I am now thrust into this awkward situation where I have to come up with a year-ender post while still having to blog about 7 months worth of travel that took place this year. Forgive me, dear readers, I haven’t learned how to manage this blog to be up-to-date like most of my peers (and in some ways, things have even deteriorated in that regard). I guess this means I’ll really never make money out of this blogging thing.
I think this year’s theme is “unexpected”. When I made a list of all the trips I would make for 2012, almost all of them did not materialize. On the other hand, I undertook some trips that I didn’t even plan for and just decided on at the spur of the moment. Many of these were mountain-climbing trips with HLGG, and one was an overseas adventure to a country that I knew almost nothing about nor was I ever intending to visit.
MT. BATULAO AND CALERUEGA
Third time on this mountain and definitely the most fun-filled and pleasant of all. I was with HLGG and I got to the summit using the old trail for the first time. This was also when we got introduced to “Bigboy” Allan who was to become one of HLGG’s heavyweights (no pun intended) as the year progressed. We also got to visit Caleruega after the climb for a bit of R&R.
GIGANTES ISLANDS / ILOILO / GUIMARAS
This is the first out-of-town trip that I organized ever and I’m rather pleased with how it turned out, all things considered. I got to explore a very beautiful local destination (Gigantes Islands) well off the beaten path of tourists, as well as gorge myself on dirt-cheap scallops, the volume of which probably already cost a fortune in Manila. The succeeding trip to Guimaras totally paled in comparison.
MT. IGLIT / APO REEF / PANDAN ISLAND
Prior to this trip, my least favorite mountain was Mt. Iraya in Batanes. But Mt. Iglit in Occidental Mindoro thoroughly took the throne after our trip there. I suffered a busted toenail, wounded pride and over-fatigue that even the trip to Apo Reef and Pandan Island did not fully help to recover from. I got to know more friends, especially Fred (another “heavyweight” of HLGG) who is just crazy about climbing mountains.
I’ve mentioned before that Mt. Cristobal is my new favorite day hike destination. Unlike Mt. Batulao, which has no tree cover for most of the mountain’s surface, Mt. Cristobal is mostly jungle and actually has a cooler temperature near the top, making it ideal for summer hiking trips.
Mt. Arayat, on the other hand, is a mountain that I would have to unfortunately put in my do-not-return list, for reasons I already outlined in this blog.
I got intrigued with Mt. Sembrano because I suspected that it might be the first mountain I ever climbed back in third year high school. It turned out that it was not, but I nevertheless had a great time climbing this mountain in the company of 4 of my female buddies from HLGG. We got lost twice in the trail, and one of us even got injured on the way down. But it was all fun and I got to bond with Vernz, Des and Myrish, whom I didn’t talk to much in the previous trips with HLGG.
Now this was the completely unexpected trip of 2012. My friend Jen promoted this week-long Buddhist event in Taiwan and I just tried applying to see if they would accept me and if my bosses back at the office would allow me to go. Well, the stars aligned the right way and I got to join on this trip. Taiwan wasn’t high on my list of priorities for overseas destinations and I honestly was shooting for Myanmar. But the prospect of free food, lodging and land transportation expenses was attractive enough to make me sign up. I had a much greater time than I expected in Taiwan and I gained a lot more friends both locally and from around the world. (Much thanks to Fo Guang Shan for this opportunity.)
Prior to this camping trip, the last time I climbed a mountain was June and this was already in September. By this time, I was already a lot more physically fit as I have gotten myself into a regular exercise habit. Well, it turned out that I still was the slowpoke of the group, but at least I didn’t fall into a disabling sort of exhaustion, like what happened to me in Mt. Arayat. I also got to use again my tent which I last used during the previous summer in Apo Reef. Tarak Ridge is one of those mountains I don’t mind coming back to.
NORTHERN NEGROS OCCIDENTAL
I initially had some doubts as to whether a solo trip to Bacolod would be worth the effort. I was fast accumulating a lot of VL credits and I needed a place to go to in the Visayas near enough to Boracay where I would be meeting my HLGG buddies for our Christmas outing. With Bacolod as my home base, I explored Silay, Talisay, Mambukal and Don Salvador Benedicto in a span of 4 days. I suffered a bad case of food poisoning here on my second night, but I made an effort to still go out exploring despite this. I made some new discoveries as well as few new friends, most notably Clawy whom I first got to know online and who was helpful enough to show me around Bacolod.
To get to Boracay, I made a long sea and land trip that took me to Iloilo, then passing through Capiz and Aklan, before staying the night in the town of Tangalan through the hospitality of Glen’s family. Glen was kind enough to let me stay with them despite the fact that he has never met me before and the only reason why we knew each other was through common friends in HLGG. The next day, we continued on our way to Caticlan and finally landed in Boracay by mid-day. I mostly spent the time sleeping in Boracay because I was still ailing from my bout of food poisoning so it wasn’t all parteh and drinking.
CARABAO ISLAND, ROMBLON
The highlight of our HLGG Christmas outing was really our trip to Carabao Island in Romblon. By this time, I was already almost completely recovered from my ailment and I was able to enjoy the beach-bumming time we had on one of the white sand beaches there. It was very accessible from Boracay, but rough seas separating the 2 gave us a few nervous (and not to mention very wet) moments. We stayed in very spartan lodgings but it was still a great way to spend a lazy weekend. We also got to explore the quaint town of Odiongan in Tablas, Romblon the next day before departing for Manila.
I was hoping I would do something crazy as the year ends tonight and go for one final trip to send off the year with a bang. Unfortunately, plans didn’t fall in place and the distinction of being the final trip of the year falls on my Mt. Pulag climb on the weekend before Christmas (which was in many ways crazy enough). I’ve always wanted to go back to Mt. Pulag ever since my first visit back in 2010. I just didn’t expect it to happen in the coldest month of the year. We experienced zero-degrees Celsius temperature in the summit, and absolutely horrendous sleeping conditions wherein our tents couldn’t get enough water to drench us in. But overall, it was a great experience.
I won’t say 2012 turned out to be better than 2011. In fact, in many ways, it was not. But it has its own charm and I’d remember this year kindly, at least travel-wise. It doesn’t look like I’m about to get tired of traveling yet so there’s still a lot to look forward to in 2013. Stay tuned for more adventures (and the fact that I have yet to blog about half of all the places that I went to in 2012.)
Happy New Year! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope to continue to inspire others to travel. 🙂
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This is my first (and so far only) entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival. It was included in PTB’s 2012 year-end theme entitled: The Year We Traveled Like It’s The End Of The World, co-hosted by Gay Mitra-Emami of http://www.pinaytraveljunkie.com/ and Regine Camille Garcia of http://betweencoordinates.com/.
For past topics of the PTB Blog Carnival, please click the image below.