2019 Q1 roundup: making the best out of Asia

[us_message color=”yellow”]I was told to write a book. But I don’t have that confidence right now. I feel like I need to go into more adventures to find more meaningful things to write about. For now, I am summarizing my months of the year every quarter in the hopes that I will come up with a great story in the future. I’ll take these as notes for my future book if I ever decide to write one. If I don’t, then that’s okay for me, too. You can check all the roundups if you want to follow along![/us_message]

This is all that went down from January – March 2019.

Highlights:

[us_iconbox icon=”fas|angle-double-right” size=”18px” iconpos=”left” title=”Malaysia and Singapore with the boys!” title_tag=”h6″ link=”url:%231|||”][/us_iconbox][us_iconbox icon=”fas|angle-double-right” size=”18px” iconpos=”left” title=”Tokyo for Cebu Pacific’s A321 neo flight launch” title_tag=”h6″ link=”url:%232|||”][/us_iconbox][us_iconbox icon=”fas|angle-double-right” size=”18px” iconpos=”left” title=”Brunei, just because” title_tag=”h6″ link=”url:%233|||”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fas|angle-double-right” size=”18px” iconpos=”left” title=”2 weeks in Boracay” title_tag=”h6″ link=”url:%234|||”][/us_iconbox][us_iconbox icon=”fas|angle-double-right” size=”18px” iconpos=”left” title=”Diving in Batangas” title_tag=”h6″ link=”url:%235|||”][/us_iconbox][us_iconbox icon=”fas|angle-double-right” size=”18px” iconpos=”left” title=”Hiking Mount Pinatubo” title_tag=”h6″ link=”url:%236|||”][/us_iconbox]

Malaysia and Singapore with the boys

After the wonderful Indonesia press trip in November 2018, the separation anxiety hit us. If you remember, I became really close to these photographers whom I joined the trip with. After that, we made our Whatsapp group and went impulsive on planning a trip to Malaysia and Singapore.

Luke, our friend from Singapore didn’t think we’d come this soon. It has only been 30 days of separation but we all found ourselves boarding a plane to Malaysia, on January 5, 2019, with the hopes of seeing these so-called Asian underdog countries, and of course, making new memories with each other.

I find this friendship really comforting because this group is a 5-man 1-woman team. Getting along with boys has always been easier for me so this trip did not include drama. It was way more relaxed. These boys are like kids who never complains about anything. They will just go wherever you instruct them to. To be fair, I did not make them my soldiers (if you only knew how equal they treat me) but I did book all our accommodations and planned our week. They never complained about our itinerary and everyone followed my lead.

You won’t believe how different we are in this 6-people group but each of us has a distinct relationship in twos. Individually, I can say that I am really close to all of them: I laugh a lot when I hug and talk with @seathebreezee; when I want to speak another language, I go to @ninjarod; when I want to smoke and drink (which I can never get from the rest of the group), I go to @_deepsky; I go to @zeebachi when I want to talk serious and put some sense in this wretched planet. @holdingwind is also part of this group but he wasn’t able to join this trip due because of his work trip in Japan. He’s the true mix of everyone – quiet, intelligent, talkative and man, his Korean kidneys are too strong for shit tons of alcohol.

And yes, Instagram handles are my references for them not only because I want you to follow them (yes, do it! They will spark joy in your news feed!) but I also because this is how we call each other in real life most of the time. Except for me. They find my Instagram handle a really hard reference.

I don’t know when we are able to do that again but I am really happy we did. Every single day of those 7 days with these boys was all just about laughing, giving, forgiving, creating great content, and of course, constantly making fun of each other.

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What we did in Malaysia

  • I stayed at the Face Suites, a hotel with a rooftop pool overlooking the Petronas Towers. I only paid $20 USD a night for a nice room with a view! You can check this photo to see how this hotel rooftop pool looks like!
  • We visited the newly painted Batu Caves. It’s better to go before sunrise to take better pictures. Click here to see how my Batu Caves pic came out!
  • We also went to the Thean Hou Temple, Chinese sea goddess Mazu’s temple located at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. This is my favorite picture on this trip. You should definitely come to visit!

What we did in Singapore

  • We stayed at Studio M Hotel in Clarke Quay. Hotels in Singapore are usually small but Studio M’s rooms are more spacious than the usual. It’s not that cheap but Singapore, in general, isn’t cheap anyway!
  • We visited the Super Tree Groves and the Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay.
  • Most of our time in Singapore is all about exploring food. Singaporeans are voracious eaters and their food selection is definitely unique in Southeast Asia.
  • I made a post about things to do in Singapore. Click on the link to see the top 16!

Tokyo for Cebu Pacific Air’s A321 Neo flight launch

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After the success of my Airline Insider show on CNN Philippines, I decided to work again with its airline sponsor, Cebu Pacific Air. A321 Neo is a new engine option manufactured in Europe. The new Airbus joined the CEB family from Hamburg, Germany on February 28, 2019. You can now enjoy this single-aisle plain to flights going to Tokyo and Bali!

Brunei, just because.

Many of you were puzzled why I decided to go to Brunei. My reason? It’s the only Southeast Asian country I never had a chance to visit. Since I made good friends with Bruneians on a trip to Indonesia three years ago, I’ve been planning to visit and it finally happened!

In Brunei, I stayed with a local family, did a volunteering gig at a hostel and experienced Couchsurfing! In those 11 days, I was able to explore the whole country, plus side trips to Miri, the border town of Malaysia and Brunei.

Eating was one of the greatest adventures I did in Brunei. Hailing from Malayan cuisine influence, food in Brunei is really something worth looking into. Like the Singaporeans, they are voracious eaters, too! I couldn’t believe the variety of tasty food I had in Brunei and I never expected it to be a country of foodies. There may not be a lot of things to do in Brunei but in order to understand Brunei, you must like food.

The Bruneian people are also one of the highlights of my trip to Brunei. I’ve never met anyone so adventurous, so kind and so accommodating as the Bruneians! They took me around Bandar Seri Begawan, introduced me to people and showed me the hotspots (not to mention the most hidden) places to eat in Brunei!

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I stayed at Kunyit 7 Lodge in Bandar Seri Begawan, located at the Kampong Ayer, the biggest water village in Asia. In here, I was able to learn about the water village life of the Bruneians and was able to interact with many locals. This is one of the most interesting accommodations I booked in Asia because of its unique setting and environment. In the Kampong Ayer, boats are the main transportation so you will use this a lot when going to the mainland (about 2-minute ride). The boat ride costs $1 BND only so don’t pay more than that!

2 weeks in Boracay

Boracay and I have a history – every year, I spend 2-6 weeks on the island because I’ve made a family there. Aside from the locals, most of my friends from Manila moved there in 2013 and started living the island life. With this, I made sure that I will get to visit my favorite island in the Philippines.

Of course, you are all familiar about the 6-month closure of Boracay in 2018 for rehabilitation. I am very familiar with the island so I can say lots of things changed, most especially the shores – it became extra beautiful! Our habits, however, stayed exactly the same. My friends and I still act like we are still those 23-year olds partying every night at Exit and Epic. I can’t believe we could still endure the partying-after-sunrise-kind-of-jam!

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My friend and I decided to share an apartment in Boracay and I am renting my loft in front of Bulabog beach (literally) beachfront for the days that my friend and I are going to travel. If you are not a fan of the crowded stations 1, 2, 3 (and X), you should try staying in Bulabog Beach. Let me know if you are looking for accommodations! I’ll definitely hook you up!

Diving in Batangas

I would like to be serious about my scuba diving this year so I went to Batangas and did a refresher course. I stayed at Summer Cruise in San Luis, Batangas, and this small resort is really beautiful!

Unlike the other dive resorts in San Luis, Summer Cruise has its own area and doesn’t have a neighbor. Their open water dive certification is also very affordable, suitable for young people from Manila who are looking for a nearby place to get a certification. Unfortunately, after my 3-day course, I had an ear infection. I forgot that I was not allowed to dive with cold and I still pushed it — now, I am dealing with antibiotics and unbearable pain!

There are a lot of beach resorts in Batangas where you can take your diving course for cheap. Batangas is still the pioneer of diving in the Philippines and I can’t believe I was just discovering this now! It is only a few hours drive from Manila so definitely worth it for Manileños who are looking for a weekend adventure.

Hiking Mount Pinatubo

Did you know that I grew up in Zambales (Subic Bay) and never had a chance to visit Mount Pinatubo? A week before my flight to Mexico, I decided I will not be back for a long time so I needed to do this.

Together with 3 friends, I drove to Capaz, Tarlac (while all of them are sleeping soundly) and started the hike. The beginning of the hike is through a 1-hour 4×4 truck ride which was very painful and uncomfortable. Dust covered our faces as we paved the way to the Mount Pinatubo crater. The ride was pretty bumpy, too!

Another hour of hike (by foot) was required once we reach the inaccessible roads and man, that was amazing! Doing this before sunrise is definitely recommended!

Big announcement: I’m moving to Mexico!

Not moving, moving like I want to live there. Maybe I do? Maybe I don’t. In a week, I am going to explore Mexico for 6 months (with trips to Cuba in between) and see if there is something challenging for me out there.

I moved to Asia in 2017 re-visiting all the Asian countries, not to mention a lot of time in Taiwan and Japan and I started to feel very comfortable. Unchallenged. I want to be scared again.

This year, I only have Mexico and Cuba on the list as I want to take my time in traveling these countries. Of course, countries like Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic are in the list but I’ll worry about that in the future.

From this year, I will be in the Carribean and who knows until when. If you want to follow along with the journey, hit the “follow” button on Instagram, @psimonmyway. See you there!

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha is an ambassador of Girl Rising, a global movement for girls' education and empowerment. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram: @psimonmyway

Comments

  • Jenn and Ed Coleman
    March 31, 2019

    Sounds like a great adventure. I love the idea of writing a book and hope that you enjoy Mexico. If you happen to bop over to Florida we’d take you diving. We know a spot or two 🙂

    reply
  • Kal
    March 31, 2019

    Your Q1 makes me envious! Your pics are absolutely beautiful. Looking forward to reading more about Mexico soon <3

    reply
  • Christina
    March 31, 2019

    Sounds like you had a fun Q1 travelling through Asia. 6 months in Mexico sounds amazing. You’re such an intrepid adventurer!

    reply
  • Linda (LD Holland)
    April 1, 2019

    What a busy first quarter you had. It is great that you have a group you can travel with. And that each is a great companion for different reasons. Good to know that Brunei is a foodie place. But I was most interested in reading about scuba diving in Batangas. But I was sorry to hear that you got an ear infection. Your adventures in Mexico and Cuba should be great.

    reply
  • Bea
    April 1, 2019

    Such a productive quarter for you, Trisha!!! Best of luck on Mexico!! 🙂 Can’t wait for more travel stories.

    reply
  • sherianne
    April 1, 2019

    This is a great way to keep notes for a future book. I think you should do it, yours are the only personal stories I read… I skim other peoples for keywords. Love that you stayed close with the boys, it’s amazing how quick relationships develop (or end) when traveling

    reply
  • Milijana
    April 2, 2019

    This is the first time I have heard that Brunei has a great cuisine. Good food and welcoming people are a winning combination for me. I am adding Brunei on my bucket list.

    reply
  • Debra Schroeder
    April 2, 2019

    What a great start to your year! I love Southeast Asia. Great shot of Batu Caves – when I was there last year they hadn’t painted the steps.

    reply
  • Elaine Masters
    April 2, 2019

    You sure keep it going on, Trisha! Love your enthusiasm. Love that you traveled with a posse of boys and still party all night in Boracay. I hope you find what you’re looking for in Mexico. It’s one of my favorite places and each region is so different. Try diving in Cozumel. It’s relatively affordable and the dive sites are close, varied with great fish. Just don’t dive with congestion ever again! Too painful.

    reply
  • Stevo Joslin
    April 2, 2019

    What a trip! Brunei looks amazing and I love your excuse for going, just because. I haven’t been back to the Batu Caves since they’ve been repainted, thanks for the reminder to check out the new paint job! Best of luck in Mexico! Thanks for sharing!

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  • Nicole
    April 3, 2019

    Props to you for a busy first quarter. So many great places you have visited. Sorry to hear about your ear infection.

    reply
  • Claire
    April 4, 2019

    Where are you heading to in Mexico? I spent 6 months there too and fell in love with it! The food and culture are amazing and the people are so nice! Mexico City was my favourite but I also loved Merida and Tulum too – but there was still so much I didn’t get chance to visit 🙂

    reply

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