Hello, 2017! It’s been another year of travel and since I haven’t had time to write all of my backposts, a summary year-ender post should do the trick. I had a lot of trips to both new and familiar destinations, participated as a finalist in Wrangler’s True Wanderer competition, and finally got a motorcycle upgrade! Here are some achievements unlocked and noteworthy adventures in 2016:
I bought my scooter five and half years ago, about the same time I started this blog. The red and white Yamaha Mio Fino you see on the blog header is Chocobo, named after the gigantic bird-like creatures in the Final Fantasy video game universe which protagonists use to explore the world. Chocobos provide a faster way of getting from Point A to Point B than going on foot. They give you access to hard to reach areas, and open up new areas to explore.
Skydiving has been at the top of my bucketlist for the longest time. You may ask, why would anyone pay good money to step out of an aircraft door from thousands of feet in the air. The real question is why the hell not?
Be warned, this extreme activity is not for everyone. The build-up leading up to the actual jump can be nerve-wracking. Your mind goes on overdrive as you think of everything that could go wrong. But once you leap out of the plane, you’re overtaken by this overwhelming feeling of bliss. It’s pure zen as you freefall at 200 km/hour through the clouds. Skydiving is both exhilarating and yet so peaceful at the same time. Your whole body and mind just drifts as you plummet to the ground below at terminal velocity. You want the feeling to last forever.
Rizal is an adventurer’s playground often frequented by mountain bikers and motorcycle riders. The Sierra Madre mountain range east of Manila offers numerous off-road trails where you can ride through forests, beside river trails, or visit scenic spots with overlooking views. I’ve written a lot about places to visit in Rizal since it’s my favorite weekend destination near the metro. It’s hard to believe that some of these places exist so near Manila.
It’s a humbling feeling to be right smack in the face of a waterfall, descending down its surface with just a rope supporting you. Admiring a waterfall from afar is one thing. But canyoning or canyoneering, the extreme sport of going down natural rock formations and canyons offers a heightened experience.
The province of Pangasinan has a lot to offer. Located on the western area of the island of Luzon along the Lingayen Gulf and South China Sea, it’s best known as being the home of the Hundred Islands National Park. But that’s not all it has. As the biggest province of the Ilocos Region in terms of land area, Pangasinan has lots of natural attractions that will appeal adventure-seekers looking for a getaway relatively near Manila. Here are 10 exciting activities you can do here.
Cover of North Bound Magazine Issue 15. Photo by Martin San Diego.
As a huge fan of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and the blockbuster film series based on the books, visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a dream come true. This themed area within Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was a major highlight of my recent trip around Osaka and the Kansai region upon the invitation of Cebu Pacific & USJ. Flying along with Harry, Hermione and Ron in the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts Castle, walking along the shops in Hogsmeade and drinking Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks was just amazing!
“I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good!”
For riders, travel is usually more about the journey than the destination. Sometimes it doesn’t matter where you go. Just hitting the open road, soaking in the beautiful scenery as you drive off into the sunset is an epic adventure in itself.
Whenever I travel to a different province, I try to rent a motorcycle. Usually, it’s just whatever run-down model I can get my hands on. I’ve ridden solo in many beautiful island destinations like Batanes, Bohol, Siargao, Siquijor and Cebu. On my own faithful Yamaha Mio Fino, the farthest I’ve driven is from Manila to Bicol.
But it’s not everyday that you get to ride on the expressway up to Baguio on a Harley Davidson. Oh yeah, baby! Achievement unlocked! Seriously, just sitting on this bike gives you instant 1000+ Astig Points.
Just like exploring a new dungeon in a video game, there’s something so fulfilling about spelunking or exploring caves in real life.
You have to navigate through small tunnels and chambers, find the best route so that you don’t hurt yourself, come face to face with creatures like bats and snakes and overcome all the obstacles in the dark to find the cave exit. It’s not as glamorous as Lara Croft makes it look, but it’s one of the most fun and exhilarating adventures you can do. Particularly if you’re in Samar, the Caving Capital of the Philippines.
Exploring Central Cave in Samar made me feel like an action star. There’s just something so innately bad-ass about descending 18 meters or 60 feet down a hole in the ground into a cavern below with ropes anchored on tree trunks. One moment you’re on solid ground, the next you’re just hanging there lowering yourself inch by inch to the rocky surface below. You look up and a ray of light shines from the ground above.