Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thank You 2016

Grateful for...
  • still enjoying my job—the sole source of travel funds for nine years and counting.
  • my manager for approving my leaves and not rescinding it when there was an urgent project.
  • my teammates for taking over while I was away.
  • God for keeping me safe and in good health while on the road, especially those times I traveled solo.
  • having the will to research, create itineraries, and book accommodations, despite being a procrastinator.
  • enjoying my own company. Solo travel can be a bore to some people, but I find that I am okay with having myself as company.
  • a body clock that's set to wake up really early—a great advantage especially when I wanted to arrive on or before wherever opened. My body clock also served me well when I had forgotten to revert my mobile from silent mode and I had to catch the early morning train to Busan.
  • a travel buddy who would try any type of food even when he is already about to pop his shirt buttons. For our three days in Penang, I think we consumed food that's good for five days!
  • travel buddies who are up for anything—food, cultural, historical, artsy, or even just aimless sightseeing trips.
  • the boatman for taking us to another snorkeling area in Moalboal when the waves were too strong to go to Pescador Island and for the waves for, later on, calming down a teeny bit so we could go see the sardines.
  • the habalhabal driver for expertly navigating the rollercoaster-ish road to Mt Hambubuyog in Ginatilan.
  • finding Inambakan Falls in Ginatilan almost deserted.
  • the jeepney driver who agreed to take us to Sirao Garden for only Php 50 per person.
  • my officemate's father for trusting me to drive their car around Bohol.
  • our odd–numbered group when we went to Abatan River for the firefly watching tour: it meant I partnered with the guide who did all the paddling. Haha!
  • beautiful Dumaluan Beach.
  • dolphins for showing up on our way to Balicasag Island.
  • finding our way (after a few wrong turns!) to the top of Lanigid in Liloan.
  • finally seeing the waterfalls of Samboan: Dau, Aguinid, and Hidden Falls.
  • my aunt for preparing lunch for us when we visited her before going to Langub Beach in Sipalay.
  • finding Langub Beach still as calm and as uncrowded as my first visit almost 9 years ago.
  • a third (but first solo) visit to South Korea. This time to less touristy places.
  • Kani of Kam Guesthouse in Seoul for waking up early to let me in after my very long flight delay.
  • GaYeong for taking me to Jeongdong Oberservatory and Oh Hyang Jokbal, places I never would have discovered on my own.
  • MinJun for treating me to Nanta! and gopchang dinner.
  • GaEun for meeting while I was in Seoul. I hadn't seen her in four years! It was nice catching up with her over a bossam lunch.
  • Yong for the tonkatsu dinner and for a night drive around Busan despite his busy schedule.
  • Yong and JungIn for showing me around Nampo in Busan so late at night. Very cold night but very good times!
  • Hyoja Bakery in Seoul for giving out free samples to waiting customers and their friendly staff for talking to me (the only foreigner in the long long line).
  • the old lady in the bus for asking another lady to accompany me to Haeinsa Temple. Truly grateful as the way from the main road to the temple wasn't clearly marked.
  • the lady who accompanied me to Haeinsa Temple who was very patient while I took my time walking uphill.
  • finding my name in Masan in Changwon City.
  • my two friendly Taiwanese roomies in Sum Guesthouse in Busan for inviting me to dinner (it was late and I still haven't had dinner and was very hungry!).
  • Brennan, the blogger behind Baktin Corporation, for bugging me to join him to Dinagat Islands.
  • my officemates for a fun Canso X hike.
  • my good friend from highschool for taking me to the province of Rizal for a day of art and to Pampanga for a day of history.
  • my friend's friend for acting as tour guide in Angono.
  • Ka Lui in Puerto Princesa for accepting reservations through email. (I must eat here every time I am in Puerto Princesa!)
  • Ma'am Julie Divinagracia of Divinagracia Cottages in Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan for helping me find a group to join for the island hopping tour.
  • Ma'am Myrna Laurente of Myrla's Garden and Cottages in San Vicente, Palawan for preparing delicious food (and not charging too much!) during the two days I stayed there and for contacting a tricycle to take me around San Vicente.
  • the tricycle driver in San Vicente for charging so little a fee and not accepting anything more.
  • the vans in Port Barton and San Vicente that include drop off and pick up services at no extra charge.
  • the van driver from San Vicente to Port Barton for charging me just Php250, probably mistaking me for a local. I read in blogs that the fare is Php300.
  • finally gathering enough people to go to South Sandbar.
  • a memorable 9-day solo journey around the Kansai Region of Japan.
  • finding myself in out of town and less touristy spots in Kansai.
  • the staff at Koyasan Guesthouse Kokuu for giving me tips on what to see and where to eat in Koyasan.
  • finding walking tours around Naramachi in Nara and Gion in Kyoto.
  • the cheap laundry fee and the free hair dryer at Guesthouse Wind Villa Kyoto—pretty useful when I had to dry my shoes and wash my clothes after a day out in the rain.
  • the random oldies in Koyasan (Wakayama) and Ikaruga Town (Nara) who have stopped in their tracks or whatever it was they were doing or wherever it was they were going to to talk to me...in Japanese!
  • finding Hiloki Hostel, a clean, new, and affordable hostel located near Nara Station, just a few weeks before the trip. 
  • the bus driver in Ikaruga Town (Nara) who, despite not knowing how to speak English, gave me directions on how to find the right bus.
  • having a day to spend in Arashiyama.
  • visiting one of my favorite spots in Kyoto again: Higashiyama.
  • the will to get up and find dinner at Dotonbori after a long tiring day.
  • Flytpack for keeping me connected for the entire duration of my Kansai sojourn.
  • a second visit to Bohol for the year (and before the year ended!)—this time to visit Puntaas and Pamilacan Island.
  • the driver we hired to take us to Puntaas for not falling asleep on the road even if it clearly showed in his eyes that he seriously lacked sleep.
  • the army truck driver for letting me hitch a ride from the pier to Cebu IT Park.
  • all the readers of this blog. This time-consuming, unprofitable blog is still up and running (albeit slow) because of you!

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