It was one of those spontaneous trips I wasn’t sure it would push through. The Philippine habagat (southwest wind) has been whipping up mean rains in the metro it takes some effort to bypass the floods and the traffic. But I had my eyes set on Kalinga province for sometime, particularly to see their supposedly dying Batok (tattoo) art. So when the rains abated, we got a signal from our guide in Tinglayan of good weather there. I quickly packed my bags and prepared for the long road to Tinglayan, the jump-off for exploration on the province of Kalinga.
Like George Mallory was saying, “Because it’s there!”, is there any other good reason to explore? A lot of people mainly see the EL Nido town and the islands of Bacuit Bay, but that’s only a small part of the El Nido Municipality. Slowly the northern regions of El Nido are getting some good exposure but I’ve always wondered what the eastern part of El Nido looks like. Does it have some magnificent islands and beaches as the eastern side? Curiosity got me going, coming a long with a friend, we were off to Sibaltan on the eastern side of El Nido.
I could see the cellular tower standing like a centrepiece of the town. Despite its signal lights on, it’s just a static display as my phone shows no signal even if I’m just a few hundred meters away. I fan myself up as I wipe-off beads of sweat trickling from my forehead caused by the mid-afternoon heat. There are no electric fans around as there are no electricity to power them yet. That is part of the story of this town Maconacon Isabela, somewhat cut-off from the rest of Luzon but roughing it out in this region does yield some memorable travel.
It was the onset of summer in the Philippines and I was yearning for the beach! “But why go Malaysia? You have plenty of great beaches there in the Philippines!” an American backpacker asked me. That’s true but somehow this was different and unexpected. It felt like cheating, I know I love the Philippines and its beaches but somehow, Perhentian Islands in Malaysia is so homey and relaxing I quickly fell in love with it and yes even if some Travel Magazine dubbed our very own Boracay Island as the best in the world, this one is a lot closer to me as a perfect beach island getaway. And it all started when I was looking for an offbeat place to visit in Malaysia and this picture of a beautiful island with torquiest water and a promise of unspoiled underwater haven sold me to fly to Kuala Lumpur.
So, after a few months since the new airbus landed in Clark last year 2011, AirAsia Philippines finally took to the sky and painted it red last March 28, 2012. Another milestone for AirAsia as the Philippines-branded airbus A320s with an all-Filipino Crew inaugurated its Kalibo and Davao flights. At Clark International Airport, ceremonies were held to mark the occasion with the presence of key persons like Ms Maan Hontiveros and the AirAsia guy himself, Mr Tony Fernandes. Ironwulf.net was there to witness the occasion and join in on their inaugural flight to Davao.
If only I could say “stop!” while our mini-bus rode through the rolling terrain of Kalaw State at the break of dawn. I wanted to halt the mini-bus not because my legs and feet remained immobile for hours. My legs were cramped in a corner, just behind the front seats of a full, air-cooled mini-bus headed to Inle Lake, but the scenery at Kalaw state and the rest of the Shan hills vast expanse were draped in a mysterious mist billowing overland. The morning sun cast beams of light in the mist resulting to a dramatic diffusion of light and shadows over the hilly plateau. It was one of the most magnificent sights I’ve seen on the road.
I was already prepared for the worst for the 10+ hours Bus journey to Bagan from Yangon. Oh I’ve read so many horror stories of old buses breaking down, air-conditioning giving up mid-way the journey or even some bumpy roads that would shake you up awake. But, fortunate to say, it wasn’t even that close. Changes here were for the better and the journey was much more comfortable and easier than I expected. I guess it was too comfortable that I had to push my seatmate, who’s sleeping like oil, a few times as he constantly leans on my side of the seat.