Batanes: Backpack Photography Workshop June 2010 Day 1

“Batanes in June!? You gotta be kidding? You might get stranded when a storm comes.” Was some of the common reactions I get when I say we’ll be holding a Travel and Outdoor Workshop at the end of June. I couldn’t blame them since Batanes do have a reputation as a stormy region but that was true a few years ago. These last couple of years we noticed the change in weather patterns. Even Ivatan locals there say “Official storm season now starts sometime October” So early morning 24th of June, 2010. I along with 16 other people flew from Manila, braving whatever weather yet  eager to set foot on the northern-most region of the Philippines – Batanes.

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Transit: From Manila to Macau

Night at the streets of Macau

My journey to Southwest and Mainland China a few years ago made my fascination for this country grow. Everything seems to be a large spectacle from ancient to modern as seen through their engineering feats. When I learned I’ll be visiting Macau (or Macao), a Special Administrative Region of China, I got curious on the extent of how the lavish world of mainland China would spill over into this small region not much larger than the city of Makati Philippines. It’s also a region with a perfect blend of the east and west and goes through my quest to visit Asia’s Heritage Trails.

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Transit: Flying from Manila to El Nido Palawan via Seair

Flying Seair from Manila to El Nido

El Nido Palawan seems so far away. An elusive paradise tucked at the north western side of Palawan. It’s one of my local dream destinations so when I was given the chance to go there I didn’t pass the opportunity. South East Asian Airlines (Seair) is one of the two airlines (the other being Island Transvoyager Inc’s (ITI) using their 19-seater Dornier 228) who operate the Manila to El Nido route. Last week 24th of February, we flew Seair’s 19-seater LET-410 plane en route to El Nido Palawan.

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Transit: Manila to Singapore Changi Airport

Singapore's Changi Airport

Among the South East Asian countries, Singapore seems to be one of the countries Filipinos frequent most. Probably because it’s a Pinoy friendly place since a lot of Filipinos live and work there. Another thing is its accessibility from the Philippines. It’s just at least 3 hours direct flight from Manila. I’ve only been to Singapore several times but it’s always a pleasure to breeze through the borders when entering the country. For first timers to Singapore, here’s what you can expect once you landed at Changi Airport.

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Transit: Manila to Puraran Beach Baras Catanduanes

Jeep bound for Baras and Virac in Catanduanes

Aside from Batanes, the other island usually battered by the storms is Catanduanes. Found in the south-eastern part of Luzon, it is usually the first path typhoons go through during the Philippines’ wet seasons. For that reason, the island earned the moniker as the “Land of the Howling Winds.” While it seemed illogical to visit the island during the typhoon season, it didn’t stop me from discovering the island shaped by the storms.

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Transit: Manila to Impiana Hotel Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Impiana KLCC Pool with Petronas Towers View

Among the ASEAN Countries outside the Philippines, I think Malaysia is the one I have frequented most. I remember it being my first passport stamp out of the country when we climbed Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, and since then Kuala Lumpur has become a gateway for my travels in Asia but have never really gone out to explore the city except for climbing one of the nearby mountain peaks of Bukit Tabur before. So when Tourism Malaysia sent an invite for a Familiarization Tour in conjunction to their Merdeka (Independence) Celebration and suddenly my schedule got free on the said dates, I didn’t think twice of course. It’s an opportunity to get to know the country more.

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Transit: Vientiane to Manila via Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's Petronas Towers

It was officially my last day of my two weeks trip around Laos. I can’t help but feel sentimental while I’m having my tea, toasted bread, jam and fruit breakfast at Lao Heritage Hotel. I was already awake by 5:30am just to get ready to go to the airport. Wattay International Airport is just less than half an hour away so I wasn’t in a hurry.

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