Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year in Travel

I haven't really been to many places this year, but I did get out enough for me to have something to look back. Of course I've talked about my experience in Bicol earlier this year, but what I haven't talked about yet is my southeast Asian (SEA) trip. Yep, that's right, for the first time in my life, I went out of the country. I'm probably too old to be proud of this, but I am, after all, everything I've done, I did through my own hardship.

So yeah, I went to 3 SEA countries, in one week, sometime in June. It was a whole new experience, same topography, same climate, same physical features but different culture, different food and money, different system. Throughout the trip, I couldn't help comparing these 3 countries to my own. 

At the ground of Petronas towers, Cha sets up the tripod

My friends and I had a day to walk through the streets of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. I've read before hand that Malaysia is a Singapore-wannabe, and I must say, they are doing a really good job. I see how this country can be so progressive. At first look, it may seem to be a congested area like Manila, but it has a system that makes everything look better. It's not as stressful to walk around, the streets are free of litter, the traffic build ups easily dissipated, and there are only 3 modes of public transportation --the bus, the train and the cab. People follow the traffic rules. Foreigners are very visible, their active tourism campaign is really effective. I love the highways of Malaysia, manicured and wide and stress-free. Another thing I truly envy is the absence of [annoying] tangled cables. The highlights of my stay here were Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower and Batu Cave.

At the KL Tower observatory deck, wishing I was in Tokyo Tower instead hihi..

The city view from KL Tower

Yep, KL, I'm done

One thing that I definitely did not like is the food. It's not bad really, I don't know what the food we ate were called, but they are mostly curry-based and spicy, maybe because I'm not a fan of spicy food, but I just didn't find anything special with Malaysian food. Crimes? Yes of course there are crimes, not that we encountered them, but on our second day, around 6:00 AM we were about to go out for breakfast but the hotel staff warned us of snatchers, he suggested going out at a time when more people are on the street (8 AM) or at least leaving our purse and tote bags in the hotel.

Batu Cave
Cha and I, inside the Batu Cave

If there's anything I regret, it was the failure to check the National museum and see some Muslim cultural night performances near our hotel. We were out of time and energy to do all the things we planned, we had to prepare for our next flight in the afternoon. I would have really wanted to learn more about the history of Malaysia, I saw a lot of old buildings and the majority of streets are covered with cobblestones, I wish I knew the story behind these landscapes, and of course, I'd like to compare their colonial era with ours too.

For some reason, this scene reminds me of a park in Pandacan Manila


The next stop is Bali, Indonesia. This is really the main destination of this trip. We stayed there for 3 days. We've read about an unfortunate incident that happened to a Filipino traveler at the immigration, being the first time out of the country travelers that we are, we had everything (almost) prepared. We booked 2 travel agencies to facilitate our tours. It proved to be truly helpful and worth it. I learned a lot, so much that I don't even know how to put everything into writing. One thing I can say is that Balinese culture is really interesting.

I wanted to show these pictures and at the same time introduce the music of Gus Teja, his songs are all over Ubud, so I put up this slide show to give you an overview of our stay there.

I love the people of Ubud, I love their simple and peaceful way of life. I've learned to pay so much respect to Balinese Hinduism as a religion. I hope they continue to preserve their culture. I also loved the whole interaction we'd had with our tour guide Nyoman. He's a very good conversationalist, I like how inquisitive he is with our own culture and religion. We learned from him and he learned from us. If you'll ever go to Bali, I highly recommend visiting Ubud.

The last country I've been to, and this one was not even part of the original plan by the way. The stop in Singapore was a combination of spur of the moment and desire to earn another passport stamp. The stay was a blast, literally, because we only stayed for less than 5 hours. This was also my first time to cross a border by land. I find the process more tedious than doing it via plane (I don't like the idea of waiting and looking for the coach we took after the immigration stop). I saw some Malaysian children in school uniform crossing the border too. They seemed to be used to the set up, it seemed like they are studying in Singapore, but still going home in Malaysia. How stressful to do that everyday (this was early morning too). But then, it might be an educational tour. I'm not really sure. Anyway, like I said, we didn't really stayed long enough to really appreciate Singapore. I met up with my sister in law, Che and Cha met up with their brother in law. We checked Merlion park, got disappointed that the iconic merlion statue is under maintenance, settled with a smaller Merlion statue, ate lunch and off we go. Oh we did take pictures.


I feel like an OFW with this shot :)

It's a cliche to say this, but I can't find a better way to describe it, Singapore really feels like Makati city, the business center that is, with better transport and traffic system and more high end malls and shops. Another regret I've had is missing another must-see museum, I wanted to check the Arts and Science museum, the Andy Warhol 15 Minutes Eternal exhibit was on (it was in Singapore until August 2012, next stop is Hongkong, Beijing then Tokyo), but again, we were pressed with time -sigh-

                                                    The white flower-like building on our left is the Arts Science Museum

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my stay in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but I'm not impressed as I thought I would be. All the nice things I saw there are expected. I think that if we can only instill the discipline Malaysians and Singaporeans have, we'll definitely beat them in tourism.

I have to admit that I felt really nervous the day we departed for this trip. We were all first timer and all those "Banged Abroad" scenarios played through my mind. But it turned to be really successful and I'm proud to say that I'm now ready to embark on another overseas trip. Let me rephrase that, I am mentally ready, financially, I'm not. And though I've said that I did it all through my own hardship, I was talking about financial aspects. I could have not really done it without my travel companions, of which I'm eternally grateful. Until our next adventure :)

Credits: Most photos used in this post are taken by Che Gurrobat (please check her website for more amazing pictures and travel adventures). Some were taken by Charlyn Gurrobat, Sharlene de Dios-Madarang and yours truly. The music used in the video is Situ Sayong by Gus Teja, it's available in itunes for download.


Charlyn G. said...


I just saw this. Nakakamiss. Ang ganda nung video, nakakapagreminisce nung experienes natin. Kelan kaya ang next travel natin? Kahit local lang. :)

Hope to see you soon! :)

kidd said...

wow thank you Cha! Yep nakakamiss na nga yung Bali, the song gives me a feeling of serenity. I miss you and our travels together, sana nga makaalis tayo kahit malapit lang. I think limited lang ang travel ko this year, limited din ang budget eh hehehe. Mostly arts appreciation ang activities ko this year, as I respond to you, I just came from a chamber music concert. Yun kasi ang mga free. LOL! See you soon Cha :)