Any retelling of another place, whether that place be the new shop across your building, or somewhere miles and seas away, won’t be complete without recounting the food. A Filipino trying to eat in Taiwan won’t have to worry about unfamiliarity— Chowking has made sure of that, along with North Park, and Tokyo Tokyo.

But first, a quick word on a special place.

Jiufen Old Street calls to mind late night summer festivals and fireworks in the night sky. © Hana Ras

Jiufen Old Street was one of the items in our itinerary that I was really looking forward to. A quick Google of the place will immediately tell you why. It’s riddled with lanterns, it harkens to an…

How exactly does one get lost in Taiwan? Well, reader, it could be something as simple as having crossed the road when one should not, of having ridden the wrong bus, of having ridden the right bus headed in the wrong direction, or, reader, it could be all of the above.

I’m not fond of the memory at all. To recall it now is to risk summoning nightmares. Have you ever truly been lost in a foreign country? It’s like your body enters survival mode. Language fails you. It feels like technology has failed you. …

Six whole days is ridiculous; we’ll run out of things to do — so we said.

What a ridiculous notion.

Some facts before we get to it: Taiwan is shaped like a mango, or a heart, or a drumstick. Tourist guides never fail to mention this, in the same way that we think of our country as an oddly-shaped, lanky, possibly malnourished dog. Its capital city is Taipei, an area measuring 271 with a prominent tower, warm weather, and lots of milk tea. …

At this point, we realized that we had been visiting temples and religious landmarks for three full days now, and it was time to indulge in that activity that travelers are always guilty of — shopping beyond their luggage capacity.

Chatuchak Market sells everything under the sun.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

As if we hadn’t had enough of people, we went to Chatuchak Market the next day. Chatuchak, or JJ Market, is the largest market in Thailand, with more than 8,000 stalls divided into 27 sections. It’s a sprawling, complicated spread of stalls selling anything you can think of — clothes, handcrafts, antiques, books, and gardening implements.

When travelers blog about…

Bangkok! After spending the last few days traipsing on forest floor and avoiding ant farms, it was nice to feel solid asphalt beneath our feet. After eight hours on the road and on immigration, we arrived in Bangkok, and at first sight, it didn’t disappoint. Pollution, crowd congestion, highway traffic — I’d almost say it feels like home.

I knew then that our stay in Bangkok would be drastically different than in Siem Reap. We would be without a guide, for one, and would have to fend for ourselves in the concrete jungle. …

On hindsight, someone definitely should have brought Ibuprofen.

Our first day of touring got the best of us and we ended up collapsing on our beds and massaging our feet. Dinner was a quick, no-nonsense meal in Sok San Road, followed by a visit to the convenience store for tomorrow’s morning coffee. When I slept, I tried to prop my feet six inches higher like what they teach people in retail to do when their legs feel like hell. It helped… a bit.

Preah Khan is characterized by red and green washes on its walls. These parallel doorways make for good photos in the proper light.

Jayatataka Baray Temples

Thankfully, the second day of our itinerary was less straining. We started our day at Preah Kahn…

If someone had told me that I would spend two days in the rainy month of July trying to spot un-decapitated Buddhas, I wouldn’t have believed them. And yet that is exactly what has happened.

SIEM REAP — a province in Cambodia and home to the famous Angkor Wat. My knowledge of the region is dodgy at best, or I suppose it was, and I’d gone on this trip so I could cross it off my list of Southeast Asian countries that I’d been to.

My expectations weren’t high. There would be temples, ruins, lots of them. I’d imagined old…

They say that what makes a place worth going back to isn’t the incredible sights or the old churches or the pristine beaches — it’s the people. The people of Batanes are the most accommodating I have ever met, and it’s not just our tour guide or our waiter or the people we paid to help us. It’s the storeowner who hauled their monobloc chairs from inside their house so we could sit on something. It’s the random stranger who walked with us in the rain so we wouldn’t get lost. …

You could count probably two movies that were filmed in Batanes, one being “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit”, the Filipino adaptation of Wuthering Heights that was released in 1991. Being just born at the time, I had no idea that the movie even existed, but it was interesting to note that some of the movie’s iconic scenes were filmed in the Alapad Rock Formations.

Alapad Rock Formations

The rock formations are a combination of hills, sea, and surfaced corals in one view. The rocks help break the waves as they enter the bay, and they also make for good markers to navigate one’s location.

Considered as one of the most inaccessible tourist destinations in the country, Batanes has long been part of my bucket list. When my mom first went there in 2010, she came back looking all starry-eyed and told me that when I graduate and find a stable job, I should tuck some away for a trip to the northern most province of the Philippines.

She had talked of green meadows and hills like those in Julie Andrew’s Salzberg. Her descriptions nabbed me and my imagination, so it’s no surprise that six years later, I went to Batanes with her.

Batanes is…

Hana R

strategist in training. i get around when i can.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store