Hello Aloha falls!

We have low expectations.
I and my sister arrived fifteen minutes late from the call time of 5:30 AM. The sun has risen but it’s hiding behind the buildings surrounding the meeting place. We were not excited by the thought that our destination is just 30 minutes away from our hometown and to add, the place was never heard before. Packed with our low hopes, we thought we can give it a shot since it will also save us from staycation on the other hand. But we never realized that we’ve already committed mistakes this early.

Advertisements


Together with our four colleagues, we rode a tricycle from San Jose City, Nueva Ecija going to Carranglan to meet our friend and guide. The concrete road was easy and smooth at first but for the last half, we can hear our vehicle struggling to climb up. This is where I started feeling the cold morning fog suspended in the air and smelling the fresh breeze coming from the trees planted alongside the road. We saw folks outside. Some were doing their everyday chores and some were just enjoying a hot cup of coffee under the shade of a tree. It’s been always a nice scenario to observe the locals and appreciate how their daily lives bring meaning to their current setting.


Pain demands to be felt.
The vehicle halted in front of Sir Oscar’s house. Breakfast was done an hour before we arrived. We shared a brimming casserole of arrozcaldo, a Filipino dish made with rice and other ingredients along with Majoy’s boiled chicken eggs. A few minutes later, we’re off to set our foot to the underrated falls we’ve come to discover.

Turning left at the entrance of the bridge with Aloha Falls signage, took ninja skills to slide down to get to the rocky path we have walked on. We were welcomed by the scorching heat from the sun and the dried mud under our sandals. We could feel our feet aching as we step on the spiky rocks scattered along the way. There’s no way to step on a flat surface since there was none. We never knew that the sun would strike this hot at this early hour. Aware that arriving late was the first mistake, we endured the heat and pain.

Our eyes reached the mountainous horizon as our guide continued walking. We, along with Sir Oscar and my sister, Zyrene walked briskly to reach the mountainside while the four girls were walking and laughing far behind us. We could hear them telling jokes. One even said that we were in a role-playing scenario where the guide and my sister were co-directors and me, carrying my tripod, was a cameraman. They echoed in laughter as we walked through the spiky rocks. Soon, we arrived at the shadier part of the journey. However, the rocks turned to boulders and the mud turned to the river. Plants were scattered in all four, shrubs and trees in various flora.

An hour has passed and we couldn’t see the falls yet. We followed the river against its flow, searching where the water came from. Trees growing alongside the desired path made the journey more exciting as the branches hinder the path. Some shrubs pricked our skins leaving scratches. There were boulders that we climbed and rivers that we crossed making our thighs wet. We never stopped walking as we searched for this hidden treasure. Others jokingly wanted to go back to where we started while our guide pointed to us a false fall, a sewer-like flow of water on the side of the mountain. It was fun as we laughed at our jokes while the birds and insects were seemingly joining us.

The greatest mistake.
A few minutes later, I could hear a loud splash coming from the other side of the corner. We hurriedly jumped into excitement as we were very sure that this is the moment we’ve waited for and I never realized how I mistakenly underestimated this beauty hiding from our province. Hello, Aloha Falls!

I was deeply shocked in amazement by how my eyes could see. I reached for the cold water flowing from the river coming from the falls. There was a cold breeze brushing against my face while I could smell the freshwater. The coldness reached my veins and it flowed through my system. Our hardships were already paid off. How could I not be excited and then underestimated this place, while it took me into another dimension just a few minutes just by looking at it? I felt guilty.
Aloha Falls is embraced by the mountains hiding the spot from the sun. So, bathing would be fun in the morning. The place is perfectly located in the mountain, hiding from the bustle of people, yet remains accessible for those who are hungry for nature appreciation.

Read Also: Top Reasons To Visit The Philippines

Since the place was not familiar to some that even I, a resident of Nueva Ecija for 19 years didn’t know it until just recently, visitors don’t come frequently. When we got there, we found no one except for the biodegradable pieces of food they left.

Sir Oscar, on the other hand, is a resident of Carranglan along with his parents. He said that the falls were wider before, as one could notice a space on the right side. For whatever reasons, however, folks decided to carve the left side lower than the other to create a single stream of water. Then the current washes the tiny rocks along the shore before leaving to the river.

I dipped in reluctantly for I felt the chill in my spine and walked against the pressure. Seven meters away from the shore, I could still feel the pebbly ground against my feet. If I walk further, Sir Oscar warned, I could drown myself by the depth of it added by its pulling pressure. Maybe five meters more, I could reach the opposite side. We’re lucky to arrive at the right season because, during summer, the stream of water isn’t strong enough to boast its majestic fall.


Children used to play there during the olden times even though cliff diving wasn’t mainstream before. They climbed to the top of sturdy rocks and then plunge deep into the water. I climbed on the side, a meter high above the surface and then sat there for a few minutes. Sir Oscar even tried to reminisce about his childhood by climbing high enough but resisted halfway. Instead, he jumped right from the spot he stopped and then yelled his lungs out. We laughed. We ate our packed lunch cooked by my father which is, I would like to emphasize, delicious. Then, we took another dip for the last time. We played as if we’re building a team, even though I only met the four of them just this once.

The sun gained its momentum and ascended above the surrounding mountains. Its rays lightened the place giving another color to the surrounding. We left the falls at 11:30 seemingly untouched by travelers – still flowing proudly.


Nueva Ecija has a lot to offer other than its famous wide plains. Known for its rice plantations extending to the horizons, one could simply be amazed by how some gems are hidden just around the corner. We just have to possess the right curiosity to uncover those treasures

This Travel Story is written by Efraim Mallare. You can follow more of his adventure on Instagram: @picture.fraim . All Photos in this article are from Effreim’s personal archive.

A Chemist fond of doing things not just related to his profession. Loves travelling, photography, mobile games and caffeine. Usually found unbonded (alone) in a chemical laboratory doing chemistry stuff, but his mind is wandering somewhere else. Pet’s cuddle buddy. An introvert playing an extrovert’s game. 

Want your story to be featured? Click here to get started.

Siargao, The Best Island In The World And The Best Place To Travel Solo

For my twenty-second birthday, I decided to go on my first solo trip. It was in Siargao, Philippines, dubbed as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It was one of the most memorable trips I had so far. I was there for 5 days (September 24-28,2019).

Read Also: Top Reasons To Visit The Philippines

Siargao is known for having one of the best surf waves, there are different spots on the island for surfing, thus a lot of people visit the place to just surf (I did try surfing too!). But there’s so much more to it. Imagine an island filled with coconut trees, surrounded by crystal clear waters and offering white beaches.

You can have a lot of activities here, the things I did while in Siargao were went surfing in Pacifico Beach, went island hopping (Daku, Naked, and Guyam Island), visited a lagoon (Sugba Lagoon), visited the tidal pool (Magpupungko Tidal Pool), motorbiked around the island, went on a food trip, catch the sunrise and sunset, just chill on the beachside, and even party all night. It is truly a paradise. And surely won’t disappoint.

Aside from being in one of the best islands and doing such activities, this trip was really memorable because it was the first time I’m traveling alone. Before going on this trip, I needed to gather all the courage because not all can do solo traveling.

Advertisements

Doing it solo isn’t always easy but there’s this feeling of fulfillment. Also, I tried staying in a hostel. I did stay in two different hostels, where I met people that made my travel experience truly different. My 5-day visit felt too short. I really fell in love with the place and would surely love to go back.

If you’re thinking of going on a solo trip, I want you to go try. You’ll have this different kind of feeling and fulfillment. And also always remember to be a responsible traveler.

This Travel Story is written by Nichole Shayne Buenavente. You can follow more of her adventure on her instagram @sunshaayne

All Photos in this article are from Nichole’s personal archive.

A simple Filipina student based in Ph who loves to travel.

Traveling is one of those things that I treasure. Through traveling, my eyes were opened to more possibilities in life, and through it I’m learning a lot. The experiences I have because of traveling contributes to who I am today.

Want your story to be featured? Click here to get started.

Top Reasons Why I Love Sydney and Why You Should Too!

My most special travel moment was in Sydney, Australia. I went there alone. I went there for a purpose. I’ve been looking for a place where I can settle down and Australia definitely gave me that reassurance. Specifically, Sydney. It gave the vibe of both countries that I love; The Philippines and Singapore.

Sydney is pretty much comparable to Singapore when it comes to the lifestyle and the cost of living. But work-life balance is definitely more achievable in Australia because they discourage over time, and promote wellness and family time.

Also, they have natural resources which is similar to what the Philippines has. Although they have more wild animals that you can get to interact with. I have ticked all my boxes there. Carry a koala, pet a kangaroo and feed an alpaca! And surprisingly, I’ve had the best coffee in Australia, which is now my favorite, the soy cappuccino.

I’ve also done the Bondi to Coogee walk. A clifftop coastal walk that features stunning views, beaches, rock pools, cliffs, and bays. I had an amazing and relaxing time! I had a lot of memorable moments, my firsts experiences. That was probably the most memorable one. I’d love to come back and do it again.

So, the walk extends for six km in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, prepare your hiking outfit. After the walk, my friends and I took an uber and went to a café called Doyles on the wharf, in Watson’s bay. And oh my god, I had the best coffee and fish n’ chips there ever! A must try! I remember I spilled my coffee on the café’s carpeted floor and they replaced it for free. It was quite embarrassing but the people there were so nice. The people there are so warm.

The first time I went to Australia was early spring, September 2018, and then I came back this year April 2019, which was autumn. I have been wanting to experience the summer there and swim in the famous Bondi beach. I will definitely go back to it.

They say that part of living in Australia is dealing with insects of all kinds but I’ve been there twice, I’ve been to Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide but I haven’t dealt with any insect so far.

Also, some people said that they have experienced racism there but I believe that racism is everywhere. There are good and bad people everywhere. So there’s nothing to be scared of. When you go there, just be yourself, have fun and don’t do anything stupid.

This Travel Story is written by Gladys Dimagiba. You can follow more of her adventure on her instagram @gladysdima 
All Photos in this article are from Gladys’ personal archive.

Gladys is a thriving Filipina banker in Singapore who loves to wander around the world. Some of her unforgettable travel moments include her visits in Indonesia and Australia.

Want your story to be featured? Click here to get started.

What I’ve Learned From Visiting Yick Cheong Building in Hongkong

Maybe it’s not a proper adventure, but if we are talking about deep feelings, my second time visiting Hong Kong was definitely the one. 

I’ve being living in Shanghai for more than a year now, working as a Head Chef de Cuisine, so I’m pretty used to big Asian cities… but HongKong has something different, and in particular, I would like to share my experience at the Yick Cheong Building.

Advertisements

You need to know that the Yick Cheong Building is one of the most famous spots in the world for photographers. This building is, first of all an apartment complex, with lots of people living in it, like a lot! And for this reason, the locals sometimes close the entrance gate to avoid hundreds of tourists flocking-in to take a photo. 

Advertisements

However, when I got there, the weather was not exactly the best, hence, there were no tourists, but despite this, the entrance was closed. Quite unfortunate as it could be, cause I needed to leave Hongkong the next day as well, so I just told myself to return next time on another trip. 

I’ve visited HongKong several times since then and on my second trip, I took the opportunity to head to the Yick Cheong Building  again. It was close when I arrived but I found a way in,  and sneaked to the courtyard, Italian Style! haha I will always remember that moment for life.

Inside, I was alone and the atmosphere was moody. The silence, interrupted by just the sound of some people cooking food or some children running around. It was cloudy, with only a weak ray of light hitting the façade, adding more drama to the atmosphere.

A place that is normally bombarded by loud tourists and photographers, but was so quiet during that time. Then I realized that I’ve  been staring at the building for quite some  time that I couldn’t tell how long I’ve been there already. And there it came the perfect moment for me to take the photo I have been dreaming to take. 

Timer was set, remote control from the phone was activated, and camera position has also been set! 

I took a photo, but I can’t seem to remember if I have heard any “click”, as my eyes were lost again staring at the wonderful but contradicting piece of architecture. 

Lost in thought, trying to think about the fact that Gucci has one of its stores just several meters away from the Yick Cheong Building… and that bus advertisement I’ve seen just a few minutes earlier on my way to Yick Cheong, with the ad of Cartier on it… and then this… people living in apartments as large as their mattress… often with no walls, just some cage-like barricades, and people eating on the corridor because they have no space inside their own home. . . It was just quite overwhelming.

Then a shout from somewhere broke the silence, and there I saw one of the security guards signaling that I wasn’t allowed to be there, so I left. Well, at least this time, I was able to achieve my purpose before being told to leave.

Advertisements

Traveling is not just for fun. Traveling changes you, gives you opportunities to think a lot about what you have and how lucky you are, even if some days you don’t even realize it because you take everything for guaranteed. 

Traveling  leads us to places which often leave a huge impact in our lives. From my experience, traveling has brought me to Yick Cheong and it has strongly changed my view towards life. It is true, few minutes of observing something significant can really change our perspective towards all aspects of life, that’s what happened to me on that day. 

This Travel Story is written by Marco Erba. You can follow more of his adventure on his instagram @marco_erba
ALL PHOTOS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE FROM MARCO ERBA’S PERSONAL ARCHIVE.

Marco Erba is an Italian chef de cuisine, a traveler and a videography & photography enthusiast currently based in Shanghai. On his spare time, he likes to edit photos and videos which he took from his previous trip. He also travels a lot across Asia and often wanders around unfamiliar places in search for great photo locations. 

Marco’s Travel Essentials

Camera body: Sony Alpha 7iii

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE OF SONY ALPHA 7III HERE

CAMERA LENSES: Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 AND Zeiss 55mm f/1.8

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE OF TAMRON 28-75 F/2.8 HERE

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE OF SONY ZEISS 5MM F/1.8 HERE

DRONE: DJI Mavic Air 

CHECK THE LATEST PRICE OF DJI MAVIC AIR HERE

Want your story to be featured? Click here to get started.

Barcelona: A Vibrant and Gigantic Amusement Park

Barcelona is like a gigantic amusement park, a city where every locality has something different to offer. Barcelona has many different features which are facing the Mediterranean Sea.  It is filled with great and unique architectural buildings that are undeniably a work of art.  A mouth-watering dish like Paella is worth a try. 

I would say that this was our best trip so far because it didn’t only offer the preserved history of vibrant España but also their citizens, who are very accommodating and truly talented. We have visited Barcelona’s top attractions; however, our top 5 would be the Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, La Ramblas, Arc De Triomphe, and Mount Tibidabo. 

Advertisements

Park Guell is one of the main tourist fascinations of Barcelona. It is very interesting for people like me who wants to know more about the unusual world of the works of Antoni Gaudi. However, you’ll have to pay an extra amount in order to enter the monumental zone to see the famous view of the park. I would describe Park Guell as an original masterpiece and an exotic architecture. 

The Sagrada Familia is still under construction up to this date, the construction has began in 1882 with Gaudi being the one behind the design of this religious architecture. The design is out of the ordinary and every details are well-thought of. Moreover, I was enormously impressed by the grandeur of its interior as well as the beauty of the church itself. 

La Ramblas of Barcelona is the pedestrian-like promenade that is lively with various stalls and vendors along it. Within the promenade, we passed by their ‘wet market’ or popularly known as La Boqueria that is definitely clean and well-maintained.

The Arc de Triomphe, similar to the Arc located in Paris, France is worth a visit as well. This arc served as gateway to the Word Fair in 1888.                   

Lastly, the Mount Tibidabo, which has many attractions and is best known for its funicular which was once considered an attraction. But what really amazed us was the oldest amusement park in Barcelona that is situated on top of the mountain and retains some of its oldest rides that are completely functional even up to this date. On top of the Ferris wheel ride, you can see the panoramic view of the whole city of Barcelona that is truly breathtaking. 

Barcelona is a city where you have to see and experience it yourself. You might have a different perspective about it but all in all it truly amuses everyone by its wonder. 

This Travel Story is written by Rommel ‘Roms’ Ramirez. You can follow more of his adventure on his instagram @romsramirez or facebook Rommel Zubieta Ramirez
ALL PHOTOS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE FROM ROMMEL ‘ROMS’ RAMIREZ PERSONAL ARCHIVE.

A nurse by profession, but a traveler by heart. I love traveling to places that is rich in history and diversity. I am a professional dancer, that being said, I prefer being in places that is full of creativity, culture, and positive vibes. 

Traveling means a lot to me. It is a humbling experience of being able to see places for yourself and reminisce the journey and people that I’ve met. Having conversations with locals in any specific city adds up some learning about that specific place I’ve visited. Exploring the world is something that no one can take away from us. That makes us human, the eagerness to learn, to experience, and explore the world. 

ROMMEL’S TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

CAMERA BODY: NIKON D7200 –CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON.COM HERE

CAMERA LENS: NIKON NIKKOR 50MM F1.8 CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON.COM HERE

MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY KIT: IPHONE X CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON.COM HERE

Want your story to be featured? Click here to get started.

Memories in Bali

My most amazing travel experience is probably the short trip that I had in Bali on March this year, right after my birthday. It was amazing because Bali gave me peace, just what I needed during that time. I was so stressed out at work and I needed to escape from the concrete jungle, from the busy and sunny Singapore. 

I’ve chosen Bali because it’s one of the nearest countries to Singapore, where I am currently based. I thought that there’s nothing special about Bali since it has very similar resources to where I came from, the Philippines. I thought that the people who have been there were just sensationalizing their experience but I was wrong.

It is more peaceful and more safe in Bali. It is more liveable and more welcoming to tourists because tourism is the country’s number one source of income. I have stayed in Canggu where I met a solo traveller from Germany. We have agreed to take gojek and went to Ubud, where I had the best time ever. 

Ubud is so peaceful. We went to a place called Jungle Fish. It is Ubud’s famous open-air restaurant with a pool bar.  Ubud, Bali is where the yogies would stay for months to a year. Yes months, because immigration is not so strict there. You can get a 30-day tourist visa, go out and go in again. 

One thing that I love about Bali is that healthier food options are so easy to find. If you want to experience being one with nature, I recommend that you go to Ubud, Bali. And oh, please bring along a mosquito repellent, it is a necessity. 

This Travel Story is written by Gladys Dimagiba. You can follow more of her adventure on her instagram @gladysdima

ALL PHOTOS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE FROM gladys dimagiba’s PERSONAL ARCHIVE.

Gladys is a thriving Filipina banker in Singapore who loves to wander around the world. Some of her unforgettable travel moments include her visits in Indonesia and Australia.

Want your story to be featured? Click here to get started.

Advertisements