Bangkok Notes

The Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains quick guide to the city that is same same but different. Includes essential Thai phrases, embassy contact info (just in case!), and the common scams you should watch out for.
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SGMT Thailand Bangkok 2012 Wat Arun 03

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Best time to visit

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In terms of weather, the best time to visit Bangkok is from late November to January, when the average daily temperature is the coolest (that is to say, it is the least hot). March to May are the hottest months but if you’re after participating in the Songkran festivities, the mid-April heat might be worth it (you’ll most likely be getting doused in water anyway). The Loy Krathong festival, on the other hand, takes place in November — it is when Thais release lotus-shaped banana-leaf rafts adorned with candles, flowers, and incense into rivers and other bodies of water, a picturesque sight not to be missed.

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How to get to Bangkok

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The following airlines have non-stop flights from the Philippines to Bangkok:

  • Philippine Airlines
  • Cebu Pacific
  • Thai Airways
  • Kuwait Airways

How to get to the city center from Suwarnabhumi Airport

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Take the Airport Rail Link (City Line) high-speed train and get off at Phaya Thai, where you can then take the BTS Skytrain to downtown Bangkok. Trains run from 6 AM to 12 MN daily. The ride to Phaya Thai takes around half an hour and costs 45 baht.
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Exchanging pesos to pounds

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british-pound-coinsFor months, I’ve been telling everyone that they can get the best exchange rate from their home country’s currency to the local currency by simply bringing their ATM card and withdrawing money wherever they are. In Bali, for example, the rate I got through the ATM was nearly equivalent to the actual exchange rate, meaning the banks practically made no money from that transaction.

APPARENTLY, the exception to that rule is when you’re exchanging pesos to pounds in London. On September 4, the official exchange rate was PHP 72 to GBP 1, so I almost choked when I withdrew a few hundred pounds from an ATM at Heathrow, checked my bank balance, and realized their rate was 80.65 pesos to a pound! It wasn’t just that particular ATM too, though it was the worst; at an ATM in the Westminster area, I got a rate of 78.92 to a pound.

One more reason to love Scotland: their exchange rates were better. I got 74.52 at one bank and 74.45 at another. Scottish banks, by the way, issue their own notes, and some shop owners in England might refuse to accept them out of confusion, but by law Scottish notes are supposed to be legal tender throughout the United Kingdom.

Before I left the Philippines, I exchanged a few thousand pesos to GBP at Ayala Center Cebu and I got rates that were just slightly better than Scotland’s. Stuff I paid for with a Citi Visa credit card had exchange rates in the 74.90 – 75.00 range.

So, lesson learned at a considerable price: buy British pounds before leaving the Philippines. Or go to Scotland.

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© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Real People: Daisy Vargas

This featured traveler is a girl after my own heart! Daisy and I were in elementary school together and I don’t think I’ve seen her since graduation day, but we’ve turned out to have a lot in common, especially when it comes to traveling. She even has her own travel blog, which you should definitely check out. Read this latest installment of the Real People series for travel tips and inspiration from a girl who’s always up for adventure.

RealPeople_Daisy_01

NAME
Daisy Vargas
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OCCUPATION
Ex-banker, now a work-from-home convert
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
Since I started working, I’ve aimed for visiting one new country per year. Then I do my research and save up and work on my budget based on that. But I also like going on impromptu local trips so I just manage to scrimp and save a bit to work those in. I always look for more reasonably priced alternatives so I usually plan for low-peak travels, and like most I watch out for seat sales and early bird discounts for accommodations and tickets to attractions.
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Europe: specifically Berlin, Prague, and Amsterdam. Best time to go there would probably be around spring, before summer, because it’s low season and not too many tourists.
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
I’m planning to go to Surigao next month for the Enchanted River and hopefully to Australia next year.
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
I have a lot! Haha. But one is seeing the aurora borealis, so I’m hoping to go to Canada or Sweden or Norway to see it. Locally, I have yet to go to Batanes, see the Banaue Rice Terraces, go to Palawan, and if possible, Babuyan Island.

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FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
My ultimate favorite was New York because it has always been my dream to go there. I just loved the experience of walking around the city and navigating the subway on my own. Tip: If you’re into Broadway, you can line up at Tkts (just under the red stairs in the middle of Times Square) to get discounted tickets for some of the shows.
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STAY
I haven’t stayed in many hostels yet, but I loved Arpacay Hostel in Prague. We got a 6-bed shared room, but it was kind of broken into 2 rooms so it still gave us a bit of privacy. Contrary to first thoughts about hostels, the entire place was kept very clean, the bed and sheets were very comfortable and breakfast was good. We’re also frequent tenants at Casa Fiesta in Boracay. The place is well-kept and very affordable despite being part of Station 1.
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FOOD
I loved Nam Giao in HCM, Vietnam. Definitely authentic and I loved Vietnamese food because of it. It’s one of those very casual inexpensive places with very delicious food. The Ilocos empanada sold at the Laoag Bus Station was one of the best things I ate, and it only cost me P30!

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TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
I always go for budget DIY trips, so I’m kind of an OC travel planner. I do my due diligence when researching about the things to see/do, how to get around, costs involved, etc. I’d have Excel sheets and would pin the places I’d visit in the area in Google Maps, just so I could plan my days and maximize time (helps me with budgeting, too). Sounds hardcore but the OC-ness stops at planning, I don’t necessarily stick to a very rigid schedule. Once I’m there, I enjoy by walking around at a relaxed pace and spending a lot of time to wandering and taking pictures.

My friends also know me for being a very light packer. After many trips, I already know what my travel essentials are and I’ve figured out how to make substitutions for lighter, more compact stuff.
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INSPIRATION FOR ASPIRING TRAVELERS
Travel as much as you can, while you still can. Money can always be earned but the experience you gain and the lessons you learn about people and yourself are definitely priceless. Learn the discipline of saving and budgeting, but don’t let it hinder you from having fun and enjoying the trip.

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Real People: Daisy Vargas” was created by DV and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

Real People: Cathy Lee

After a two-month break, I’m back to featuring travelers on my Real People series. My buena mano for this year is Cathy Lee, a lovely lady with whom I had the pleasure of working for several years. She’s one of those people that, you know, if you really want something done, you assign it to her, and then you can rest easy knowing she’ll find a way. (Not that I asked her to do things; she was technically my boss!) I actually interviewed her several months ago, so she mentions going to Bacolod for the holidays, but she’s actually already done it. (My fault! I’ve been busy!) Cat’s got helpful tips on how to survive Manila and her travel philosophy is spot on. (Sometimes you really gotta TNPL!) Enjoy reading!
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RealPeople_CathyLee_01NAME
Cathy Lee (“CL”)
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OCCUPATION
I supervise a team and act as assistant manager.
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
I take my budget from my latest salary hehe! I just once saved for a long trip, when we went to Manila for a couple of days and it was not work related (most of my recent trips in Manila are). I’d love to go on impulse trips but I’m kind of blessed with a boyfriend who wants to plan things out before booking or going somewhere. That’s the time I sweet talk him to approve the trip and to save for “us” in case I go short in budget. Haha!
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
I was in Manila for a business trip. Tips would be: don’t try to bring a colorful bag and check it in, or you might see nasty battle-scars. Also, use the WAZE app when riding a taxi. Make sure it’s not on silent mode. The app will instruct you on directions and will help you get to your destination without being tricked by the driver. Oh, and try not to speak any language other than Tagalog or English. Daghan mangingilad sa Manila!
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WHERE ARE YOU PLANNING TO GO NEXT?
I’m hoping to go to Japan. My friends are planning to go international next time, but I might travel to Bacolod within this year for the holidays.
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
* Go back to Boracay. The last time I was there was like 15 years ago! Sheesh!
* The US! Anywhere with snow hehe.
* Singapore
* Maldives
* Paris
* London
* Indonesia

RealPeople_CathyLee_02
FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
Probably when I went to Hong Kong/China. It was by far the most memorable trip that I had, it was with my family, and it was like 6-7 years ago. Tips? Well, number 1, as in very important, take a looooot of pictures!! It’s the only thing that can preserve your whole experience so take a lot of pictures in every angle that you can and make sure you’re on it. Make sure too that if you’re bringing an old camera with a memory card in it that it won’t mess up during the trip and erase all your pics!!! That’s what happened to us so I don’t have a lot of pics in Hong Kong with the symphony of lights and alley of the stars.
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STAY
I’d say it’s Somerset Hotel in Makati. My room had a hair blowdryer, rice cooker, flat iron with horse, and hot water. The staff were so polite, courteous, and accommodating.
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FOOD
Chelsea at Serendra. I love the Nutella banana shake (I’m not sure if that was the name but it was a drink with Nutella in it)! Their food was also delish and the portions were BIG!

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TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
Hmmm…travel now, pay later hahaha! Just kidding. Probably to just get on with it. Carpe diem! And enjoy the ride.

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Real People: Cathy Lee” was created by CLJ and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Real People: Jelly Macachor

Jelly in Balicasag (Bohol, Philippines)

Jelly in Balicasag (Bohol, Philippines)

It was my sister who gave me the hot tip for this week’s Real People featured traveler. She said Jelly Macachor, her classmate in high school, had been having the most amazing adventures and I should feature her, like, stat. She was right! Not only has Jelly been in the most beautiful places, she also has heaps of tips for those of us dreaming of walking where her feet (or flippers!) have tread. Read on and be inspired.
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JM Palawan dive dayNAME
Jelly Macachor (Rhoda Angelie Macachor)
@thejellyfactory and @nowsunsetchasing on IG
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OCCUPATION
Formerly a public relations consultant, currently a beach bum and freelance writer.

Although I was born and raised in Cebu, for the last eight years of my life I was living in Manila and was Client Services Director for the country’s largest PR firm. I was blessed to be in a practice that was challenging and rewarding – one that allowed me to do my fair share of traveling for both business and leisure. But I genuinely wanted to come back home and explore my opportunities here. The exploration continues to this day, in between travels and discovering potential new addictions (like watercolor drawings).
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
While I was still working, I made it a point to take two trips every year, as much as possible to places I have never been. In January, I would estimate an amount for each trip and work towards it. Any impulse travels in between would be paid for, suffered through, but ultimately savored via credit card. The lesson here is: avoid debt; have both short term and long term travel funds.

Also, two years before my sabbatical, I was saving 20% of my monthly paycheck for my mini escape fund. This is what has taken me through three international and two local trips in the last four months. I should mention though that my boyfriend Joey, who is equally passionate about traveling, likes to feed me well during trips. This has largely contributed to me still being able to pay my bills today.
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Since having been licensed as an open water diver last June (and maybe having a boyfriend who’s a dive master has something to do with it as well), I have been targeting destinations that allow for an underwater adventure side trip. This includes Bali, Indonesia (for gargantuan manta rays and elusive mola-molas in Nusa Penida) last August and Palawan (for barracuda and turtles in El Nido and a taste of wreck diving in Coron) last October.

As for tips, I have so many! I’ll try to be brief but forgive me if I get carried away, especially in my restaurant recommendations.

Pura Besikah (Bali)

Pura Besikah (Bali)

BALI
Where to go: If you can (and you must), do not just stick to one area of the island. Nearly all parts of Bali have something unique to offer and a distinct vibe to appreciate (and they aren’t all like Kuta). This trip, we covered Ubud with its rice terraces, temples, museums and coffee plantations; Seminyak with its beginner-friendly surfing waves, trendy local designer shops and so many yummy restaurants; and a small island called Lembogan where you can snorkel with manta rays all year round. But I wouldn’t mind discovering Ulu Watu, Sanur, Gili Islands or even posh Nusa Dua for the next time!

What to eat: Bali is foodie heaven. I cannot stop raving about (and craving for) the food we discovered there. From chic seven-course meals overlooking the cliffs of the island to hole-in-the wall warungs that will have you addicted to their sambal – you’d have to be deaf, blind and mute to not find your way to good food there. Topping my list is La Luciola, Mozaic, Ultimo, La Plancha, Mama San, Naughty Nuri’s, Babi Guling Pak Malen or Babi Guling Ibu Oka, Bebek Tepi Sewah or Bebek Benggil (oh deep fried duck, where are you), Warung Made, Bistrot, Potato Head, Revolver Coffee. The list is miles long. Just start on Seminyak St and eat your way through to Oberoi.
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PALAWAN

Palawan Secret Beach

Palawan Secret Beach

To DIY or not DIY: I’m the type of traveler who enjoys some planning, but also some not knowing and getting lost, so all of my travels have been DIY (case in point, a surprise 9-hour pump boat ride from El Nido to Coron). Palawan, however, would probably be the only place I would recommend having at least some parts of your trip taken care of by a travel agent because of the permits needed to visit some spots. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, for example, can be tricky to visit especially in high season as they only accept a certain number of visitors per day.

El Nido or Coron: It’s hard to pick between paradise and heaven. These two gorgeous, majestic islands each have so many things to offer travelers beyond their beautiful beaches. If, like me, you have a flirtation with diving, it’s impossible not to get tempted with the idea of diving in Tubbataha or diving all the wrecks in Coron. At gunpoint though, I would have to say that the hidden beaches and secret lagoons of El Nido took my breath and my impartialness away.
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi in Thailand! I was in Phuket for business about five years ago and was sad to not have had the chance to really explore the island. This time around, I’m cramming everything into my magic wish list (85% of my last Bali list came true) and praying to my travel fairies.
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
I have a 30 Before 30 list that includes more than its fair share of travel to-do’s including traveling alone, getting myself to Harry Potter World, and visiting six new places in the Philippines.

But if I had to name my dream travels it would include:

  • Philippines — Biking in Batanes, diving in Saranggani, Tubbataha and Apo Reef, looking for whale sharks in Bicol.
  • Asia — Spending Autumn in Osaka and Tokyo, cruising along Halong Bay in Hanoi, getting lost in Shanghai, and diving in Sipadan in Malaysia.
  • The rest of the world — Burning in the desert in Morocco, diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, spending siesta in Spain, beach bumming in Maldives and Fiji, trekking the Amazon in South America (Brazil!), and eating my way through France and Italy! There’s so much to do and see!

JM Pagudpod
FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
This would be akin to a mother choosing among her children but if I can amend the question a little and instead talk about my favorite travel experiences, it might be a bit more forgivable:

  • Racing around Hong Kong with four sisters, four in-laws, four nephews and four nieces. We only had three days in the city but we managed to see most of everything. I don’t remember being so tired and exhilarated in my entire life.

    Hong Kong

    Hong Kong

  • Backpacking through Vietnam and Cambodia with my best friend Leslie. All the bus rides bruised my butt but seeing the sun rise over Angkor Wat made it worth it.
  • Riding around in motorbikes in Koh Chang in Thailand. Actually, put me on a motorbike riding around an unfamiliar island and I’m one happy cookie. But this was my first trip with my boyfriend and I guess everything about that place will always be memorable.
  • Jumping off a small cliff from Sohoton Cave in Siargao with a handful of high school friends. Nearly every year through college and beyond, a bunch of us would make our way (haphazardly) to somewhere different, barbecue on the beach, and Red Horse our way through shooting stars.
  • Seeing Monster Trucks in the middle of the Las Vegas desert. This was a short work trip but seeing the finals of the Monster Truck Show in a sky booth was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
    Chasing after dolphins in Guam. Another work trip that gave me many lasting memories (shopping included).

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STAY
I usually scrimp on hotels to be able to spend more on food and dives so, admittedly, nothing special pops to mind. Maybe my favorite was Bumi Ubud Resort while we were in Bali. The pool overlooks rice paddies and, once, a komodo dragon casually walked by while I was sunbathing.
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FOOD
Of wanting to try everything and leaving behind all semblances of a balanced diet while traveling, I truly am guilty. If I had to choose my super favorites among my many favorites, it would include: brunch at La Luciola in Seminyak, Bali; tasting luwak/ civet coffee at the Bali Pulina Coffee Plantation in Bali; sunset dinner at Buddha View in the Bang Bao Pier in Koh Chang, Thailand; everything on every stall in Lau Pa Sat in Singapore; poolside meals at Amorita in Panglao, Bohol; lobster-all-you-can grilled right on the beach in Coron, Palawan; participating in a traditional Chamorro meal (complete with banana leaf-smoked wild boar) in Guam; street food in Vietnam (at a place whose name I can’t even remember but whose smell I can), and breakfast buffets at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Sacred Monkey Forest (Bali)

Sacred Monkey Forest (Bali)

TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
I have great respect for all types of travelers (except maybe for those who willfully choose to eat at a fast food chain instead of eating local) but I guess I always try to emulate being an explorer versus being a tourist. I’m far from a NatGeo specialist but in my own ways I try to make my trips more meaningful.

I only bring what I can carry. Sure, my 36kg backpack is a little chubby-looking but I always manage my luggage without help. A good rule might be: if you can walk a mile with it without complaining, then you have enough.

I open myself up to the local culture and heritage. Whether it’s talking to a local or picking up a guide, soaking up a bit of history while visiting a place can enrich your experience threefold.

I take photos for good memories but make sure I don’t miss out on the memory being made. I’m guilty of taking too many photos while traveling but I try to be more mindful of what’s happening in front of me than being behind the lens.

I practice good karma. I admit it, I’m a much nicer person when I’m traveling. I tip better. I am more friendly to strangers. I make it a point to help fellow travelers when I can. I try to help locals make a better living. It’s a way of life I try to emulate even when I’m home.

INSPIRATION FOR ASPIRING TRAVELERS

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

I am very close to my family and I attribute how I approach traveling to what I learned as a kid. I hope this makes sense to someone out there thinking of their travel plans.

Only you can make it happen. I come from a middle-income family and although our parents probably wanted to take us everywhere, travel wasn’t a big priority. What they did give me was encouragement, a sense of curiosity and adventure and the determination to work for what I wanted out of life. I grew up without a sense of entitlement, knowing that only I can make things happen for myself — and that includes traveling.

Collect experiences not things. Like any girl, I like pretty things (and when I say pretty things I mean handbags). But when it boils down to either shopping today or having more to spend on my next trip, it’s not a difficult choice to make. I consider many of my traveling experiences priceless and the thought of the limitless possibilities out there is enough to make me scrimp on my next pair of shoes.

I also believe that this lifetime will never be enough for all the travel adventures I want to have so I try to make do and live vicariously through other inspiring travelers like Edgar Allan Yap (eazytraveler.net), Corrine Thiessen (@corrine_t on IG), and Sole Sisters (wearesolesisters.com).

Be curious. Live curious. One of my mother’s favorite things to say is “At least, nakasuway ka.” (At least you tried it.) And she has always encouraged me to chase after what makes my heart beat just a little bit faster. Whenever I visit a new place, I try to leave behind all preconceptions and truly live in the present, absorbing everything, appreciating everything. I find myself thinking, what if I never pass this way again and it’s in these moments that I fall in love with traveling over and over again.

Tanah Lot (Bali)

Tanah Lot (Bali)

Real People: Jelly Macachor” was created by RAM and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Real People: Gea Pino

Gea is so passionate about travel (and so eloquent about the experience AND so resourceful with funding…you’ll see what I mean later!) that it’s hard to imagine a time when she wasn’t always going off to one place or another. And yet there was a time when — like so many of us — she was always saying, “I don’t have the money; I’ll travel when I’m rich.” Read on to find out what changed her mind.

RealPeople_Gea_01NAME
Florie Gil (Gea) Pino
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OCCUPATION
I am a chemical engineer by profession but currently working as a Manufacturing Specialist and as a Pollution Control Officer of San Miguel Foods Inc.
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
Honestly, I don’t have a travel fund per se. I do save up if ever I travel. And those savings are backed up by loans. SSS loans go to travel expenses. And sometimes it’s fly-now-pay-later as part of the travel expenses are taken care of by the reliable plastic cards.

Most of the time, even if the tickets are bought way in advance, my travels are based on whatever is available during the airline’s seat sale. I do have places in mind that I want to go to before the airlines offer seat sales.

For someone who is like me — who feels “sick” for not having traveled even locally for two months in a row — and would like to set up a travel fund, have someone keep the money for you. For instance, open a joint bank account with a friend who, like you, would want to have that travel fund. And think of that money as something not really yours, so when the time comes that you need it for a great adventure, you have the finances to back you up.
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Surigao del Sur
Tip: Traveling in a group will be a lot more economical than traveling alone in this area. Going from one place to another will take a lot of time. So either you go by habal2x which is faster than taking a public bus or you rent a van. Habal2x fare is per motorcycle, so it’s better to have someone to share it with or you pay the full fare all by yourself.
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
By next week I will be flying out to the capital. From there, I will travel by land to Zambales to surf. (Note: Because of my publishing schedule, this actually already happened!) But for next year, I have booked myself a ticket to Myanmar among others. And hopefully (God willing), on the later part of next year, to Europe.
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
EUROPE. No explanation needed.

RealPeople_Gea_02
FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
Singapore has always been my favourite — I’m not sure why! Probably because it was the first country I had been to outside the Philippines. And whenever I’m there, I always feel at home even though I’m just crashing in some friend’s home. You can never get lost in Singapore. Their railway system is the best in my opinion. And the peppered crabs are just so mouth watering. Yes, I know, they’re known for their chilli crabs but the hawker station in Ang Mo Kio offered that peppered crabs were the best — well, except maybe for those chilli crabs that my friend made for my last dinner at their home last year.
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STAY
By far, my favourite hostel would have to be the Explorers guesthouse in Kuala Lumpur. It’s clean and cheap and offers overflowing coffee anytime of the day and free bread and spreads for breakfast. It’s a few blocks away from Pasar Seni station.
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FOOD
Somewhere in Kuala Lumpur, just across the H&M store, we chanced upon a Mediterranean restaurant. Aside from it being delish, it was friendly on the budget. For someone who could live on Skyflakes just to save up during travels, that’s telling a lot! And the noodles in Blue Sky Hotel in the Old Quarters in Hanoi was really good for 25,000 kip worth. I chose it because it was one of the cheapest on the list (and I really need something other than Skyflakes to eat) and good thing it was far from being a disappointment! That was the best buy.

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TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
Travel style or philosophy? I’m not sure. I guess it would depend on what you really like to do — like I always see to it to experience or see what the place is known for or whatever interests me for the time being. But I do admit that food is last on the list, probably because eating is really a necessity so I don’t dwell that much on food. Basically, I just want to see the beauty this world has. Call it sightseeing or whatever, but the sights and wonders of a place is a testament to how beautifully artistic our loving Creator is. Whether it be a place or the people, whenever I see something good I always say “Lord, you are sooo good! You are beyond awesome!” and to be able to see what He has created and to not just see it but experience it, it humbles me that He allowed it to happen and my heart is just full of thankfulness.

Traveling? Dream it and make it happen. Don’t wait for it to happen — make it happen! One convo with the owner of the plant I worked with jumpstarted my travel. He asked me why I haven’t been traveling when he could hear in my voice how much I’d love to travel. My answer was always: I don’t have the money, I’ll travel when I’m rich. Then he said: you don’t need to be rich to travel. You just have to make it a priority. You buy bags, shoes, and other stuff you don’t really need — why not buy yourself a plane ticket? And I was, like, yeah, why not? It was one of the best advice I ever got.

Reading blogs has its advantages and disadvantages. It can trim down what you want to see and what you want to do from your own personal researches. From those blogs, you’ll know how to go to places that are cheaper, safer and more enjoyable. You can estimate the time and money that you need. But it can be disadvantageous as well. It can make your itchy restless feet itch and become restless even more. Your wanderlust will become even more insatiable as your bucketlist becomes even longer, even with the ticking off of places that once were on the list.

And I just realized now: the more I travel to other countries, the more I love the Philippines, the more I appreciate what we have. It’s hard not to compare places, it’s hard not to compare another country with your country. Right now, I’m mentally comparing Phi Phi islands with El Nido and Coron. Haha. But the Philippines will always be the winner for me.

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Real People: Gea Pino” was created by FGP and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

Real People: Francis Tenefrancia

When I was fiddling with my Real People publishing schedule — trying to put people in categories (mostly by how/where I met them) so I could spread them out and create a balanced order — I wasn’t quite sure where to put Franc. High school? Healthcare? Advertising? Writing? Mike’s Minions? Mike’s Minions Again? Mike’s Minions No More? Needless to say, Franc and I have had a lot in common and that includes travel. He’s one of the most creative people I know — his creativity even extends to how he schedules his travels in relation to payday — and his ending statement is virtually a call to action: to travel, yes, but also to Google a certain exotic food. Read for yourself!

Franc_00NAME
Francis Tenefrancia
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OCCUPATION
Copywriter
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
Funding my travels is a little tricky as I make just enough to get by without the “extravagance” of travel. I rely on the power of the credit card to book a flight months in advance, giving me time to save up as much as I can for my trip. I also try to schedule my trips after a pay day in case I fail to save up enough cash (which happens most of the time).
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Benguet. I went trekking to Mount Pulag with my friends. If you’re planning to go there, be prepared for an extensive hike and bundle up for an extremely cold night.
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
I wish I could say Paris but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I would like to go to Hanoi next year though.
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?

  • New York
  • Paris
  • Tuscany
  • London
  • Beijing
  • Kyoto

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FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
I love the Philippines, but I’ve always wanted to experience different cultures. I love seeing how different and how similar people from different places can be. So if I had to choose a favorite, I guess it would have to be the only other country I’ve ever been to — Thailand.
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STAY
Kermit Surf & Dive EcoCamp in Siargao. They have the friendliest staff, including a very accomodating resort manager. They also serve a very hearty breakfast, which is always a plus for me.
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FOOD
Puerto Princesa’s KaLui will always be one of my favorites. Good food, great ambience.
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TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
I try to be more of an explorer and less of a tourist when I travel. I say yes to new experiences, try new things, and taste food I normally wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t even mind exploring a city on my own.
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MESSAGE TO ASPIRING TRAVELERS
Travel not to see the world but to experience it. There’s plenty of pictures on the internet to see, but there’s no way of knowing what a tamilok tastes like unless you try it yourself.

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Real People: Francis Tenefrancia” was created by FT and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.