By Bong Lozada, INQUIRER.net; and Dona Z. Pazzibugan, PDI
A: I have traveled all across Southeast Asia, visited 9 countries overall, and I can say that communicating in the Philippines was probably the easiest. This was due to the Filipinos’ good command of the English language which made interaction easier. I found it a lot easier to get to know people, strike up a conversation and socialize than in any of the other countries I have visited. And all of this made for the unique travel experience which I ended up having.
A: The term was coined during a longer stay in Gubat, a small seaside town in the province of Sorsogon. We spent Holy Week there at a little beach and surf camp organized by the local surfing community. We got to know locals as well as other Filipinos from Manila who were also there for the so called Hayahay camp. We often sat together, had good food, drinks, listened to music, sang and enjoyed those relaxed days. It was a good life, without much to worry about, lot of laughter and happiness. Someone called it “Buhay Baboy” which, as far as I remember, translates to a “pig’s life”. Everybody liked it so much that it stuck instantly. My travel mates and I adopted the term for the rest of our journey and quoted it whenever we had another one of those “Buhay Baboy Moments”.
A: I definitely prefer it on a general note but sometimes it also feels good to return to the backpacker trail. Just to enjoy the company of other travelers, exchange stories and travel tales. But usually venturing off the beaten track makes for the better travel experience. The things you experience are more unique and the interactions with the people are more real than in areas which have been exposed to tourism for some time. I can say that the best memories of my journey wouldn’t have been possible without going off the beaten track. But as I said, mixing it up a little is usually good as being on your own in the remotest areas can become a bit exhausting after a while.
A: We were actually supposed to go there but in the end we ran out of time. I think to really explore Mindanao, we probably would have had to skip Palawan and that was a place I really wanted to see. But yes, being a surfer I really would have liked to surf Cloud 9 in Siargao, to see the enchanted river, visit Davao and explore the other highlights of Mindanao. In the end, you can’t do everything but it is something that is high up on my list for my next visit to the Philippines. Hopefully not before too long.
A: In my opinion this is a must if you are traveling long term. It is easy to lose track of your expense if you don’t note them in one way or another. For most people who decide to travel long term, money is the limiting factor rather than time, and this was also the case for me. So if you can prevent to overspend and budget wisely, you will be probably able to stay away for a couple of more months. And that is a good motivation.
A: Well maybe two different kind of experiences. The first thing involves me setting out for a solo trek into the Malaysian jungle of Taman Negara. You are not supposed to that on your own but at that time I didn’t feel like joining a group tour. I underestimated the trek and it ended up being a grueling march through leech-infested terrain with 35 degrees at about 90 percent humidity outside. I found an abandoned bungalow complex by the river and camped out overnight. The next day I really didn’t feel like hiking back so I hitchhiked a local longboat to make it back to the village I was staying at.