transformation of Iloilo City is already evident. Nine years since my last visit and I was just stunned on how urbanized the city has become. It felt like Metro Manila with easier traffic. The Spanish and American influence which took hold of the city for a time still lingers along with modern commercial establishments and high rise residential towers. Before, the city was a mere transit point for me to visit Guimaras, UNESCO listed Miag-ao church and nearby waterfalls. But my recent visit with Asus Philippines showed me a different Iloilo. Armed with an Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, we visited interesting spots in the city while lending our time to help out for Operation Smile.
If you live in New York but never have the time to go anywhere because of your busy schedule, you should take a break from work. However, if you want to tour the concrete jungle for the first time, having a local’s touring guide will be more than beneficial.
Here are some things you should do in the Big Apple.
It is one of those trips when photography takes a back seat. I visited Chiang Mai to pursue my other interest – Yoga. I had been practicing yoga for more than two years and I was keen in joining a yoga retreat which I haven’t done yet. My bucket list is to maybe hop on one of those Jet Airways flight to world’s yoga capital, India. But my time allowed me only a week out so I stayed in Thailand. I was heading to Suan Sati, a yoga retreat place I found 40-minutes away from Chiang Mai. Here, I spent 4 days and 3 nights of twice daily yoga, daily meditation, healthy meals, permaculture environment and good vibe community.
It takes an average of 12–14 hours travel by train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. Buses are a lot faster. Sometimes, Air travel cost is not far from the train fare. But there’s something about train rides I enjoy. For me it’s an easy and intimate way to travel through the landscape. Unlike the far and disconnected view from the airplane window or the sedentary feel in the bus, I can freely move around and enjoy looking at the passing view. It’s my first time to travel through Thailand provinces. And as I always do in different countries, slow travel by railway is always in my list to try.
No rain. I guess the afternoon squall has finally decided to halt. I just got out of Wat Pho and noticed I still have enough time to explore another temple that afternoon. The Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is just across Chao Phraya river. Just a short walk from Wat Pho is the ferry terminal to cross the river. Only 3.50 baht and I’m across the river in less than 10 minutes.