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.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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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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.

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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. 

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Applying for a US Visa in Canada

Earlier this week, I went to apply for a U.S visa. Fortunately, I was able to pass the interview and I was approved. As promised, I will be sharing the details as to what I did during my visa interview, what the requirements are in applying for a US visa and some tips that may help you pass the consul interview.

I applied for my visa here in Vancouver, British Columbia. I just moved here as a worker a few weeks back and since it’s my first two weeks in the job, I am not yet that occupied, hence, I decided to apply and book an appointment for my US Visa Interview. Fortunately, I was able to get a spot for my personal interview two weeks after I submitted my DS-160 form online.

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The US Visa is one of the most straight-forward visa application processes ever and also one of the hardest Visas to obtain, especially if you are a holder of a third-world country passport. To be honest with you, this is not my first time to apply for it, I have been denied when I first applied. They didn’t give me a specific reason as to why they have denied why application but they just gave me a general reason that they cannot provide me a visa as of the moment. When I applied, I was residing in the United Arab Emirates, earning a decent amount and have traveled to several countries in Europe already, and I have both a valid Schengen and UK Visa.

Also read: HOW TO APPLY FOR A SCHENGEN VISA FOR PHILIPPINE-PASSPORT HOLDERS.

I guess they just deny people who are young, single and don’t have that much justification of deep-rootedness to his or her country of origin or country of residence. Or maybe if they know that you will re-apply then they will just deny you if you’ve failed to meet their requirements during the interview, but yeah, these are just my theories.

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The difference when I applied for the first time and this time is that they now ask you to provide your social media handles when you’re filling your DS-160 form online. Which I think is great as you can prove that you have been to places if you’re like me who posts a lot of travel photos on my social media.

Steps: There are only three major steps when applying for a US Visa

Complete the DS-160 form

The DS-160 form is basically pretty much about your personal information. Make sure to have all the necessary information ready like your parents’ date of birth, contact person in the States, etc.

You can access the DS-160 form here.

Schedule an appointment online

After completing the DS-160 form, schedule an appointment online through the US government online portal for Canada. Make sure to have your payment method ready, as of the moment they accept payment through bank transfer, credit card or Interac eTransfer.

You can book your appointment through here.

Documents Required:

-Printed Confirmation Page with Eligible Barcode

-Printed Accomplished DS-160 Form

-Passport with more than six-months validity

-1pc 2×2 Photo (If you have used the same photo on the DS-160 form which you have submitted online, they won’t ask for the hardcopy,  they will only ask for a photo if you brought a different one from the ones you’ve submitted) 

-Proof of residence (Work permit, study permit or PR Card)

-Bank Statements and any other documents which you think will help in your application. Please note that a flight ticket is not required, they actually encourage people to obtain the visa first before booking any flights. 

Prepare for the interview

Once you have submitted your DS-160 online and have booked your appointment, prepare for the interview. When I say prepare for the interview, I mean prepare yourself to answer for possible questions that they will be asking like: ‘What is your purpose of visit to the United States?’, ‘Who are you visiting in the United States?’, ‘Why the United States of all countries?’ , ‘What is your job?’, ‘How much are you earning?’ And many more.

On the day of the interview, please note they will not allow any big bags, purse or anything bulky which is not necessary for the interview. Also, mobile phones and other devices which can record or transmit data is prohibited inside the consulate or embassy. So I highly suggest that you go there light, or if you are going with someone, you can leave the things with them while you go for your interview.

During my Interview

Me: Good morning, how are you?
Consul: Not so bad, thanks for asking.
me: that’s great (smiled)
Consul: What is your purpose of visit to the United States?
me: I wanted to visit my friend
Consul: you sure it’s your friend and not your girlfriend?
Me: She is a childhood friend, we grew up together back in the Philippines
Consul: Do you have any Families in the States?
Me: Nah
consul: any families here in Canada?
me: Nah
Consul: how long have you been in your job?
me: several weeks, I started last January
consul: what? You just arrived here?!
me: yeah, but I decided to apply now since It’s not so busy in my job as of the moment because of the season
Consul: (looks at me then looked at the computer while typing a lot)
-brief silence-
Me: Is everything ok?
consul: Show me your permit.
Me: ‘handed my permit over’
Consul: ok I’m approving you, that’s it
Me: thank you, enjoy the rest of your d… (consul left the counter
)

The interview lasted only for less than five minutes but it seemed forever. All throughout the interview, I was just being myself, and yeah, I just spoke to the consul as if he is a good friend.

One thing I always advise people who are going to a visa interview is to be ‘brutally honest’. Once caught lying, they will instantly reject your application and in worst cases, they will ban you from re-applying. If you are true to your intentions, then there is nothing to worry about.

On the day of your interview, you need to dress to impress but not overdress. Though I went on my interview with a basic tee and a jogger and I think I was able to slay it, so, haha. Also, manifest good thoughts, it helps a lot. You know what they say, we get what we attract.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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Pitt Meadows, The best Day-Trip from Vancouver

Aside from being a gorgeous city, Vancouver is also a gateway to tons of stunning gems in British Columbia. One of the gems which I recently visited is the city of Pitt Meadows. Pitt Meadows is located just an hour’s drive away from Downtown Vancouver. And I can pretty much say that it is one of the best day trips to do when you are visiting Vancouver. 

READ ALSO: EXPLORING ALBERTA, THE ULTIMATE CANADIAN ROAD-TRIP

I never heard of Pitt Meadows before. I only found out about it through my friend Jeff who is also my photography mentee who’s workplace happens to be based in Pitt Meadows. Often times, during his free time, he goes to Pitt Lake -one of Pitt Meadow’s major attraction to practice and apply what we have discussed from our prior photography session.

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Here is a little fact about Pitt Lake according to Wikipedia:

Pitt Lake is the second-largest lake in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. About 53.5 square kilometres in area, it is about 25 km long and about 4.5 km wide at its widest. It is one of the world’s relatively few tidal lakes, and among the largest. In Pitt Lake, there is on average a three foot tide range; thus Pitt Lake is separated from sea level and tidal waters during most hours of each day during the 15 foot tide cycle of the Pitt River and Strait of Georgia estuary immediately downstream. The lake’s southern tip is 20 km upstream from The Pitt River confluence with the Fraser River and is 40 km east of DowntownVancouver.

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So one weekend, we decided to have our photography lesson at Pitt lake in Pitt Meadows. We did some portrait sessions, with ourselves as models taking turns being each other’s muse haha. 

READ ALSO: EXPLORING CANADA, THE BEST COUNTRY

Then we took some landscape photos from different areas of the lake. Of all the photos we took that day in Pitt Lake, ninety-nine percent of it is pretty much incredible! The lighting, the scene, and the vibe is just on point! You basically cannot take any bad photos here. 

Here are some more photos to convince you to add Pitt Lake in your bucket list when visiting British Columbia or should I say Canada. 

The best days to go to Pitt Lake is basically during the weekdays where you can have the whole place all for yourself. During the weekends, it’s just a bit crowded. 

Thanks for reading! Happy travels! 

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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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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.

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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.

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Exploring Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Recently, I have visited Mostar, a city in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, straddling the Neretva River. This small but beautiful town can easily be reached through a three-hour bus ride from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital.

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Philippine passport holders and other nationalities can visit Bosnia and Herzegovina without needing to obtain an actual Bosnia and Herzegovina Visa if you have a valid dual or multiple-entry Schengen Visa.

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Top reasons To Visit Mostar

It is cheap! With that being said, your dollar can go a long way in this city. An amazing dinner with one main course, one pint of beer and a plate of dessert would only cost you less than 10 Euros. Accommodations are very affordable as well, the average nightly rate for an airbnb apartment is only around 15 Euros.

It is a city like no other! Mostar is one of those places which instantly transports you back in time. Its stunning old town will make you feel as if you are in a medieval era.

Very Hospitable Locals! Mostar is one of those very few places which has made me feel very welcome during my stay. The hospitality of the locals are just beyond compare.

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Things to do:

Explore The Old Town

There are definitely tons of things to do in this stunning town. But if you are only spending a day or two then I highly suggest that you explore the old town and dine in one of the local restaurants and try some local cuisine.

Visit the Stari Most a.k.a Mostar Bridge

Stari Most, also known as Mostar Bridge, is a rebuilt 16th-century Ottoman bridge in the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This spectacular bridge is basically Mostar’s most famous and beautiful landmark.

This year, the bridge was the backdrop for the spectacular Red Bull cliff diving competition. It was the tournament’s sixth stop.

Read Also: HOW I TRAVELLED ACROSS NORTH MACEDONIA, KOSOVO, BULGARIA AND SERBIA USING MY PHILIPPINE PASSPORT

Where to stay:

I stayed at ‘APART AS’ an amazing Airbnb apartment very close to the old town and I highly recommend it! Our host Almir even picked us up from the bus station for free, and not only that, he also served us some homemade fig cakes and a glass of homemade wild fruit juice to welcome us. Probably the best Airbnb Experience I’ve ever had. So when you are looking for an affordable and nice Airbnb apartment to stay at in Mostar, then this place is definitely a must.

Our Airbnb Host Almir.
Living room with kitchen and sofa bed
Photo courtesy of Apart AS
Bedroom with beds that can be conected from one to another
Photo courtesy of Apart AS
Apart AS Apartment 2
Photo courtesy of Apart AS

You can check the apartment on Airbnb here.

Here are more images to finally convince you to visit Mostar on your next travel 😀

I’ve spent a total of two days exploring and discovering everything this stunning town has to offer. I can say that it is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe. Maybe probably because of its past, but I am happy that I was able to visit this underrated gem and witness its Beauty.

Thank you for reading! Happy travels!

New to the blog? Click here to get to know me more. 😀

CAMBODIA: ANCIENT LAND THAT TOUCHES THE STRINGS OF HEART.

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” Said Christopher McCandless, and so I.

12 January 2019, my plane lands in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, where I meet my brother, with whom I will share the journey; in the morning we take another plane that takes us to Siem Reap, the cradle of Cambodian history, and then our adventure begins.

Let’s get to know the area: we head to Angkor Thom – the last capital of the Khmer empire – and the historical site, take a tour of the city of Siem Reap and eat the scorpion; but it is only the following morning that the real show awaits us…

5:30 am. we are already seated opposite on the shore of a small pond, and in front of us the sun rises slowly, revealing to us the spectacle that we and hundreds of other people await: the dawn that rises over Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world!

The show is simply wonderful, and I feel the joy exploding inside my heart: This is why I love to travel, treasure what the world, and nature, has to offer me.

The next day, a very important excursion awaits us: visit the Tonlé Sap or the “floating village”. At first intrigued and excited, once we arrive the truth hits us strongly: we are in the poorest place in all of Cambodia. The guide takes us to the village school, and a group of children smile at us as they play; my heart breaks in my chest. I never imagined that I was in front of a similar show, but the thing that strikes me most are those children: their smiling faces and their joy overwhelm me, and looking at them I can’t help but wonder if they are cell phones or clothes at the latest fashion to give happiness.

The journey ends the next day, again in Phnom Penh, including quad trips, Buddhist tattoos, and dinners of fried tarantulas. It is a journey that I will never forget, that gave me so much and taught me to appreciate all that life can give, because everything is a gift.

This Travel Story is written by Nick Erba. You can follow more of his adventure on his instagram @Nick_Erba

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

I’m a pastry chef and a travel-vlogger and photographer since 2017.

I think that traveling is the best way to know ourselves, that there is nothing more beautiful than learning all that cultures and places in the world have to teach and that making those moments indelible through photography is simply wonderful.

My motto is “SIC PARVIS MAGNA”, “Greatness from small beginnings”, as Sir Francis Drake said, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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

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DRONE: DJI Mavic Air 

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