COPING UP WITH THE PANDEMIC THROUGH CYCLING

I woke up early this morning only to realize that it has only been four months since the lockdown happened. To me, it seems like it has been several years. Ever since it happened, I just wake up each day with uncertainty, with anxiousness and lots of what-ifs. As a person who loves to travel, this pandemic has basically impacted me mentally. And also the fact that we never know when we will be able to travel again just basically adds up to the worries that we already have. 

Before the pandemic, I have actually tried to save some amount for my future travels. Sadly, I needed to cancel some trips because of the restrictions. But as a person who always tries to look on the bright side of things, I decided to spare some of the amounts I saved to get a bicycle. ‘Well, if I can’t fly, might as-well ride a bike instead!’ , I told myself. Also, the fact that I am based in Vancouver and Vancouver is a great city for biking is just one of the major reasons to own a bike.

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It has been two months since I got my ‘First-Ever Bicycle!’. Growing up, I never had my own. I remember when I was a kid,  I always go to my friend’s house to borrow his bike. So imagine the excitement I had when the Bicycle Store contacted me that my bike was ready for pick-up! 

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After getting my bike, I decided to break it in and cycled around Stanley Park. It was my first bike ride in almost 2 years, the last one I had was when I was in Berlin in Germany last 2018, so I had a bit of a challenge, especially when the track goes uphill. Though challenging, the view at the top made it worth it and eventually I just forgot all  the struggle and basically felt proud of myself which is basically a fulfilling feeling. 

Each day after getting my bike, It has started to become like an inspiration to me to wake up and go to work each day as I just look forward to riding it every after work, which I never felt ever since the pandemic happened. And each time after every cycling session, I just feel better physically and emotionally that  it makes me look forward to the next session.

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Sometimes, I get invited by other cyclists to bike with them, allowing me to discover places in Vancouver that I haven’t been yet, and most of these places have a view to die for. My favorite so far is the beach near the University of British Columbia’s Mall street, it’s just the perfect place to watch the sunset while you get warm in a bonfire while having a platter of cheese, meat, and fruits. 

Being able to go to these places, especially through cycling, and during this pandemic has definitely fed my wanderlust spirit a hundred times more than before it all happened. And for the first time, I started to have the same feeling of appreciation towards local travels to that of international travels. 

Riding my bike not only keeps me mentally and physically fit, which is basically the state we need to be in during this whole pandemic but it has also allowed me to connect with new people who share the same interests as me. Though this whole pandemic has affected the world badly, biking or cycling has helped me cope up with the whole thing, it has allowed me to experience the feeling of being extremely free, particularly when the wind hits you as you go against it. It’s just one of the silver- linings that I cannot overlook. 

Riding my bike not only keeps me mentally and physically fit but it also gives me the feeling of being extremely free, especially when the wind hits you as you go against it. 

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Exploring Alberta, The Ultimate Canadian Road-Trip

Banff and Jasper National Parks have always been two of Canada’s major highlights. A trip to Canada wouldn’t be complete without having been able to visit at least one of these two. Fortunately for me, I was able to visit both! Well, thanks to my friend for enthusiastically showing me the beauty of her country!

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We started our journey from Edmonton and then we made our way to Canmore passing through Red Deer and Calgary in Alberta. We spent the night in Canmore at a friend’s place. Canmore is a small but very gorgeous town, it looks as if it’s a magical Christmas village that came straight out of a fairytale.

Read Also: Exploring Canada, The Best Country In The World

The next morning, we headed off to Banff. Banff is just an hour’s drive away from Canmore. In Banff, we went to see the famous Louise Lake, though partially frozen cause it still was spring during that time, it still looked incredibly marvelous! So imagine more when it’s completely taw, showing that magnificent sparkling turquoise-colored water! Anyway, that’s just one more reason for me to visit it again, but next time it will be in the summer months for sure.

We also did a little side trip to Cline River Heliport just outside the boundary of the two national parks for the ‘ 6 Glacier Helicopter Tour’. Here we Dived deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, lifted off and soared 9000 ft (2900m) over Cline Pass. A helicopter tour that was jam-packed with amazing sights. Highly recommended if you wanna see the beauty of the Canadian Rockies from above.

After our quick helicopter-tour, we headed to Jasper. The same as Banff, Jasper is also a breathtaking place. And if you’re an animal lover, then you’ll surely love the elks, deers, caribous, coyotes, and other animals which roam around the town. We also visited Athabasca Falls, a magnificent wonder in Jasper. A paradise for landscape and nature photographers.

After Jasper, we headed back to Edmonton with a quick stopover at Edson for some authentic A&W Burger and rootbeer, I know! So Canadian! haha. Yeah, It was a quick one but it has surely blown my mind away with the beauty and abundance of wildlife in Alberta or Canada in general. Canada takes care of its nature and resources, I wish every country should follow.

In my entire photography career, I think I took the best nature and landscape photos in these places. There’s just lots of things to see and do in these national parks, and I barely scratched the surface of it. So I guess that’s one major reason for me and my baby(my camera) to visit again haha.

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Exploring Cappadocia, Everything You Need To Know About The RED TOUR

One of the most popular and cheapest tours in Cappadocia is the red tour. This tour mostly bring you to places/attractions around the town of Goreme. The duration of the entire tour is 2 hours shorter as well as 10 Turkish Lira cheaper compared to that of the Green Tour, so you only pay 90 Turkish Lira or 25usd for the whole tour which already includes entrance fees, transportation, lunch and guide. 

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Click here for Capadoccia Green Tour Itinerary guide.

The Red Tour usually starts around 9:30 in the morning and ends around 4:30 in the afternoon. You will be picked-up around 9:20am-9:30am; so make sure you’re already prepared before the pick-up arrives to avoid causing any delays as you’re not the only person whom they will be picking-up.

The red tour consists of seven destinations which includes the following:

Uchisar Castle is a rock-cut castle riddle with tunnels, which was used by the early settlers as a place of refuge when their enemies overtook the surrounding plains. And now, it is one of the most famous landmark in Uchisar. 

Goreme Open Air museum is an essential stop when you visit Cappadocia for the very first time. It is an open complex composed of different rock-cut monasteries and churches. 

Pasabag Chimney also know as the ‘Fairy Chimneys’ are rock formations which mimics the shape of a giant mushroom. 

Avanos Pottery is a great place for those who admire the art of pottery. In here, you get to experience watching veteran potters shape a magnificent pot from scratch.

Devrent Valley or commonly know as the ‘Imagination Valley’ is where you can find different rock-formations which mimics some animal shapes and some objects’ shape. The most famous of all the rock formations here is the Camel/penguin/snail rock which mimics all three animal shapes depending on which angle you are looking it from. 

Urugup Valley is where you can find the Three Beauties rock formation. Back in the days before the internet, photos of these rock formations were used to promote tourism in Cappadocia.

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Important note:

Sometimes each tour company follows a different itinerary per vehicle to avoid bringing in too much tourists in one attraction at the same time. They somewhat created a scheme to prevent all these visitors from flocking in in one area at the same time which is great!

Thanks for reading. Hope this will help you with your Cappadocia Itinerary. 😀

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Things to do in Cappadocia, Full-day Itinerary, Green Tour Info

My first stop on my recent trip in Turkey was in Goreme, a small but magnificent town in Cappadocia. So upon arriving, I checked the tours which I can avail on the following day. Upon checking, I can see that there are several tours being offered  like ‘Green tour’, ‘Red tour’, ‘Rose Valley Tour’, ‘ATV tour’, ‘Horse riding tour’, and ‘Hot Air Balloon Tour’. But in this post, I will be discussing about an itinerary which you can avail if you want a whole-day tour while in Cappadocia, it’s called the Green Tour I will be discussing the price and the different places and stops included plus the start time & end time of the Green Tour.

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Continue reading “Things to do in Cappadocia, Full-day Itinerary, Green Tour Info”

Travel to Buscalan, A DIY Travel Guide On How To Get There

Ever thought of taking a trip to a destination where you can disconnect from the modern world to reconnect with yourself? Or simply just want to have a life-changing experience on a budget? Then worry no more, the best destination for you is ‘Buscalan’!

Buscalan is a small village situated on the mountains of Tinglayan in the Province of Kalinga in the Northern part of the Philippines. It is famous for being a ‘tattoo haven’ as well as being the home of the legendary tattooist

I remember the first time I visited Buscalan, I was 16 and went there alone! I don’t know what’s gotten into me but it surely is the start of my wanderlust story. And since then, I haven’t kept track as to how many times I’ve been there already. Well, basically, I’ve been captivated by its breathtaking landscapes and its rich culture resulting in my many countless returns. Definitely a place that would surely make you wanna’ come-back for more.  

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Top Things to do in Buscalan

-Interact with the locals, go around the village and discover their way of life.

-Go and work your way towards the rice terraces early in the morning to watch the sunrise, or in the afternoon to catch the sunset.

-Go and have a dip at their waterfall situated at the base of the mountain just below the village.  

-Try their local coffee, this is a must whenever you visit the village!

-Try their local food, a must if you wanna have an unforgettable experience in Buscalan!

-Get inked by the legendary traditional tattooists of the village!

In this post, I will be sharing some helpful DIY travel tips on how to get there.

The most frequently asked question by every first time traveler is of course, how to get there. Well, there are actually a few ways on how to get there, purely depends on where you will be coming from.

Below are the most commonly taken route:

Manila->Tabuk City->Bugnay, Tinglayan

For this route, take the Victory Liner bus which departs from Victory Sampaloc Terminal in Manila. Buses to Tabuk usually departs during the evening, around 7:00 pm till 9:45pm. The journey roughly takes around 12-14 hours, depends on the traffic. For complete bus schedules and fare, click here.   

Then from Tabuk City, take the mini buses or jeeps going to Bugnay or Bontoc which usually departs from Tabuk City between 4:00am- 9:00am, they usually park in front of the opposite side of Damagen Gasoline Station in Barangay Bulanao. The journey takes around 3-3.5 hours from Tabuk City to Tinglayan. If you’ve taken the , tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at ‘Mar-u’ in Bugnay, Tinglayan. Then from ‘Mar-u’, you can ask the locals where the starting point is going to Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village. The walk usually takes around 1.5-2 hours, depends on how fast you are. Or you can hire a motorcycle for $3 to drive you all the way to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan then you can work your way towards the village which would only take around 45 to 60-minutes walk.

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Tip: When you ride the jeep/bus going to Bontoc or Bugnay from Tabuk, make sure to ride on top of the jeepney/bus to enjoy an unforgettable experience and a spectacular view!

There is also another way if you want to skip the long bus-ride. You can take a plane from Manila going to Tuguegarao City and from Tuguegarao City, you can ride a van going to Tabuk City which will take around an hour journey. You can then follow the same route as above. But for this option, you need to spend a night in Tabuk City and catch the bus to Bontoc in the morning on the following day.

Manila ->Bontoc Mt. Province->Buscalan

For this route, take the Coda Bus lines which depart from Quezon City, Manila en-route to Sagada, Mountain Province. Just don’t forget to tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at Bontoc. Journey takes around 9 hours to Bontoc from Manila.

For Coda Bus Line Schedules and fares, click here.

Then from Bontoc, you can then ride the Jeep going to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village which would take around 45 to 60-minute walk, depends on how fast you are.

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Manila->Baguio City->Bontoc, Mt. Province->Buscalan

This route is the best option if you need or want to have a stop-over at the Summer Capital of the Philippines.  I suggest that if you take this route, then spend at least one night in Baguio then take the buses going to Bontoc either via D’Rising Sun or GL Trans in the morning on the following day.

Buses from Manila to Baguio departs every hour 24/7 via Victory Liner, Genesis, etc. Either from Pasay Bus Terminal, Cubao Bus Terminal or Sampaloc Bus Terminal. Journey from Baguio to Manila takes around 5-6 hours. 

From Baguio City to Bontoc, you can take any of the following below:

D’Rising Sun Buses departs every hour from 5am till 1pm every day from Slaughter House Compound in Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio City.  

GL Lizardo Buses, departs 8AM, 10am and 2:30pm from Dangwa Bus Station at the back of Center Mall in Baguio city.

Journey from Baguio city to Bontoc takes around 6-hours and fares differ from $5-$6 depends on the couch you availed. Then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.

If you’re arriving from Banaue in Ifugao. You can take a jeepney ride from Banaue to Bontoc which would take around an hour journey, then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.

If you have questions or clarifications, feel free to drop a comment below.

Photos by Loic Bourgeois Photography, all rights reserved.