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Top Travel Tips: How to Travel in Isolated Places

You must have heard about it already – an American missionary was believed to have been killed by one of the most isolated tribes in world – the Sentinelese.

This tribe who has a population of just about 40 to as high as 400, has lived in isolation for the last 60,000 years is found in the North Sentinel Island which is under the administration of India. The island though (which is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea) is quite close to Myanmar and Thailand than it is to mainland India itself – has it restricted to visitors by the government.

Moreover, the tribe is said to attack visitors with bows and arrows which was how John Allen Chau was believed to have been killed.

So, how did Chau get there? He paid Indian fishermen to get him near the island to where he could just paddle his way to the shore. The fishermen were charged by the Indian court, however, the body has yet to be recovered.

With that, make sure to get these travel tips right especially since many just loves traveling to secluded places. Here goes.

  1. Don’t. Just don’t. Hey, if you already know it’s an isolated place that is not open to visitors, then why go there? Curiosity and thirst for adventure has its limits – and this is one of them.
  2. Let people know where you are going. Yet for those who has made a similar decision as Chau, or if you were simply caught by fate – call your friends and family as to where you are. Whatever happens, at least, there’s someone who could help you out.
    Miracles happen. Try checking the place if there’s a phone signal, who knows??
  3. Use a drone first. If it’s possible, try to have an advance party, err, a drone to check out the conditions first before it’s too late.
  4. Know the language. If the place is under a certain country’s jurisdiction, then the inhabitants of that place probably speaks the same language (or perhaps has similarities) as the country who has jurisdiction over them. Knowing the language, even just a few words could bridge trust gaps.
  5. Know and respect the culture. Still, knowing a couple of foreign sentences won’t do much if you fail to observe the place’s custom. Thus, it is expected that you have researched about the place. Or at least have a sincerely friendly disposition that’s ready to adjust to traditions when necessary.
    Always do your proper greetings to the locals especially the chieftain
  6. Travel light. Especially in remote areas, it would certainly help to travel light. Oh, can you just imagine how hard it would be to carry ‘half of your house’ while crossing rivers on foot – or climbing mountains just to get to your accommodation?
  7. Wear your most comfortable yet modest clothing. Being mobile is crucial when traveling, especially when in lesser known areas. And aside from bringing minimal stuff, wearing light, modest and comfortable clothes would be best for emergencies.
  8. Have an escape plan. If you don’t have a map or a compass, or if Google maps is not applicable in that region, then it would help if you leave markers along the way. Yes, know the basic terrain of the place, so even if nightfall comes, you’d know your way.
  9. Be prepared. Now, if you do have an escape plan, you should also understand that running or swimming to escape danger should not be your first option. Try to locate the boat area or whatever while moving about. And it would also be good if you brought even a pepper spray – a head start could make a difference.
    A child blocking the door may be a sign from the angels, so take heed!
  10. Just don’t go. Okay, we may have given you useful tips above but the best tip would just really be not to go. These tips are for, you know, ‘just in case’. You see, stubbornness could just lead you to consequences that you may later regret. So. Final reminder.

Be safe. Stay safe.

Iloilo City Tour in Pictures

For those who have not been to Iloilo City, I tell you it’s one piece of big land. I mean, roads are just wide and more so, points of interests are like far apart. Try walking — and it would seem like forever before you could reach your destination. Seriously.

Most of their taxis are SUV types, maybe to compliment their roads

Just look at how wide their roads are! Okay, perhaps I am just not used to such wide roads in the country. So let’s go and explore!

While the Riverside Boardwalk and Esplanade is a must-visit when you are in Iloilo City, there are several other places that are just as fascinating — like the Molo Church. Or should I say, the Molo region as here you would find the Molo Mansion and the Molo Park aside from the Molo Church (also known as St. Anne Parish Church) and its convent. Wow, 4-in-1, sounds something like coffee! Haha.

Molo Church or the St. Anne Parish Church
Molo Park
Molo Mansion

And these pieces of art does not stop at the Molo region! Hey, if you are on the way to SM City, you would certainly appreciate Plazuela de Iloilo — and the Nelly’s Garden which is just further across SM.

Otherwise, you could also visit the Museo Iloilo which is just about 400 meters away from the Provincial Capitol of Iloilo.

Plazuela de Iloilo
Museo Iloilo is along Bonifacio Drive with the Provincial Capitol just behind it
Nelly’s Garden

By the way, you would need to book a tour if you plan to visit Nelly’s Garden. So in case you just showed up, do not be surprised if there’s no one at the gate. Hence, just better continue your exploration.

At the end of all this though, there was some place I actually wished to have checked out — more than the Ateneo de Iloilo which is just in between SM City and the Esplanade, I should have gone to..

The Iloilo International Airport could be reached in 31 minutes by car from Iloilo City proper

Yes, the airport. Guess I missed this one because it is already outside the city, like 20 kilometers from the city proper — Cabatuan, Iloilo.

And you know, I traveled by land and sea on this adventure so..

Iloilo Fastcraft & Roro Terminal

Anyway, did you know that this airport is actually ranked 12th Best in Asia by “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports”?! Really. It has even outranked the airports of Cebu, Davao and Clark in Pampanga.

Well, next time for sure.. I’ll be there.

Batangas City News Today In Pictures

Batangas City News Today: What we have here are choice pictures of one of the fastest urbanizing cities of the Philippines..

And a YouTube video below that explores our subject, Batangas City.

Port of Batangas

Did you know that the Batangas International Port is one of the busiest passenger and container terminals in the Philippines?

Batangas Provincial Capitol
A work of art on the grounds of the Provincial Capitol

While the architecture in Batangas capitol looks like other provincial capitols as well, the landscaping is good and spacious..

Downtown Batangas City

which could have also been used by the downtown only if. Hmm.

Ancestral House in the corner of Tirona and Atienza Streets

More than the famed kapeng barako and balisong, the city got some cool heritage or ancestral houses like this one..

Calumpang Bridge

And some landmark that I heard a lot as a kid, the Calumpang River; well, it’s the bridge in the picture but under it is the river. Haha.

Lyceum of the Philippines University -Batangas

One of Batangas’ top schools is the LPU — and it is just located in between Calumpang River and SM City Batangas.

Santissima Trinidad Church

Incidentally, Santissima Trinidad is just beside SM City Batangas.

Basilica del Immaculada Conception

What’s a Philippine province without a beautiful cathedral?!

Finally, here’s a secret that’s no secret..

Bus going to Iloilo?

Did you know that you could actually travel in a bus from Manila to Iloilo — straight?!? Yeah, you only pay around P1,500 for the whole trip that would carry your bus on a ship on the way to Iloilo City. Thing is, you do not really get to enjoy the places you pass by.

Life is an adventure. Stop and smell the flowers!

Bacolod City: Luzon to Visayas in two weeks (December 2017, Part 4)

After more than a couple of days in Iloilo, I could not really say anything negative except for how I wish I could stay there a little longer? Haha. Indeed, I liked the place. Urbanized yet still maintains that cozy atmosphere.

Still, if I would extend my stay, I’d just end up getting behind my schedules so it was simply time for me to pack up and head for Bacolod City, yes, another of those key cities in the country.

Iloilo Fastcraft & Roro Terminal

Iloilo City to Bacolod City. Fastcraft. 2h 20m. P200 + P30 terminal fee. With maximizing time in mind, I took the 10:30AM trip to the City of Bacolod and after a little over two hours, our ferry safely arrived at the port of Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Hmm. Looking at the map, it’s actually like just a stone’s throw away from Iloilo City, however, since we were coming from the river of Iloilo plus we need to navigate around Guimaras Island province, such explains why these fast ferries take over two hours of travel. Right.

Iloilo City to Bacolod City route

Anyway, unlike my earlier trips, I’m fresher here having had a few days of rest and leisure in Iloilo — that in fact, right after I arrived in Bacolod, I just dropped off my luggages in my hotel room and left for “The Ruins” right away. Yeah, The Ruins! And that landmark is even like outside of Bacolod City already!

Of course, I needed to eat lunch first. And so after having Bacolod’s specialty in Chicken Inasal, I was ready and off to The Ruins!

Leaving The Ruins though is more of a challenge since it’s isolated and there are not many tricycles that ply the road out there, so do not be surprised if you are asked for a P50 fare going back to Bata terminal — yeah, even with somebody else on board. I was.

Anyway, we’ll be having a special blog about The Ruins — in pictures!

TRIVIA. Did you know that it was in this tourist spot that I had the most “selfies”? And would you believe that I literally had a thousand photographs in all of this 2-week travel escapade?? Unbelievable, that if I do not be selective and just post each one of these pictures daily, that’s good for like a 3-year spread in social media! Wow!

Coming up, the last leg of our holiday travel spree!

Iloilo City: Luzon to Visayas in two weeks (December 2017, Part 3)

After finally deciding on not pushing through with a Boracay adventure, unlike my other stops, I then immediately took the bus to Iloilo City — yeah, before I change my mind and head to Boracay instead. Ow. After all, it’s really tempting..

Especially when you think of spending the night first in Caticlan! Remember, Boracay is just 15 minutes away. And since I only slept for an hour in the ship to Caticlan, I thought I might get dizzy (you know how the bus could smell when its freshener and aircon are mixed with different odors) if I would just go straight to Iloilo.

225 kilometer route from Caticlan to Iloilo City (estimated time by car travel)

Caticlan to Iloilo City. Bus. 6h. P387. One might say just sleep in the bus since it’s a looong trip to Iloilo, then again, I couldn’t get to really close my eyes that long — since everything around me was new! Oh yeah, I did sleep in my trip from Manila to Batangas but I already know Manila and Batangas was nowhere in sight yet. So.

Halfway to Iloilo City, a nice breakfast stopover

Nonetheless, the trip had a stopover for breakfast which was good considering not just the long trip but for those passengers who wish to refurbish their energy levels. And yes, the bus had free WiFi on board but what’s the use when my phone was almost empty at 10 percent — so better preserve its power for some shots along the way. Still, what’s nice about this bus (which was actually a Ceres Liner) was that it had a toilet on board, certainly convenient so as not to interrupt long trips. It’s located at the middle part of the bus and aligned with the luggage compartment. So just imagine the elevation of the passenger seats and the height of the bus itself!

After six hours of land travel from Caticlan to Iloilo, I immediately sought to check-in to my hotel to unload my luggages then leave for lunch — yes, before returning and taking a brief rest as my phone’s also dead; and so, I could not really take photos of anything yet.

While there were many places I checked out in Iloilo City, guess one of the highlights of my stay was the Iloilo Riverside Boardwalk in Mandurriao. Unfortunately, I visited this wonderful tourist spot right after my lunch at SM City Iloilo the following day. So, why “unfortunately”? Because I was not on the mark for the Iloilo Esplanade River Ride. Notice the schedules in the video?

Anyway, we would be having pictures of my Iloilo trip and the rest of my adventures in the coming blogs once the whole trip back to Cebu has been completed, so stay tuned.

Next up, Part Four of our continuing travels!

Consumer Info: All About Honey

Yes, we have all heard of how healthy honey is; after all, it is the elixir of life. Not surprisingly, not many knows the exact benefits of honey, much more how to distinguish pure honey from adulterated honey. So, here goes..

First. We understand that you already know that honey could even come in many varieties, right? Like floral, fruity, smokey, woody, spicy or earthy — all depending on the source of its nectar. Also, that honey could be clear to as dark as molasses in its appearance — yet with all these, don’t be surprised if some of them smells fresh while others are even pungent! Bottom line is, you could only get the full benefits of honey if it’s pure. Thus, if the supermarket is your only access to honey, at least make sure to examine its physical qualities before buying them. How?

  1. Real honey has some small particles suspended within it while the fake ones do not.
  2. Real honey is thick and dense while fake honey is thin and runny.
  3. Check the label. Real honey contains only one ingredient — honey.
Especially if no ingredient is listed on the label then think twice before buying the honey

NUTRIENTS. Raw honey contains 22 amino acids, 27 minerals and 5,000 enzymes. Minerals include iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium while the vitamins in honey include vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin.

BENEFITS. Boosts energy. Reduces muscle fatigue. Regulates blood sugar. Treats cough and sore throat. Heals (surgical) wounds, cuts, minor burns and ulcers. Protects from infection, odor and pus. Reduces acid production in the mouth for better oral health. Helps with insomnia. Good moisturizer and treats skin fungus. Reduces and controls weight. Improves appetite and digestion. Relieves constipation, diarrhea and dysentery. Helps kidneys function better. Aids in blood cleansing as well as in its regulation and circulation.

DOSAGE: 1 tbsp a day if only  for maintenance purposes

STORAGE. Not in cans but glass jars or plastic containers. Do not expose to sunlight, near heat or inside the fridge but in a cool, dry place where temperature is stable.

EXPIRY. Because of its unique composition and chemical properties, honey could be preserved long term — like, decades or even centuries. The key to preservation is limiting its access to humidity; if honey is exposed to moist air, fermentation could begin and eventually ‘damage’ the honey.

Store and carefully seal honey in glass jars or plastic containers

AUTHENTICITY. It is but common sense that if we really want pure honey, it would be best if we just get it straight from a bee farm — then again, how many actually has the time and proximity to do that? And so, this would leave us with almost no choice but to buy from the sidewalk or just blindly trust supermarket displays wherein most are not really concerned about our health but only our money.

TESTING. Now while we could physically examine honey in supermarkets, such scrutiny only gives us a clue to its purity — nothing else. Especially in cases like this, facts could only be verified through actual testing. Unfortunately, many times that testing would not be possible in supermarkets since honey here is sealed or totally wrapped — and determining prices does not mean anything to its purity! Therefore, you would only know about its authenticity once you have bought the honey and tested it at home.

Prices does not really have anything to do with the purity of honey
  • Water Test. Fill a glass with water. Add a tablespoon of honey. Pure honey settles at the bottom of your glass while adulterated honey will dissolve in water because of its sugar content.
  • Flame Test. Dab some honey on a piece of cotton. Light it up with a matchstick. Pure honey would burn while adulterated honey would not light up because of its water content.
  • Finger Test. Put a small drop of honey on your fingernail. Pure honey stays put longer while adulterated honey would easily drip down your finger.
  • Bread Test. Apply some honey on a slice of bread. Pure honey hardens the bread in minutes while adulterated honey would make the bread ‘soggy’ because of its moisture content.
  • Stickiness Test. Rub some honey between your fingers. Pure honey is not sticky while adulterated honey would be sticky because of its added sweeteners.
  • Absorption Test. Pour a few drops of honey on blotting paper. Pure honey does not get absorbed in blotting paper which has the opposite effect on adulterated honey. Also, if you pour pure honey on a white cloth, it would not leave stains — unlike adulterated honey.
  • Egg Yolk Test. When poured into a container with yolk alone and then mixed, the yolk would appear cooked if the honey is pure — while it does not have any effect if the honey is adulterated.
BEWARE: Honey can give botulism to children under 1-year-old  (Photo: Getty)

REMINDER: Honey should never be given to pregnant women or children under 1 year old. Heating honey at high temperatures would not only reduce its potency but could even produce carcinogenic effects.

Food & How To: Durian Mousse Cake (Bánh mousse sầu riêng)

Since the Philippines is actually no stranger to durian as it’s abundantly grown particularly in Davao, the challenge now is creating something delicious aside from the usual by-products we know such as candy, pie, ice cream and float.

And we found this. A durian mousse cake.

Well, though you could substitute durian with mango or strawberry as in Helen’s recipe, we better stick with durian since this is what the feature is all about. Anyway, while the ingredients are actually easy to find, the different sets of ingredients makes it look complicated — as the durian mousse itself is even like a recipe within a recipe. Still, take heart, surely this cake is worth it.

Durian mousse being mixed and prepared

BATTER. 4 fresh eggs. 2 tbsp vegetable oil. 1 tbsp water. 1 tsp vanilla extract. 1 tsp salt. 1/2 tsp cream of tartar. 100 grams of sugar. 100 grams of flour.

DURIAN MOUSSE. 400 grams durian flesh. 200 ml milk. 1-2 tbsp of sugar. Gelatin liquid (15 grams gelatin powder and 3 tbsp water). 50 ml of whipping cream.

TOPPINGS. Your choice, however, Helen suggests it be caramelized dry coconut or coconut flakes. Key is to top your cake with a flavor that would enhance or blend well with durian.

Did you know that there are several varieties of durian?

The end product or the finished cake itself looks good so, if you have not tried one, just imagine its taste — what with the egg yolks, vanilla extract and durian all mixed together??

Enjoy!