Old Town of Luang Prabang

Most of us are not familiar with the city of Luang Prabang. But for those who have traveler and backpacker friends, this city is often mentioned for its heritage charm and tourist-friendly vibe on top of its old-world colonial draw. Luang Prabang is the heritage pride of Laos.

There are several ways to reach Luang Prabang. By land, there are sleeper buses from Hanoi, Vietnam or other places. There is no existing train network heading to Luang Prabang. Please do note that the distance from Hanoi to Luang Prabang is almost 900km and the trip might take forever to reach Laos. I had a terrible experience with the sleeper bus from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap so I put this one as the last resort.

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The Province of Quirino

Even up to this day, the province of Quirino is not on the list of must-visit places by the weekend warriors and the local tourists. Quirino is not found on the same path leading to terminal points of Tuguegarao or of Sta. Ana in Cagayan. Progress has yet to be felt in this laid-back province consisting of 6 municipalities and a population of less than 200,000.

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Most often, people would ask what’s there to see and visit in Quirino. It is not as popular as its neighboring provinces like Isabela and Cagayan or even Nueva Vizcaya to its south. It is relatively young, having formed as a sub-province in 1966 from the forested portion of Nueva Vizcaya and eventually became a province 6 years after.

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Baroque Churches of the Philippines: San Agustin Church of Manila

There are several old churches that you may want to visit and explore. If you are interested with history and heritage, it is a great idea to visit the 4 baroque churches of the Philippines designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Old structures in the country are mostly influenced by the Spaniards and the Americans. The former has colonized the Philippines for 377 years at the time when Spain was the greatest power in the world. The latter, when it has become a superpower and bought the country from the Spaniards. The Spanish conquistadores have brought along Christianity and spread it in our soils. In areas that were converted to Roman Catholicism, they turn it into pueblos and in almost every pueblo, they built churches.

The country, being predominantly Roman Catholic, had a huge number of churches built during the Spanish rule. Most of the designs were patterned after the churches in Latin America. These churches were built like fortresses, facing the sea and often on elevated surfaces. They were built as such to keep watch of possible attacks and raid either by the Moro and other ethnic groups. The baroque churches often have massive buttresses that serve to protect the church from earthquakes.

Because of their structure, these churches survived natural and man-made disasters.

The four churches inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site are:
1. San Agustin Church of Manila
2. Church of La Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur
3. San Agustin Church of Paoay in Ilocos Norte
4. Church of Sto. Tomas de Villanueva in Miag-ao, Iloilo

San Agustin Church of Manila

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San Agustin Church (November 2015)

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Dahican Beach – the Gem of Mati

After visiting Cateel’s Aliwagwag Falls, a good suggestion is to go down to the capital city of Mati in Davao Oriental, taking the national highway thru the towns of Baganga, Caraga and Tarragona.

There is an early bus trip from Cateel to Mati, once a day, at 5am. It may be too early to some travellers, so the next best option is to take the van at 11:30am. The trip would take about 3 hours.

Manong Biboy and Jesus take the Wheel brought us to the integrated bus terminal so we could get on the van and choose the best seats. We prefer the first row behind the driver’s seat because of bigger leg room plus there’s enough space to put our backpacks in front of us.

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At the integrated bus and van terminal of Cateel

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Wander, Explore and Live to Tell Tales of Travel

They said that the world is a stage. That it’s for everyone to see. I say, the world is a door for everyone to open and come through. For most of us, that door is closed for most of our lives. Circumstances, time and resources may be the factors for not trying to turn the knob and open it.

But for some of us who have the tiniest bit of curiosity in ourselves, we dare to open the door and try to know what is on the other side. Such thrill of possibly knowing something new and different, of experiencing an event for the first time, of seeing a place or something which we may have only read in books or heard from our friends, can only be felt should we really dare to open the door.

And for those who have wandered and explored the stage, that is the world, sharing and telling about your travels to others is a great and meaningful experience as well (post from a previous idle blog).

We’re Off To Wanderland. Enjoy the ride!

Oppie
There’s Oppie, sitting on top of my 2016 planner and a pile of journals I recently claimed from Coffee Bean. Sandwiched is my worn-out yet reliable 10th edition Lonely Planet travel guide book on the Philippines which I have been using since 2009. A globe at one side and a couple of pandas – ref magnet, keychain-stuffed toy and paper weight, these can easily reveal my love for pandas and travel.

The love for travel and going to a lot of places may have started with my interest on geography. Back when I was young, I often spend much time at a bibliothéque for atlases, maps, geography books and NatGeo mags. I was fascinated on pictures of people and places, of villages and cities, on houses and buildings, of mountains and seas. I was interested as well on amazing creatures big or small and of festivals and holidays.

I carried that certain love for travel now. The LP guide book definitely gave me that drive to explore the world, starting with my very own country.

The Philippines, being an archipelago, provides a lot of opportunities for us to travel and learn. Most of us may have similar chances to go on a trip to a popular beach or to witness a festival and so on, but no two travel experiences are ever the same. Every traveler has a unique journey. Every traveler has unique stories to tell.

And so I’ll wander. There’s so many places to be in. Several places I’d rather go. So many adventures I wanted to try. To wander is to take on a specific journey and to focus on reaching a certain destination. Not all those who wander are lost, said J.R.R. Tolkien but I say that some of us who wander, would rather get lost in the moment to breathe and appreciate what our eyes can see and what our senses can feel in the travels we take.

To me, the world is a wanderland. So let me tell you more about it.