Towers of Kuala Lumpur

The skyline of the global city of Kuala Lumpur showcases two towers: the Menara KL and the Petronas Twin Towers. Both structures rise high on the Klang Valley and are considered iconic landmarks of KL and of Malaysia.

These Malaysian towers are worth the visit.  Only about 2 kilometers apart, these towers can be visited on a single day. Both towers are popular spots and are must-sees when you are in Kuala Lumpur.

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Kalinga: Tales of Head Hunters

A sleepy province, Kalinga is cradled by the mountains of the Cordilleras. The relatively cool climate blankets the province most of the time while the Chico River meanders through its core. It is a landlocked province defined by the rugged highlands of the west and the gradually sloping grassland of the east. And in between are flat lands that produce rice from the skillful hands of the tribe.

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Street corner spot showcasing the agricultural aspect of Kalinga

Several tribes in the Cordilleras used to practice headhunting. There were several reasons and purpose why it was practiced before, and they vary from one tribe to another. The Ifugaos, Bontocs, Ilongots, Sagada Igorots, Apayaos and Kalingas dwell in the Cordilleras and traditionally somewhat hostile to each other.

According to factsanddetails.com, heads taken from headhunting brought glory to the warrior who collected them. It gives good luck to their village as well. The heads were preserved and worshiped in special rituals.

Most heads are taken out as an act of revenge, often for breaking the traditional law. Other reasons for headhunting include tribal beliefs that beheading the enemy is a way of killing off for good the spirit of the person beheaded. Headhunting is also believed to help the soil become fertile and it provides strength to the people.

Back in the days, the people of Kalinga were feared by neighbors and invaders because of their reputation as headhunters. Kalinga in Gaddang and Ibanag tongue means headhunter. The Kalinga people live in the highlands and were able to preserve their warrior-culture. Their strong sense of belonging to a tribe and their loyalty resulted to frequent tribal unrest and sometimes resulted to tribal wars.

In the present day Kalinga, headhunting may be a vanishing act but tribal wars may still exist in remote places in the highlands. This should not deter travelers and tourists though from visiting Kalinga. People are generally warm and hospitable to visitors.

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Wow Tuguegarao

Coming from a 12-hr overnight travel from Manila, the bus halted to its final stop at their terminal near Tanza Junction. It was mid morning when I traversed the length of the Diversion Road towards the junction where it intersects Balzain Highway. The tourism slogan “WOW Tuguegarao” greeted me as I crossed the highway for a fast food brekky. I smiled and got a little excited, thinking of what the city could show me. It’s my first time to step foot in the province of Cagayan and I could not wait to explore its capital city.

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Tanza Junction, Tuguegarao City

I do not have a proper itinerary for this visit to the regional and institutional center of the Cagayan Valley Region. I decided to just explore Tuguegarao on foot and try to appreciate everything it has to offer for tourists and travelers.

How to get there?

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Destination: Ozamiz

Several hours to go before it’s time for me to board the ferry for Cebu. I took an afternoon bus trip from Pagadian City to Ozamiz and now I’m in a cafe anchored in one of the new hotels in the city. Sipping on ice-blended choco drink, I made a quick plan on what to do and where to go around in the largest city of Misamis Occidental.

Ozamiz City is said to be a historical, cultural and pilgrimage destination in Mindanao. The Gem of Panguil Bay, it is the gateway to the northwestern part of the southern major island. The city is blessed with a good harbor. Its port caters to passenger ferries, cargo ships and barges on the busy Mukas-Ozamiz route.

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Zamboanga del Sur

Let us consider Zamboanga del Sur in the eyes of Pagadian City, it’s major city and capital.

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This city is nestled between highlands of Zamboanga Peninsula and Illana Bay. It is dissected by FS Pajares Avenue that runs from the rotunda to the city port. Pagadian is an interesting city because of its network of roads that are mostly sloping.

The public transport, the tricycle (tuktuk) has adapted to the inclined streets with its design entirely different from the rest of the country. The Pagadian tricycle has become its iconic symbol.

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Iconic Pagadian tricycles

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Zamboanga Sibugay

The obelisk at the roundabout stood high and bright against the dark skies. It is the newest landmark of Ipil, the provincial capital of the province of Zamboanga Sibugay.

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Roundabout Obelisk of Ipil

The Zamboanga Peninsula used to be divided into two provinces, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur, with Zamboanga City as the commercial and administrative hub of the region. In 2001, a new province was founded out of the western towns which were under the third district of Zamboanga del Sur. This province became the 79th province of the Philippines.

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My Luang Prabang Chronicles – Day 3 part 1

Visit Luang Prabang to learn and understand why UNESCO included it in the list of World Heritage Sites. The old town center has a unique characteristic of fused traditional Lao architecture and urban structure with that of 19th and 20th century European colonial influence – a fine example of a remarkably preserved blend of two distinct elements reflected across the old town center thru its temples, palaces and buildings.

Allow one day of your Luang Prabang trip to wander in the old town and appreciate the charm of this former royal and religious capital of the Kingdom of a Million Elephants. Luang Prabang traces back to 14th-16th century as a powerful and strategic place in the Silk Route.

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My Taiwan Chronicles – Day 5

Colors from the Walls

A day before I left Taiwan, I decided to explore some artwork in Taipei. Colors spread on walls often trigger my own eyes to marvel and appreciate the modern, non-traditional form of art. In some small streets within Taipei, the graffiti art screams like visual explosions, showing visitors and locals that this art movement thrives to add color to the community.

Such colorful display can be seen around the Wanhua District near Taipei Cinema Park. To get to the park by MRT, get off at Ximen Station, turn right for Hanzhong Street, then left for Emei Street. Hanzhong transforms at night as Ximen Night Market. At Emei Street, walk a few blocks to reach the corner of Kangding Road where the Taipei Cinema Park is located.

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My Taiwan Chronicles – Day 3

Outside Taipei in a Day

I joined a day tour to places outside of Taipei. Thanks to KKDay Tour, I was able to experience Yehliu, Shifen and Jiufen on my third day in Taiwan.

My initial itinerary was to visit these three places on my own, relying on tips and directions from blogs. To get to these places, I need to travel by bus and train with Taipei Main Station as the reference point. I need to choose between my orientation skills and travel convenience, so I choose the latter to save time and energy.

The KKday Tour has an English-speaking guide. The tour cost TWD 1,000 for a visit to Yehliu Geo Park, Shifen Waterfall, Shifen Old Street and Jiufen Old Street. Meeting and pick-up place for this tour is at Taipei Main Station, East Gate 1 from 8:40am to 9am.

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My Taiwan Chronicles – Day 2

Temples, Tower and Museum

I sat on a bench, gasping for air as I wipe the sweat from my arms and head. Across from where I sought respite from the humid Taipei heat was the Jian Tan Temple – an 18th century shrine built upon the order of Monk Wanhua. Jian Tan, which means Sword Lake, has an accompanying legend about a Ming loyalist who killed a water sprite using a jeweled sword, thus restoring calmness to the lake.

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Jian Tan Temple

Of course, I learned about the story of this temple by googling. I actually messed up my itinerary and stumbled upon Jian Tan by accident. I did not complain. Jian Tan Temple is wonderful. Watching this temple, I could not help but notice how it strongly adhered to the Chinese architecture. The columns, the tiled roofs, the colors and the elements may be similar with the rest of the temples I planned to visit later. This one offered me a piece of stillness and serenity.

For my second day in Taiwan, I visited temples, a museum and the famous tower, Taipei 101.

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