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Philippines

Paradise Found: Malapascua Island thumbnail

So technically, I’ve already declared paradise found at least twice on this blog. First, way back in 2009 when I landed on the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia and felt certain that I had indeed discovered Heaven on Earth. Then, in 2011, I found myself on Koh Rong in Cambodia, and my Eden-Meter went wild again. Over…

Consider My Mind Blown: Diving in Donsol thumbnail

So far, Donsol had been a bit of a bust. It had been a mission to get there, and thus far the fireflies and whale sharks had been a disappointment. But we had one more creature left on our list to see — manta rays. We had arrived in the middle of peak season for the…

The Disappearing Whale Sharks of Donsol thumbnail

We had come to Donsol for one reason: to see the locally named butanding in the proudly named Whale Shark Capital of the World. Long before my plane first landed in the Philippines, when my trip was just daydreams and scrawled notes in the margins of a guidebook, this moment was what I looked forward to the…

Doing Donsol: The Philippines’ Unlikely Beach Resort thumbnail

I drifted into consciousness to the familiar hum of a plane preparing for descent. Heather and I were in the midst of a twenty-seven hour transit marathon from Sagada that would involve a bus, another bus, a cab, a flight, a trike, a minibus, and another final trike ride. This flight, which turned a twelve-hour bus…

Two Thousand Feet Below The Philippines: The Cave Connection in Sagada thumbnail

I could feel it spreading through me like a heat rash — my stomach twisted, my throat tightened, and my pulse quickened. I tried my usual coping mechanisms of deep breaths, visualization, and repeated mantras. I was in a battle with my own mind — logic was trying to prevail, but panic was winning by a…

This is the Philippines? A Mountain Retreat in Sagada thumbnail

I left Banaue and Batad feeling physically exhausted after three days of intense trekking through the Cordillera rice terraces. But as I boarded the public Jeepney that would take me three hours to Bontoc where I would transfer for another three-hour public Jeepney to Sagada, all for less than five dollars, I was filled with excitement…

Hiking the Rice Terraces of Batad: Part II thumbnail

On the morning of my third day in the Cordilleras, I jolted awake and rolled over to look out the window. Had I dreamed how beautiful it was? The view that answered me back assured me it was very much reality. Despite, or perhaps even partly because of, the total isolation from the outside world, I…

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