Real People: Kenny

Kenya_Venice_02When I was younger, my family would go to Manila every year for a summer vacation and we would stay with my aunt (my mother’s sister) and her family. Those were some of my very first travels and I still remember riding my first LRT, seeing the fountains at Luneta, and going to the Manila Zoo with my cousins. Today those cousins are all grown up — and one of them travels the world on a regular basis! Everyone, meet Kenny.

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NAME
Kenny
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OCCUPATION
Flight Attendant
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
I get to travel and have fun for a living… 🙂
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Los Angeles, India, and Washington
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
Paris, India, Japan, and Korea
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR LIST?
London, Venice, Geneva, and Johannesburg
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FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
That would be London for me. Although they have crazy weather, there’s something about the place, lifestyle, scenery and structures that made me fall in love with it. People there are polite and it’s very easy to travel from one place to another without any language barrier. And let’s not forget: shopping. I love shopping in London!
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STAY
Oh definitely ITC Grand Chola in Madras, India. The food was good and the rooms were heaven!
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FOOD
Le Restaurant de l’Entrecôte (Paris)
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Kenya_Geneva_01TRAVEL TIPS
If it’s my first time, I make sure to go to places that are the main attractions and to take a lot of pictures. And I make sure to have a friend who also loves to take pictures because you don’t want to travel with someone who’s a bit of a killjoy haha! Before traveling, make sure to research the place first, know important information about the country, such as their rules and culture. Remember: what seems to be okay in our country might not be okay in others — some hand gestures for example. And always explore the place first before doing some shopping to save money. Always bring your first aid kit when traveling, like medicines and mosquito repellants. Lastly always be alert when traveling, be streetwise and be observant of your surroundings to avoid theft.

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

Real People: Steph Zanoria

Many of us say we want to travel for a living. Meet someone who actually does!

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Steph works in a cruise ship and has been to some of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous places on earth. When I was interviewing her for this feature, I impulsively told her how jealous I was of her photos, and her reply contained the insight that, looking back, is probably the one I most treasure throughout this Real People series. She said: behind those photos is a lot of hard work. She was of course referring to the challenging aspects of working on a cruise ship. Many of us say we want to travel for a living but how many of us are willing to take on a service-oriented job where we might have to deal with difficult demands and difficult people on a daily basis? How many of us are willing to go for months without seeing the people we love most in the world? So, yeah, those beautiful photos belie the sacrifices behind the smiles.

But Steph’s answer is also meaningful for all of us, no matter what our work happens to be. Behind our gorgeous travel photos is a lot of hard work: we work hard to make money to travel. We do it out of love: because we love the road, because we love the people with whom we are traveling, because we love learning about the lives of others, because we love the feeling of being alive. Here’s to the journeys that make life worthwhile! Wishing you all more of the things you love.

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NAME
Steph Zanoria
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OCCUPATION
Guest Relations
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
Traveling is what I do for a living. Save before you spend.
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Greece & Turkey
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
Spain & Egypt
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
Paris, Milan, Ibiza, New York, South Africa, Sorrento & Capri
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FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
Koror, Montenegro. A small little town with crystal clear water and fabulous mountains that surround the area. Peaceful and quiet, best for relaxation. Just think before you spend. Remember: euros are more expensive than dollars.
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STAY
Helsinki Airport Hotel
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FOOD
Reina Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey
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TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY

  • Safety is my priority. Think wisely. Know the area that you are visiting.
  • If you’re in a certain place or country, just make the most out of it. Grab every opportunity you have to visit the highlights of each country.
  • Travel with your loved ones to make it more fun.

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Real People: Steph Zanoria” was created by SZ and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Real People: Poy Emps

RealPeople_Orog_01

Doesn’t this photo just make you want to grab a backpack and jump onto a train yourself? It’s just the perfect pic, I thought, to cap off the first phase of the Real People series. Empoy, the guy in the photo, has been to a lot of places since we graduated high school together and this is just one of his many awesome adventures. Read on! 
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NAME
Poy Emps
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OCCUPATION
I am an OFW working with Pepsi Cola here in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for 5 years as a QC/QA Supervisor. Working for 335 days in a year and luckily entitled to have 30 days of vacation leave. From 30 days VL, I work around my travels.
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
My previous travels are usually an impulse to treat myself for working straight for 335 days (11 months). I don’t have regular savings but I keep a credit card ready to avail of online discounts on airfare and hotels. Like any responsible credit card owner, you need to pay your dues on time or in advance to avoid incurring finance charges.
RealPeople_Orog_TravelPics_02WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Internationally, Thailand (Pattaya and Khon Kaen)-Malaysia (Penang/Goergetown/Malaca)-Singapore. Locally, Cagayan de Oro-Camiguin-Iligan.
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
Internationally, Cambodia (Siem Reap)-Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh). Locally, Nuvali-Panglao.
(Note: If you know Empoy, you’ll know he’s actually already been to these places, eating bugs and whatnot. This interview actually took place a few months ago — my fault it just got published now! -LS)
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TIPS
If you want to travel to a certain place, it is best that you get information beforehand. Where to get it? Friends living or working in the locality. They are also the best travel companions since they already know the area and they can bring you to places you can’t see or read about in books and websites. Books, websites and travel blogs. Or you just get lost. Just make sure you have enough travel funds (which I don’t have the luxury of). Like any other hobby one is getting into, when travelling, always: Plan ahead. Prepare yourself. Perspire for adventure.
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
* Jordan
* Italy
* Israel
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RealPeople_Orog_02FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
I will always love my first international travel, which was going to Egypt. Being able to see the Great Pyramids of Giza, Tomb of Imhotep and the Golden Sarcophagus of Tutankhamun was awe-inspiring and one could appreciate the great lengths man can go to create such marvels. Then I traveled to Alexandria, where I saw the Ancient Wonder – the Lighthouse and Bibliotheca; and Mansoura, where a part of the Nile River is flowing through and you can have a river cruise.
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STAY
Not particular with the hotel/hostel since I am for choosing the place that’s cheapest and most accessible to your area of interest.
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FOOD
Not particular with places to eat. I just choose the food I take well, or go for generic fast food meals. I have a bad history of indigestion to unknown food. But I will be more adventurous next time!
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RealPeople_Orog_TravelPics_01TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
Solo travel is good for meeting new people but traveling with friends and loved ones is the best. Sharing your experiences tends to multiply them and you can reminisce about your journey together.

There are so many beautiful places in the world that you can’t visit them all in a lifetime, so better start now! Start within your locality. Be an ambassador about it. Then travel outwards and experience life in traveling in front of you.
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Real People: Poy Emps” was created by JPO and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Real People: IO Fabiano

RealPeople_IO_01

Io personified poise under pressure when we were working together, a few years ago, him as an assistant to a US-based doctor who liked to yell a lot. It’s the same grace and good attitude that serves him well during his travels; he’s one of those people you’d like to work and play with. He makes a very good point in one of his answers below: traveling is an investment. It’s an investment in yourself, in the wealth of experiences and good memories that you can draw from later. Check out what else Io has to say in today’s Real People traveler profile.
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NAME
Ireneo B. Fabiano, RN
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OCCUPATION
Auditor at Catapult International, LLC
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
When I travel, I always think of it as an investment. A very good investment! So I take my travel fund out of my savings. If I have an upcoming travel, I make sure to double my savings by any means: bring my own “baon” in the office, minimize taking a cab, go to a less fancy restaurant or opt for cheap fastfood. I’m even willing to sacrifice my love for movies just for the sake of saving.
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
I went to Malapascua Island with my friends. Though we only spent 2 days, I definitely had fun because I love the beach, I’m with friends and I had some R&R.
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
I don’t really plan out my travels. They just pop into my mind and then everything is spontaneous but I always leave the decision to my travel buddies. I love traveling with them. It is always amazing!
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
Euro trip. I wanna see The Kremlin, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, Prague, Santorini in Greece, the Berlin Wall, WHO in Switzerland, St. Peter’s Basilica, and all the designer brands in Italy. And recently my brother went to Maldives with his family so I wanna go there too.
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FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
Its a triple tie! I love El Nido because it is very enchanting (nature-lover here!). And then Boracay for its beach and the people; they’re so amped up every night out. And the third spot goes to Siargao. The place is so laid back just like El Nido. Surfing is a must try!
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STAY
Kermit Resort in Siargao. First, the place is nice. Perfect for nature-lovers. Very laid back as well. Second, they serve breakfast (a BIG breakfast!) for free. Third, the manager is so accommodating and friendly. Fourth, the room is heaven. They clean it (including the bathroom) and change the beddings everyday. Fifth, it’s very affordable.
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FOOD
Definitely in El Nido. It’s not a fancy meal; in fact we just had it on an island, the boatmen prepared all the food, and the dining area was under a shade facing the sea. Such a fantastic view.
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TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
I just want to share the slogan of Nat Geo People. “Dare to explore.” “Let’s get lost.” “Real taste of life.” So when you travel you’re not just there to take pictures but to explore, learn more about the place, the people, their culture. Immerse yourself and do the things that the locals would do. You should get lost (in a good way!) as that what makes traveling more fun and thrilling. It lets you experience what life really is in other places.

Enjoy. Have fun. After all, traveling is a good investment! #YOLO
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Real People: IO Fabiano” was created by IBF and LSS for travel site 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.

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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

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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.