My Best Travel Experiences of 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011Ryan Mach

One more day to go and we'll be finally saying goodbye to 2011. Oh, what a year it has been. In terms of travel, this year has been a bit of a milestone for me. This is the year that I've done the most travel in my life - I've been to Luzon, Visayas and for the first time, Mindanao. A few years from now, when I look back, I can probably say that this was the year that I've officially caught the travel bug. Has 2011 been the best year ever? So far, maybe, yes. There were highs and lows but overall, it's all good. I had fun. Every moment and experience was worth it. 

Last year, to commemorate all of my travels, I posted some photos of my trips on my FB account. This year, as my year-ender of sorts, I decided to make my best travel experiences of 2011. Yep,  I have been busy traveling this year - most trips created a huge hole in my wallet but I have no regrets because I was able to acquire all these amazing experiences:

1. Best Meals 

Garlic buttered shrimp

That peaceful pearl-shaped island known as Camiguin doesn't only boast of steep volcanoes, lush jungles, wonderful waterfalls, white sand beaches and hot-cold springs; it also offers the best food any bakasyonista can enjoy. Almost half of our budget, we realized later on, was spent on food. It wasn't because dining out in Camiguin was expensive, it was because we just couldn't resist ordering more than 2 food selections every time we had lunch or dinner. I swear I gained a few pounds, which I didn't mind at all. 

2. Best Infinity Pool
Jumping for joy

We didn't have any itinerary when I and my highschool friends went to Cebu. The suggestion to try Camotes Island came from our unassuming taxi cab driver. I rallied against the idea because we only had two days to spend in Cebu and there was much to do in the city itself. But all my companions were going and I didn't want to be called a buzzkill. I'm glad I did go with them. The resort we stayed at in Mongodlong features the best infinity pool I've ever seen so far. I wish I could stay and swim all day everyday until I'm sun-baked.

3. Best Beach
It's way more beautiful in real life

I've been to Boracay, White Island in Camiguin, Saud Beach and Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, and Nagsasa, , but man, Kuwebang Lampas beats all of them. This small seemingly undiscovered beach can be found in Quezon. Kuwebang Lampas is known for its cove with beautiful limestone rock formation. Being a beach lover than I am, I was more enthralled with its white sand beach, the most scenic I've seen so far. It's just about a kilometer stretch of white sand but my golly, it's a paradise for every beach lover. A little undiscovered paradise that is hidden by limestone cliffs at both ends. Never mind if there was a large swarm of people frolicking at the beach. Never mind if we vied for space to camp and eat. 

4. Most Exhilarating Experience
The Space Shuttle Ride in Enchanted Kingdom was fun and exhilarating but it pales in comparison with that adrenaline-pumping white-water rafting adventure in Cagayan de Oro. Cagayan River is a 20-km river stretch that consists of 21 major rapids. Most of these rapids have great current and intensity which required us to paddle harder than usual. It was a good thing that we chose the Advance Course because it quenched our thirst for extreme adventure. 
The most exhilarating part happened when our raft guide decided to deliberately capsize our boat, sending us straight into the murky water. I thought I was going to drown.

5. Most Fun Weekend Getaway

The fourth week of November is something that we in the office always look forward to. We get to spend a long weekend because of the Thanksgiving Holiday in the US. This year, I had two choices. One group of friends was inviting me to Calaguas, another set of friends was all set to go to La Union to try surfing. I chose the latter. I never realized until then that anyone can surf. You just need big waves, surf board and confidence. 

6. Most Unexpected Travel
At the cemetery
Sunset in Odiongan, Romblon

My plans for May of 2011 were predictable yet exciting. I was going to hit my hometown's beaches. I had a round-trip plane ticket to Romblon. But two weeks before the scheduled trip, I received sad news that my brother was shot and killed. I had to come home earlier than expected. I was still able to hit the beach minus the fun.

7. Most Panoramic View
I'm a person who loves peace and quiet. Peace and quiet I was able to find in Nagsasa Cove, Zambales. It's a perfect getaway for someone who wants the feeling of being secluded and isolated. The place is virtually off-the-radar so you can't be bothered by calls or messages while you're there. The downside with this kind of set-up is that, if something bad happens, no one will know apart from the people you're with. That being said, it's not a good idea to travel there alone. But that's what makes this place interesting. It promises too much adventure.
The best thing I loved about Nagsasa was its panoramic view. Sun-set or sunrise, the mountains offer a beautiful backdrop for photo ops.  

8. Best Travel Companions
I've always believed that traveling is not always about the place, sometimes it can be about the people you're with. They can either enrich the experience or ruin the whole thing. Of course, it sucks if it's the latter, right? In most of my travel adventures this year, I was with wonderful people who I can be comfortable and have fun with.

Sunken Cemetery, Camiguin

In our CDO-Camiguin trip, I was a third-wheel but I never felt alone because Erpe and Ross (who've been in a relationship for two years) were great and fun couple to be with. I want to thank you guys for the wonderful company. 
Hot Spring, Camiguin

So that's my 2011 Travel in a nutshell. Cheers to 2012! 
How about you, what are you best travel experiences this year? 

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