Friday, March 16, 2012

The Philippines (First of Three Parts)

The Philippines

I know this place very well. It's my home country. The Philippines is an archipelago of 7107 islands, grouped around the 3 main islands of Luzon, Visayas and Minadanao. The official languages are English and Filipino, which are spoken widely all over the country. It is home to the 2nd happiest people in Asia and among the happiest in the world.

Below are personal suggestions when traveling in Luzon:

1. Manila: Manila is your gateway to the Philippines. It’s historic; it’s cosmopolitan, and has all the amenities of big cities. Must see sights include the world famous Manila Bay Sunset, the “Walled City” of Intramuros and your 24-hour flea market shopping at Baclaran. More info here.

2. Tagaytay: It’s your quick and easy getaway from the hustle and bustle of Manila. It’s in a high elevation so the weather is cooler. There’s plenty of restaurants and the view of Taal volcano is spectacular and it’s possible to come to the volcano’s crater on horseback. More info here.

Pack and go!

3. La Union: It’s for the surfing enthusiast and beach lover. It’s a 6-hour bus ride from Manila. Since there’s heavy daytime traffic, I suggest you travel at midnight to be there by 6am. There’s plenty of hotels by the beach or you can rent a room from local houses. Surf lessons and equipment rentals are available. There’s more info of and around the area here.

Pack and go!
An alternative way to travel or part of your travel itinerary is joining a workcamp from a few days to three weeks depending on the project duration and description. It’s a fun way to know a place and it’s people (anywhere in the world) and it doesn’t cost much. As of the moment there is no active workcamp organization in the Philippines but if you intend to travel within Asia, there is plenty to choose from. Contact NVDA to direct you to the right workcamp organization in your country of choice. For workcamps in Asia, click here. For workcamps in Europe and anywhere else in the world, click here. Book a cheap flight to the Philippines and remember to always travel light.

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