An authentic experience can be hard to come by in many big cities in Asia. Cities like Bangkok, Siem Reap and Singapore are so entrenched in Western travelers Asia hit-lists that adventures can feel canned. Whether it’s the people jockeying for room to take a picture of Angkor Wat, fighting over merchandise at the weekend market in Bangkok or waiting in lines longer than those at Target on Black Friday to see some temple, travel can get taxing.
Thankfully, there are places, like Siquijor Island, that acts as an antidote to travel fatigue. There the food is delicious, the people gregarious and genuine, the sunsets vibrantly hued and the only other Westerners are those who have “gone native.” I already waxed poetic about the charms of the small Filipino island, but here are 16 more reasons why.
Continue reading Photo book: 16 more reasons to love Siquijor
From the sweet perfume of honey-marmalade topped pink rice to the lazy sensuality of a mongrel blend of spices rubbed into a rotating chicken, a myriad of scents assault my nose in the family-run market.
To my left were a group of middle-aged Filipino men, gathered around an old, flickering TV set, watching a sporting match that was evidently very exciting. Every few minutes the cacophony of raucous cheers and jeers and the toppling of chairs as the men leapt to their feet were heard throughout the open-air market. Continue reading Forever my favorite: Siquijor island, Philippines
Moalboal didn’t look like much. We’d just emerged from the heaving, paint-chipped bus from Cebu City, had extracted our bags from the bowels of the idling beast and were already sweating. Cooking in the midday heat, we wandered in towards town in hopes of finding four things: a bed, a dive shop, dinner and a beer (or three).
We found the first two easily enough, and after a long search, found the latter two. As we sat on the curb, sipping our Tanduay Ice, we debated reworking our travel plan: stay just two days, instead of three. We’d only been in the city for a couple hours and were already writing it off.
However, on day two, the sun seemingly rose over a brand new city. We found the charm of Moalboal in the retro Coca-Cola bottles, in the halo halo (a dessert made of fruit, ice, and ice cream), in the riotously colorful tricycles (many of which bearing gospel phrases or quirky names), in the stunning beaches with ombre hues of blue water, and in the personality of the people who call the little beach town home.
Continue reading Photo Book: Finding the charm of Moalboal
Driving in Asia is like playing Frogger in a blender. It’s a frenzied dance of thousands of bikes and cars threading their way down the street. Horns are used unsparingly. Verbal altercations while driving are frequent; crashes are common. It’s chaotic.
I bought a used motorbike back in October – a clunky, temperamental, maroon beater of a bike, which due to it’s diva-like tendencies I named Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty has broken down at least a half-dozen times, and each time I have had to enlist one of the other teachers to tow my motorbike using their motorbike. I’m sure it’s a sight to see for the locals: one foreigner bobbing through traffic on a fully functional motorbike, with a rope extending from their bumper to another non-functional motorbike, the latter of which being ridden by a wild-haired blonde woman and is swinging back and forth in the chaos like a crazed water-skier. But despite the bikes frequent temper-tantrums, I love the freedom it provides. Continue reading Tips and tricks for driving in Asia
We’d been told of the mystical powers locals believe are at play on Siquijor Island, otherwise known as the Isla Del Fuego (the Island of Fire, named for the abundant amount of fireflies that inhabit the area). The mountain-dwelling mangkukulam (healers) are said to brew up remedies and potions, which are used for everything from minor ailments to luring in a new lover. Although, the guidebook my co-worker, Jenny, had highlighted and dog-earred said that these days a more popular healing practice involves sitting on the beach with a cocktail in hand.
But by day three, we’d already imbibed in the local rum, coconut wine and the Philippines PBR-esqe brew titled “Beer Na Beer” and had taken in several stunning sunsets from the comfort of our beach hammocks, so we figured it was time to try the old-school approach. Continue reading Meeting with the Mystics in Siquijor
Just over three months ago, I packed a backpack and left China for an eight-week adventure through Southeast Asia.
Over those next two months, I traveled to 20 cities in five countries. I ate astounding amounts of curry in Thailand and drank far too much Vietnamese coffee. I learned how to scuba dive and learned the hard way what happens when you drink unfiltered water. With some coworkers, I motorbiked through Vietnam and swam with whale sharks. And while I played the solo travel game, I befriended locals, other travelers, a couple elephants and absolutely no monkeys. Continue reading South East Asia roundup