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Ironwulf En Route Travel Chronicles 2011

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” – Paul Theroux

Can’t agree more with the author I thoroughly enjoy reading a lot from lately. People are quick to say how great and envious they are hearing about my travels to a certain place, probably thinking how glamorous it could have been. But it’s only half the story. Though I had a few trips this year where I was spoiled and pampered, most of my personal trips aren’t all that pretty. Long bus rides, unexpected obstacles and crummy weather were part of my personal journeys in 2011. I’m not complaining though, a little discomfort here and bumps there remind me I’m in the real world as a “traveller”.

 

Sunset by the Irrawady River at Sagaing
Sunset by the Irrawady River at Sagaing

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” – Paul Theroux

Can’t agree more with the author I thoroughly enjoy reading a lot from lately. People are quick to say how great and envious they are hearing about my travels to a certain place, probably thinking how glamorous it could have been. But it’s only half the story. Though I had a few trips this year where I was spoiled and pampered, most of my personal trips aren’t all that pretty. Long bus rides, unexpected obstacles and crummy weather were part of my personal journeys in 2011. I’m not complaining though, a little discomfort here and bumps there remind me I’m in the real world as a “traveller”.

Candaba Wetlands
Candaba Wetlands

2011 started with a journey with my friends to Candaba Wetlands in Pampanga. While it was my first visit there, I can’t help to hear the common sentiments that the bird sanctuary is shrinking from development and land cultivation.

Nagsasa Cove Zambales
Nagsasa Cove Zambales

Like last year 2010, the North was the major focus of the first quarter, with Lakbay Norte happening in two sperate segments. We combed a good part of Northern Luzon and It garnered a wealth of materials that produced a number of posts for some time the first quarter. I did have some personal northern sojourns with friends like the beach escape in Nagsasa Cove and then joining a Columbia Trail Run in Baguio.

Bantakay Falls Quezon
Bantakay Falls Quezon

The 1st quarter is not all north though. I got to meet some Alamid Coffee Pickers at Mt Malarayat, Batangas and learned more about the world’s most expensive coffee joining ROX’s organized Alamid Coffee Trail hike. I also went back to my childhood province of Atimonan Quezon to explore and had a challenging hike to Bantakay Falls.

The fishing village of Claveria
The fishing village of Claveria

Lakbay Norte was a great way to discover some unexplored places in the north, one that caught my eye was the rock formations of Claveria that I had to go back with some friends before the Holy Week started. It was worth the return trip as we enjoyed exploring some falls and un-crowded beaches. As a side-trip, we detoured to Tuguegarao for some spelunking. Good Friday found me observing the Siete Palabras in Angeles Pampanga. It was one bloody experience.

Sundown at Boracay
Sundown at Boracay

Summer found me back in Boracay, courtesy of Smart to try out their LTE broadband. I was also finally able to step on the “Rock” island known as Corregidor which I described as our macabre version of Angkor Wat.

The Imbayah Festival of Banaue
The Imbayah Festival of Banaue

Mid this year, we also had our Backpack Photography Photo Adventure in Batad-Banaue-Bangaan. It was an exciting and fun tour with fellow enthusiast Photographer. It was the lone one for the year. We’ll make sure we have a lot more in 2012. Prior to that, I had to make a trip to Ifugao to prepare the tour logistics but was also able to experience the Imbayah Festival which only happens every 3 years.

Morning at Kiltepan Sagada
Morning at Kiltepan Sagada

This year, I was also able to assist international humanitarian photographer Karl Grobl as he brings the first Jim Cline Philippines Photo Tour where participants from different parts of the globe went around the Philippines for 2 weeks. I was their local guide and assistant photography mentor for their Baguio-Sagada-Vigan and Laoag segment. It was great meeting the participants and I also learned a lot in the process.

PNR Bicol Express
PNR Bicol Express

I finally got to ride the PNR Bicol Express on its inaugural run. It wasn’t a perfect run but still I was excited that we finally have our own provincial train working again.

The Superstar Virgo Cruise Ship
The Superstar Virgo Cruise Ship

3rd quarter found me embarking on my first Cruise Ship travel courtesy of AirPhil Express. It was their Fly and Sail Tour Package promotion – flying to Singapore then Sailing to Malaysia on board Superstar Virgo.

Tinuy-an Falls
Tinuy-an Falls

Noticing I’ve been a lot to the north, I ventured down to eastern Mindanao with fellow photographer friends from Backpack Photography. We visited the Eastern-most City of the Philippines, Bislig City from Butuan to Davao to explore the country’s widest waterfalls, Tinuy-an, and then chilling at Hagonoy Island.

Pongas Falls in Tap-ew, Sagada
Pongas Falls in Tap-ew, Sagada

It didn’t take months before I got back to Sagada for some leisure escape but it yielded to a discovery of Pongas Falls, part of the 7 Falls at Tap-ew, south of Sagada. It also didn’t take long when I found myself back in Malaysia courtesy of AirAsia Philippines this time where we got to know more of AirAsia, Asia’s largest budget airline. Along with that is an exciting tour at Sepang Malaysia.

Bagan Myanmar
Bagan Myanmar

Immediately when I got back, I travelled again after 2 days for what would be my major trip of the year, Myanmar. It’s been a long time since I travelled by myself and it was really an enriching experience on a place that have long been in my target destinations. I already started writing about the trip and will continue on early next year.

Taal Basilica Hall
Taal Basilica Hall

This was also the year we introduced SmugMug to the Philippines with fellow photographer and co-leader Tracey Heppner. We had our first photo walk to Taal Town which I wrote briefly on my other site.

Wrapping up the year, there’s a short day trip to Pampanga for the Ligligan Parul 2011 and also few shoot around Manila for Simbang Gabi. There are trips that I wasn’t able to fully write like our Family trip to Tagaytay and Laiya Batangas and also my trip to Dipolog/Dapitan and Bataan which were part of my Photography Lectures on some companies. I’m not sure if I’ll ever write them here.

The Author at Shwedagon
The Author at Shwedagon Pagoda

Now to cut it before it gets longer, I’m thankful for my 2011 travels. Thank you to the companies who had sponsored some trips to experience what they have to offer. To the publications I worked with for trusting in my work. I thank my friends who joined me on my travels and also the new people I met on the road that made some trips real memorable. And I thank you dear readers for keeping it here and visiting, allowing a portion of your precious time to accept what I have to share.

As for 2012? I don’t have any major travels planned at the moment. Definitely I would travel throughout the year again but partly due to the work that I do. Personal travels? Who knows where? My blog is nearing its 1000th post and this year also made me think of the direction it would head. My attitude for my blog right now is seeing how things would pan out.  The format of course would remain the same. I am more inclined on reading blogs with stories and adventure so I do mostly that for my blog too. I treat this blog like a cherished book from my favourite authors I enjoy reading again and again. Treating each posts like a chapter , slowly unravelling until the end. I might not write as powerful as Paul Theroux’s masterpieces or as imaginary as Murakami’s narratives but I treat each travel  like a novel, no matter the destination or the duration it may be.  The journey doesn’t always have to be as awesome as a far flung place on the other side of the world. Hey, if Pico Iyer could write a captivating short story about a 7-11 in a street corner, why can’t we?

And with this, I would like to wish everyone a blessed and prosperous 2012!

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