Top 13 Travel Moments of 2013

11:49 PM

I must say 2013 was quite the good year, despite not flying out to Rio or back to my beloved Barcelona as I have hoped. There were several firsts and a couple of epic moments these past twelve months. And here are my top thirteen. 

1.  STEPPED ON NORTH KOREAN SOIL.
So maybe it was North Korean Soil in the DMZ and thousands of people might have stood where I have. But that fact doesn't make the experience any less thrilling. Hopefully, the next time I’ll stand on North Korean soil, I’ll be in Pyongyang. 

The conference room where they held the Military Armistice Commission meeting.
This concrete slab serves as the demarcation line between North (left) and South Korea (right).
Here I am, standing next to a South Korean Solidier, on the North Korean side of the Conference Room

2. SNOWBOARDED DOWN THE SLOPES OF JISAN FOREST RESORT, SOUTH KOREA.
I was no Kelly Clark but I managed to slide down the slopes. For me, that's good enough for a first time. 

Here's me and my rented board. 
Skiing lessons for some little ones. 
It was a bit tricky snapping these boots onto this board.


3.SHED SOME TEARS AT THE KOREAN WAR MUSEUM.
I didn’t know that the Philippines sent her sons to help the now South Korea during the Korean War. And seeing how grateful South Korea is for the help and how much they value the peace they’re experiencing now brought me to tears. I could only wish that we Filipinos would value our very own WWII veterans.  
The War Memorial of Korea
The Korean War Memorial Museum at Twilight.
DOG TAG TEAR DROP: In remembrance of the Korean soldiers and UN military participants who lost their lives in the Korean War, the respect towards the warriors (1,300 identification tags) has been embodied as tear drops. The iron thorns symbolise the horror, suppression and danger of the tragic war. The circle on the sand below represents the wave of the drop.

4.WALKED AROUND INTRAMUROS WITH CARLOS CELDRAN.
I first heard of him when he made the cover of the Sunday Magazine of the Philippine Daily Inquirer – dressed in a barong tagalog, he was holding a small Philippine flag and a little radio. This was back in 200X and since then I’ve wanted to go on one of his tours.  

Being all too starstruck, all I can do was smile like an idiot. 
Everyone was just riveted. 

5. WENT THROUGH THE MALINTA TUNNEL.
Going to Corregidor Island has always been a dream. Perhaps it’s because I’m such a history nerd or I am the granddaughter of two WWII Veterans, I don’t know. But when my friend Cathy invited me to go on a tour of the island, I just had to say ‘yes!’ 

Here's a map of the Malinta Tunnel. 
The Malinta Tunnel Tour was a lights and sounds show.  
Cathy and I had to have our obligatory "day off" picture!

6. CLIMBED MT. TAPYAS AND TOOK ON THE SPLENDOR OF CORON.
I am going to admit the climb wasn’t easy but I must say it was worth it. 

Yes! I was able to climb all the way to the top!
Some pink to end what was a good day. 
This large cross stands on top of Mt. Tapyas. 

7. BREAKING DAWN ON THE WATER WHILE ON OUR WAY TO CALAUIT ISLAND.
It was simply glorious. 

What a wonderful sight to start the day with. 

8. SNORKELED AROUND A SHIPWRECK. 
It was eerie snorkeling around the skeleton of a sunken Japanese ship.  I got so scared that I had to be the first one to go up and climb aboard our bangka. But don't get me wrong,  the wreck was such an arresting sight. It's just that my imagination sometimes works against me. 

9. RODE THE WAVES IN SAN FELIPE, ZAMBALES.
They gave me the nickname “Kung Fu Master” because I keep on posing like one. But heck, as long as I am standing on the board, I’m fine with that because it was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done. 

Waiting for a wave with my instructor. Photo by Jenie Gabriel
Hi-Ya! Photo by Jenie Gabriel
We were all on a high after surfing lesson #1! Photo by Raffy Vicente

10.  GOT STUCK IN THE MUD, TRYING TO CLIMB MT. BATULAO AFTER A STORM.
The path looked like  melted chocolate and was as thick as a cake dough. It wasn't one of my greatest ideas – trying to climb a mountain after a storm but I must say, it was an experience. In the end, we gave up, walked back to the car, and ate lunch at Breakfast at Antonio’s. It was a yummy lunch I certainly didn't earn. 

11. DROVE THROUGH THE FOG IN TAGAYTAY.
It was eerie and not to mention dangerous. But it was thrilling, nonetheless, and felt like a scene right out of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel.  

12.  SURVIVED AN EPIC ROAD TRIP WITH ISSA AND HER HONDA CIVIC GASTON. 
Issa’s Gaston wasn’t feeling well that day yet still we took him for a drive. On the way to Anvaya Cove, he overheated four times – at Caltex LakeShore, twice at SCTEX, and then at the Petron Station in Subic. On the way home, we again had to stop four times – Petron Station in Subic, along SCTEX near Florida Blanca exit, at a Shell Station in Porac, and NLEX Shell of Asia.
In the daylight, I didn’t mind stopping for a few minutes. But it was an entirely different story when we were the lone car along a pitch black SCTEX and our car was on the verge of overheating any minute.  So to keep the good vibes up and ward off any scary thought, Issa and I decided to sing Disney tunes and ask each other the most interesting of questions like “If earth could only have one condiment for the rest of time, what would you pick to keep around?” 

13. A SHIPWRECK MOMENT IN PUNTA FUEGO.
Stumbled upon this cove in Punta Fuego and it felt like we were the only people left in the world.


The beach was completely deserted!
We only had boulders for company. 


Thank you, 2013. You have been awesome!
2014, may you be more awesome!


Happy New Year! 




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