My solo ride around Samar Island has been one of the most memorable rides I’ve done this year. I got to traverse through three provinces of (Western) Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar. Since it’s the third largest island in the Philippines, it’s is a bit challenging getting around by public transportation. The main cities are geographically located far from each other and vans and jeeps don’t leave regularly. Usually, you have to wait for public transport vehicles to get filled up with passengers, so getting from one place to another usually requires a lot of waiting time. Since my main purpose was sightseeing and ease of access getting around, I thought I could cover more ground on a motorbike.
For riders just after a pure straight ride minus all the activities and sightseeing, they could probably loop the whole area I covered in a day. I allotted four days for this because I prefer driving only 4-5 hrs a day in the morning, so I have more time to enjoy the place and chill out in the afternoon.
Any solo traveler will tell you that one of the most painful parts of traveling alone is the fact that you have no one to share expenses with. After riding around the coastal road of Samar on the way back to Catbalogan City, I decide to squeeze in one last activity. When I passed by the local tourism office in Samar, the three main destinations being promoted were Sohoton Caves Natural Bridge in Basey, the Rock Formations in Marabut and the Ulot River Torpedo Boat Ride in Paranas. I’ve visited the province of Samar on several caving trips and have written a detailed travel guide about it, but for some reason, I haven’t been to those three main and most popular sites.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), commonly known as Saigon is one of the most vibrant and largest cities in Vietnam. Known for its complex history dating back to the Vietnam War, its French colonial landmarks, and delicious healthy cuisine, Saigon is a good base for backpackers and budget travelers to start their exploration of Southeast Asia.
Cheap flights to Vietnam are now more accessible to tourists with the launching of AirAsia’s direct flights from Manila to Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon. Last November 17, 2017 AirAsia launched their inaugural flight from Manila – HCMC with send-off ceremonies at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 3 led by AirAsia Philippines CEO Captain Dexter Comendador with His Excellency Ly Quoc Tuan, Ambassador of Viet Nam to the Philippines, as keynote speaker. Continue reading →
UPDATE 2017:The Querocep Bridge along the Marifanta Highway was damaged by a landslide in December 2015 and is currently being reconstructed. As of November 2017, there’s a makeshift wooden bridge that is only passable to bicycles and motorcycles for P25/motorcycle.
Take note that the area going up after the bridge is very steep and is all loose soil which can be dangerous for riders especially if it rains. The area is still not passable for cars and other heavier vehicles. The alternate route to get to Infanta is to pass through Real and Famy. Continue reading →
The mountain town of Sagada nestled in a valley in the Mountain Province is one of the most ideal places in the Philippines to enjoy the outdoors. This scenic town in the Cordillera region offers the most spectacular view of mountains, cooler climate due to its high elevation and well-preserved culture.
Because Metro Manila and many surrounding towns are highly urbanized and congested, a lot of us are always looking for easy escapes for day trips and weekend getaways. Just a couple of hours from the metro, the nearby provinces of Laguna and Quezon are good choices for those who want to experience the “simple country life.” You can spend the day in a farm or natural resorts, stay in cozy bed & breakfasts, dine in artistic and homey restaurants, and visit artist’s studios.
For those who like nature-tripping, art, culture and food, here are my top picks of places you can drive to for an easy countryside getaway relatively near Manila (excluding Nuvali and Tagaytay). Continue reading →
Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth from Manila to my hometown Naga City in Camarines Sur. I’ve also gone on road trips with the family to nearby provinces of mainland Bicol: Camarines Norte, Albay and Sorsogon. The Manila to Bicol route passing the Asian Highway 26 (AH26) (also known as the Pan-Philippine Highway or Maharlika Highway) is a major road trip route on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. After traversing from Manila to Bicol, you can cross all the way to Visayas via the Roll-on Roll-Off Ferry from the Matnog Port in Sorsogon to reach Allen in Samar and head towards Mindanao.
I’ve been getting inquiries from people planning to drive this route whether by car or motorcycle (and even a few long-distance bikepackers), so I’ve decided to compile a suggested itinerary covering the essentials and some travel tips. Continue reading →
Everything looks better when the sun is out. The same roads and structures which I found scary the previous night look perfectly ordinary in the daylight. It’s like watching a horror movie with a particularly tense nail-biting scene set at night. Then the scene shifts to a sunny day and you breathe a sigh of relief because you feel the worst is over.
Desolate. The empty highway seems to stretch on for miles. Except for the occasional habal-habal or van going in the opposite direction, most of the main road in Northern Samar just feels so empty. There are hardly any establishments or houses on either side of the road. Just mountains on the horizon, coconut trees and fields.
While driving from Lavezares to Laoang Island, the only fairly large town I pass that has an actual mall and big gas stations is Catarman. After that, I only encounter small villages with their poblacions made up of a few streets punctuated by a handful of sari-sari stores selling gas in litro bottles. Then it’s back to deserted roads after driving for five minutes.Continue reading →
Ang laki pala ng Samar, I thought to myself as I drove along the highway on my way from Catbalogan City to Lavezares in Northern Samar. When I ride a van or a bus, I usually just sleep and wake up near my destination, so I don’t really feel how far I’ve gone. I get an inkling of distances when I plan my route on Googlemaps, but the kilometers on Samar island just felt longer than usual.