5 Unique Bike Date Places in Marikina

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Most guy bikers I know don’t usually care where they eat during or after a ride. Any food – even if it’s questionable looking carinderia fare that’s been sitting out for several days – is fair game if you’re hungry. Any gas station or sari-sari store is a potential pitstop.

Well, if you want to get your girlfriends or wives to ride with you more often, you may want to put a bit more thought into the destinations. I can’t speak for all girl bikers out there, but while I don’t mind roughing it out every now and then on the trails, I also like being treated like a girl sometimes. Good food, unique ambiance and decent restrooms are probably the three things I look out for in dining places, whether or not I’m biking. Oh, and lots of Instagram-worthy details.

01. Bike date Marikina Cover

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Volunteering as Tributes: Archery in Makati

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The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay) was one of those things I could not put down. I must have spent one weekend just reading through all three books. I love the character of Katniss Everdeen in the books and how she was portrayed in the movies. Her skill with the bow and arrow is just so badass. The same goes for Tauriel in The Hobbit. Though she doesn’t appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original book, the woodland elf in The Desolation of Smaug shows off awesome archery skills comparable to Legolas. I’ve always hated the “damsels in distress” stereotypes in movies so it’s refreshing to watch movies with strong female warrior characters.

01. kodanda archery range travelup

Trying to channel Katniss in a Hunger Games District 12 training jersey

However, my previous experience with archery has been somewhat limited to virtual adventures. In Skyrim, (aside from shouts & destruction magic) bows are the most useful ranged weapon you use to damage the legendary dragons when they’re in flight. My demon hunter character in Diablo III also uses a variety of crossbows and bows to battle the minions of The Lord of Terror.

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Surreal Supertrees in Gardens by the Bay

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As dusk fell, the towering trees lit up, tiny lights flickering like fireflies in between metal branches. Inspiring orchestra music started to play as the alien-like trees shifted colors. The blend of moving music and lights transformed the grove of metal trees into a magical rainforest. Everyone watched silently, their eyes transfixed at the spectacle above above. From below, I could see figures standing still along the curved skyway connecting the trees.

gardens by the bay singapore 01

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Cloud Forest in Gardens by the Bay

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A rainforest under a glass dome, a waterfall you can reach through elevated walkways and a man-made mountain covered in dense vegetation.

gardens by the bay cloud forest 01

I’m used to seeing natural waterfalls and mountains in just their raw, rugged environment, often far from the city and involving long travel times to get to. So it was amazing to be walking amidst skyscrapers one moment, then enter a dome that replicates the conditions typically found in tropical mountain regions. Continue reading

Food Trip: Bacolod City

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There are a lot of places in the Philippines that are great for food-tripping. But ask any frequent traveler, and they’re sure to have Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental in the Visayas region at the top of their list. Bacolod is popularly known as the “City of Smiles” because they celebrate the Mardi-Gras like Masskara Festival, a revelry of street dancing, carnivals and parades every third weekend of October. But foodies will find plenty to smile about even if they don’t go during festival season. Here are some of the must-try specialties and restaurants in Bacolod City.

calea bacolod pecan pie ala mode

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Sangay Siapo Island, Tawi-Tawi

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“Can the water get any more turquoise than this?” I thought to myself as the main island of Bongao came clearer into focus. Despite the dark clouds on the horizon, the depths of the sea seemed to glow a piercing shade of blue-green, unlike anything I had seen before.

tawi-tawi bongao island

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Ten Cents to Heaven Leisure Camp in Tanay, Rizal

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Ten Cents to Heaven is the kind of place you’d go to just to meditate amidst nature. With its cool climate, manicured gardens in front of a sea of hills, stairways lined with pine like trees and wooden cabanas shrouded in vines, this leisure camp in Tanay Rizal offers a serene respite from city life. Best of all, it’s not that far from the metro. Their official website claims they’re just a 45 minute drive from Ortigas. By motorcycle (passing through Marikina and Cogeo traffic), it usually takes me 1.5 to 2 hours to get here from Quezon City.

01. ten cents to heaven tree motorcycle

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Weekend in Jomalig Island, Quezon

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Raindrops trickled down through the holes in the tarpaulin that served as the roof of the boat, forming a puddle right next to me  and waking me up from my sleep. “Duct tape,” I mentally added to my list of things I should always bring on a trip, as I moved my bag and huddled in the center of the boat with the rest of the people on the boat.

jomalig quezon beach boats

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Khmer Booze: Must-Try Beers in Cambodia

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Aside from temple-hopping by bike and sampling crispy bugs and spiders, we ended up trying a lot of different local beers in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh during our week-long trip to Cambodia earlier this year.

cambodia beer travelup

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Motorcycling around Batanes

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On the left side of the road was a towering rock wall. On the right was a cliff that plummeted down into the sea, complete with dramatic waves crashing into the rocky coast. The winding road carved into the hills narrowed into one lane as it made its way around a sharp bend. Yellow “Blow Ur Horn” signs painted on stone markers signaled blind spots in the road, leading to landscapes that wouldn’t look out of place in a fantasy film.

basco lighthouse travelup batanes

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Surf Spots in the Philippines

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Originally posted March 2013; updated August 2014

Aside from just swimming and getting a good tan, the beach is great for all sorts of water sports, including surfing. If you want to learn how to ride the waves, here are some surf spots around the Philippines that I’ve personally been to.

REAL, QUEZON

The nearest surfing spot to Manila in terms of land travel, the laid-back town of Real, Quezon also offers a decent place for beginners who want to try out surfing during a quick weekend trip. The coastal town, which is located on the eastern shores of Luzon facing the Philippine Sea, is known for having rural beach resorts with grayish sand. Despite its proximity to Manila, there are only few resorts here that rent out surfboards.

surfing real quezon the park

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Spice Adventure with Bal Arneson

Fancy a grilled chicken with creamy corn risotto after rock climbing? How about some spice-crusted rib-eye steak and seared scallops and prawns after bungee jumping?

01. AFC spice adventure - spice crusted rib eye steak

Most people wouldn’t associate gourmet food with extreme adventures, but Canada-based celebrity chef Bal Arneson shows that “a dash of spice can add flavor to your food and your life.” Her show “Spice of Life with Bal Arneson” which airs on Asian Food Channel takes her family on one-of-a-kind adventures in the kitchen and outdoors. From fishing, to camping, to demolition derby, this feisty chef whips up exciting dishes to complement their action-packed lifestyle.

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Gadget Review: Oppo N1 Android Smartphone

Traveling with a smartphone is a must these days. While the bulky SLR is still great for hi-resolution landscape shots and pretty food shots, speed is the name of the game, and smartphones are a way to keep social media channels like Instagram and Facebook updated while on the road.

But smartphones do have their shortcomings. Aside from low picture quality, another drawback is the relatively quick battery life compared to traditional cameras. Regular usage for checking mail and browsing also has a tendency to suck the battery life of a smartphone long before the day ends. Battery problems become more pronounced when you’re traveling as you tend to use your smartphone to play games or browse the web while waiting at airports and bus stations.

Enter the Oppo N1, a sleek Android smartphone from Chinese manufacturer Oppo, that seems to be the answer to tech-savvy traveler’s prayers.

01. oppo n1 smartphone o-click

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Breakout Philippines: Room 13

breakout philippines room 13 poster“After getting an eerie feeling that you are being watched, you and your friends try to leave the room. The doorknob falls off. You try to force your way out but all exits are sealed tight.

This isn’t some unfortunate accident. There’s more to this room than you thought. The nightmare has become a reality. You are trapped inside.” Continue reading

Game Review: Lost in the Rain

01. lost in the rain coverLost in the Rain is one of the most mysterious and melancholic games I’ve played in a while. Originally released as Rain to European and Western markets, the adventure video game developed by SCE Japan Studio published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3 was launched last October 2013.

Intriguing story, unique gameplay and haunting music is what stands out in this game. It actually reminded me a bit of the adventure / art game Journey in a more dark and depressing way, since it has the same indie and experimental vibe. There’s a strong focus on the puzzle platformer elements instead of battles using relatively simple mechanics, which sets it apart from traditional adventure games.  Continue reading